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RYAN LOCHTE | 12X Olympic Medalist | World Record Holder







AUGUST 2 017 impact with their new teams at the college level.


POWERHOUSE OF POSITIVITY by Annie Grevers Junior Morgan Tankersley of Plant High School (Tampa, Fla.) finished the 201617 high school season as the top-ranked female swimmer in the 200 and 500 yard freestyles and third in the 100, and was named Swimming World’s Female High School Swimmer of the Year. Perhaps even more special is that she uses her star power to inspire and encourage those around her.


GREAT EXPECTATIONS by David Rieder Reece Whitley, Swimming World’s 2016-17 Male High School Swimmer of the Year (two No. 1 rankings in the 100 breast and 200 IM with a national record in the 100 breast) just completed his junior year at William Penn Charter High School (Pa.). He seems to have all the tools necessary to be a transcendent talent in swimming.


IN THE HUNT by David Rieder Reece Whitley may have been the clear choice for Swimming World’s Male High School Swimmer of the Year, but the four runners-up also turned in a few No. 1 times of their own.


TOP HIGH SCHOOL RECRUITS by Cathleen Pruden The high school Class of 2017 boasts several top recruits who should make an


by Chuck Warner The bronze sculpture of the rugged face of Poseidon—Greek god of the sea—that stands at the entrance to the International Swimming Hall of Fame is quite likely swimming’s most spectacular “trophy.”









013 KICKING by Michael J. Stott This is the fourth of a multi-part series on “trained behaviors” in swimming—actions that can be executed under pressure and in unusual circumstances. This month’s article focuses on kicking.



SPECIAL SETS: RETURNING TO THE POOL by Michael J. Stott Coaches Allison Beebe (high-performance coach, Santa Clara Swim Club) and John Smithson (assistant coach, Quest Swimming) share their philosophy on how to train their swimmers following the summer break.

TRAINING OUTSIDE THE BOX by Michael J. Stott When it comes to training, there are respected coaches and athletes who are able to think outside the box. And when they do, the swimming world takes notice. What follows is a sampling of divergent training methods used over the years.

by Annie Grevers

TALENT RUNS DEEP by Annie Grevers This year’s runners-up for Swimming World’s Female High School Swimmer of the Year honors all had equally impressive performances during the 2016-17 season.










UP & COMERS by Taylor Brien







ON THE COVER Juniors Reece Whitley (William Penn Charter High School, Pa.) and Morgan Tankersley (Plant High School, Fla.) were named Swimming World’s Male and Female High School Swimmers of the Year for the 2016-17 high school season. Both swimmers ranked No. 1 in two events—Whitley in the boys 100 breast (51.84, a national high school record) and 200 IM (1:44.91) and Tankersley in the girls 200 and 500 yard free (1:44.31, 4:37.60). (See features, pages 18 and 23 plus related stories on pages 21 and 26.) [PHOTO BY PETER H. BICK] Editor’s Note: The photo credit for last month’s cover was inadvertently omitted. Swimming World Magazine’s chief photographer, Peter H. Bick, took the picture of Joseph Schooling for the July issue (see photo at left). SWIMMING WORLD MAGAZINE (ISSN 0039-7431). Note: permission to reprint articles or excerpts from contents is prohibited without permission from the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for errors in advertisements. Microfilm copies: available from University Microfilms, 313 N. First St., Ann Arbor, MI 48103. Swimming World Magazine is listed in the Physical Education Index. Printed in the U.S.A. © Sports Publications International August 2017.





OF HIGH SCHOOL SWIMMING BY BRENT T. RUTEMILLER We are very proud of Swimming World’s long tradition of crowning the United States High School Swimmers of the Year in cooperation with the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association (NISCA).

This annual award started more than two decades ago with Misty Hyman being our very first and second honoree to be on our cover. Twenty-two Swimming World High School Swimmers of the Year went on to become NCAA national champions with 10 men and nine women continuing on to the Olympics. Of those competing on the Olympic level, eight women have won Olympic medals (six gold) and 10 men won Olympic medals (seven gold). Needless to say, being on the cover of Swimming World as the High School Swimmer of the Year bodes well for a high school swimmer’s NCAA and Olympic careers. The process of picking the high school swimmers of the year is a responsibility that we at Swimming World take very seriously. The effort is led by Bob Klapthor, who tracks every high school swimmer in the United States. The process begins in November and concludes in July. Every state high school race is analyzed and scored in search of the fastest

high school swimmers in the nation. Unfortunately, there are some high school swimmers who choose not to swim in high school, and, therefore, are not eligible for the recognition—but those swimmers are rare. Getting the right photo to grace our cover is not always an easy task. We set a high standard with our cover photos early on when we traveled to San Diego to capture butterflyer Hyman with dolphins at Sea World. In 2015, we had to shoot Katie Ledecky and Andrew Seliskar in an airport between travels. Since deck changes are illegal—especially in airports—both had to find an airport restroom to change into their team warm-ups. This year was a little easier. We asked Swimming World’s chief photographer, Peter Bick, to coordinate our current cover shot with Reece Whitley and Morgan Tankersley between sessions at the recent USA Swimming Nationals and World Championships Trials in Indianapolis. Congratulations to Reece and Morgan on your great achievements. You both are part of a very select group that we at Swimming World Magazine continue to admire. 

SWIMMING WORLD P U B L I S H I N G, C I RC U LAT I O N A N D ACCO U N T I N G Publisher, CEO - Brent T. Rutemiller Circulation/Operations Manager - Taylor Brien Advertising Production Coordinator

E D I TO R I A L, P RO D U CT I O N, M E RC H A N D I S I N G, M A R K E T I N G A N D A DV E RT I S I N G O F F I C E 2744 East Glenrosa Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85016 Toll Free: 800-511-3029 Phone: 602-522-0778 • Fax: 602-522-0744 E D I TO R I A L A N D P RO D U CT I O N Senior Editor - Bob Ingram Assistant Managing Editor - Annie Grevers Graphic Designers - Emmi Brytowski, Joe Johnson Staff Writers - Michael J. Stott, David Rieder Fitness Trainer - J.R. Rosania Chief Photographer - Peter H. Bick WebMaster: M A R K E T I N G A N D A DV E RT I S I N G

I N T E R N AT I O N A L CO R R E S PO N D E N T S Africa: Chaker Belhadj (TUN) Australia: Wayne Goldsmith, Ian Hanson Europe: Norbert Agh (HUN), Camilo Cametti (ITA), Oene Rusticus (NED), Rokur Jakupsstovu (FAR) Japan: Hideki Mochizuki Middle East: Baruch “Buky” Chass, Ph.D. (ISR) South Africa: Neville Smith (RSA) South America: Jorge Aguado (ARG)


Brent T. Rutemiller Publisher of Swimming World Magazine “If you want to win, first help someone else win!”

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LESSONS with the




from Ohio State in 1974, he continually explored the relationship between hydrodynamics and exercise physiology, writing extensively for print and digital application as subjects related to competitive swimming. None other than George Haines said of Maglischo’s “Swimming Faster” (published in 1982) that no swimming book recently written had “so elegantly illustrated the connections between theory and practice.” He followed that definitive and encyclopedic reference with “Swimming Even Faster” (1993) and ultimately penned his 800-page “Swimming Fastest” (2003). He has just completed two additional books on competitive swimming: “A Primer for Swimming Coaches, Volume 1: Physiological Foundations” and “Volume 2: Biomechanical Foundations.” Both are published by Nova Scientific Publishers.



Ernie Maglischo


port scientist Dr. Ernest W. Maglischo long ago earned his place in the pantheon of distinguished American swim coaches. In a career where he worked at four universities and two swim clubs, he won 13 NCAA Division II and Division III crowns and 19 conference championships. His early coaching stops included Bowling Green, Ohio Wesleyan, Alpena (Mich.) High School, State University College New Paltz and Ohio State. It was at the first of two stints at Chico State in California (1966-79, 1981-83) where Maglischo began amassing championships. He garnered four at Chico, added one at Oakland University (1980-81) and notched eight straight (1986-93) in a 10-year stay at Cal State Bakersfield. Maglischo also coached at Arizona State (1993-98), where he placed the Sun Devils three times among the NCAA top 10. He was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 1996. Repeatedly honored, he was NCAA Division II Coach of the Year eight times and earned a CSCAA Master Coach designation (1978) and its highest award, the National Collegiate and Scholastic Swimming Trophy (1991). He has also been inducted into six halls of fame. Awards aside, the Massillon, Ohio native is an influential and prolific author. Maglischo was influenced by European sport scientists Alois Mader and Jan Olbrecht, and would vigorously test their hypotheses on subjects such as threshold training while working with his swimmers. After earning his Ph.D. in exercise physiology 10


During your career, you fully explored the training continuum of specificity and threshold. Which do you favor today and why? To oversimplify, I prefer specific over threshold training, but in practical application, the training process is far more complex. Threshold training has been misunderstood and misapplied for the last several decades. At one time, the threshold concept was helpful in that it provided a way to diagnose the effect of training on aerobic capacity. A higher rate of speed at the lactate threshold was, supposedly, an indication that aerobic endurance had increased. The lactate threshold was found to have a high relationship (0.85) with endurance performance—therefore, it served as a reasonably precise and convenient method for measuring improvements in aerobic endurance. There were, however, two weaknesses of lactate testing. First, increases in speed at the lactate threshold did not show as high a relationship with performances in sprint and middle distance races. This was because the importance of the balance between aerobic and anaerobic endurance during races was not understood in the ’70s and ’80s. At first, we were told there were only three explanations for changes in the lactate threshold speed: (1) the athlete’s swimming speed increased at the lactate threshold, which was a good result, signifying improved aerobic endurance, (2) the lactate threshold speed became slower, a bad result, and (3) no change in lactate threshold speed, which indicated no improvement after training. Belgian sport scientist Jan Olbrecht has shown that there are actually 13 possible interpretations for changes in the lactate threshold speed, not three. Those explanations involved the effect of anaerobic capacity on threshold speed. He proposed that a measure of anaerobic endurance was also needed to accurately interpret the effect of training on race performance. He also demonstrated that the balance between aerobic and anaerobic endurance—and not just an increase in aerobic endurance as reflected by the lactate threshold swimming velocity—was the major determinant of success in the majority of swimming events. In other words, an improvement in the lactate threshold velocity could also result from a loss of anaerobic endurance, in which case, performances in most swimming events would suffer. The assumption that the lactate threshold represented the optimum training speed for improving aerobic endurance was also not accurate. I believe that was because the energy for threshold training was overwhelmingly supplied by an athlete’s slow-twitch muscle fibers when training at threshold speed. The aerobic endurance of those slow-twitch fibers was certainly improved by training at threshold pace. However, at the same time, improvements in the aerobic and anaerobic capacities of fast-twitch muscle fibers were probably neglected because these fiber types are not fully re-

— continued on 12

LEGENDS — continued from 10

cruited until training speeds exceed those at the lactate threshold. Consequently, I prefer race pace to threshold training...with a caveat. Training at race pace will recruit and improve the aerobic and anaerobic endurance of all three muscle fiber types, and, for that reason, is superior to threshold training. However, race pace training also has some weaknesses. If you think of the physiological adaptations that take place with training—i.e., increases in cardiac output, lactate removal, VO2 max and muscular power, etc.—as links in a chain, an athlete’s performance is probably limited by the weaker links of that metabolic chain. It is generally believed that race-pace training will strengthen all of the links in the chain equally because the combination of aerobic and anaerobic metabolic processes will be identical to that of races. However, it is also possible that in training, stronger links will carry the energy-supplying load for weaker links. Because of that, the imbalance between these links may remain a limiting factor for performance after training. On the other hand, doing specialized training that targets and improves these weaker links may remove that imbalance and result in an overall faster swim. I do not agree with placing training in only two categories such as race pace or overdistance—and pitting one category against the other. I believe swimmers need a balanced training program that includes training at speeds that are slower than race speed for long distances, training at race speeds with underdistance repeats and training at speeds in excess of race speed for very short distances. What role should science play in training swimmers today? We should always be striving to comprehend the science that underlies the physiology and biomechanics of training swimmers,

with the understanding that we will never have all the answers, and that, until we do, we must rely on intuition when necessary. One of the criticisms of my books has been that I turned the scientific method on its head. The scientific method being that, one should identify the principles involved before applying them to the sport. Where stroke mechanics were concerned, I have been accused of looking at what successful swimmers do and then searching for principles to explain it. I don’t apologize for that. When scientific principles are still in doubt or have been misapplied—as is the case in most sports, including competitive swimming—coaches have no choice but to rely on intuition. However, intuition without adequate knowledge is just guessing. We owe it to the swimmers to research those topics where there is doubt and to test our hypotheses before applying them universally—especially in cases where the record holder of the moment is swimming or training in a unique way. Research, of course, means reading the literature and observing great athletes in training, as well as listening to and consulting with other coaches and swimmers who have been successful. Testing means evaluating your ideas without bias, which is a tough thing to do. After all these years, why are you still a student of the sport? That’s an easy one. I haven’t figured it out yet, and I haven’t found any other subject that interests me more.  Michael J. Stott is an ASCA Level 5 coach whose Collegiate School (Richmond, Va.) teams won nine state high school championships. He has been named a 2017 recipient of NISCA’s Outstanding Service Award.

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TRAINED BEHAVIORS Pictured: Matt Grevers


This is the fourth of a multi-part series on “trained behaviors” in swimming, a concept advanced by Nation’s Capital Swim Club coach Bruce Gemmell, who defines these actions as ones that can be executed under pressure and in unusual circumstances. This month’s article focuses on kicking.


ime was when kicking in swimming was an afterthought. Sure, there was an outlier like Rick DeMont with his demonic sixbeat kick in the early ’70s, but the landscape for distance kicking really didn’t take hold until about 20 years ago. “The guys who really changed everybody’s perspective on distance swimming when it came to kicking were the Aussies—especially Kieren Perkins, Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett, who was absolute thunder for 1500 meters,” says USA Swimming’s national team director Frank Busch. Contrary to earlier thinking, kicking is not more important for sprinters than mid- or distance athletes. “About 15 years ago at (the University of) Arizona, I realized we weren’t tapping into some things about kicking. I’d hear about someone doing an 800 or 1,000 kick set, so we decided to start pushing the envelope. The farthest we probably ever went was a 4,000 kick set. When we started really kicking, we got a whole lot better,” he says. (Witness the Wildcats 2008 men’s and women’s teams that dominated the NCAA Division I Championships that year under Busch.) “We always talk about the legs being the biggest muscle group farthest from the heart, and why aren’t we tapping into it more? It changed the ride of everybody in the pool. Swimmers kept their lines longer and looked better. It didn’t matter what the stroke. Now I look at everybody, particularly these last six years, as I am studying people around the world. If you are not a great kicker, you are not a podium athlete—and it doesn’t matter what event it is,” says Busch.

