Elmbrook Masters' 100x100's: Recipe for Success

What?! You want me to do what?! Yes, 100x100 is a daunting task; however, there is a group in Wisconsin that welcomes this killer set with open arms.

Elmbrook Masters of Wisconsin Masters Swimming began their traditional 100x100 challenge set in 2004. Bradley Hext, Tim Young, Laren Tiltmann and Mark Kaczmarek were the "Master" minds behind this, what some might call crazy, workout. With a little inspiration from another team, the Naperville Waves, our guys decided we should give it a try. "There's not a whole lot that's exciting and new in Wisconsin during those winter months, and I think that the team just needed something new to rev its engines before the push to Nationals in Indy that year," said Trina Schaetz, an Elmbrook Masters swimmer.

100x100's? Really?
Though it seems as though the set might lack creativity, Elmbrook Masters works hard to make this challenge set fun and innovative. Trina describes the atmosphere before the annual swim:

[The pool deck] is really "buzzing." One by one, old friends and current teammates come through the door with their gear for the morning. Everyone smiles when they see another friendly face come in. Each is greeted with shouts of "hello!" It's just plain happiness from the people already there that another friend decided to stop by. I know that everyone feels welcome and the excitement of seeing friends show up for a set like this really builds.

After people arrive, they start setting out their gear and goodies that they brought to share. Before you know it, our tables are FULL of PowerBars, cookies, water bottles, sports drinks and all sorts of comforting treats to get us through. It's like the party builds before our eyes.

Then there's the stretching out and the gathering behind the lanes. The clock is started and people know that we are going to get started in 5 minutes exactly. Before you know it, the psych-up music is pumping out of the radio, and music just really gets a person going. Then it's like New Year's, everyone shouts out as the last 10 seconds count down, "10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1," and the leaders dive right in.

100x100's may seem long, but Elmbrook Masters breaks the set up into 10 sets of 10x100's. Each mini-set is unique. "It's great to have 10 sets of 10," said Trina. She continued, "That just makes it better already-doesn't it? 100 just sounds too big to bite off." So, what do Elmbrook Masters' mini-sets of 10x100's look like?

1-10: Warm up, stretch out and loosen up freestyle or mix, your choice.
• Pull half is an option during warm-up.

11-20: 50 kick/50 swim free with fins. Again, loosen up your legs.
(Challenge!! Underwater first 25.)

21-30: 100 IM‘s. (Can't do fly? Mix in some free; try to get at least one 25 of a stroke other than free per repeat.)
• 2 X (50 fly/50 back; 100 back; 50 back/50 breast; 100 breast; 50 breast/50 free)

31-40: All free, descend 1-5 to 90 percent; breathe every third stroke on the 1st 25 and every 5th stroke on the 3rd 25.
(Challenge!! breathe every 3rd stroke on the 1st 50, every 5th stroke on the 2nd 50).

41-50: Stroke swim for 1-5: Swim reverse IM order with fins (dolphin kick for breast swim) for 6-10
(Challenge!! No fins on 6-10.)

51-60: 25 kick (no board)/50 pull with pull buoy only/25 swim (all free for 1-5, mix stroke or free for 6-10).
(Challenge!! Do 2x100's fly, 3x100 back, 3x100 breast (using dolphin kick to pull breaststroke, and 2x100 free.)

61-70: Stroke drills/swim - 25 left arm only, 25 right arm only, 25 kick, 25 swim (swim last 50 if you are short on rest) for 1-5; swim stroke 6-10 (only use fins if necessary on this set).

71-80: 50 kick/50 swim free with or without fins
(Challenge!! 2 each stroke; dolphin kick on back for breast kick, dolphin kick with breast arms for breast swim; last 2 = choice or weakest stroke challenge.)
81-90: Stroke count free - 1-5 descend per 100; 6-10 descend per 25 (REMEMBER, descending your stroke count, not increasing speed.)

91-100: WARM DOWN with fins (mix strokes and double-arm pulls or just kick).

What else makes this program and this challenge set special? Elmbrook Masters has found the perfect recipe for a challenging workout, a supportive team and fun in the water. Here are the ingredients:

3-4 helpings of pump-up music
Krista VanEnkenvoort is the team's resident DJ and carefully crafts a special three- to four-hour-long playlist specifically for the event. A good playlist will get your adrenaline boiling and your enthusiasm rocking.

A generous helping of refreshments and snacks
Each Elmbrook Masters swimmer is invited to bring snacks and/or drinks to share with the group. Nutrition bars, sports drinks, some junk food and homemade goodies will add flavor and life to this workout.

A dash of old friends
Often former Elmbrook Masters will come to visit and participate in the annual event. A warm smile from an old teammate will spice up your pool deck.

A large serving of support
Elmbrook Masters support one another throughout the entire challenge. High fives, pats on the back and "way to go's" can take any workout from dull to delicious.

And, to round out this winning recipe for a successful 100x100 challenge set ...

A heaping portion of a post-challenge celebration
Curt Paulsen of Elmbrook Masters invites the group to his home for a "refueling" party after the challenge. Fun, food and friends is the healthiest combination after a set like 100x100's.

Do you think you could master this 100x100's recipe for success? Trina provides a little advice to any Masters program eager to give it a try:

You simply need some contagious enthusiasm and some ideas for making the workout more bearable. You don't have to have a big party, but the potluck of treats on deck, the creative workout and the music make everyone's attitude perk up. We have two refueling breaks during the set: one at 4,000 and one at 7,000. It's fun to get out for 10 minutes, take some ibuprofen and catch up with someone you haven't seen yet that morning.

Just keep running it and it will become a TRADITION. Traditions have some crazy kind of magic that tie us all together -- don't they?

For other interesting recipes to create new, exciting and challenging workouts, just look around you. There are over 1,000 Masters programs across the United States; each one is unique. Share ideas with other swimmers and coaches and don't be afraid to try something new.


Optimism and Swimming

by Charlie Dragon
March 9, 2009

"If I could pass only one thing on to my kids it would be to be optimistic about everything in life"

-- Michael Jordan

When Michael Jordan tells me optimism is the most important thing he can teach his children, I listen. We can view swimming just as something we do to stay fit, no more significant than grocery shopping or going to the bank. Or we can look at this activity as an opportunity to improve ourselves, learn the important facts of life, and experience some of the greatness that comes through athletic performance. This article is about getting our thinking into a state which will aid us in reaching those goals. The best way to do that is to follow Jordan's advice: learn to be optimistic.

The power of optimism is becoming clear as psychologists have done studies of salesmen, military recruits, athletes and people suffering from depression. Optimists tend to do better than pessimists in work, sports and life by often more than 2 to 1. Optimism may be more important than any other mental skill. Michael Jordan certainly thinks so.

Optimism tends to come naturally to some people, while for others pessimism seems ingrained in their nature. There are tests you can take to determine your level of optimism or pessimism, but you can figure out your own tendency by paying attention to what you say to yourself after something bad happens. Optimism is not about waking up smiling everyday, or thinking everything is for the best. Optimism is about internal reaction to disappointment and adversity.

Do you blame yourself every time something goes wrong in your life? Do you think bad things will always keep happening and good things never will? Do you believe you lack qualities which other people have? If you tend to answer ‘yes' you may lean pessimistic. When something goes wrong, do you point to specific things as the causes? Do you think bad events are temporary and bound to change? Do you believe you are good at many things? If you tend to answer ‘yes' to those questions you may lean optimistic. So the first step is to pay attention to how you think and feel when you meet adversity on any level. It could be major adversity or just the little problems you deal with all day long. What matters is what you say to yourself when things go wrong. Optimists and pessimists will both feel upset right after a bad event. The difference is that pessimists continue to beat themselves up about it while the optimists determine specific, temporary causes for the problem and then move on.

And that's the key to optimism, how you react to what is often called "failure," or, more accurately, not achieving what you set out to do. Whether it is a slow swim in practice, or in the final meet of the year, it's how you react to that event which affects the outcome of your next challenge. Back to Jordan:

"Michael Jordan was not a very gifted basketball player. That may seem an outrageous (even stupid) thing to say, but it is true - at least by many objective measures. Grab your record book and follow along. Jordan ranked ninth in field goals made, eighteenth in total points, sixth in field goal attempts per forty-eight minutes. Jordan does not rank first in any major NBA statistic. Even in his prime, Jordan was not the fastest or most accurate shooter; he certainly was not a rebounder or brilliant at defense . . . Michael Jordan does hold one record: He has missed more shots than any other player in basketball history. And, as Jordan knows full well, it is because of that statistic that he is the greatest . . . Jordan never reacted to his mistakes as if they were a problem. He would make a foolish play, and as soon as it was over, there he was with the ball again, his tongue hanging out, winking at somebody, looking to make a move toward the basket." - Overachievement - The New Model of Exceptional Performance by John Eliot

Amazing isn't it? Most missed shots, blows my mind. Imagine if after each time he missed a shot Jordan got upset, embarrassed, mad at himself, thought he was a bad player, and felt like sitting down on the bench. Next time a practice doesn't go well, or you swim a slow time, or lose a close race, remember how Jordan reacted to a missed shot (which he did more than anybody); he wanted the ball and he wanted to shoot again. Another example like this is Brett Favre. He has the record for most interceptions, yet he is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

Here are three keys to the optimism/pessimism divide, and I'll do my best to not be too confusing (these ideas all come from Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, a book which I highly recommend). Pessimists explain bad events to themselves as being permanent ("I always swim slowly at big meets"), pervasive or general ("Nothing ever works out for me"), and personal ("I'm just not any good").

So the first key contrast between optimists and pessimists is permanence. Pessimists believe a problem is static, either never going away or always coming back. The optimists feel the opposite, that a problem is temporary, that it will eventually pass.

The second key is that the pessimist believes that a problem is pervasive or general, one more example of a broader issue: "The cause of my slow race was that I choke in any kind of competition." In contrast, the optimist believes a problem is local, or due to specific issues related to the circumstance in question. A bad race would be due to not enough sleep last night, hard workouts all week, stress of some sort, a bad turn, a technique flaw, etc.

The third key is pessimists believe the cause of a problem relates to a personal failing: "I'm just not any good at this sort of thing." In contrast, the optimist typically attributes non-personal reasons for a problem. To the optimist, the slow race would be due to external, not internal factors.

The common theme running through these three keys to the optimism/pessimism divide is that the pessimist feels helpless to change the problem. By definition, helplessness is one of the strongest disempowering emotions we can feel, and it is very difficult to improve in any pursuit when you feel helpless to make advancement. The optimist is so much more successful in sports and in life because he feels the power to fix the problem.

Not surprisingly perhaps, the same 3 key differences between optimists and pessimists are in found how they interpret good events; it's simply reversed. Pessimists are dismissive of their achievements. They attribute success to temporary, specific, non-personal reasons ("I did a best time because I just got lucky with my heat and lane, and didn't die at the end like I usually do"). This way of thinking puts the power to achieve positive results out of their hands, as though it's up to fortune. The optimist reacts to good events as permanent, pervasive and personal ("I did a best time because I always race well at big meets. I'm a good swimmer").

Learning to be optimistic may be hard for some of you, but I can't think of another skill that will help you find success and happiness in life and swimming more than optimism. Look for temporary, specific, non-personal causes to your problems, and then find solutions. Do not be dismissive of your achievements; believe they are indicators of permanent, pervasive, personal qualities.

Swimming is a great tool for understanding how our thinking changes when we are challenged, be it going to a Masters practice for the first time and feeling out of place, or standing on the blocks at Nationals. We love sports, both as participants and spectators, often because, for an instant, they strip away the noise of life and put us face to face with ourselves. A true victory is a victory over oneself. Move optimistically toward your goals.

About Charlie Dragon
Charlie is currently an assistant coach with SwimMAC Carolina in Charlotte N.C. He has a Master's Degree in Philosophy from the City University of New York Graduate Center. Charlie has had 4 articles published in both the American Swim Coaches Association Newsletter and American Swimming Magazine. He is also an invited speaker at the 2009 American Swim Coaches Association World Clinic.


Taper Time: Adjusting Your Dryland Training

by Rich Abrahams
March 9, 2009

We are fast approaching that time of year when many Masters swimmers will be competing in their main focus meets, whether that is state championships, zones or perhaps even short course nationals. Most experienced competitors know that this time of year means that they get to enter the "taper" phase of training and adjust their workouts to achieve peak performance.