KICKING BUTT IN COLLEGE College coaches have also taken notice. “Greg Meehan does some serious kicking at Stanford,” says Busch, as do some of Busch’s former assistants: Greg Rhodenbaugh (Missouri); DeMont (Arizona, who announced last May that he would be retiring); son, Augie (Virginia, who was named in July as DeMont’s replacement at UofA); and Whitney Hite (Wisconsin), who direct (or have directed) top 15 college teams. “I can’t imagine the best programs not having at least a day or two where there is an emphasis on kicking,” he says. The University of South Carolina Gamecocks have found success with increased kicking over the last five years. “Absolutely,” says head coach McGee Moody. “We are seeing more speed-driven kick. Distance swimming is much more kick-driven now than it was 15 to 20 years ago. When you swam the mile, the instruction used to be a two-beat kick. Now almost all swimmers have a fouror six-beat kick throughout the whole thing. So it changes the approach and training for these races. Unless you work it more often, you are not going to pull off these kick tempos that the mid- and distance guys are using.” At the men’s 2017 NCAA meet, Gamecock 1650 swimmers (Akram Mahmoud, 14:22.99; Cody Bekemeyer, 14:44.17; Tom Peribonio, 14:45.37) placed third, 13th and 15th, respectively. “On average, we dedicate two to four practices a week to some type of kick training,” says Moody. “We approach kicking almost as we train for an event—we train kick power, kick capacity and kick technique. — continued on 14 August 2017 / SWIMMINGWORLDMAGAZINE.COM


KICKING— continued from 13 “Training technique—the most important element of the three— includes underwaters and bodyline focus, and is generally an early season exercise. We segment small parts of the kick—such as ankle flexibility, underwater fish kick and pressing the legs up after the downbeat,” he says. “Kick capacity, which swimmers work most often, is the ability to hold kick tempo over time, focusing on tempo versus power. It could be 15 100s on 1:35 to 1:40 repeats, just overloading the legs and working on muscular endurance. “Kick power revolves around resistance, using core, tower and/ or fins. These days we use mesh bags, which introduce a drag component, on hands and feet to work power, capacity and technique. When working kick power, we actually put the bags over the fins, which creates a bigger surface area on the feet.” Training kick power for distance athletes and sprinters is “not all that different,” says Moody. “When both are hooked up to the power tower, we want them to kick at max effort. On a set of 75s, the distance guys will kick against the tower on the way down, back and then down again. For ultra-sprinters, their power may consist of a 15-meter blast—without arms—or 25, and then let us pull them back.” DIFFERENT KICKING STRENGTHS As accomplished as his distance fleet is, each swimmer evinces different kicking strengths. Finn Minuth, Mahmoud and Peribonio finished fifth (4:10.57), sixth (4:10.83) and 12th (4:14.55), respectively, in the 500 yard freestyle at the March DI NCAAs. “Minuth is a fast kicker and kicks well in all facets,” says Moody. “He has great technique, ankle flexibility and huge power in his kick, which gives him good 100 speed. He also has amazing

capacity, so he can hold high speed for extended intervals and volume. “Mahmoud is a good—but not great—kicker. He has good kick capacity, but not great kick power. However, he can hold tempo for a long time, and is very effective. His bodyline and great rhythm help carry him through his races like his 4:09.73 500-yard prelim in March. Peribonio’s best facet is kick power, evincing an ability to kick short distances quite quickly, while not sharing the staying power of his teammates. “Bottom line is that everybody needs to work both kick power and capacity. As coaches, we temper it based on an athlete’s individual event. No matter how you break it down, it is always going to boil down to how hard the athlete is willing to work,” he says. Like many coaches, Moody wrestles with the best way to kick—i.e., board or no board. He likes no board for the straight line it presents. Often Gamecock swimmers will kick with a hand in a pre-catch position, body rotated 60 degrees, so that the kick drives the body. AN AGE GROUP APPROACH Veteran USA Swimming coach Rod Montrie is in his ninth year as high-performance and senior prep coach with Machine Aquatics in Vienna, Va. In recent times, he has “virtually eliminated” kick boards with the exception of small alignment kickboards used with his 11-13-year-olds. “Most of the kicking we do is for body position, no board. We do a lot of hand lead kicking, swimmers on their sides, palms down, face in or out of the water. “Every chance to streamline is a good thing. With the small kickboard, swimmers can place both hands under the strap and get into a tight streamline. The board creates a little resistance and buoyancy, which makes it tougher. It is almost like a drag suit for their hands,” he says. With his Machine swimmers, Montrie caps out kicking at 20 percent of workout volume. “Lately with our freestyle, I have done a lot of overkicking, basically a sprint kick with middle distance arm turnover. Kicking with age groupers is a long-term project,” he says. “A key is getting them aware of the feel of the kick while still generating power and distance per stroke.” Montrie has a favorite IM progression set that allows his athletes to mix kicks:



“We always talk about the legs being the biggest muscle group farthest from the heart, and why aren’t we tapping into it more? It changed the ride of everybody in the pool. Swimmers kept their lines longer and looked better. It didn’t matter what the stroke. Now I look at everybody, particularly these last six years, as I am studying people around the world. If you are not a great kicker, you are not a podium athlete— and it doesn’t matter what event it is.”

—Frank Busch National Team Director, USA Swimming (2011-Sept. 1, 2017) Former Head Coach, University of Arizona (1989-2011) (Pictured: Busch/inset and UofA kicking workout, 2010)

• 7 x 100 kick (no board) • 100 fly, 100 (50 fly, 50 back), 100 back, 100 (50 back, 50 breast), 100 breast, 100 (50 breast 50 free), 100 free (Rest interval is ability-appropriate after each 100) “Fly, back and breast (kick) are done on the back, and free on the side (with) right and left hand lead alternating. It mixes up the kick,” he says. “I am a big fan of kicking breaststroke on the back, especially for kids with weak breaststroke kicks. Swimmers seem to feel their knees better. “If a swimmer has a really dysfunctional breaststroke kick, I have them knock their knees together. Hands are always above the head, heels come to the butt, then swing and clap to bring knees in. Another way is to put a pull buoy in there,” says Montrie.  Michael J. Stott is an ASCA Level 5 coach whose Collegiate School (Richmond, Va.) teams won nine state high school championships. He has been named a 2017 recipient of to read more on kicking from NISCA’s Outstanding Nation’s Capital’s Bruce Gemmell. Service Award. August 2017 / SWIMMINGWORLDMAGAZINE.COM




Many people believe that it is worth copying the technique of the fastest swimmers. In reality, even the fastest swimmers have technique limitations, but they offset them with strength and conditioning. The purpose of this series of articles is to address scientifically the technique misconceptions and related skill-learning strategies that have become “conventional wisdom,” and to present more effective options.

Probably one of the oldest and most enduring misconceptions about swimming technique is that the fastest swimmers have a “feel for the water.” While fast swimmers typically exhibit impressive technique elements, it is questionable that they are aware of any precise and definable feeling that produces their speed. In fact, some “feelings” (or perceptions) may limit their speed. In 1968, James E. “Doc” Counsilman described feel for the water as a “nebulous quality” of great swimmers, but provided no real definition. Since then, the application of both mechanical principles and research findings has identified numerous cues that specify the exact orientation of body parts that any swimmer can actually “feel” to improve.






Numerous references in the literature support the conventional wisdom (CW) that top swimmers have a “feel for the water” (or just “feel”). Some examples: Firby (1975) stated that “the popular belief seems to be that a small percentage of swimmers are blessed with feel, while most are not.” Colwin (2002) called feel an intuitive ability that is “unique to the talented athlete.” Adley (2017) explained that the ability of Olympians to effortlessly “move through the water...smooth and easy, yet unbelievably fast” could be attributed to a “great feel for the water.” Developing feel was called “an important aspect of learning to swim well” that “necessarily involves the swimmer’s interpretation of kinesthetic experience” (Light & Wallian, 2008). A more recent article explained that technique results “from a mix of natural genetics, feel for the water, knowledge of experienced coaches, and trial and error methods” (Honda, et al., 2012). Over the years, many sources have provided information to help swimmers develop feel. Two top coaches in the 1970s (Colwin and Firby) each devoted a chapFIG. 1 > (ABOVE) In both images, the swimmer’s arm is at .35 seconds into the stroke. The ter of their books to the subject. right arm is in a stronger position, and the right Other authors suggested stratehand is generating about twice as much force gies to promote feel, including a as the left hand. (The vertical gray lines are long warm-up (Balilionis, 2012), synchronized with the video images.) drills (Light & Lémonie, 2010; Johnson, 2007), instructional aids (Langendorfer, 2012) and prachowever, particularly if the swimmers are tice variability (Toussaint & Beek, 1992). searching for the vague quality of feel, as opposed to learning specific cues to control PERFORMANCE LIMITATIONS critical points in the stroke cycle. FROM CONVENTIONAL FEEL At our Swimming Technology ReUndoubtedly, swimmers are exposed to search (STR) camps and clinics, swimmers strategies purported to develop feel. The are routinely asked about their percepbenefit of these strategies is questionable, tions of their own technique. When asked

When the arm position has poor leverage, maximal muscular force applies only minimal propulsive force on the water. Attempting to maintain the feeling at the catch (i.e., a static “hold”) might encourage a swimmer to keep the arm in a position with poor leverage, generating minimal propulsion and limiting performance. For example, the swimmer in Fig. 1 (previous page) has a different leftFIG. 2 > (ABOVE) This swimmer complied with the cue of and right-arm position at flexing her elbows to begin her pull, and rapidly increased .35 seconds from the beher hand force to about 25 pounds. ginning of the pull. The right arm is in a stronger position (closer to the body what they feel, even elite swimmers typimidline) with better leverage than the left cally respond, “I don’t know” or “nothing.” arm. The result is that her right-hand force Thousands of these anecdotal self-reports is about twice as much as her left-hand suggest that working on feel using CW proforce (20 pounds versus 10 pounds). Howduces little information that swimmers can ever, the muscular force necessary to genapply to control technique. erate even 10 pounds of applied force with When swimmers are aware of what they the left hand likely reinforces the feeling of feel, their perceptions can limit—rather “hold” on the water, thereby limiting perthan improve—performance. The phrase formance. most often used to explain “feel for the water” is “hold on the water” (e.g., Poirier-LeKINESTHETIC CUES TO roy, 2017; Swimsmooth, 2017; Taormina, IMPROVE TECHNIQUE SKILLS 2017) and is generally associated with the There is no argument that “feeling” is catch (the point where the hand transitions important. “Swimming is a sport that refrom moving forward to backward). The lies upon ‘feel’ (i.e., tactile sense) more feeling at the catch (i.e., “hold on the wathan sight, sound, etc.” (Richards, 1999). ter”) is often very noticeable because the There are, however, different feelings that arm is in a weak position (with poor levera swimmer might have—i.e., a nebulous, age). general and undefined “feel for the water” or a succession of cues that specify the exact orientation of body parts throughout the stroke cycle. To illustrate the latter, a swimmer can feel specific cues that help control movement and also produce a quantifiable improvement in technique. For example, the swimmer in Fig. 2 (top, left)flexed her elbows to begin her butterfly pull and rapidly increased her hand force to about 25 pounds. Kinesthetic cues such as feeling the elbows flex and the FIG. 3 > (ABOVE) This swimmer is pushing his right hands move toward the hand back beneath his leg. His peak force at this point body centerline can help in the stroke cycle is typically about 50 pounds. a swimmer control the

beginning of the pull. Effective use of the cues is verified by quantitative data, as she had a substantial increase in force in only 2-tenths of a second. The push phase is another critical part of the stroke where a swimmer can feel specific cues. During this phase, it is vital for a swimmer to feel the palm facing back, directly beneath the thigh. The swimmer in Fig. 3 (bottom, left) complied with the cues and impressively increased his hand force to about 50 pounds on every stroke. If a swimmer does not intentionally feel the hand push back, it is very likely that the hand will primarily move upward with the upward rotation of the torso, and generate much less force.  Dr. Rod Havriluk is a sports scientist and consultant who specializes in swimming technique instruction and analysis. His new e-book—“Approaching Perfect Freestyle + Science”—is available at the STR website: You can contact Rod at All scientific documentation relating to this article, including scientific principles, studies and research papers, can be provided upon demand.

to learn more about the references for this article.

SUMMARY “Feel for the water” has long been considered an attribute of the fastest swimmers. However, neither scientific principles nor research support this as a characteristic that differentiates faster from slower swimmers. Searching for a general “feel” may even be counterproductive. Easily observed technique qualities of fast swimmers—such as a long stroke length or a straight body position—can be learned by any swimmer. Using specific kinesthetic cues to improve technique is a far more productive strategy than hoping to acquire an undefinable feel for the water.




POWERHOUSE OF POSITIVITY Junior Morgan Tankersley of Plant High School (Tampa, Fla.) set three state records at the Florida Class 4A State Championships last November, finishing the 2016-17 high school season as the top-ranked female swimmer in the 200 and 500 yard freestyles and third in the 100. Perhaps even more special is that she uses her star power to inspire and encourage those around her. STORY BY ANNIE GREVERS • PHOTOS BY PETER H. BICK


organ Tankersley loves to race. “That’s why I go to practice,” she said. But the soon-to-be senior at Plant High School in Tampa, Fla., didn’t always have a convincing reason to go to practice. An 11-year-old Tankersley did not think swimming was for her. Swimming was her parents’ thing, her grandfather’s thing...not her thing. So, after mulling over other after-school options, Tankersley decided to quit swimming. “My parents were more than OK with it,” she said. “They knew it would be a hard sport for me to do—they were always great about knowing that if I chose swimming, I’d have to swim for me.” Tankersley’s parents knew firsthand how demanding a swimmer’s life could be. They had each devoted their youth to the grueling sport, eventually landing on Florida State University’s roster. Tankersley’s grandfather, Ed Brennan, has been the head swimming coach at the University of Tampa for 37 years. Young Morgan had dipped her toe into more sports than just swimming—track, softball, tennis, volleyball, swimming, ice skating (yes, ice skating exists in Florida)—she tried them all before



deciding that volleyball was her sport. But one year away from swimming was all Tankersley needed to recognize she had walked away from not her parents’ sport or her grandfather’s sport. Swimming was, indeed, her sport. “I came home and did nothing after school—I was bored out of my mind,” Tankersley recalled. “I only did volleyball two days per week. I wasn’t productive.” Even at age 11, Tankersley knew she wasn’t cut out for that slothful life. She needed to be improving. And swimming was the perfect template in which Tankersley could push her bounds. “When I was younger, I couldn’t follow ‘hard work leads to success’,” Tankersley admitted. “I had my pivotal moment after taking that year off.” Tankersley was smitten by the family environment swimming fostered, and she began to embrace competition without the ferocity that came with it when she was younger. “Competition is good,” an older Tankersley said—“if not to win, to grow. “I was all gung-ho when I came back (from her year off)—I wanted to go twice a day, right away,” Tankersley said. “But a great

thing about parents who swam is they know about burnout.” Merrie and Vance Tankersley knew how important it was that their daughter ease back into the arduous sport. They were there to drive her to practice, but never to force her to swim. They wanted their daughter to have a firm grip on the steering wheel of her swimming career. Thanks to her parents’ careful restraint and her year away from the sport, Tankersley is more “gung-ho” about swimming than ever. Seventeen-year-old Tankersley is grateful she gave so many other sports a test drive in order to reveal to herself that she was engineered, mentally and physically, to swim. “Swimming takes mental strength and the ability to really push yourself,” Tankersely said. “I think that’s something I gravitate toward.” But Tankersley more than gravitates toward challenges—she lunges at them. The versatile swimmer is utterly addicted to self-improvement. The junior took five AP classes last year and still managed to have her best swim season to date. A FLAWLESS MEET “I have big goals because even if you don’t get them, you can accomplish some pretty big things on the way to trying to achieve,” Tankersley said. That’s her iteration of “Shoot for the moon—even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” And she certainly has found herself among stars thus far in her swimming career. In fact, she may have even set foot on the moon at the 2016 Florida Class 4A State Championships last November. In August of 2016, Tankersley and her Greater Tampa Swim Association (GTSA) club coach, Ryan Gober, were considering which individual events the junior should focus on during the fall high school season. Tankersley has Ledecky-like range in the freestyles. She can swim a smoking fast 50 free and also fall into a speedy rhythm in the mile. At last summer’s Olympic Trials, the then-16-year-old competed in the 50, 100 and 400 free as well as the 200 backstroke. Anyone with four Trials cuts as a sophomore is fearsome in the high school swimming realm. “The goal last fall was to break as many state records as we could,” Coach Gober said of the 2016 high school season. “I tried to convince her to swim the 100 and not the 500 because I thought the 500 record was out of reach...but a 48.7 was something she could go.” But Tankersley wanted to swim the 500 free. The state record in the event was from 1999—a 4:37.91 by Janelle Atkinson, a twotime Olympian for Jamaica...and Swimming World’s 2000 Female High School Swimmer of the Year. Atkinson’s 17-year-old record would have made the 2017 NCAA final in the event! Even Tankersley thought knocking this record out of the books was a pipe dream. Before the 2016 high school season, Tankersley’s best time was more than eight-and-a-half seconds off the mark at 4:46.59. Gober has been coaching Tankersley since she was 8 years old. He’s watched her talent bloom. He predicted she could go a 4:40 in the 500 if her mind was right.