It is not only very important at this time to adjust what we do in the water, but it is equally as important to adjust what we are doing in our dryland cross-training. For me, the number one rule for dryland at this time of year is do nothing new, nothing you are not already doing and nothing you are not accustomed to. As you swim less and begin feeling rested, it is tempting to use all of your extra energy in creative ways. Don't. To quote a leading sage of Masters swimming, Ande Rasmussen, "Don't do stupid stuff. If anything begins with ‘Hey, watch this!" it's probably a very bad idea."

What you can do to begin resting your body is to lower the resistance and number of repetitions in your exercises, but, at the same time, slightly accelerate the motion to keep the nervous system stimulated. This is not the time to reach your failure point, but the time to end your dryland session feeling powerful and energized. This is also the one time where it does make sense to adjust your routines to become more swimming specific, i.e. focusing on those exercises that more closely mimic swimming motions.

When do you stop dryland altogether before the big meet? This is very individualized, but most coaches agree men generally need more rest than women, especially men who are more heavily muscled. Personally, I do nothing too strenuous for at least three weeks before my main focus meet and my last light lift is about 10 days out. However, I know some very successful swimmers that like to lift fairly heavily very close to the meet. Remember, you're in this for the long haul and each season is a learning experience. Record what you're doing, see how well you swim and how good you feel and adjust accordingly for next season.


The Greatest Performance Enhancement Supplement… Sleep

by Dr. Jim Miller
March 9, 2009

Overrated? Never! Underachieved? Almost always! Sleep is the third component to recovery and performance. This follows hydration and nutrition that were featured in the first two medical shorts. Sleep is also restorative. Not only does it refresh your intellectual function, but it also allows the muscles to recharge, uninterrupted, for the next performance challenge. Sleep enhances reaction times, endurance performance, and power performance. Not too shabby when all you have to do is lay there.

There is a catch, as you would guess. You have to have quality sleep and you have to have enough of it. It is a complete myth when someone tells you that they are fully recharged after 4-5 hours of sleep. The human brain goes through sleep cycles that include several stages of sleep, including REM (dream state) and deep sleep, as well as other intermediate stages. All of them are important to improve your daytime athletic and intellectual performance.

Individuals differ as to how many cycles they ideally need and how long a full cycle takes, but each person can tell you, if they are honest. I usually ask the Masters athlete when they would wake up without an alarm at the beach without any interruptions of any kind. The answer may be alarming (pun intended). In general, it is around 8 hours, but there are some that may be as low as 7 or as high as 10. As we age, the effectiveness of our sleep cycles tends to diminish. So it may be expected that, as adults, we may need more restorative sleep.

Address the issues that awaken you with your practitioner. Common interruptions include bathroom stops and medication dosing. It is well know that Melatonin is a common mediator of sleep in the brain and that this diminishes as we age. Many find that the use of over-the-counter Melatonin assists sleep patterns with aging. You have to give Melatonin at least 4-6 months to see if it will help you and you need to clear its use with your practitioner, to avoid a medication interaction.

Sleep problems quickly become obvious. If you are swimming multiple practices per week and going to work and you are one of those 9 hour sleep creatures, where does that fit in? The answer is planned time management. What happens if you become sleep deprived, which is really easy to do on a demanding home and work schedule? Well, let's start with poor athletic performance, poor recovery, sub-par work performance, grumpy athlete with a short temper...........and that is just for starters! Now we have the question, which I posed last time. Is it over training or under-fueling or sleep deprivation? Can lack of appropriate hydration, nutrition and/or sleep result in pushing an athlete to an over-trained and unfulfilled state? You know the answer now. YES!


Balancing Act: Dara Torres on Motherhood, Swimming and a Book Tour

by Ashley Gangloff: A U.S. Masters Swimming Exclusive Interview with Dara Torres
April 14, 2009

Most Masters swimmers know what it's like to do the parenthood balancing act. You know how to run errands, you stop by the grocery store on the way home from work, you carpool the kids and you make it to the bank by 5:00 all while planning dinner, crossing tasks off your "to-do" list and hoping to get in a measly 30-minutes of swimming. Dara Torres is no different. Actually she is one of you.

Most of you know Dara as the superstar 41-year old Olympic hero. Yes, she is that, but she is also a full time parent like many of you. Dara, a longtime Masters swimming advocate and U.S. Masters Swimming member, set aside time to chat with us about motherhood, swimming and her upcoming book tour.

Dara Torres on Motherhood
We know the swimming part of Dara's story: swimming superstar; swam in five different Olympic Games over three decades, and won more Olympic medals than she has fingers. Her story is sprinkled with well-publicized hardships such as her fathers passing and an eating disorder, but it is the average, everyday things that make her one of you. At the age of 38 and retired from competitive swimming for seven years, she desperately wanted to be a mother. Dara learned that she was pregnant with her first child and a new chapter in her life began. Her pregnancy wasn't easy. "At seven weeks pregnant I was completely nauseas and needed to do something. I went back to the pool, not for competition, but hoping that it would make me feel better," shared Dara. She hadn't swam so much as one length of the pool in the past seven years. Dara's return to the water was never intended to lead to elite level competition. "Pregnancy was the only thing that was going to get me back into the water. I like to stay fit and knew that if I were pregnant I would have no choice but to be conservative in the water. You know, just do it for fitness." It may have started as morning sickness relief and a great way to stay fit, but well into her pregnancy, Dara's competitive juices started to flow again. In Dara's book, "Age is Just a Number" she recalls a story about racing fellow Masters swimmer Randy Nutt while pregnant.

Dara had her daughter, Tessa, and was back in the water (actually in a Masters meet) within three weeks. "I couldn't help myself," she said laughingly. "I love my time swimming with the Masters while pregnant and I also love to race." Tessa, now 3, also knows how to swim. "She's definitely a water baby," said Dara. She went on to describe the Mommy and Me swimming classes that she started taking with Tessa when Tessa was just 3 months old. "My daughter knows what I do. She'll pull my goggles out of my bag and wear them around the house," shared Dara. Dara's focus has changed since the birth of her daughter. "Swimming is important, but since Tessa, I have a whole new perspective about what's important. She is my world."

Dara Torres on Swimming
"Swimming is the best form of exercise for adults. It's healthy for the body, it's good for the mind and it has a terrific social component," said Dara. When Dara dove in at seven weeks pregnant, her goal was not to stroll into the Olympic games and claim even more medals. It was to simply feel better. But something happened while in the water. She let her mind go and her competitive nature began to take over. "I've always been competitive," said Dara. She continued, "I love to swim. but I love to race even more." Dara, who was more than twice as old as some of her competitors in Beijing, knows that just swimming is no longer enough to prepare her for a race. She works with massage therapists and stretchers as well as coaches and other support staff to get her into race-ready shape.

If you think Dara's reprise in Beijing was a great ending to a perfect story, think again. Dara is still stretching, lifting and swimming to get ready for this summer's World Championship Trials. "I don't usually share my personal goals," she said, and continued, " but I can promise you that I will keep swimming as long as I am still improving." And improving she is and continues she does.

Dara Torres on Her Book Tour
When you think this superhero-seeming woman can't possibly juggle one more thing, she adds a book tour to her "to-do" list. Dara, whose story is famous around the world, has teamed up with Elizabeth Weil to write a book that recalls various elements of her history including her experience with U.S. Masters Swimming, her training up to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and her life since the Olympic Games. She writes about life as a balancing act: personal struggles, athletic ups and downs and her own personal achievements and defeats. The book tour for "Age is Just a Number" begins this month and will send Dara across the country from talk show to talk show. "I guess at this point I am used to it. Just like anything else you put your head down and just go," she said when asked about yet another thing to fill her already-busy calendar. "I have learned to juggle a million things and I don't see it slowing down any time soon." Click here to learn more about Dara's book, "Age is Just a Number".

In her own words, Dara's life "Is like juggling." Though most of you have a macaroni necklace, a video camera strap or some other I'm-a-parent-symbol around your neck rather than two silver medals from last summer's Olympics, you and Dara share many commonalities. All of you, Dara included, make an effort to find time for yourself. All of you, Dara included, know that when you dive into the water that the water doesn't know how old you are and even if it did, it wouldn't care. And, all of you, Dara included, understand that age is just a number and whether your goal is to swim a 500 yard free without stopping, to complete your first open water competition or to blow away the rest of the field at the 2009 World Championships you can accomplish your dreams at any age. All of you are busy. All of you have families, responsibilities and a long list of "to-do's" but swimming "just feels good," and it is the common bond that brings together Olympic icons, fitness swimmers, triathletes, moms, dads, stay-at-home parents and professionals alike.


Keeping Athletes Engaged at Every Level

by Ashley Gangloff
February 24, 2009

Coach David Marsh, Olympic Coach and former collegiate coach with 12 NCAA titles under his belt, shares his secrets about how to run a successful practice and cater to athletes of every skill level. David now works closely with SwimMAC Masters in Charlotte, NC and his wife, Kristin, is also a Masters coach. He explained that it is possible to help each and every swimmer accomplish his or her goals. Whether a goal is to swim from one end of the pool to the other without stopping or to swim from one end of the pool to the other in under 30 seconds Masters coaches can design a workout to fit the needs of a broad range of athletes. The following elements are keys to success for any coach of any athlete.

"First you have to decide what the primary focus of the workout is going to be," said David. "You can divide the group based on skill level or goals, however, do not divide into more than four different groups. Each group can have a slightly different workout based on skill level and goals," continued David. "As a coach, try to be ‘present' for the main purpose of each group's workout. If one workout is designed to end on 4 x 50 all out at the end of the set, be there for these swims, call out times, and provide feedback."

Get Organized
David emphasized the importance of proper lane organization when asked what to do with 50 athletes ranging in skill level. "Arrange athletes in lanes based on their goals," David said. He also provided a tip, "Print out a picture that represents the various goals of your athletes, maybe use a picture of a fitness swimmer, a U.S. Masters Swimming logo, and a picture of a triathlete. Paste each picture on a card to place at the end of each lane. This way when your swimmers arrive for practice, rather than referring to one lane as a ‘slow lane' or a ‘fast lane', swimmers can place themselves in the lane that is most appropriate for his or her own goals."

Recruit Volunteer Assistants
By having numerous "coaches" on deck, swimmers at each level and in every lane will receive feedback, an important element in gaining confidence and improving. "An assistant coach doesn't need technical knowledge to be helpful," said David. "A coach's child, a high school swimmer, or even other Masters swimmers can volunteer to take times, explain the meaning of terminology, or read the workout off of the white board for the athletes in the water," David explained. "Masters swimmers tend to crave feedback. Give it to them. You may need help to do so, but make it a priority to provide times, explanations, and feedback. "

Bring a Bag of Toys
Bring a bag of toys to create a fun atmosphere and an atmosphere in which beginning swimmers will want to return and evolve as a swimmer. "Fins are fun," said David. "If newer swimmers are getting lapped or feeling overwhelmed because they are swimming next to more experiences athletes, let them use fins. By compensating elements that are not yet strengths, a swimmer will feel more confident and a coach may be able to continue to assign the same workout to a variety of skill levels," he explained. David went on to describe other "toys" to use in a workout. "Throw a tennis ball into the workout to work on head alignment or challenge new swimmers with a snorkel, have your athletes swim with a stretch cord either for resistance or excelled speed," shared David. "It is a Masters coach's responsibility to make the environment fun and inviting."

Provide a Picture
"Allow for the more experienced swimmers to get out and coach the beginners. This will not only allow new swimmers to benefit from their peers' experiences, but will also give the opportunity for the more elite athletes a chance to see commonly made mistakes. Teaching is the best way to learn," according to David. "Do the same with the less experienced athletes. Have the beginner swimmers or triathletes get out and watch the competitive swimmers train. Point out various technique elements such as streamline positions or flip turns. Your beginner swimmers will enjoy and be motivated by watching their peers."

Walk and Talk
"Simple: walk up and down the pool deck and talk to your athletes, no matter what skill level they are at, what lane they are in, or what their goals may be," said David. "Masters swimmers choose to be at practice so it is important to respect their desire for coaching and feedback. Actively coach each athlete no matter what lane, skill level, competitiveness or goals."