The much-anticipated state meet rolled around in early November 2016. In prelims of the 500 free, Tankersley focused on staying relaxed and holding a consistent stroke count, touching with a respectable 4:52. She led off Plant High School’s 400 free relay in the morning to afford her a shot at 2004 Olympian Rhi Jeffrey’s state record from 2002 (48.73). Tankersley went a 48.69, kicking down her first state record of the meet.

“Swimming takes mental strength and the ability to really push yourself. I think that’s something I gravitate toward. I have big goals because even if you don’t get them, you can accomplish some pretty big things on the way to trying to achieve.” —Morgan Tankersley

Record No. 2 bit the dust at night. Tankersley annihilated Lauren Driscoll’s 200 free standard from 2010 (1:45.39) with a 1:44.31. Tankersley chopped off three full seconds from her 2015 state time. The junior knew she was having one of those meets in which races hurt less, and she couldn’t help but drop whopping amounts of time. In the 500 free, Tankersley hammered out an astounding 4:37.60, taking down Atkinson’s seemingly untouchable record. She had dropped nine seconds in eight months. A fatigued Tankersley had one more event in her lineup—the 400 free relay. F.W. Bucholz High School was slated to repeat its victory as Class 4A state champs, but Tankersley was determined to get her Plant High School teammates on top of the podium in the 400 free relay—the last event of the meet. It had already been a fairytale meet for Tankersley. She was riding momentum and adrenaline as she swung her arms to dive in, attempting to make up a two-second deficit for her team. “I did a time I didn’t think I could do,” Tankersley remembered. She had reeled in Bucholz sophomore Talia Bates and split a remarkable 47.80. Plant HS won the relay by 48-hundredths of a second.

— continued on 20



MORGAN TANKERSLEY— continued from 19 A GOOD STEWARD “There are more athletic kids (than Tankersley) on the team,” Gober said about his senior group. “But there isn’t anyone who wants to be better more than her.” This drive to draw out the best from within is what made Tankersley eventually center her attention on swimming. But her competitive spirit does not stay confined to inside the pool’s perimeter. No, she likes to race in other arenas, too—even those that don’t really matter: “She does everything to the fullest. Everything. She’ll finish watching all seasons of ‛The Office’ in two weeks,” Gober said with a laugh. “How fun is practice going to be?” Tankersley will ask Gober at the start of each training session. “Fun” equates to “work” in Tankersleyan. Gober said it’s a running joke, but there’s sincerity in the question—Tankersley takes pleasure in working hard. “She simply enjoys being at practice,” Gober said. “Rarely do I have to tell her to change anything other than small technical things.” Just listening to Gober and Tankersley talk, it’s easy to hear that they speak the same language—they’re relentless optimists. Gober won’t say Tankersley is doing a poor job, but that “she’s not doing a fantastic job of carrying speed” out of her underwaters. “We’re trying to come up with innovative ways to improve that.” And that’s Tankersley’s favorite thing about her coach: “He’s always willing to learn and adapt,” she said. “He doesn’t think he’s always right, even though most of the time, he is.” He’s a humble guide, much like her grandfather who coaches at the University of Tampa. Perhaps it’s no surprise that Gober is a committed student of the sport since he swam under Coach Brennan at UT and continues to serve as an assistant coach on the

university’s staff. Gober spends six hours straight on deck some days, coaching age group kids, senior kids and college kids. Many would see a long stretch by the pool as monotonous, but Gober sees opportunity—to better his coaching and, in turn, better his swimmers. Tankersley trains primarily with Gober, but during the high school season, she swims with her high school team once each week. Plant High School coach Gil Gonzalez does not play a large part in her training, but he’s one of Tankersley’s most enthusiastic supporters. She has quite a fan club, not solely because of how she swims, but also because of how she uses the platform swimming has given her. Rather than bask in the glory of her own stupendous feats—which have been many—she uses her star power to inspire and encourage those around her. The future will afford Tankersley many more opportunities to band together with teammates at a prestigious level. Come fall 2018, she’ll be working toward an NCAA title. And after two college seasons, she’ll have a crack at making it to the world’s biggest sporting stage. The 2016 Olympic Trials in Omaha were an eye-opener for Gober and Tankersley. They knew they weren’t there for Morgan’s Olympic berth. This was a trial run at Trials. Tankersley didn’t get close to a semifinal at her first Olympic Trials: 52nd in the 50 free, 81st in the 200 free, 36th in the 400 free and 129th in the 200 back. But those places didn’t mean much to either coach or swimmer. The 16-year-old focused on breathing in the electric atmosphere, following her coach’s guidance: “I told her, ‘Just enjoy it. Make mental notes. Take in everything. Mark it down and keep it,’” Gober counseled. “Next time, she will be coming to make an Olympic team.” 


Morgan with her dad, Vance Morgan and her mom, Merrie




TALENT RUNS DEEP This year’s runners-up for Swimming World’s Female High School Swimmer of the Year honors all had equally impressive performances during the 2016-17 season. BY ANNIE GREVERS


Power Pts.

#1 200 Free (1:44.31)


#1 500 Free (4:37.60)

#1 (341.2)


#1 50 Free (22.21)

#2 100 Free (48.54)

#3 (335.9)


#1 100 Free (48.44)

#2 50 Free (22.32)

#5 (334.5)


#1 100 Back (52.48)

#4 100 Free (48.85)

#2 (336.1)


#2 200 Free (1:44.68)

#2 500 Free (4:39.87)

#4 (335.0)


#3 100 Free (48.69) 2. KATHERINE DOUGLASS (So.) Pelham Memorial, N.Y.

3T. JULIA COOK (Jr.) Travis B. Bryan, Texas

3T. LUCIE NORDMANN (Jr.) The Woodlands, Texas

5. BROOKE FORDE (Sr.) Sacred Heart Acad., Ky.

Scoring: 3 points for a #1 ranking, 2 for #2, 1 for #3 [PHOTO BY ALLISON DOUGLASS]

KATHERINE DOUGLASS, Sophomore Pelham Memorial High School, Pelham, N.Y. Katherine Douglass blew the swimming world away back in 2015, when she zoomed to a 25.80 50 meter freestyle at junior nationals in San Antonio. That’s a respectable time for any level. The kicker? Douglass was only 13! She became the fastest 13-year-old ever in the 50 meter free in those nearly 26 seconds. She also qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

The following summer at Trials, Douglass placed 32nd in the 50 meter free. That may not sound exceptional, but it is when you consider the 14-year-old placed 32nd out of 180 of the nation’s fastest 50 freestylers. In her sophomore season at Pelham High School, Douglass scorched to a 13-14 national age group (NAG) record at the New York High School Section 1 Championships. Her 22.32 broke the oldest 13-14 age group record in the books— Dara Torres’s 22.44 set in 1982. A few weeks later, an aged-up Douglass lowered her time to a 22.21 at the New York Girls Federation Championships. She ended the high school season as the nation’s top female in the 50 free. In December, Douglass zoomed to a 22.04 at Winter Junior Nationals, tying Simone Manuel’s 15-16 NAG record in the event. Her 48.54 100 yard free clinched the no. 2 spot in the nation. Douglass is also a talented breaststroker— though she sticks to the sprint free events during high school season. Her best time in the 100 yard breast is 1:01.36. A rising junior, Douglass can look forward to two more years of high school domination. At this summer’s nationals, Douglass took 15th in the 50 free in 25.50. That’s extreme speed for the 15-yearold phenom.

— continued on 22




JULIA COOK, Junior Travis B. Bryan High School, Bryan, Texas Julia Cook is a junior superstar from Texas. She broke the mold with her sprint freestyle prowess this season...and also with her college plans. Cook attends Bryan High School, just outside of College Station—home to the Texas A&M Aggies. She even swims for Aggie Swim Club, but her hand displayed the Longhorn sign in enemy territory this spring when she gave a verbal commitment to the University of Texas. Cook won the 50 yard free for the third straight year at the Texas Class 5A High School State Championships. She broke her own state record from 2016 (22.49) with a 22.32 in February. Cook also owns the 5A state record in the 100 free, which she won for the second time in 2017. Her blistering time of 48.44 was the fastest in the country this year. Her 50 time ranked her second in the nation behind fellow runner-up Katherine Douglass. Cook led off the Bryan medley relay with a 24.33 50 back split—that is as fast as many Division I backstrokers leading off relays in the top 8 at NCAAs. Cook also dropped a lightning-fast 22.38 to lead off Bryan’s 200 free relay as well. The 16-year-old speedster won the 100 yard free and 100 back at the NCSA Spring Junior Nationals and finished second in the 50 free and 50 fly. She even made finals in the 50 breast. Cook may be a pure-bred sprinter, but she’s more than proficient in all four strokes, evidenced by her best time of 1:58.77 in the 200 IM. The Longhorns are gaining an anticipated weapon with Julia Cook. [PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE NORDMANN FAMILY]

LUCIE NORDMANN, Junior The Woodlands High School, The Woodlands, Texas Lucie Nordmann, a junior at The Woodlands High School in the Houston area, swept her events at the 2017 Texas Class 6A State High School Championships in February. Nordmann threw down a 22.69 to win the 50 free and set a 6A state record in prelims (22.68). She went on to dominate the 100 back, touching in 52.48—a state record and a nation-topping time for the 2016-17 high school season. Nordmann also led off The Woodlands’ winning 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays. There was some extra fuel on her internal 22


fire prior to the meet’s final event. The junior was informed that her team was tied with Austin Westlake before the 400 free relay. The lights were dimmed and dramatic music blasted prior to the titledeciding race. Nordmann stood face to face with the rival team’s lead-off swimmer—a close friend of hers—Dakota Luther (who recently qualified for Team USA’s World Championship team in the 200 meter fly). Nordmann swam a ferocious race, attacking every length to give her team a substantial lead in order to win the relay and the Texas 6A team title. Her lead-off split of 48.85 in the 400 free relay landed her the No. 4 spot in the NISCA 100 free rankings. The Woodlands edged out Austin Westlake by six points! This high school stud’s speed is not confined to yards. The 16-year-old’s best time in the 100 meter back is a swift 1:00.16, and she’s been a 2:09 in the 200 back. Nordmann is fresh off an impressive showing at the U.S. Nationals, placing in the top 16 in the 50, 100 and 200 backstroke as well as the 100 free.


BROOKE FORDE, Senior Sacred Heart Academy, Louisville, Ky. Brooke Forde’s talents are best seen in an Olympic-sized pool, but she’s no slouch in short course yards. The Stanford commit from Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville, Ky. diced nine seconds off of her best time in the 500 free this season (just like our HS Swimmer of the Year, Tankersley). The senior’s 4:39.87 was the only other sub-4:40 swim by a high school girl this season. Forde also dropped two seconds in her 200 free, crushing Kentucky competition at the state championship with a smoking 1:44.68. The only swimmer faster in the U.S. this year? Morgan Tankersley—just 3-tenths faster than Forde. There’s really nothing Forde cannot swim. It’s too bad that high school rules only allow two individual events at the state championships because Forde could shine in virtually every modality. Her breaststroke ability (1:01.61) meshed with her endurance makes Forde lethal in the IMs. She’s been a 1:55.55 in the 200 yard IM and a 4:02.51 in the 400 IM—a time that would have taken fifth at the 2017 women’s NCAA Championships. Forde also has experienced global success in long course. Last summer, she took silver in the 400 meter IM at the Junior PanPacific Championships in Maui, finishing 15th in the 400 IM and 19th in the 200 IM at the 2016 Olympic Trials. At the 2017 long course nationals, Forde broke 4:40 in the 400 IM for the first time, placing third overall with a 4:39.19, which pulls Forde into the top 20 in the world. Also notable was her 1:58.85 in the 200 free (11th). No telling what Forde will be capable of after a year of training with the talented pool of Cardinal swimmers. Forde is from chlorinated blood. Her mother, Tricia, swam at Northwestern; older brother, Mitchell, swam at Mizzou; and brother, Clayton, swims for Georgia. Her father, Pat, covers swimming and college sports for Yahoo Sports. 