Warming Up for Open Water Races

With open water season coming up, here is some good advice on warming up prior to the swim. The information comes courtesy of Jerry Rodrigues, one of the top open water swimmers out there. Give these some thought as you get ready for the Arizona Open Water Series and the other events that are coming up.


U.S. Masters Swimming Partners Working Together

In 2009 U.S. Masters Swimming expanded its partner portfolio to bring more value to the membership. InfoArmor, U.S. Masters Swimming's newest addition, has teamed up with Kiefer and Kast-A-Way, staples in the swimming industry, to offer a fantastic promotion that will increase your well-being, both in and out of the water. The first 200 U.S. Masters Swimming members to register for InfoArmor services will receive a $25 gift certificate to Kiefer or Kast-A-Way!

"We are thrilled to provide this promotion to the members and we are making strides in activating various sponsors within our team," said Executive Director Rob Butcher. "This promotion is the first of its kind for U.S. Masters Swimming where we've been able to bring together partners and reward incentives of value to the members."

Though InfoArmor is just getting its feet wet (pun intended), the InfoArmor team understands U.S. Masters Swimming and the priorities of its members. "InfoArmor is committed to reducing the high costs (time and money) of identity theft. We know the last thing anyone wants to do with their free time is deal with the hassles of a stolen identity. In the case of U.S. Masters Swimming, that means helping members do what they love, swimming," said a representative from InfoArmor.

"InfoArmor delivers unparalleled identity theft protection to consumers. With nine million Americans being victimized last year alone, the company is committed to offering best-in-class identity protection," according to Jacqueline Thompson of InfoArmor. As we evolve into a community that uses the Internet for everything from purchasing airline tickets to registering for swim meets, U.S. Masters Swimming trusts InfoArmor to keep its members safe.

When presented with the partnership idea, both Kiefer and Kast-A-Way were quick to sign up and serve their U.S. Masters Swimming friends even better. "Kiefer takes pride in serving U.S. Masters Swimming members, providing aquatic supplies from technical suits to training gear and pool accessories to dry land equipment. Our company was founded and is still run by Masters swimmers who are actively involved and compete in the sport. Swimming is not just our job, it's our passion," shared Robin Kiefer.

So, how do you take advantage of this offer?
Simply visit swim.infoarmor.com and register for InfoArmor services at the exclusive U.S. Masters Swimming discounted price of $8.95/month. Upon completion of your order, download, complete and send your gift certificate redemption form to U.S. Masters Swimming and receive your $25 gift certificate. We urge you to read the rules, policies and procedures associated with the promotion, which are included on your redemption form.

What does this mean for U.S. Masters Swimming?
U.S. Masters Swimming will continue to seek out and entertain partnership opportunities that fit our culture, our members and our mission. And we will brainstorm, problem solve and create activation strategies that benefit you and the organization. Partners such as InfoArmor, Kiefer and Kast-A-Way will serve as models for future partnerships because, well, they just get it. Speaking like a true partner, Robin Kiefer said, "We hope that our efforts at Kiefer will result not only in individual membership gratification, but also in overall membership growth in U.S. Masters Swimming."

Thank you to InfoArmor, Kiefer and Kast-A-Way for your continued support of U.S. Masters Swimming.


A Day in the Life of the U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary

2009 is an election year for U.S. Masters Swimming. Board officers are term limited. This year, at the annual September convention, several positions are up for new leadership. Though it will be sad to see its officers step away from their positions, the torch or to use a swimming analogy - the next leg of the relay - will be passed on.

Meg Smath, current U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary, is nearing the end of her two-year term. As her term is winding down, Meg took time to share her experiences while within office, projects that she has enjoyed and a slightly embarrassing moment that brought her out of her chair whooping and hollering. The U.S. Masters Swimming Executive Committee is serious business, but the fun, the friendships and the laughs never stop. Ashley Gangloff, U.S. Masters Swimming Marketing Coordinator, interviewed Meg.

Ashley: Had you ever held an office prior to U.S. Masters Secretary?
Meg: You could say I have specialized in the office of secretary. I was secretary of the Kentucky LMSC for so many years; I'm not even sure how long. At least 10 [years], I think. I have also been secretary of the Kentucky Society of Professional Geologists and the Central Kentucky Shetland Sheepdog Club. I've also been president of my local team, Wildcat Masters (a workout group of Swim Kentucky Masters) for more than 16 years. The reason I know it's at least 16 years is that's how old my son is, and I know I was already president of the team when he was born!

Ashley: Why did you run for USMS Secretary?
Meg: The short answer is because my predecessor, Sally Dillon, asked me to. I had not actually considered running for the office before she brought it up. I considered myself on of those "worker bees" and did not think of myself as "officer material." But, Sally put the idea in my head that I was, in fact, qualified, and that I could do a good job.

Ashley: Whom do you work most closely with as U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary?
Meg: In general I work most closely with the president, but I also work with the other officers and members of the Board of Directors when I'm assigned a task force or other special project. I also work with the convention coordinator in drawing up convention plans. I've also had the opportunity to work with the executive director, Rob Butcher.

Ashley: What is a recurring task for which the U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary is responsible?
Meg: The biggie would be keeping minutes of all our meetings. The Executive Committee has conference calls every first and third Tuesday, and the Board of Directors about once a quarter. We also have a midyear meeting in February each year. And lots of Board and EC meetings at convention, too.

Ashley: What has been your favorite "project"?
Meg: I was on a task force having to do with the SWIMMER Magazine. I got to work with some people I hadn't worked with before and I was really pleased with the way our different talents meshed and we were able to accomplish our goal on schedule.

Ashley: What skills do you possess that helped you the most as U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary?
Meg: I make my living as an editor, and that's helped me communicate with the membership. It also helps to be reasonably computer-literate. I couldn't take a computer apart and put it back together again, but I know my way around Microsoft Word pretty well, and that really helps.

Ashley: What skills do you wish you had that would have been helpful in your role as U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary?
Meg: I wish I had better time-management skills. I try to get things done as quickly as possible (so I don't forget what I was doing), but sometimes life really gets in the way.

Ashley: How many hours a week/month do you spend fulfilling your responsibilities as U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary?
Meg: I would say I spend, on average, a couple of hours a week working on minutes, making revisions, keeping track of votes. That ramps up during busy times, like before and after convention.

Ashley: What is your best memory of being U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary?
Meg: That would have to be during the 2008 Board of Directors midyear meeting in Dallas when I got a text alert that the Vanderbilt basketball team had just won a big game on a last-second shot. I was in the middle of reading back a very serious motion, but I was so elated that I leaped out of my chair with a primal scream of joy, and was immediately hugged and high-fived by Tracy Grilli, who was sitting next to me. You should have seen the looks on the faces of the other people around the table. They were shocked! But they are wonderful people, and they just GET me! They knew I would get back to business after my happy dance was over. And I could not have been with a greater bunch of people to celebrate with. We were all united by a passion for U.S. Masters Swimming that is just as all encompassing as my joy over that victory was.

Ashley: What are you going to miss most about this position once your term has come to an end?
Meg: I will miss spending so much time with the EC and the Board. It will be nice to have a little bit more free time again, but I will miss just being a part of such a great group of people.

Ashley: What advice to you give to our next U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary?
Meg: Stay on top of things! Keep organized and don't let things get away from you. I would also paraphrase Walt Disney, who said, "I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing-that it was all started by a mouse." I would say the one thing we should not lose sight of is that it's all about the water!

Meg's term will end at the 2009 U.S. Masters Swimming annual convention. If you are interested in running or would like to nominate someone for the position of U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary, please click here to read about the qualification, candidate criteria and nomination and election process. All nominations are due by April 20, 2009.


Record Pace!

A lot of records have fallen recently in the swimming world. There will be another one coming up soon. This summer Arizona Masters Swimming will exceed 1000 members, which will be a record! The current record is 990 members, which was set in 2003 when Arizona hosted the USMS Short Course National Championships.

Right now we are just under 800 members, which is just a few dozen less that what we had last year. Despite tough economic times masters swimming is growing steadily, both here and across the country. We are a part of this success so thanks to all of our members for making this happen!


It’s Not The Time You Did; It’s The Time You Had!

by Ali Hall
April 1, 2009

Monday morning workout, outdoors, a beautiful day swimming in Northern California. My super fast lane mate is not her cheerful, energetic self. Halfway through the workout, she says "go ahead, I'm out of here, I'm not feeling it today." I'm stunned, she never leaves early, never has a draggy attitude. "I'm hating everything after the meet Saturday, everything."

What to do? It's something we've all experienced, eagerness about a meet and then discouragement that persists, even sours our desire to keep on...How do we stay connected to the thing we love to do, to weather these disappointments?

With over 150 Alcatraz crossings to her credit, long-time member of the South-End Rowing Club and San Francisco sports psychologist Brenda Austin advises athletes to reflect on their experiences and preparation. Some inquiries might include:

--were your goals realistic and achievable?

--what went well?

--what was the rest of your day like?

--were you having fun? (We perform best when we're having fun!)

--were you rested? well nourished?

--have you been practicing any relaxation techniques?

--do you use visualization and relaxation on a regular basis?

--what was your self-talk leading up to and during the event?

--do you give yourself permission to have an "off" day, one that doesn't live up to your expectations?

--what are some areas you'd like to work on? how will you do it before the next meet?

Inspirational coach Nancy Brown of Maryland Masters, herself a many-time world and national champion, asks athletes to remember what matters. "Always focus on the primary reason you are swimming - for fitness!!!!!! Life in general has bad days and good days for everyone. Sometimes our body functions beyond expectations, sometimes it hardly functions at all. No one knows when this will happen. Swimming in a lot of competitions, you have a better chance of hitting one of those high expectation performances. So when you do hit a bad performance day, remember tomorrow could be a high performance day. Regardless whether it is a high performance day or low performance day, at least you swam and got an aerobic workout!"

Those of us with travel and other demands may find ourselves catching pool time on our own and that's great for independence and autonomy. Yet we may be missing out on some deeply important things. It's hard to overestimate the value of being part of team and having an active coach on deck.

Nancy is the kind of coach that makes it enjoyable and worthwhile to be on a team. She urges her swimmers to cheer each other on, to keep it positive in workouts, to enjoy their experiences. She gives each swimmer a tip or two every workout, to integrate improvements, to get the most out the time in the water. And, she gives prizes to every one of her swimmers at big meets and the end of the season parties, recognizing personal bests as well honoring the most nervous swimmer and the one that fell apart the most in a race. Who wouldn't have a good time in the kind of environment she cultivates!

For beloved coach Scott Williams of Burlingame Masters, a speedy swimmer and effective motivator for his athletes, it's simple. He'll tell you "it's not the time you did, it's the time you had."

And he's so right.

Happy Swimming!


Divas in SWEAT Magazine!

If you picked up the latest issue of SWEAT magazine and turned to page 15, you would have seen a profile on one of our swimmers. Christie Altman (Tempe) is featured in the article that profiles Arizona women athletes from around the state and from different sports. Her picture is on page 16 along with Joanne Menard and Barbi Crisp. The three of them set a new national record in the USMS 3000 Yard Postal last year! So if you have not picked up a copy, do so!


Lifetime-Improvement Swimming

by Terry Laughlin
March 23, 2009

Among Total Immersion coaches, the word Kaizen - Japanese for "continuous improvement"--has become a mantra for a sense of optimism and aspiration about improving as we age that we hope to inspire in every swimmer we teach. This mantra is well suited for any Masters coach, because guiding mature swimmers through the aging process is a special opportunity. You might say we have a key to the fountain of youth, the ability to help athletes perform better as they age, a lesson I've learned both coaching and swimming.

I tried out for my Catholic grammar school swim team in 8th grade but didn't make the cut. As a high school swimmer, by 12th grade I still hadn't qualified for the NYC Catholic High School championships. However I was excited to swim in the novice meet, mostly with 9th graders. As a college senior, I qualified only for consolation finals in our conference championships (though the competition was Brooklyn, Lehman, and Hunter, not Texas, Auburn or Arizona.) Yet, since turning 55, I've won USMS Long Distance National Championships, broken national age group records and been the top-ranked open water swimmer among 55-59 year olds. What accounts for my evolution from utterly undistinguished during my first decade of swimming to what might be termed "elite" in middle age?