EXPECTATIONS EXPECTATIONS Early on, many observers felt that Reece Whitley, who just completed his junior year at William Penn Charter High School (Pa.), could be a transcendent talent in swimming. Swimming World’s 2016-17 Male Swimmer of the Year (No. 1 rankings in the 100 breast and 200 IM with a national record in the 100 breast) hasn’t gotten there yet, but his continued growth—in the water and outside of it— combined with his talent and ability to focus could give Whitley all that he needs to reach the pinnacle.



eece Whitley was crushed. As a 16-year-old at his first Olympic Trials, he had serious hopes of making the finals in both breaststroke events, but particularly the 200...but it didn’t happen. In the previous year, Whitley had broken out onto the scene as a young breaststroke phenom with the build of a sprinter—or perhaps even a basketball player. He won two silver medals at the World Junior Championships in Singapore, and his 200 meter breast time of 2:11.30 from U.S. Nationals tied for seventh among Americans— with, of all people, Michael Phelps. Half of Phelps’ age, Whitley had won the “B” final at nationals minutes before Phelps finished fifth in the championship final in the exact same time. Afterward, the two posed for a photo, and Phelps, himself a tall 6-4, was dwarfed by the 6-9 Whitley. After all that, the world began to pay attention to Whitley in the months before Olympic Trials. He was named Sports Illustrated SportsKid of the Year, and the interview requests poured in. Whitley enjoyed all the attention, but Crystal Keelan, Whitley’s coach at Penn Charter Aquatic Club in Philadelphia, eventually began to see drawbacks. Even though Whitley was not missing practice, Keelan

did not like seeing her protégé committing so much of his time to media before such an important meet. “At the time, he did not think it bothered him at all,” she said. “He thought it was totally fine and didn’t affect his training, and I started to see it. That’s when we had to be like, ‘All of this is really cool, but at the end of the day, you have these interviews because you are a swimmer, so we need to focus on swimming.’” But when he got to Omaha, Neb., his results were just not there. He tied for 13th in the 100 breast and finished 14th in the 200 breast, his time in the longer event more than three seconds off his best. “At the one meet in my career that you didn’t want to swim slow at, I did. It was a reality check. I think that definitely humbled me,” Whitley said. “The way my career has gone, I’ve dropped boatloads of time every year. That one where you wanted to drop boatloads of time, it didn’t happen.” THE HIGH SCHOOL SCORCHER Whatever the reasons for his rough meet, Whitley left Olympic Trials wholly dissatisfied with his performance. Needing an outlet

— continued on 24 August 2017 / SWIMMINGWORLDMAGAZINE.COM


REECE WHITLEY— continued from 23 to let out his frustrations, the upcoming short course season plus his junior season at William Penn Charter High School were logical fits. Whitley’s high school championship meet would be the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships in late February in Lancaster, Pa. Before that, though, he warmed up at the

they knew what my mindset going into it was because they see me every day.” His big attempt at the 100 breast record would come on the second day of the two-day Easterns meet, but he almost knocked off another mark on Day 1. He won the 200 IM in 1:44.91, just 1-hundredth of a second off Curtis Ogren’s national independent school record of 1:44.90 from 2014. The next day, Keelan implored him to get the 100 breast record over with and break it in the morning. So he did— touching the wall in 52.35 to claim the top seed and take more than a half-second off Molacek’s record. In the evening, he went even faster, finishing in 51.76, a time that would have been good enough to crack the “A” final at the men’s NCAA Division I Championships one month later. Bolstered by the support of his team and seemingly by everyone in the entire facility, Whitley produced one of the best swims of his life. “It seemed like everybody was behind me the whole time,” Whitley said. “I’m probably not going to have that opportunity too many times over the next couple years. It was special.”

THE PARTNERSHIP When Whitley travels to big national meets, he USA Swimming “I’m stronger, faster, a lot smarter than I was. goes without any teammates. He’s not from a big Junior Nationals in I was that giddy little kid before, but I think right club program. Rather, it’s just Whitley and Keelan December in Conow, I’m definitely not going to be that giddy little on deck for Penn Charter at the biggest meets. lumbus, Ohio. Before Keelan even started coaching Whitley on To say that meet kid. I’m going to have to be the young guy who’s a full-time basis, the two clicked. While helping a went well would fun, but is going to work his butt off all the time.” pre-teen Whitley with his technique in private sesbe an understatesions, Keelan was immediately impressed. ment. Whitley won —Reece Whitley “He was just a sponge for knowledge, really four events—the wanting to know how to get faster, but also ‘Why 100 and 200 yard does it feel fast?’ or ‘Why are we working on this?’” breast plus the 200 she said. “I am maybe sometimes a bit too obsessive and 400 IM. His on details—like your time to 15 (meters) or your turn 200 breast time of or how fast you are from your feet to your push-off and stuff like 1:52.37 moved him into the all-time top 25 in that race. But Whitthat—and he really loves that and totally took everything in. I think ley says it was his effort in the 200 IM—which he won in 1:43.93— that was probably why the start of our relationship went so well.” that set the table for his entire season. Whitley explained that his relationship with Keelan has evolved “Just keeping last summer in my head every day is honestly into an older sister-younger brother type of partnership—the coach what motivated me to swim those breaststroke races and that IM, being “the bossy older sister who is chill sometimes” and the swimespecially,” Whitley said. “That 1:43 (in the 200 IM) the first night mer as “the pesky younger brother.” But on a deeper level, the two of juniors was really my fist-in-the-ground—‘I’m back.’ That’s have connected because of their status as relative minorities in kind of where that came from—the disappointment of last sumswimming. mer.” “There aren’t a lot of female coaches out there doing it,” WhitAt Easterns, Whitley’s mind was set on one goal: breaking recley said. “I know what it’s like—me being an African American in ords. Specifically, he wanted the national record in the 100 yard swimming at a high level—I think there are parallels. I think we see breast—Jacob Molacek’s 2014 mark of 52.92 that had just eluded eye-to-eye in that, and we respect that in each other, but at the same him one year earlier. time, we push each other a lot. I think that brings the best out of me, Accomplishing that while representing his school and his classjust how well we relate and how well we get along.” mates would mean something special for Whitley. “Just something about swimming with kids who don’t swim PREPARING FOR THE NEXT STEPS year-round and kids who you see every day in class and in the hallWhitley watched every race at the Olympic Games last summer, ways—because Penn Charter is a small place, so I see everyone not out of obligation, but because he wanted to see people whom he on the high school team,” Whitley said. “They’ve seen me miss knew well and considered mentors compete on the sport’s biggest that (national) record my freshman and sophomore years, so I think 24


stage. Even with Phelps, who won gold medals No. 19 through 23 in Rio, Whitley felt a connection. “He’s easy to talk to, and he’s the greatest of all time, but I didn’t really think about it that much when I was talking to him. I didn’t feel like I was talking to the guy who won eight gold medals in Beijing,” Whitley said. “He’s obviously not on deck at meets anymore, but whenever I get a chance to see Michael, he always has great things to say...always positive.” On Night 6 of the Olympics, Whitley watched as Simone Manuel became the first African American swimmer to win Olympic gold. Right off the bat, he was pumped to see an American earn an upset win, but after a few minutes, the enormity of the moment began to hit him. Manuel had just done something Whitley aspired to do and still aspires to do—change the sport for African American swimmers. “The gold medal is doing something in itself, but I probably didn’t realize until checking Twitter a half-hour later, that I was like, ‘Wow, she really changed the sport of swimming today,’ which was something really cool to see,” he said. “My mom was super-excited. I don’t know if she was in tears, but she was close. I was definitely excited for her, just because she’s representing the sport so well, and she’s representing black swimmers so well.” Whitley will have his chances to keep improving, to reach that Olympic-caliber level, where he could make a difference for young African Americans in the sport akin to what Manuel has done. Beginning in the fall of 2018, he will head west to Berkeley to begin his college career at Cal under Coach Dave Durden, who has helped churn out Olympians, including 200 breast Olympic silver medalist

Josh Prenot. Committing to the Golden Bears felt right from the start. Two years ago, Whitley saw good friend Mike Thomas go straight from the World Junior Championships to Berkeley to begin his freshman year, and Michael Jensen enrolled at Cal one year later. When he first spoke with Durden on the phone early in 2017, the two hit it off right away. “It felt like a 10-minute conversation, but it was an hour and 40 minutes,” Whitley said. “I feel like I’ve been committed to Cal for a good while now.” Keelan has gotten him to the brink of national-level excellence, and it will be Durden that Whitley entrusts to take him the rest of the way—from teenage prodigy to international star. But even seeing Whitley now compared to two years ago, the transition has already begun. The results in the long course pool have not shown up yet—Keelan explained that Penn Charter has extremely limited long course access, a problem Whitley will not have to deal with at Cal—but Whitley has come a long way from the 15-year-old kid who burst onto the scene enough to capture even Phelps’ attention two years ago at nationals. Giddiness has subsided, and thoughtfulness and composure has emerged in its place. “I’m stronger, faster, a lot smarter than I was...even last month. Two years is awhile for a kid in my position to grow,” he said. “I think that just comes from living life and growing older. I was that giddy little kid before, but I think right now—especially as I (prepare to) step into the Cal program—I’m definitely not going to be that giddy little kid. I’m going to have to be the young guy who’s fun, but is going to work his butt off all the time.” 


(From left) Michael Phelps and Reece Whitley at 2015 U.S. Nationals

Reece with his Penn Charter Aquatic Club coach, Crystal Keelan




IN THE HUNT With three No. 1 rankings and a national record,

Reece Whitley was the clear choice for Swimming World’s Male High School Swimmer of the Year, but the four runners-up also turned in a few No. 1 times of their own. BY DAVID RIEDER

THE TOP 5: MALE HIGH SCHOOL SWIMMERS OF THE YEAR Event Rankings 1. REECE WHITLEY (Jr.) William Penn Charter, Pa.

2. DREW KIBLER (Jr.) Carmel, Ind.

3. MICHAEL TAYLOR (Sr.) Johns Creek, Ga.

4. NICOLAS ALBIERO (Sr.) Christian Academy, Ky.

5. RYAN HOFFER (Sr.) Chaparral, Ariz.

Power Pts.


#1 100 Breast (51.84*)

#1 200 IM (1:44.91)

#1 (353.5)


#1 100 Free (43.02)

#1 200 Free (1:33.30)

#3T (343.0)


#1 100 Back (45.53)

#8 200 Free (1:35.16)

#2 (346.6)


#1 100 Fly (46.29)

#3 100 Back (47.23)

#5 (340.9)


#1 50 Free (19.34)

#4 100 Fly (46.97)

#3T (343.0)


Scoring: 3 points for a #1 ranking, 2 for #2, 1 for #3; and 3 for overall national record (*)


DREW KIBLER, Junior Carmel High School, Carmel, Ind. Carmel High School junior Drew Kibler led his team to a dominant performance at the Indiana Boys’ High School State Championships. It started off on the meet’s first day—in prelims—when he 26


knocked off Maxime Rooney’s national public high school record in the 200 yard free. His time of 1:33.30 beat out Rooney’s 1:33.70 from last year. The next day in finals, Kibler won four state titles. He went a little bit slower in the 200 free than he had in prelims, but his time of 1:33.79 still earned him the state championship by four seconds. A little while later, in what figured to be a tight duel between Kibler and rival Jack Franzman, Kibler pulled away to win the 100 free in a state-record time of 43.20. He then anchored Carmel’s 200 free relay in 19.28 to seal another state record for the Greyhounds in 1:21.21. To close the meet, he led off the 400 free relay in 43.02 to beat his own state record from earlier in the day, as Carmel again finished first. Days after the state championships, Kibler verbally committed to swim for Coach Eddie Reese at the University of Texas, beginning in the fall of 2018. He did not have his best performance at U.S. Nationals over the summer, but he swam in the 18-and-under bonus final in all five of his events (50-100-200 free and 100-200 fly), and he qualified to represent the United States at the Junior World Championships in August—coincidentally, at the same pool (the Indiana University Natatorium) where Carmel won their state title six months earlier.


MICHAEL TAYLOR, Senior Johns Creek High School, Johns Creek, Ga. Michael Taylor made the final in both backstroke events at the 2016 Olympic Trials, and he joined Team USA to compete at the Short Course World Championships the following December, where he made the semifinals in the 50 back. But before he headed south to Gainesville, Fla., to begin his NCAA career as a Florida Gator, Taylor still had one meet remaining while representing Johns Creek High School. When he did return for one last shot at high school competition at the Georgia state meet, Taylor ran roughshod over his competitors. In prelims, he took almost a second off a four-year-old state record in the 200 free, recording a time of 1:35.40. In finals, he lowered that mark to 1:35.16. But it was in his signature 100 back where Taylor was most impressive. One year after setting the state record in the event at 47.17, he lowered that mark to 45.75 in prelims before dropping his time again to 45.53 in the finals. Not only was that time the top mark among high schoolers in the country this season, but it also would have placed him 11th at this year’s men’s NCAA Division I Championships. Taylor will immediately step into a big role for the Gators team next season. He is already much faster than any backstroker who swam for Florida in 2016-17, so he figures to lead off a pair of medley relays that will include sprint superstar Caeleb Dressel—squads that should have a shot at breaking into the top three. Gregg Troy’s teams have always emerged as one of the country’s best teams— finishing in the top 10 for 18 straight years—and Taylor should be a big part of extending that success from Day 1. [PHOTO BY SAM UPSHAW JR.]

NICOLAS ALBIERO, Senior Christian Academy, Louisville, Ky. Nick Albiero took down two state records at the Kentucky High School State Championships in February—and both of those records belonged to a two-time U.S. Olympian, Nate Dusing, who set them way back in 1997. Albiero made quick work of both in prelims. First, he clocked 46.77 in the 100 fly, taking down Dusing’s pre-

vious mark of 47.10. In finals, he lowered it further to 46.29, which turned out to be the country’s best high school time this season. Albiero then blasted a 47.59 in the 100 back to top Dusing’s mark of 48.07. Again, he went even quicker in finals, touching in 47.23. But what’s even more impressive is that the 100 fly and 100 back might not even be Albiero’s best events. At USA Swimming’s Eastern Junior National Championships in December, Albiero finished in the top three in five different events: the 100-200 yard back, 100-200 fly and 200 IM. At nationals this past June, he blasted an impressive long course time of 1:58.88 to finish 14th in the 200 meter fly, and he was 10th in the 100 fly in 53.05. He also tied for 14th in the 100 back with a 55.55. Albiero’s father, Arthur, is the head coach at the University of Louisville, and Nick will join his dad with the Cardinals this fall. A younger Albiero sibling, Gabi, was the Kentucky state champion in the women’s 50 free this year. [PHOTO BY PETER H. BICK]

RYAN HOFFER, Senior Chaparral High School, Scottsdale, Ariz. One of the most talented high school swimmers of the past decade wrapped up his career at Chaparral High School this past fall with two more Arizona state titles. His 50 yard free time of 19.34 was tops in the country, and his 100 fly time of 46.97 was highly impressive. He also led his teammates to a pair of wins in the 200 and 400 free relays. But apparently, the state championship was just a warm-up. Hoffer next competed at USA Swimming’s Western Junior Nationals meet in Austin, Texas, and he won four individual events: the 50 and 100 free (19.06, 41.23), 100 back (45.58) and 100 fly (45.46). All of those efforts would have scored points at the 2017 NCAA Division I Championships, topped by his 100 free time, which would have placed fourth. (Incidentally, Hoffer’s 41.23 is more than a second faster than the overall national high school record of 42.34— David Nolan, 2011—but since the time was swum at a non-high school meet, it did not qualify as a record.) Hoffer has yet to master long course, and his highest finish at the U.S. National Championships this summer was 17th in both the 50 free and 50 fly. He also placed 18th in the 100 fly and 20th in the 100 free. But he can expect that to improve as he heads to Cal-Berkeley this fall to begin his collegiate career and train with Coach Dave Durden. In short course, though, Hoffer is already deadly quick. His underwater dolphin kick is a weapon that allows him to kick underwater to 15 meters, even in the freestyle races. He will begin his college career as one of the best sprinters in the country and should immediately contribute to Cal’s national championship-caliber relays. 