In part, one could credit the "10,000 Hour Rule," described in Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, Outliers. As Gladwell explains, "experts"--in fields ranging from music, to chess, to computer programming--are made, not born, through a massive investment in time, averaging about 10,000 hours in most cases. At some point in my 50s, after practicing some 300 hours per year for 35 years I finally passed 10,000 hours myself.

But, as Gladwell writes, simply putting in time isn't enough. Rote repetition-i.e. unvarying sets of 10 x 100--simply ingrains the skills and habits you already possess. To improve continuously-and eventually achieve mastery-you must embrace what's called Deliberate Practice--exacting tasks, designed to move you steadily and incrementally beyond your current level of comfort and competence.

Relatively few swimmers experience continuous improvement. Those who are new to swimming, or haven't trained in years, usually improve their times for the first year or two, then stagnate. Many experience what one rueful swimmer called "terminal mediocrity," swimming for years without improving. And yet, I believe a powerful case can be made that virtually every swimmer has the potential to improve year after year, specifically because swimming offers learning opportunities unmatched by any other sport.

During the past 20 years--a period contemporaneous with my participation in Masters--I've taught tens of thousands of past-their-prime athletes, most of whom were "adult-onset" swimmers. This posed challenges I'd never faced in 16 years coaching younger, more accomplished athletes on club and college teams, forcing me beyond my own comfort zone. It also informed my own practice in ways that produced continuous improvement.

The two key lessons of these experiences are: (1) Humans in water-with rare exceptions (Michael Phelps and similarly "gifted" swimmers)--are like fish out of water; and (2) Most of what we "know" about swimming actually makes improvement less likely; the techniques and intentions that made the greatest positive difference have all been counter-intuitive. The thoughts that have guided my swimming in my 40s and 50s are utterly different from what I focused on in my teens and 20s . . . and continue to evolve each year.

I received confirmation of these insights from an article in Popular Mechanics, which revealed what a group of physicists and engineers learned while designing a swim foil for the Navy Seals. After comparing the efficiency of humans with dolphins, these researchers calculated that humans typically convert only 3% of "horsepower" into forward motion, while dolphins convert 80%. For comparison, elite swimmers are about 9% efficient (that's right, even Michael Phelps wastes over 90%). But even this relatively low efficiency is "superhuman" -- over 300% greater than recreational swimmers. The critical insights we should take from this are: (1) The most valuable outcome of the thousands of hours elite swimmers spend training each year is greater efficiency, not greater fitness; and (2) For the rest of us, the opportunity to gain endurance by saving energy is far greater than what you can gain by getting fitter.

If you've spent much time working with novices (or been one yourself), it's fairly easy to relate to the efficiency problem highlighted by those research findings. The reason is that water is an utterly uncooperative medium for skilled movement. We spend 99% of our lives in an environment in which we have solid ground under our feet for support and stability, achieve balance vertically, and most overcome the resistance of "thin" air as we move. And we can breathe that air at will.

In water, we're utterly unstable, we "hang from" our balance, which is horizontal, rather than vertical; we're constantly at the mercy of a contest between gravity and buoyancy; every movement is resisted by a medium that's a thousand times denser than air, and we have virtually no traction for propulsion. Finally, breathing is suddenly an exacting skill. Compared to moving on land, swimming is like cycling uphill on an icy slope, while forced to breathe hurriedly and intermittently.

As coaches of aging athletes, we should view all those conditions as opportunities, not problems. Here's why: On land, where energy efficiency is far greater (and where elite athletes are only 20% to 25% more efficient than recreational athletes-as compared to a 300% differential between elite and recreational swimmers) performance is most heavily influenced by aerobic and muscular power, both of which decline inexorably with age, making it exceptionally difficult to avoid declines in performance.

In the water, with energy efficiency so low to start with, and skill challenges so considerable, the potential to learn new skills and improve efficiency is nearly limitless. With a real commitment to improving every year-indeed every practice-Masters swimmers and their coaches can look forward to the inspiring, yet realistic, possibility of swimming better and better with age. To do this we need only improve efficiency by a slightly greater margin than what we lose to aging. The qualities that make this possible-patience, self-awareness, relaxation-should all improve with age, particularly through Deliberate Practice.

Two things are needed to start on a Kaizen path: (1) Expect to improve; and (2) Know how to improve. Above I've provided arguments to create that expectation among your swimmers. In a series of articles, I'll examine all the fundamentals of swimming performance in a way that can provide the know-how for improving your swimmers. Here are some of the topics I'll cover in upcoming articles:
Endurance: Why we should replace the conventional definition -- "the capacity to do work" with a broadened definition - "the ability to maintain an effective combination of Stroke Length and Stroke Rate for a duration of your choosing."
Three Kinds of Endurance: What are the relative contributions of Metabolic, Motor and Mental Endurance?
Aerobic Training: Why it's more valuable as an aid to recovery than for increasing fitness.
Speed: Why reducing drag is more important than increasing propulsive force, and why sustainability matters more than velocity.
The "Math" of Speed: Why the only absolutely dependable way to swim faster is by programming your nervous system for particular combinations of Stroke Length and Stroke Rate.
Strength and Power: Why the underappreciated spinal (or midline) stabilizers are the most important muscles in swimming.

Terry Laughlin is the founder and Head Coach of Total Immersion Swimming. His latest book is Extraordinary Swimming for Every Body.


Article in USMS Swimmer Magazine

Arizona swimmer and writer Susan Dawson-Cook has an article in the current issue of USMS Swimmer magazine. It is on page 18 and talks about Aimee Arnoldussen, who is a masters swimmer from Madison, WI. Read the article, it is a fascinating one about a young woman who is conducting important research and swimming. Good job Susan in writing this article!


A Day in the Life of the U.S. Masters Swimming President

More than one president in this country is making waves, however this man is the only President to have 52 top ten swimming finishes under his belt. Rob Copeland will be completing his second two-year term this fall and shares with us what it takes to be U.S. Masters Swimming President, what he's learned as U.S. Masters Swimming President and what advice he has for the next U.S. Masters Swimming President.

Ashley Gangloff, U.S. Masters Swimming Marketing Coordinator, interviewed Rob.

Ashley: Have you ever held an office before U.S. Masters Swimming President?