High School/Club



1. Brooke Forde

Sacred Heart, KY




2. Courtney Harnish

West York, PA




3. Maggie Aroesty

Long Beach, NY




4. Sierra Schmidt

Club Wolverine, MI




5. Kristen Romano

Long Beach, NY

Ohio St.



6. Nikol Popov

Valencia, CA




Conf/ NCAA Pts.*

7. Hannah Kukurugya

Crown Point, IN




7. Evie Pfeifer

Parkway West, MO




9. Lauren Pitzer

Fossil Ridge, TX




10. Anna Belousova

Nation’s Capital, MD

Texas A&M



High School/Club



Conf/ NCAA Pts.*

BOYS Name 1. Daniel Carr

Cheyenne Mtn., CO




1. Ryan Hoffer

Chaparral, AZ




1. Grant House

St. Xavier, OH




1. Bryce Mefford

Oak Ridge, CA




5. Nicolas Albiero

Christian Acad., KY




6. Alex Liang

Palo Alto, CA




7. Brennan Pastorek

Savannah CD, GA




8. Clark Beach

Matoaca, VA




8. Paul Delakis

Eau Claire Mem., WI

Ohio St.



8. Sean Grieshop

St. Dominic Savio, TX




Rankings per * Points are based on the Top 10 recruits’ best high school times and where these swimmers might have scored individually at their respective conference championships as well as this year’s Division I NCAAs. The points were calculated by assuming the swimmers would swim one event per day and based on the combination that would score the most individual points. However, in reality, a swimmer could double-up, or a coach could decide different events for their swimmers, based on team, individual or relay needs.


The high school Class of 2017 boasts several top recruits who should make an impact with their new teams at the college level.


Brooke Forde arrives at Stanford as the freshman most likely to make an impact at the 2018 Women’s NCAA Division I Championships. She’s an incredibly strong IMer whose 1:55.55 and 4:02.51 200 and 400 yard IMs would have finished among the top eight at this year’s championships. She has a number of event options—including the 200 and 500 freestyles in which she ranked as the second fastest high schooler this past season with her 1:44.68 and 4:39.87. Regardless which third event Coach Greg Meehan will have her swim, Forde should score big points for the defending champion Cardinal in her first year on college swimming’s biggest stage. Courtney Harnish's lifetime best times in some of her top events were set two and three years ago. If she can find her groove again at Georgia, the new Lady Bulldog should be able to make an immediate impact at NCAAs. She would have been a 200 and 500 yard freestyle and 200 butterfly “B” finalist at this year’s NCAAs with her lifetime bests (1:44.73, 4:39.13, 1:54.37). Sierra Schmidt is the distance ace of the high school Class of ’17. Her times in the 500 and 1650 (4:39.47, 15:57.89) put her in immediate contention for top 10 finishes on the national level. Michigan returns two of its top eight 500 freestyle finishers from the 2017 meet—Rose Bi (6th, 4:37.30) and G Ryan (8th, 4:40.28; 4:36.46p)—and with the addition of Schmidt, will look to cement their place among the top of the distance rankings. Maggie Aroesty has the fastest 100 yard breaststroke time of all incoming freshmen, a 58.98 that would have made her a college All-American this year. The USC freshman also has a 200 breaststroke best

capabilities as soon as he arrives on camtime (2:09.43) that sits just inside scoring pus. The versatile Hoffer (free, back, fly) range at NCAAs. Tennessee recruited the would have placed in the top four in both other top breaststroker, Nikol Popov, who sprint freestyles (18.71, 41.23). The future would have been an All-American in the Cal Bear could be the next sprinter to take 100 breast (59.58) and who also has scorthe NCAAs by storm. Hoffer will likely be ing ability in the 200 breast (2:08.92). Both dominant at the conference level, with best women will also be competing for a spot on times that would have won Pac-12 confertheir team’s medley relay. ence titles this season. Texas A&M could also pick up a few Brennan Pastorek stands out as the best breaststroke points on the national level, breaststroker of the bunch (54.29, 1:57.63). as Anna Belousova would have scored in this year’s NCAA 200 breast “B” final Maggie Aroesty with her 2:09.61. Kristen Romano is the best backstroker of the Class of ’17. But in an NCAAs that has become increasingly deep in backstroke, even Romano’s best times (53.36, 1:53.98) would not score points at NCAAs. However, she should be a big addition to Ohio State’s point total at the Big Ten Championships. Evie Pfeifer, [PHOTO BY TAYLOR BRIEN] who will be a valuable addition to Texas this fall, Courtney Harnish is the only top 10 recruit headed to the Big 12. With times that would have made her a runner-up in two conference events (200-500 free, 1:45.92-4:39.48), she’s also got scoring potential at the NCAA level in the 500. While neither swimmer is yet quick enough to earn a second swim at Paul Delakis will arrive at Ohio State NCAAs, both flyer/IMer Hannah Kukuwith similar breaststroke times, but he’ll rugya and freestyler Lauren Pitzer will probably be counted on more in the IMs be valuable additions to Stanford’s depth (1:45.76, 3:48.35). The 200 IM (1:46.06) at the conference level. Combined with is likely Pastorek’s third event at Stanford. Forde, they’re key pieces of the defending His fellow top-ranked freshman teammate, national champions’ Class of 2021. IMer/flyer Alex Liang, should also score points for the Cardinal at Pac-12s. Florida’s Clark Beach has the quickest 200 backstroke (1:41.31), but hasn’t Ryan Hoffer is above and beyond the yet developed the speed or the versatility leader of the boys’ high school Class of to back up that event in the way the other 2017. Based on his best high school times, backstrokers in this backstroke-heavy class he’s the only one with true NCAA scoring


have. Beach is within a half-second of what it took to score at NCAAs in the 200 back and would have been an SEC “A” finalist in the event this year. Cal’s Bryce Mefford (47.38, 1:42.18) and Daniel Carr (46.74, 1:42.71) should both score in the Pac-12 “A” final in at least one backstroke event, with potential to score in the 200 IM (Mefford 1:45.46, Carr 1:45.94). Sean Grieshop is the best distance swimmer of this class (4:15.53, 14:45.40 and a 3:44.30 400 IM). While he won’t likely be a relay contributor, he should still score an impressive number of points for the Golden Bears at Pac12s, and with improvement, could contribute at NCAAs. Freestyler/ IMer Grant House isn’t in NCAA scoring range yet, but he’s been on a quick upward trajectory and has great relay potential for Arizona State. His Grant House freestyle times and ASU Coach could quickly Bob Bowman develop into key relay pieces for the rapidly improving Sun Devils. Nicolas Albiero is the lone top recruit headed to the ACC, where he’ll be coached by his dad, Arthur Albiero, at Louisville. Nick has a good 200 IM (1:45.63) and a strong butterfly (46.29, 1:43.53), and also swims backstroke. His best times wouldn’t have qualified for top 16 at this year’s NCAAs, but he would have scored points at the conference championships.  Cathleen Pruden, a 2016 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, is Swimming World’s high school content manager. A four-time All-American and a three-time Academic All-American, she is now an assistant coach at Bowdoin College. August 2017 / SWIMMINGWORLDMAGAZINE.COM



ISHOF’S POSEIDON: MORE THAN A TROPHY STORY BY CHUCK WARNER PHOTOS PROVIDED BY INTERNATIONAL SWIMMING HALL OF FAME “Trophies tarnish and honors fade,” serves as an insight into the nature of fame—but not in this story that advanced aquatic art forever. It’s quite likely that swimming’s most spectacular “trophy” is the one that stands at the entrance to the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) in Fort Lauderdale. The bronze sculpture of the rugged face of Poseidon—Greek god of the sea—sits atop a 16-inch-high bronze base and a four-foot, four-inch wooden pedestal. If you are more than five feet tall, you can stare this god right in the eyes. The height and depth of Poseidon’s head and shoulders are imposing. His widespread arms seem to be protectively calming the seas for two stroking swimmers on a course left to one’s imagination. Before ISHOF opened in 1968, this work of art stood in the lobby entrance to the stunning theatre for swimming named the “Yale Exhibition Pool.” Many years ago, Poseidon watched us young swimmers on our path to practice each day. Pausing in front of it, I’d stretch up on my toes to get a better look at him. W hen I grew a few more inches, I could even see those two swimmers. W here did it come from? W hat did it mean? About a half century later, I’m discovering those answers and why it’s much more than a trophy. There is a theory in anthropology that modern humans descended from “Lucy,” the hominid whose 3.2 million-year-old bones were discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. Is it possible that an ancient, singular source also exists for competitive swimmers? Could the sport’s origin have something to do with Poseidon, the mythological god of the sea?

Yale’s Bob Kiphuth



A LEADER We won’t answer all of those questions here, but one of the most important people in the genealogy of competitive swimming is Robert John Herman Kiphuth. We find him right in the middle of the story of “Poseidon’s” creation. Want to find someone who popularized the sport of swimming as much as Michael Phelps did over the course of his career? Consider Coach Kiphuth.

Legendary Coach Peter Daland, an apprentice to Kiphuth, once pronounced with reverence, “Bob Kiphuth put the coat and tie on the swimming coach.” The late Coach Daland’s statement is more than one about fashion, but suggests Kiphuth’s beckon for respect from what had long been the image of a coach in a bathrobe at a bath house to a position of an honored educator—even among the Ivy-covered walls and professors at his place of employment, Yale University. Although Kiphuth never formerly attended college as a student, he became known in New Haven as “Mr. Yale” because of his contribution to the university. Besides his belief in the value of coaching, he believed in honoring the sport and its athletes. Coach Kiphuth was a living example of the principle, “Think globally, act locally.” In the 1920s and ’30s—before international air travel, television or computers—he promoted the sport by traveling to Europe and Japan by ocean liners, often accompanied by American or Yale squads. He authored a half-dozen books and founded Swimming World Magazine. But he also understood the

importance of contributing to local swimming development and regularly made the two-hour trip from New Haven down to New York City for meetings of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), then swimming’s governing body. A BENEFACTOR It was in 1953, through his service as treasurer and youth fitness director for the AAU, that Kiphuth serendipitously met another volunteer, Bruce Hopping. These two men were two-thirds of the entity that launched the inspiration of aquatic art to millions of people. Bruce Hopping’s resources and generosity were indispensable in making this happen. Hopping was born in Vietnam, the son of diplomats. He joined the army and was a pilot during World War II. He loved to swim and eventually became a swim coach at the Navy’s basic training center. His parents bequeathed him the family lumber fortune, and right about the time he met Bob Kiphuth, he started a foundation called “Kalos Kagathos.” Hopping explained, “I started the foundation because I wanted to put athletic fitness on a pedestal, much Kalos Kagathos Foundation founder Bruce Hopping (right) with ISHOF Executive Director Buck Dawson in 2003

like the Greeks did. I’m trying to perpetuate something that others had figured out long before all of us.” Coach Kiphuth had a clear idea, and Mr. Hopping had the resources, so the coach asked him to help. The coach approached Hopping about endowing a trophy that the AAU would award for service to swimming, the Amateur Athletic Union Swimming Award. Hopping immediately agreed to help, but initially envisioned something much different. He reportedly thought, perhaps, a silver cup? Although small in stature, standing only five feet, six inches tall, Kiphuth seemed to think big in nearly every regard. He was not only one of the chief promoters of swimming around the world, but also created the spectacular Yale Swimming Carnival, earned four USA Olympic head coaching stints, worked with engineers to design and construct the greatest spectator-seating swimming facility in the world (the Yale Exhibition Pool), and successfully pushed the NCAA toward greater support of American Olympic swimming success. Kiphuth believed swimming deserved a place of recognition among the world’s most elite sports and wanted more than a silver cup to do it. Bob Kiphuth asked Bruce Hopping to meet him at Princeton University so that he could introduce him to the third essential party to a new age of aquatic art—a man named Joe Brown.

AN ARTIST Renown sculptor Joe Brown Joe Brown played football at Temple University in Philadelphia, quit after two years, became captain of the boxing team, but dropped his studies and his boxing career in 1930. He posed for art classes to earn money, and one day tried his hand at fashioning a lump of clay into something else. Famed sculptor R. Tate McKenzie took him on as an apprentice for seven years, and then Brown was hired by Princeton to teach art and coach their boxing team. Brown had an appreciation for the drama in sport, which he translated into his subsequent works. Hopping’s Kalos Kagathos Foundation commissioned Brown to craft the figure of Poseidon that now sits at ISHOF. The trophy’s image conveys the importance of organizations creating a smooth, fair and honorable opportunity for swimmers to race within. The first recipient in 1954 was the International Federation for Aquatics (FINA). THEIR LEGACY Bruce Hopping has since become a legend for his support of aquatic art. His foundation has commissioned 16 awards that promote youth development through sports. They include awards given by Japan, Sweden, Russia as well as the NISCA Hall of Fame and Collegiate-Scholastic coaching awards. During his lifetime, Joe Brown created 400 detailed sculptures, many of them swimmers, mainly in bronze and primarily depicting extraordinary athletic figures. Four are displayed outside Citizens Bank Stadium in Philadelphia, home of the MLB Philadelphia Phillies baseball team. On Dec. 6, 1963, Bob Kiphuth was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon Johnson for his service to his country. He has been the only “swimming person” (swimmer, coach or volunteer) to achieve that honor. He was actually selected for the recognition by the late President John F. Kennedy, who had been a swimmer on the first Harvard swim team ever to defeat one of Kiphuth’s Yale teams. In 1965, Kiphuth was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. In 2003, Bruce Hopping joined him. Hopping is still very much alive in Laguna Hills, Calif., where at age 95, he still advocates for youth and the value of athletics. The last weekend of August 2017, a sojourn will take place to Fort Lauderdale for the ISHOF induction ceremonies and, perhaps, a visit to the Hall of Fame’s museum. There are many works of art on exhibit, some of them by Joe Brown. If you go, Poseidon will greet you at the entrance where, just like ISHOF, he represents the passion of people who believe competitive swimming holds an esteemed role in the world. You might lift the little ones up so they can see Joe Brown’s depiction of the god of the sea at work, and tell them this story. After all, it’s more than a trophy. 






the 2016 Olympic Trials, 19-yearold Katrina Konopka sat in the ready room for the final of the 50 meter freestyle on the final day of the meet. She and SwimMAC’s Madison Kennedy were the only two swimmers in the heat who had not yet qualified for the Olympic team. Typically, Konopka likes to chat it up in the ready room, but this was different. There were Olympic spots on the line. The rising sophomore at the University of Arizona had made huge strides to end up in a final at the 2016 Olympic Trials. She journeyed across the country, from Greenville, S.C., to Tucson, Ariz., to swim for the University of Arizona Wildcats. Rick DeMont, UA’s (recently retired) legendary sprint coach, made an immediate impact on happy-go-lucky Konopka. What has changed about her stroke since working with DeMont? “Everything!” Konopka said through a laugh. Coming from a club program that cranked out yards, it took Konopka awhile to be OK with doing less yardage and treat her freestyle like a work of art—carefully crafting it with technical attributes that will make it a modern masterpiece by season’s end. DeMont, an accomplished watercolor artist on the side, knows how to get sprinters to slow down, step back and critique their existing stroke in order to make changes and find places to inject more momentum. “He’s made me take ownership of my swimming,” Konopka said of DeMont. “I came to college with the ‘do-whatever-thecoach-says’ mentality. He’s taught me that 32


"It’s really weird. I’m very, very calm. I have a feeling that I know I’m going to be able to finish. I’ve trained my whole season for it. I’m ready for this moment. At Olympic was almost calming to me to be on a big stage like that, as weird as that is. Getting to race against the best in the world—it’s not terrifying, it’s exciting!”

—Katrina Konopka

if I’m in control of my own swimming, I can take it to the next level. He likes to say I’m driving my own car, and he’s in the passenger seat.” Konopka has found confidence—not in quantity of yards, but in the quantity of time she’s devoted to mulling her stroke over under DeMont’s watch. “Rhythm” is the word of the season. After a year-and-a-half of trying to make Konopka’s breath to her right faster and less disruptive, DeMont said, “Breathe to your left all practice.” After scrapping her in-a-rut, right-sided breathing technique, Konopka is finding her rhythm. Konopka has made a promise to herself: swimming must be fun. If it ever becomes a chore, she’ll quit. The now 20-year-old is majoring in biochemistry, so her schedule is chock-full, but she continues to find joy in the water. Konopka gave Swimming World a peek into her mind leading up to race day. After hearing her mentality articulated, it’s no mystery why swimming remains fun for this blooming sprint freestyler. AT THE HOTEL When Konopka is in her hotel room before a meet, “It’s just chill time.” She keeps her mind far from the pool. “I listen to music. I’m a huge TV watcher. ‘Shark Week’ was on during Trials last summer...I watched it all week,” she said. “I can’t think about the meet ahead of time. I’ll get nervous and start panicking.” Konopka wouldn’t ordinarily describe herself as a morning person, but on swim

meet mornings, she bounces out of bed. “I’m up and ready to go!” She loves casual chats with her Arizona teammates at breakfast, but conversation topics stay far from swimming. “I don’t start thinking about swimming until I’m in the car on the way to the meet,” Konopka said. “Then I’m just trying to focus on my breakout, my start, how I’m going to warm up.” WARM-UP The Konopka warm-up typically looks like this: 300 swim (50 free, 25 back), 100 kick, variety of drills, breath control work, heart rate 50s, then some bursty dive sprints or push 25s. “Breath control is an essential part of my meet warm-up,” Konopka said. “It calms me down—I have to keep my heart rate down to do it. That’s when I forget about everything, and all of a sudden, it’s just swimming. I finally relax.” After warm-up, Konopka starts to get antsy. “I have to talk to someone, anyone, about anything,” she laughs. “I have to talk, otherwise I just get in my head.” Konopka thinks back to Olympic Trials when it was just sprinters and milers left at the pool on Day 8. She talked to Arizona assistant coach Brandy Maben incessantly. “Who knows what I was even talking about?” Konopka said. When Konopka dons her racing suit,

her level of excitement spikes. Swimming re-enters her conversations because she’s, of course, still talking up a storm to evade nerves. READY ROOM Konopka hits the ready room and surveys the mood. If there are fellow chatters in her final heat, she’ll happily keep the conversation flowing. If it’s a silent, focused room of raw nerves, Konopka won’t break the silence. This latter picture was what she experienced in her 50 free Olympic Trials final—a room of eight of the world’s fastest women vying for one of two spots on the U.S. Olympic team...a palpable hunger to win. BEHIND THE BLOCKS Once Konopka walks out to the starting block, she finds someone on her team with whom to make eye ground her. Then she begins her stretching routine. The typical one-leg-up-on-the-block hamstring stretch followed by a Konopka original: “I have to do this jump handstand thing,” Konopka explained. “I put my hands on the block and jump—I get my heels up over my head. This ritual started when I was 8 years old. I always saw the big kids stretching, and I wanted to be like the big kids.” Thus, the Konopka Kickback was born. Once her name is announced, a strange zen washes over Konopka...

“It’s really weird. I’m very, very calm. I have a feeling that I know I’m going to be able to finish. I’ve trained my whole season for it. I’m ready for this moment. At Olympic was almost calming to me to be on a big stage like that, as weird as that is,” Konopka said. “Getting to race against the best in the world—it’s not terrifying, it’s exciting!” Yes, that is weird. But it’s how the mind of a sincerely confident swimmer works. Konopka mounts the block and takes two deep breaths...because “I don’t get a lot of air in the 50!” DeMont used to ask Konopka how many strokes she took after her 50 freestyle. She never had an answer. So now she’s made a habit of counting her strokes. “It keeps me in my own lane,” she said. “It’s just ‘1-2-3-4, how fast can I get to the other side?’” Last summer, Konopka crossed the 50-meter pool in 24.68 seconds in the Olympic Trials semifinal. She finished fifth in Olympic Trials, half a second outside of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team. But the experience only whetted Konopka’s appetite. In December, Konopka set her first world record as part of the U.S. women’s 4x50 medley relay at the 2016 Short Course World Championships. The 20-year-old has some big stages in her future—and fortunately, she doesn’t have stage fright.  After stretching before her race, Katrina follows that with a Konopka original: “I have to do this jump handstand thing,” she explained. “I put my hands on the block and jump—I get my heels up over my head. This ritual started when I was 8 years old. I always saw the big kids stretching, and I wanted to be like the big kids.” Thus, the Konopka Kickback was born.







Coaches Allison Beebe (high-performance coach, Santa Clara Swim Club) and John Smithson (assistant coach, Quest Swimming) share their philosophy on how to train their swimmers following the summer break.


is mid-August, and the summer championships are over. What to do with those lazy, hazy days of summer? Every coach, whether he or she has swimmers on quadrennial or seasonal plans, is in general agreement on the next step: rest and recovery. Allison Beebe, best known for her development of Olympic sprint gold medalist Simone Manuel, is now the high-performance coach at Santa Clara Swim Club (Calif.). She believes “a break at the end of the summer season is really important. Swimming can get intense over an extended period of time. It is healthy, both physically and mentally, to take some time away from the pool. “That said, your athletes have to be careful not to dig themselves into too big of a hole during the off season. With Winter Juniors being in early December and many college teams resting a little in late November for midseason invites, your athletes don’t want to put themselves in a position where they are still trying to get in shape in late October,” she says. “Generally, my athletes take one to two weeks away from the pool at the end of the summer. I do not encourage them to go near a pool, but I do encourage them to do some sort of physical activity three to four times a week for 30 to 45 minutes. “When they return to the pool, my top priorities are the following: • Starting the season swimming efficiently. I want swimmers building their strokes with as few technical flaws as possible. It is much easier to change mechanics when the athletes are getting back into shape as opposed to the middle of the season. • Not doing too much too fast. The last thing any coach wants is for an athlete to get hurt. “Over the first few weeks of swimming, I tend to do a lot of kick-



PICTURED > (ABOVE) Olympic gold medalist Simone Manuel (second from left) joined the First Colony Swim Team in Houston, Texas when she was 11 years old, where she was coached by Allison Beebe for seven years. Today, they live in California about 20 minutes from each other, with Manuel swimming at Stanford and Beebe now coaching with the Santa Clara Swim Club.

ing and stroke mechanic work. I think it is easier for the swimmers to get back into aerobic shape by kicking, and we set up their strokes for the season during the stroke mechanic work,” Beebe says. QUEST SWIMMING Assistant coach John Smithson is in his 13th year with Quest Swimming in Richmond, Va. As a swimmer, he was an eight-time NCAA Division II All-American at Clarion University of Pennsylvania (B.A., communications/athletic coaching, ’01). As a coach, he earned Virginia Senior Coach of the Year honors in 2015. He has had a significant influence in the training of NCAA standouts Jeff Newkirk (Texas) and Maddy Banic (Tennessee.) Current Richmond All-Metro swimmers Clark Beach and Camryn Curry are Quest athletes committed to Florida and Arizona State, respectively. “Quest likes to start the fall season with fundamentals that imprint a long(er) vessel. This means putting hips in the right place at the right time and maintaining balanced lines as the end result of a swimming movement,” he says. The types of sets and drills Quest coaches use to incorporate those elements include the following: • Long axis: single-arm, 4-count breathe-aways, 3/4 catch-up, side kicking, triple switch, stroke counting, etc.


out sets for time, timed swims and races, etc. “We often utilize equipment to overcome neurological inhibition as well. Such training incorporates active rest. We gradually progress to more passive rest as we approach important meets,” says Smithson. The Quest coach cautions, “Be careful of the word, ‘taper.’ It can imply a reduction in effort altogether for some swimmers. That is dangerous. We do not use the word, ‘taper,’ even though our kids

(From left) Jeff Newkirk and Maddy Banic are products of Quest Swimming in Richmond, Va., where John Smithson is in his 13th year as assistant coach. Both swimmers are now NCAA Division I All-Americans— Newkirk at Texas and Banic at Tennessee. Newkirk swam on Texas’ 800 free relay that set an American record (6:08.61) last March.

“When athletes have grasped the fundamentals, then we begin work with the following formula: Speed = Stroke Length x Stroke Rate (S=SL x SR). We establish stroke length first and then add stroke rate. We look for the ideal balance for each swimmer. “The best example of this presently is Katie Ledecky. She is about 5-11 and can maintain exceptional stroke length at a stroke rate of 1.2 seconds. No other swimmer can equal her stroke length at that stroke rate over distance and time. But we can try to get people toward it. “Clark Beach is the same for us in backstroke,” says Smithson. Beach, a national junior team member, posted a 1:41.31 at the Dolfin ISCA Junior Championships that would have placed him eighth at this year’s NCAA Division I Championships. “In the collegiate setting, coaches are challenged to condition swimmers for far fewer events and much more specialization than club coaches. That allows them to assign very specialized sets. In college, an athlete may swim three individual events and two relays in a three- to four-day period. In club swimming, someone may have three events a day plus a relay over the course of three to four days. And it is not unusual in USA Swimming for a swimmer to race upwards of 20-plus times as well as warm-ups and swim-downs during a championship meet,” he says. “Aerobic conditioning can happen in the early-season stages through drills and perfect swimming. We gradually increase distance and decrease intervals until we are satisfied that athletes have reached a desired aerobic capacity. “Following that training, we challenge them with peak performance sets in order to reach race speed or faster in a practice. These may be in the form of broken sets, up-and-


• Short Axis: breaststroke—3-count glide, kick the butt, 3 kick-3 pull-3 swim, whistle drill, count stroke, breaststroke that emphasizes breathing late; butterfly—single arm drills, single double single drills, kicking fly in various positions, shuffle drill, butterfly that emphasizes breathing early “The designed sets are ability-appropriate,” says Smithson. “We generally start with shorter distances that allow for success, and graduate swimmers to longer distances.

may say it. We use the term, ‘peak performance preparation.’ That way, we do not infer ‘less than.’ Instead, we have them think about ‘sharpening’ their skills and being ‘better than.’ “Our goal as coaches is preparing swimmers to eagerly anticipate the opportunities to race, as opposed to having them simply being ‘hopeful’ of the outcome,” says Smithson.  to download two preseason Michael J. Stott is an ASCA workouts from Coach Allison Beebe. Level 5 coach whose Collegiate School (Richmond, Va.) teams won nine state high school championships. He has been named a 2017 recipient of NISCA’s Outstanding Service Award.



When it comes to training, there are respected coaches


One way to train outside the box is for swimmers to do stadium steps—a popular activity with Coach Jack Bauerle’s teams at the University of Georgia: “Stadium steps are very much part of our August/September tradition, so much so that some of the second-year kids actually do some before they even come back (to school).”




and athletes who are able to think outside the box. And when they do, the swimming world takes notice. What follows is a sampling of divergent training methods used over the years. Swim coaches often spout the Einstein-attributed definition of insanity. It is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Consequently, some choose to deviate from traditional dryland and in-water training—a departure that can lead to raised eyebrows, reinvigorated and/or tired swimmers and improved performance. Consider the practices introduced by Randy Reese, now director of aquatics at the Clearwater Aquatic Team. He developed a reputation for many of his innovative theories on training and nutrition while head coach at the University of Florida—many of which came to be used by top American coaches. Foremost among them was having his Florida Gators swim upstream in the nearby Ichetucknee River, a pristine six-mile, 20-foot-wide by five-foot-deep river. He also had athletes do training workouts fully clothed and sometimes swim with a waist belt attached to a pulley and weights. Reese’s creative ideas also included invention of special arm paddles to create water resistance while correcting the motion of his swimmers’ strokes. Another favorite, which gained widespread acceptance from fellow coaches, was known as “wheels.” In a 2001 SwimNews article, Nikki Dryden, a nine-time NCAA All-American and two-time Canadian Olympian, recalls that wheels were a Reese brainchild: “When I arrived in 1993, they were still around to torture us.” It entailed “a two-by-four strapped to a small set of wheels and wrapped in a bit of foam. Swimmers placed this contraption under their knees and lay out in a push-up position.” They then ran up the inclines in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on their hands. Spoiler alert: gloves were a necessity for the exercise. For those swimmers “less inclined to torture, a simpler exercise such as push-ups with a hand clap in between would suffice,” wrote Dryden. TORTURE ON CAMPUS STILL LIVES Preseason conditioning is rife with different approaches. Before classes even begin, the weight room becomes a coaches’ “library” of choice. Holding class outside is an insidious way to get swimmers ready for the approaching season. In Athens, Georgia Bulldog coach Jack Bauerle entreats athletes to push 45-pound barbell plates across an Astroturf practice field. They push “the plates with their hands, pumping their legs very close to the ground. We usually do relays. If they win, they can sit one out,” he says. “Then we do the running part down at the stadium because that field (Sanford Stadium) is sacred. The stadium steps are very much a part of our August/September tradition, so much so that some of the second-year kids actually do some before they even come back (to school).”