Rob: The presidency is the first nationally elected office that I have held; however I have served for many years in various positions at the local level. And, I have served at the national level as chairman of the Long Distance Committee, the Legislation Committee and a Zone Representative.

Ashley: Why did you run for U.S. Masters Swimming President?

Rob: The decision to run for president was sparked by Jim Miller, my predecessor. Before talking with Jim, I was planning to run for vice president. Jim helped to convince me that I could better serve Masters Swimming by running for president. Also, I had spent a great deal of time working with Betsy Durrant and her governance task force to define the current structure of officers and our board. I felt the best way to make sure we successfully implemented the structure was as president.

Ashley: Who do you work most closely with as U.S. Masters Swimming President?

Rob: Prior to Rob Butcher joining U.S. Masters Swimming, I would say that I worked most closely with the other officers and Tracy Grilli. Now with Rob on-board, I would say I am working most closely with him,

Ashley: What is a recurring job/task for which the U.S. Masters Swimming President is responsible?

Rob: The president is responsible for the volunteer side of Masters. The president is the chair of the executive committee, board of directors and house of delegates, in addition the president is ultimately responsible for the national committees. The president also serves as Masters Swimming's representative to the other aquatic governing bodies.

Ashley: What has been your favorite "project" as U.S. Masters Swimming President?

Rob: We have seen tremendous success of a number of very significant projects during my tenure as president, with the real credit of these going to our volunteer leaders. Projects such as the hiring of our first and second Executive Directos, the hosting of the largest FINA world championship, the initiation of our club development program, online registration, and the establishment of a permanent national headquarter. Of these and the myriad other projects, I would say my favorite project was the hiring of Rob Butcher, not because of the process, but because of the results.

Ashley: What skills do you possess that have helped you the most as U.S. Masters Swimming President?

Rob: The most important skill I possess that has helped me as president is listening. I am a huge fan of personal leadership authors like Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard, Marcus Buckingham, James Autry and others. Covey's 5th habit, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." Listening to and understanding the needs of our members, staff, volunteers, corporate partners and the swimming community are critical for me to successfully serve.

Ashley: How many hours a week/month do you spend fulfilling your responsibilities as U.S. Masters Swimming President?

Rob: I would break this down as before hiring Rob [Butcher] and now. Before we hired Rob [Butcher], I would typically spend 20 to 40 hours per week on Masters work; now that number is more like 10 hours per week.

Ashley: What is your best memory of being U.S. Masters Swimming President?

Rob: I believe my best memories from my tenure as president will be of the amazing people I have had the opportunity to work with. We are blessed with phenomenally talented and passionate volunteers and leaders.

Ashley: What are you gong to miss the most about this position?

Rob: I'm not sure. It's not like I plan on swimming off into the sunset. I hope to be actively involved as long as the organization will put up with me. For me, the most important things have always been about how I can best serve U.S. Masters Swimming, it has never been about a title.

Ashley: What advice do you give our next U.S. Masters Swimming President?

Rob: Be approachable, be responsive, be honest and open, be thick-skinned, be forgiving of others and yourself, be visionary, be a leader. And, in the immortal words of Winston Churchill, "Never! Never! Never! Never give up!"

If you are interested in running or would like to nominate someone for the position of U.S. Masters Swimming President, please click here to read about the qualifications, candidate criteria and nomination and election process. All nominations are due by April 20, 2009.


Arizona Open Water Series Update

Pool swimmers, it’s time to rebel and revel: The lakes in and around Phoenix are warming up and online registration is now open for the 2009 Arizona Open Water Series at www.dcbadventures.com.

The series will offer five Open Water swim competitions, with choice of 2K and 4K distances (1.2 or 2.4 miles). The swims will be held on May 2 at Saguaro Lake, June 6 at Lake Pleasant, September 19 at Saguaro Lake, October 17 at Lake Pleasant and November 15 at Tempe Town Lake, all near Phoenix.

All events are officially sanctioned by USA-Swimming and US Masters Swimming and are open to both registered Age Group and Masters swimmers.

DCB Extreme Adventures has put together a generous series for us in 2009, one we hope will grow and thrive. So whether you're a Masters swimmer, an Age Group swimmer, a Triathlete or just someone who likes to get out there, come on out and show your support.

Our beautiful state offers some of the best recreational lakes in the country and we look forward to hosting swimmers from all over the U.S. who are looking to extend their open water swimming season from Spring to late Fall.

Arizona is well known for its magnificent desert landscapes, but few people outside the area know about the many scenic lakes within a 40 mile drive of Phoenix. We aim to change that.

Phoenix area lakes offer vast, clear surface water created by the rivers feeding the Phoenix area. Each of the Phoenix lakes offers an abundance of lake fun including boating, sailing, and fishing, water skiing, swimming and camping enjoyment. Some lakes offer RV parks for traveler convenience. Some lakes offer picturesque mountainous scenery, large stands of Saguaro Cactus with beautiful desert views with spectacular wildflowers during the spring.

Lake Pleasant

A short scenic drive 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix is the second largest of the Phoenix area lakes offering over 10,000 acres of fresh, clear blue water. Located in the vast Lake Pleasant Regional Park just north of Sun City and West Phoenix, Lake Pleasant is filled by the Agua Fria River flowing from the north cool country of Northern Arizona. Lake Pleasant provides marina facilities, large boat ramps, campgrounds and RV parks.

Saguaro Lake

Picturesque Saguaro Lake is about 40 miles northeast of Phoenix and the Scottsdale area. Saguaro Lake offers special views, canyon walls and excellent boating fun. The Saguaro Lake Marina offers boat mooring, boat rentals, a restaurant and picnic facilities. Saguaro Lake is a sister lake of Canyon, Apache and Roosevelt Lake which are all created along the Salt River which becomes a dry river bed as it flows through Phoenix.

Tempe Town Lake

Set adjacent to Tempe's Mill Avenue District, Arizona State University and the 2,000 acre Papago Park, Tempe Town Lake is a regional and national destination, welcoming millions each year. Recognized as a top attraction in Arizona, visitors and local families spend their time enjoying nature, recreational activities, and cultural events. The two-mile lake was constructed out of a dry riverbed of the Rio Salado and opened in 1999. Today, it is home to more than 2000 rowers and 100 annual events, including the Ford Ironman.

I've registered, have you?

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