For proof that such exercise works, Bauerle cites “virtual walkon”-turned-All-American Laura Conway (2006 500 yard free champion, 4:40.01) and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Shannon Vreeland, who were dismal at stadium steps prior to enrolling at Georgia. “Both ended up being very good at stadium steps,” says Bauerle. In addition to pool training, many notable coaches also add open water to their training schedule. One such advocate is Nation's Capital’s John Flanagan, who lives in Reston, Va. on Lake Thoreau. Not only is the exercise both fun and challenging, but it also gives swimmers some different scenery in which to train. It is from such divergent aquatic adventures that some of the country’s best open water athletes have emerged—e.g., Chip Peterson and Jordan Wilimovsky, not to mention legends Lynne Cox and Penny Lee Dean. PROVEN PRACTICES An early open water enthusiast was University of Alabama coach and five-time Olympic staffer Don Gambril, who often trained his athletes in Lake Tuscaloosa. He had swimmers go two miles from a boat launch to a dam. On a beach, they would do calisthenics and then swim back, mindful to watch for water moccasins. Earlier in his coaching career (pre-Alabama), Gambril had his swimmers do outdoor training near the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California, which helped him unlock some secrets to significant time improvements through short rest interval training. He discovered five-second rest intervals to be ideal to prevent swimmers from cramping. In the early 1960s, he took Nick Kirby from 1:56-plus to 1:47.9 his sophomore year in high school, equaling Jeff Farrell’s American record. “At first, we used short intervals only on distance swimmers, but later found them helpful for all events,” he says. Short rest sets were a staple. “Another favorite consisted of ten 200s interspersed by two loosening 50s on one minute, which yielded surprising quality.” Out of the pool, Gambril used altitude in preparation for the 1968 Olympics and often went to Mt. Baldy, a 10,064-foot mountain 50 miles east of Los Angeles, where his teams did various conditioning exercises, including climbing from the ski lift area to the summit and back for time. Posterity will forever link Gambril with the Exer-Genie. Utilized by NASA’s astronauts, the device worked by twisting a nylon rope around a core with a button that regulated resistance. “We did about 15 minutes daily using primarily a maximum static pull for 10 seconds, followed by a slow continued contraction throughout the entire range of motion,” he says. The training and abdominal work helped his swimmers to break world records in the women’s 100 free and 100-200 fly (Sharon Stouder), the 800 and 1500 meter free (Patty Caretto), the men’s 100 free (Zac Zorn) and

In addition to pool training, many notable coaches also add open water to their training schedule. Not only is the exercise both fun and challenging, but it also gives swimmers some different scenery in which to train.

400 free (Greg Charlton), and the men’s and women’s 800 meter free relays. HIGH VOLUME/LOW VOLUME Aquatic lore is replete with case histories on successful megayardage programs. Mark Schubert’s Mission Viejo “Animal Lane” was out of the box until he had so much success that the world followed suit. Richard Shoulberg at Germantown regularly pushed limits by subjecting his best swimmers to 10,000-to-30,000-yard race sets that boosted aerobic capacity and, more importantly, the confidence of swimmers such as David Wharton, Maddy and Fran Crippen and Trina Radke. Then there is the high-intensity, low-volume approach that has found a rapt following in the form of Ultra-Short Race-Pace Training. Based on scientific principles championed by sport scientist Dr. Brent Rushall, USRPT’s foremost and most successful practitioner is 18-year-old professional swimmer Michael Andrew. Over the last five years, Andrew has set a total of 78 national age group records. KEEPING ATHLETES ENGAGED As much as anything, keeping athletes engaged is probably as important as any one exercise. Former club and American University coach Joe Rogers occasionally introduced “East German runbacks,” a diabolical 50 x 50-meter run x 50-meter swim combination to elevate heart rates. Shoulberg loves Vasa Trainers and spin bikes. Cal’s Teri McKeever has utilized varying routines, mixing in a wide range of dryland training from Pilates and weights to exercise bikes and hip-hop dancing. Thanks to YouTube, who hasn’t seen Ryan Lochte wiggling his ropes or Tyler Clary climbing one in the middle of a SwimMAC pool? Clary also wrestles, and when the 2009 NCAA Swimmer of the Year trained in Fullerton with Jon Urbanchek, he practiced jiujitsu because “it looked interesting,” he says, and it allowed him to diversify his training. And isn’t engagement a key to any sport? Oftentimes climbing out of the pool is just as important as diving in.  Michael J. Stott is an ASCA Level 5 coach whose Collegiate School (Richmond, Va.) teams won nine state high school championships. He has been named a 2017 recipient of NISCA’s Outstanding to learn about some guidelines for open water training. Service Award. August 2017 / SWIMMINGWORLDMAGAZINE.COM





Winning can be a wonderfully positive part


of swimming—something


that fires and inspires the heart and mind of every athlete—IF the athlete knows they’re giving his or her every way...every day.


you’re a competitive swimmer—giving all you’ve got to everything you do, training day after day, striving to realize your potential and see your dreams come true—chances are you dream about, talk about and think about...winning! Winning is good, winning is wonderful...and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to win. However, there are some people who feel that thinking about, talking about and focusing on winning is a negative thing—that it’s in some way putting too much pressure on swimmers and causing them too much stress. They say that the concept of “winning” is placing too high an expectation on young swimmers...and that anything less than winning will cause swimmers to experience excessive emotional distress. Well, it all depends on how you look at winning. WINNING IS PREPARATION: PREPARING TO WIN IS EVERYTHING Winning is not about luck...or hope...or wishing. Luck, hope and wishing do not have anything to do with winning—they are very poor strategies for success. Winning is a result of preparing to win. It is more than merely showing up for training, swimming the laps and doing the stretches. A lot more. Winning is the cumulative effect of preparing every day to the best of your ability to consistently give all you have to all you do. Winning comes about when you, as an athlete, take ownership and responsibility for every aspect of your preparation...when you make an uncompromising commitment to out-prepare your com38


petitors in every aspect and in every detail—in and out of the water. Winning becomes a reality when you seek not to make training easier...but when you deliberately and purposefully aim to make your training more challenging and more demanding than any swimming competition could ever be. Winning is possible when training and preparation is completed with the same level of intensity, focus and concentration as you apply to racing. Yes, the concept of winning can be negative...but only when the expectation of success exceeds the level of commitment to prepare to be successful. To put it another way: Winning can be a wonderfully positive part of swimming— something that fires and inspires the heart and mind of every athlete—IF the athlete knows they’re giving his or her every way...every day. However, to the swimmer who dreams about medals and who talks about victory, but then does nothing about it...disappointment and frustration lie in wait. NEXT-LEVEL THINKING Swimmers who win will set their training standards well above the level they need to achieve at their next meet. For example, if you’re striving to win at state level, set your training standards to win at the national level. Want to win your local school meet? Prepare to a standard that would see you swim successfully at regional or state level. This is called “Next-Level Thinking”...and it works! By setting your training standards to a level higher than those of your target meet, you are always prepared to do your best when it really matters.

NOTHING IS CERTAIN, BUT... There’s nothing—nothing—you can do that will guarantee success. You can’t do anything...drink anything...or buy anything that will give you a 100 percent chance of winning. But, you can—by the way you the way you the way you manage your rest and recovery... by the way you attack you gym your dedication, your commitment and your relentless pursuit of excellence—increase the LIKELIHOOD of success. There are three things that underpin the likelihood of success: • Learning • Continuous Improvement • Commitment

more you can improve and the sooner you can achieve the winning results you desire. After each race—and at the end of every training session—ask yourself one simple question: “What did I learn today that will make me a better swimmer tomorrow?” This one question establishes a “learning mindset”—a state of mind that many great achievers adopt to ensure they learn faster and grow their experience and knowledge base sooner to gain an edge over their competitors.

“Winning is

WINNING IS CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT One of the biggest obstacles to winning itself. When people win, they will often stop learning. They believe that if they’ve won, then they’ve stumbled on the “secret to success.” As a result, they think that all they need to do to win again is to do the same thing over and over and over. However, in swimming—as it is in all sports and in all walks of life—success is a moving target. Times and standards are always improving, and the moment that you—as a swimmer (or your coach, for that matter)—cease striving to learn, improve and get better through intelligent changes to training and preparation’s over!

good, winning is wonderful...and there’s nothing

WINNING IS LEARNING Winning is learning, but it’s more than just learning to win. Every day...every training set...every race...everything you do has two aspects: 1) doing it NOW and learning from it...2) so that you can do it better the NEXT TIME. Too many swimmers just “DO”—they train, they race, but they don’t learn from the experience. So as a result, their capacity to improve is limited. Learning faster means improving faster—the more you learn, the

wrong with

wanting to win.”

— continued on 40



GOLDMINDS— continued from 39 There’s an old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This means that if what you’re doing is working, don’t change what you’re doing. However, there’s a much better old saying that applies more appropriately to competitive swimming: “If it ain’t broke, tear it down and smash it.” No matter how successful you are, you can always get better. WINNING IS COMMITMENT One of the most important phrases that someone who wants to win can learn—and live by—is, “It takes what it takes.” Once you’ve made the commitment to be successful, then it takes what it takes. If winning takes getting out of bed at 4 a.m. six mornings a week, then it takes what it takes. If winning takes doing 30 minutes of extra dryland training by yourself in your own garage with old rusty weight training equipment five days a week instead of watching TV, then it takes what it takes. If winning takes drinking fresh water and freshly squeezed juices instead of gulping down massive sodas, then it takes what it takes. If winning takes going to bed an hour earlier each night so you can get an extra night’s sleep every week—and turning off all “screens” at 8 p.m. to ensure the quality of your sleep is enhanced— then it takes what it takes. Commitment is the key to it all.  Wayne Goldsmith is one of the world’s leading experts in elite-level swimming and high-performance sport. Be sure to check out Goldsmith’s websites at and



SUMMARY 1. Winning is great. Winning is wonderful. It is normal and natural to think about, talk about and dream about winning. 2. However, just thinking and talking and dreaming about winning will not make it happen. There is no magic pill for “fairy dust” Harry Potter wand that you can wave and miraculously turn your hopes and dreams and wishes into medals. 3. The key to winning in swimming is commitment. Do whatever it takes in your preparation every day to increase the LIKELIHOOD of success. 4. Winning your next race starts by winning the workout. Attack your training sessions—in the the gym... wherever you sweat for success—with the same intensity and ferocity that you give to your meets. When your preparation is as competitive as your racing, your racing becomes easier, and winning becomes more likely. 5. Most importantly, for the swimmer genuinely committed to winning, there is no difference between winning and losing. If you win, get up the next day, and do all you can to get better. If you lose, get up the next day, and do all you can to get better. Winning is not an end in itself: it’s a lifelong journey of learning, continuous improvement and striving to be all you can be.

to download a real-life story on winning.




After beginning his coaching career in Florida, Paul Silver spent 17 years at the Raleigh Swim Association before founding his Marlins of Raleigh in 2001 and growing the program to more than 600 swimmers. Q. SWIMMING WORLD: You started serious swimming relatively late. A. Coach Paul Silver: Although we had a pool in our yard and a beach house, I played football and only started summer league when I was 15. I began year-round swimming at 18, fell in love with it, and enjoyed the people involved in the sport. SW: Mike Eddy and Gregg Troy were great influences. Any others? PS: My parents were both college professors. I always wanted to help kids learn, and I took great joy in seeing them mature. Mike (Eddy) was my club coach while in school at Florida State. He gave me his beat-up copy of Doc Counsilman’s “The Science of Swimming.” I devoured it. Gregg Troy hired me at Bolles when I was 22, and he really mentored me. He allowed me to succeed as well as fail, and he showed great confidence in me. From him, I learned that athletes could do more than they thought. Both coaches taught me that caring is the first key to a positive relationship. Pat Hogan has also been a big asset in helping us with the business side of building MOR (Marlins of Raleigh). SW: What did you learn from Coach Troy about pushing the right buttons? PS: Gregg is so good about seeing potential in people and caring about them. He knew just how to motivate the kids we had at Bolles. When they achieved difficult practice times, they felt really proud. SW: Assistant coaches can make or break a program. True or false? PS: Absolutely. Five of our nine full-time coaches have worked with us for more than nine years, and I’ve known those five for much longer. With three sites, it’s crucial that we are all on the same page philosophi-

cally. Some of our newer coaches have brought different perspectives on training, psychology or team organization and operations. Most importantly, they all care about young people and helping them grow. Surround yourself with talented people, and you will be successful.

Coach Paul Silver Head Coach Marlins of Raleigh Raleigh, North Carolina

SW: You have grown Marlins of Raleigh from six to more than 600 swimmers. How do you get kids to push one another in practice? PS: We had a group of girls about 10 years ago who were just ultracompetitive and never wanted to lose. From there, our swimmers began to see the value of encouraging and challenging each other. Every practice is loud with lots of people cheering and keeping the atmosphere positive, which helps them enjoy the successes and weather the more difficult times.

• Florida State University, B.S., commercial recreation, ’82

SW: Do you still use a nine-week training cycle—i.e., one week aerobic, one week anaerobic threshold, one week lactate with recovery? PS: Yes, it allows the athlete to challenge one energy system. Once they adapt, they move on to a different challenge. We do more quality than we did 15 years ago, but our athletes always know they are in really good shape and can swim anything.

• Has developed three USA Swimming National Junior Team members: Kirsten Smith (2006), Madison Homovich (2016) and Ashley McCauley (2015), who was coached by MOR’s North Raleigh staff

SW: How do you show your swimmers that you believe in them? PS: I have individual goal meetings with each swimmer in our group, and we discuss daily, seasonal and long-term goals. We discuss how short-term goals are a process in achieving their long-term goals. Expecting swimmers to do the right thing and paying attention to technique shows them that we believe they can all be special.

In the early 1980s, Silver coached at the Area Tallahassee Aquatic Club, Swim Florida and The Bolles School. From 1984 to 2001, he was head coach at the Raleigh Swimming Association, where he trained three junior national champions. In 2001, he founded the Marlins of Raleigh Swim Team. Admired for his organizational abilities, he is currently a member of USA Swimming’s senior development committee and the North Carolina Swimming board of directors.

— continued on 44

• Volunteer assistant coach, North Carolina State University (2009-11) • Three-time North Carolina Swimming Coach of the Year • USA Swimming National Select Camp Staff (2006, 2009, 2011) • Assistant coach, U.S. Olympic Festival (1991) • Has produced 28 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifiers since 2000, including 13 in 2016

• Placed Justin Ress on NCSA Junior National All-Star team of which Silver was a coach • ASCA Level 5 coach







Zach Brown

Madison Homovich Marlins of Raleigh (MOR) swimmers Zach Brown and Madison Homovich are rising seniors in high school. They benefit from constant cheering at practice, have had outstanding recent meets and made names for themselves beyond their native North Carolina.






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ZACH BROWN Brown had stellar 2016 long course and 2016-17 short course seasons. In March 2016 at the Southern Premier Meet in Knoxville, Tenn., he achieved his first Olympic Trials cut with a 2:01.33 in the 200 meter fly while racing Ryan Lochte. The Olympian was three seconds ahead at the 150 before Brown burned home in 31.3, making up all but .10 of the deficit.  At Olympic Trials, he went a best 200 long course fly time of 2:00.07 to finish as the third fastest 18-and-under male. In December at  the Speedo Winter Junior Championships, he clocked 1:46.59 in the “A” final of the 200 yard fly. At NCSA Juniors in March, he helped MOR to a secondplace combined team finish by scoring points in the 500 free (4:27.57), 1000 free (9:18.39), 100-200 fly (48.26-1:46.19) and 200-400 IM (1:50.65-3:52.55). “Zach started swimming for MOR at age 8 and really started to improve at age 12,” says Silver. “He can swim lots of different events and trains hard every day for all of them. He has kicked 1:00 short course on a board for a 100 and 11.2 for a 25

underwater. His daily work ethic is outstanding, and he is very aware of his technique. A gradual increase in yardage from one year to the next, attention to small technical details, switching fly breathing to a twoup/one-down pattern, training with friends and loud cheering at practice have been the factors in his improvement,” says Silver. HARDEST SETS Mexican set—make it and earn a taco! Short Course Yards • 100 free @ 1:02.5 • 10 x 50 pull @ :45 • 200 @ 2:05 • 9 x 50 pull @ :45 • 300 @ 3:07.5 • 8 x 50 pull @ :45 • 400 @ 4:10 • 7 x 50 @ :40 • 500 @ 5:12.5 • 6 x 50 pull @ :45 • 600 @ 6:15 • 5 x 50 pull @ :45 • 700 @ 7:17.5 • 4 x 50 pull @ :45 • 800 @ 8:20 • 3 x 50 pull @ :45 • 900 @ 9:22.5 • 2 x 50 pull @ :45 • 1000 @ 10:25 • 1 x 50 pull @ :45 Long Course • 9 x 300 on 4:30 3x the following: #1 free cruise #2 fly/free by 50s #3 100 fly, 50 free

Coach Silver: “Number 9 is all fly. Zach went 3:34.” MADISON HOMOVICH Homovich has been a Tar Heel State phenom for more than five years, and she has increasingly gained international recognition. A two-time USA Swimming junior national team member, she owns NC Swimming state records in the 11-12, 13-14, 1516 and 15-18 age groups. Her 4:12.86 in the 400 meter free at the 2016 Olympic Trials put her on the team that competed at the U.S. Junior Pan Pac Championships, where she went 8:36.66 in her 800 free. Last December, she helped the MOR girls to a fifth-place finish at the Speedo Winter Juniors where she won the 1650 with a 16:10.50 and also clocked a 4:40.95 in the 500 free. Swimming unshaved, at the NCSA meet in March 2017, Homovich won the high-point trophy while registering a 9:38.16 in the 1000 free and a 1:55.88 in the 200 yard back. “Prior to joining MOR in 2015, Maddie was well coached by Kathy McKee in Chapel Hill,” says Silver. “These days, she drives 34 miles one way to nine practices a week. She has been chosen for various state and national camps, and she’s had the opportunity to hear elite athletes such as Lauren Perdue speak about their careers. “Maddie is one of the happiest kids I’ve ever met. She has a great work ethic, loves to compete on a daily basis and is always supporting her teammates at practice. Her goodnatured banter keeps everyone loose. She is very in tune with her stroke and communicates well about what feels good and what she needs to work on. She is very passionate about the sport,” says her coach.


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HARDEST SETS Short Course Yards • 100 x 100 as follows: 10 @ 1:20, 10 @ 1:15, 80 @ 1:05 Coach Silver: “Maddie made all but one, and this set has given her a lot of confidence in her training.” Long Course • 40 x 50 @ :50 (holding 400 pace) Coach Silver: “Maddie averages about 31.7. This set helps her get into a rhythm and hold it. The focus is on stroke count and tempo.” 

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Q&A— continued from 41 SW: What is the value of a Greg Burgess team visit? PS: Our team sponsor, Speedo, sends an Olympian to do a clinic and speak at our annual awards ceremony. Greg, the 1992 200 IM Olympic silver medalist, has visited us twice. When you marry his stories about goal setting and hard work with his accomplished military career, it has quite an impact. SW: What is the importance of explaining team goals to swimmers? PS: After the individual goal-setting meetings, we review what we can accomplish at championship meets. In practice, I constantly reference individual and team goals. At championship meets, it helps athletes perform better when they are swimming for something greater than themselves. We won our first North Carolina senior championship in 2008 and have since placed first at 2015 Futures, second at 2017 NCSA Juniors, fifth at 2016 December Juniors and fifth at the 2016 U.S. Open. One goal is to have every male in a group go under five minutes in the 500. The last swimmer to get under 5:00 is treated as a hero. SW: What is the importance of explaining team goals to parents? PS: This is crucial. We have a parent meeting in October each year to explain the goals and expectations of the group. This helps them understand why their kids are working so hard. We also take pride in our academic success. Last year, we had 14 USA Swimming Scholastic All-Americans, while the whole group maintained a 92 percent practice attendance.



SW: What are some pros and cons of a parent board of directors? PS: The pros of a parent board are the collective wisdom and expertise, particularly if you have an attorney or accountant on the board. For young coaches, such a board can be a real asset. The main con is that some boards do function well in short term, but in the long run, the absence of consistent leadership can lead to coach turnover. In a coach-run team, there are still athlete and administrative challenges, however the professional staff gets to determine how to deal with it. This is a much more efficient business model. SW: What kind of dryland program do you have for your senior swimmers and your age groupers? PS: On Monday-Wednesday-Friday, our seniors do 10-minute dynamic warm-up and 10 minutes of planks and abs. On Tuesday and Thursday, we add 30 minutes of shoulder bands and a med ball routine. We lift weights Monday-Wednesday-Saturday for 50 minutes at a local health club. The weight program is designed by our personal fitness trainer, and it has three progressive levels. A strong and fit swimmer is best equipped to maintain technique over time. For our age groupers, we stress flexibility in our 8-and-unders, coordination in our 9-12-year-olds and core strength in our 1314s. Most groups do dryland three times a week for 30 minutes. SW: MOR volume: Dave Salo or Richard Shoulberg? PS: Both coaches clearly get results. We do more than Salo, but less than Shoulberg. In a regular week during school, we have nine practices and swim 58,000 to 64,000 yards.

In our cycles, we train different energy systems, but the key component is purposeful work with attention to details such as stroke/kick counts, etc. We have had a lot of success in 200+ events, but also had a female miler split 23.3 on a relay and another swimmer who excelled from 1000 down to a 19.7 50 free relay split. SW: What percentage of your workouts is devoted to kicking? PS: Probably 15 to 20 percent, but we kick hard. We really work underwaters. Several years ago, Bob Gillett did a great clinic on underwater kicking and the .45-kick tempo. We do 25s underwater kick regularly and have had a boy kick 10.3 and a girl kick 12.2. SW: MOR has a reputation for its charitable contributions. PS: The first year I started MOR, we had 30 swimmers and no money. We decided to do a swim-a-thon to raise money for assistant coaches and pool space. Then 9/11 occurred, and one of our swimmer’s uncle was killed. We donated 15 percent of our swim-a-thon to a trust for this man’s five children. It gave our swimmers a real sense of making a positive impact on the world around us. Each year, we donate a portion of our swim-a-thon funds to a charity. Past beneficiaries include Hurricane Katrina Relief, Juvenile Diabetes and Alzheimer’s North Carolina.  Michael J. Stott is an ASCA Level 5 coach whose Collegiate School (Richmond, Va.) teams won nine state high school championships. He has been named a 2017 recipient of NISCA’s Outstanding Service Award.

1 KNEELING CABLE BACKSTROKE PULLEY While on your knees facing away from the pulling machine, alternate a backstroke underwater pull.

2 TRX BACKSTROKE RECOVERY While facing the attached portion of the TRX strap, raise one arm into a backstroke recovery position, leaving the other arm by your side. Slowly alternate both arms at the same time as you rotate through the hips.

3 SUPINE STABILITY BALL BACKSTROKE While lying supine on a stability ball with a stretch cord in each hand, alternate pulling from an overhead position. Slightly rotate your body through the core and hips, and alternate your arms as if stroking.

4 SUPINE DUMBBELL BACKSTROKE FLUTTER KICK While lying on a bench or on the floor in a supine position, begin flutter-kicking your legs six inches off the ground. With light weights in your hands, rotate your arms in an alternating motion from the floor to a vertical position.



BACKSTROKE BY J.R. ROSANIA PHOTOS BY EMMI BRYTOWSKI DEMONSTRATED BY NORIKO INADA The second stroke in the individual medley event is backstroke. Since it is the only stroke swum completely on one’s back, this creates several different dynamics than the other three strokes. Core strength and body position are essential when swimming backstroke, as are a strong kick and a long, fluid pull stroke. This month’s article features several exercises and body position movements to help create the perfect line while swimming backstroke. Focus on technique during these exercises while trying to create the proper mechanics and positions on land that you would like to replicate in the water. Perform these exercises two to three times a week for 12 to 15 reps, and use the proper weight with which you can complete all of the repetitions. Discontinue these exercises seven to 10 days before your most important competition.  MEET THE TRAINER J.R. Rosania, B.S., exercise science, is one of the nation’s top performance enhancement coaches. He is the owner and CEO of Healthplex, LLC, and has finished the Ironman Triathlon 18 times. He also serves as Swimming World Magazine’s fitness trainer and was named one of “America’s Top Trainers” by Men’s Journal and Vogue magazines. Check out Rosania’s website at www. MEET THE ATHLETE Noriko Inada, 38, swam for Japan at the 1992, 2000 and 2004 Olympics. She now swims Masters for Phoenix Swim Club, and owns Masters world records in the women’s 25-29, 30-34 and 35-39 age groups.

NOTICE All swimming and dryland training instruction should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach or instructor, and in circumstances that ensure the safety of the participants.





Zoe Skirboll


Zoe Skirboll, 12, of Racer X Aquatics (Pittsburgh, Pa.) is no stranger to breaking records, having set numerous national age group (NAG) records as a 10-year-old. Since aging-up into the 11-12 division, Skirboll has continued her record-breaking ways. At the 2017 Dolfin Elite Showcase Classic, April 5-8, in Clearwater, Fla., she bettered the 50 yard breaststroke NAG mark twice on the first day of the meet, delivering a 29.18 in prelims to take down the previous standard of 29.23 before lowering her time further to 28.70. Skirboll trains with her father, Jim, who told Swimming World that she does not like to lose—a trait she has proven time and time again by her NAGs and by holding the second fastest all-time performances in both the 11-12 100 yard breast (1:03.00, 4-7-17) and 100 IM (57.47, 4-6-17). She has found success outside of the pool as well, making the high honor roll list at Dorseyville Middle School and being well known to friends and competitors for her kindness. Additionally, she has a strong business interest in Bella Christie and Lil’ Z’s Sweet Boutique with two locations in Pittsburgh (see www. “Lil Z” stands for Zoe. 




Leading the team cheers and getting everyone pumped up to swim fast...and


always having a smile on my face.

4x50 on :50


4x50 on :40

OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS? I attribute my improvements to my family and friends for always cheering me teammates and competitors for pushing me to be the best

4x50 on :45 1x50 on :35

(3 Rounds: #1 free, #2 back, #3 fly)

swimmer I can mother for always being proud of me no matter the


never losing faith in me and for always helping me strive to be the best I

because of his attitude toward his accomplishments. He is a very humble

outcome of a race—as long as I tried my best...and my coach/father for

The swimmer who has impacted me the most is Michael Andrew—especially

can be.

and polite person...and he does not let negative people stop him from being the best he can be.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS FOR THE UPCOMING SEASON? My goals that I hope to achieve for the upcoming season is to final at

junior nationals and break the national age group record in the 50 meter breast (33.05 by Olivia Calegan from 2012).



WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE HOBBIES? Traveling, skateboarding, hiking, photography.


Sponsored by



DAVE ROLLINS / Head Women’s Coach, Florida Gulf Coast University

I believe that at the end of a championship meet—as long as there is not another major competition to prepare for—an athlete should get a seven-day break. Too often, as coaches, we push athletes back into the water too soon after a championship meet, and they can lose motivation or become a distraction to others. A week is a good amount of time to reset the mind, give the body a rest and allow yourself, as a coach, to do the same. I personally like a week because after about seven days, I start to lose my mind and need to get back to work! A seven-day break also allows them not to lose too much of their feel for the water when they come back. Longer breaks can have an adverse effect on their ability to get back to training. While every athlete is different, I’ve found that a couple sevenday breaks inside a calendar year have an incredibly positive effect on the athletes’ mental psyches, which, any top level athlete will tell you, need a reboot from time to time during the year.

TRACY SLUSSER / Associate Head Women’s Coach, Stanford University [PHOTO BY PETER H. BICK]

I believe that taking a break is more important mentally than physically in our sport. The time of that break is dependent upon the season and what is ahead. It usually makes the most sense to take a break after a focus meet—end of March or mid-August. I think the duration of the break also depends on what is ahead. In March, it may make sense to take a shorter break if you have a focus meet in June versus a longer break if your focus meet is in August. If you have the time in August, you may want to take a two- to three-week break. Taking a “break” from swimming is just that—a break from swimming...swimmers are still athletes, even on a break. We encourage our athletes to be athletic every day and have fun with

it. Go for a run or a hike, take that hip-hop dance class that you could never fit in your schedule. Enjoy being active and healthy.

PAUL STAFFORD / Head Coach, Tucson Ford Aquatics [PHOTO BY JACOB CHINN]

It is important to take breaks from training and/or to implement cross training to avoid “stagnation” in training—to let the body fully recover, to train muscles in different ways and to take a mental break from the “training grind” that an endurance sport like ours requires. We typically approach the swim year in three phases or mini seasons: fall, September to December; winter, January to April; and summer, long course season. We build in breaks, and we encourage and educate both swimmers and parents on how these are part of the long-term developmental process. Usually, it’s one to two weeks in December, dependent on level; one week in late March after championship season; and two to three weeks in August after the summer championships. One of the biggest issues is the myth of the “excused absence.” Not sure who it was that said, “Miss one day in the gym, and you know it...miss two days, and your competitor knows it.” I struggle with the perspective that missed practices for important reasons— i.e., graduations, weddings, short three-to-four-day family trips, tests, nail appointments—do not count as missed practices since they were for important reasons. But it is still missed training! When you factor this in, along with the normal missed practices throughout a training phase—based on the teenage condition in this day and age—and the net result is a significant percentage of deficiency in preparation. Breaks are good. Even letting the body go for a bit is good. Diverse forms of activity are suggested. Timing of breaks is critical. There is no such thing as an “excused absence,” and expectations must be in line with actions as far as this goes. I’m starting a side business as a “family vacation planner” to help alleviate this issue!  August 2017 / SWIMMINGWORLDMAGAZINE.COM


After a testing 2016 in which he failed to make his third Olympic team, Matt Grevers launched into a redemptive summer of swimming. Grevers won the 100 backstroke at the Phillips 66 National Championships in Indianapolis, earning his ticket to his fourth World Championships— this one in Budapest, Hungary. Many fans wept with Grevers after his heartwrenching third-place finish at the 2016 Olympic Trials. In Indianapolis, the same fanbase jumped with glee to see Grevers make it back to the international stage.

To read more about Matt Grevers’ story, check out David Rieder's online feature:

Sponsored by

https://www.swimmingworldmagazine. com/news/one-year-later-matt-greversredeems-himself-and-smiles/ [PHOTO BY PETER H. BICK]

The Subscription Box Service for Competitive Swimmers Take 25% off your first month of Swimfluence with code "SW" at



Swimming World August 2017  

Juniors Reece Whitley (William Penn Charter High School, Pa.) and Morgan Tankersley (Plant High School, Fla.) were named Swimming World’s Ma...

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