August 13, 2018
PPSC Long Course 2018 Championship Meet Summary & Reflection
Season culminating meets such as MSI Championships, Zones, Sectionals, New England Seniors, ISCA meets, and Junior Nationals are what kids (and coaches!) spend an enormous amount of time and energy working towards. However, as Mark Hesse (USA Swimming Sports Development Consultant) discussed while he visited our club in July, only 20% of swims performed (out of 3,102 swims performed in 2016 at OT that would be just 620 best times) – his point being, that success is not linear and there is not a clearly defined, laid out path to get from a current level of achievement to the maximum level of personal success, and sometimes there may be a few bumps and detours along the way. Before I carry on much further, I can say that once a new level of success is achieved (whether it be a new qualifying time, a new USA NAG time, record, or new personal best time) it should be enjoyed and fuel the motivation to strive toward the next level, and the process to get to that new mark should serve to educate and inform the swimmer on what it took to get there as achieving the next level will only be more difficult. As each swimmer can attest to, whether they perform a best time or not, they receive a review of their race of a few things they did well, and a couple things they could work on to continue to improve.
Though there is no one clearly defined path for each swimmer to follow to get the most out of their potential, I do believe there are common attributes that the most successful athletes share (and I define “most successful” as those that get the most out of their innate ability as everyone’s ultimate level of ability differs, but those that strive towards it should ALL be celebrated!), and I talk about this with the Senior swimmers about once a year. Additionally, I also believe that no one is naturally good or gifted in all of these areas, and that each athlete needs to work to develop each area as well as they can in order to achieve their highest level of success, and although a swimmer may be less adept in one area they may be capable of off-setting that area with excelling in others. I also firmly believe that these things can be directly associated with real life things such as school and career! They are as follows (and are in particular order!):
1.) Commitment: no one ever equaled or excelled beyond their potential without showing up…and no one gets a paycheck without some work. As former Pine Tree YMCA swim coach put so succinctly while coaching Ian Crocker in Ian’s age group years of swimming, “No deposit, no return”.
2.) Work ethic: Once you show up there also has to be effort. Effort does not wholly mean 100% physical effort all the time – there will be off days! However, the one thing that I have a hard time accepting and tolerating, particularly from our Senior swimmers is lack of mental focus and attention to detail (stroke count, pace, time, turns, underwater streamlines & kicks, biomechanics, coordination & feel or being cerebral, or at least attempting to be) These are things that one has total control over and any laziness (particularly consistent) will show when it matters most.
3.) Race-ability, Competing, Performing: liking to race and perform has big advantages in a sport where the most evident thing to gauge success and determine achievement is time – something fully objective & quantifiable. Learning how to race well, however, takes time and development and skill that can be worked on in practice with the things listed above. For those that aren’t as natural at this skill, working on positive mindset for confidence by practicing things such as positive self-talk (redirecting thoughts to things done well during the process) and focusing on things within control and within the moment (extinguishing thoughts or fears about the outcome of an event and instead confining thoughts and energy to things such as race strategy) can help to become better in this area. When it comes down to it the need and desire to get a hand to the wall as fast as one can has to be the most important thing at that moment, regardless of race position and without thought to outcome. Instinctual performance can and should be trained in concert with the other successful attributes!
4.) Coach-ability: In addition to the things above, this skill can either be innate or learned. Either way it can be something that can always be improved. If an athlete can’t or won’t accept constructive criticism in order to improve then improvement will only get more difficult. I also believe that just about every single coach involved with every sport has something to offer in some way, and when I’m at a loss as to how to convey something to an individual I often times seek out help or advice from other coaches, local, regional, or national. Quite often I lean on any one of our assistants for help as we all want the same for each one of our Porpoises – self-improvement & success!
5.) Natural talent or size: in the initial years this may help to make improvement and success easier, but if the other areas are not developed to an equal of higher level this area means nothing. To me, it is the one thing that will push a swimmer over the top.
Regardless of meet(s) attended this summer, improvements in the things listed above are what can help to move each swimmer, and the team, forward. Beyond our MSI Championship meet we had a number of other meets attended by our swimmers. They included:
- New England Senior Championships at Brown University. Attending swimmers included Mitch Amadei, Emily Ecker, and Brim Peabody. Each of these swimmers made a final (a first for PPSC at this meet), and new marks included new best times for Amadei in the 100 Back and finalist (1:01.74) 100 Fly (1:01.58) and 200 Back (2:18.35). Peabody new best time in the 1500 Free (16:57.95 – 11th while losing his cap!), 400 IM (4:56.10), & 800 Free (8:45.67 – 7th and setting a new MSI 15-16 record). Lastly was Ecker in the 1500 (4th), 200 Free (5th), new best time in the 400 IM (5:10.03 – 10th), 400 Free (2nd with a new MSI 15-16 record of 4:23.91), 800 Free (2nd), and a new best time in the 200 Back (2:27.40).
- At ISCA Senior Championships in St Petersburgh, Florida John Hight set new best times in the 100 Breaststroke (1:15.49), 200 Breaststroke (2:50.34), 200 Free (2:12.30), 50 Free (27.51), 50 Breaststroke (34.01), and 100 Free (59.29). Jack Martin established new best times in the 200 Backstroke (2:22.87), 100 Fly (1:05.21), 50 Back (31.32), 100 Backstroke (1:06.17), 50 Free (27.79), and 100 Free (59.32). Morgan Porter set new personal bests in the 50 Back (33.89), 100 Back (1:12.92), 1500 Free (19:26.59), and 100 Free (1:04.23). Lastly, Zoe Siegel set a new personal best in the 200 Free (2:24.62).
- USA Swimming Speedo Junior Nationals at Irvine, California Emily Ecker set a new best time in the 100 Free with a time of 58.84, just .01 off the current 15-16 MSI record. She also placed 24th in the 1500 Free with a time of 17:15.95.
- Eastern Zone Age Group Championships at Richmond, Virginia Audrey Cohen set a new personal best in the 100 Fly with a time of 1:09.13 coming in 15th place and placed 18th in the 200 Breaststroke with a time of 3:00.81. Cole Gorsuch set new personal best times with at 2:17.45 in the 200 Free placing 13th, placed 14th in the 200 Back with a time of 2:31.07, set a new personal best in the 50 Fly with a time of 30.86, set a new personal best and MSI record in the 100 Back with a time of 1:09.10 and placed 9th, and set a new personal best and MSI record in prelims of the 50 Back with a time of 31.64 and medaled in 8th place at night with his performance.
Great job to all of these performances this past summer, and everyone else that competed and were highlighted in other meet reports. To bring this back to the introduction, performing at one’s highest attained level is very difficult. It takes a lot of preparation, and it takes experience to be able to do it well – which is evident from the statistic that Mark Hesse gave the team of the low percentage of best times performed at Olympic Trials in 2016. A best time and personal success is always the goal, and it is a good goal to have as it marks tangible evidence of progress. But sometimes the biggest markers or improvement can be intangible – things such as executing race strategy/execution, performing biomechanics well under duress, or putting forth the hardest physical effort possible in order to compete as well as possible. If a swimmer does these well and is within 1% of their best time (or if it’s better than a prelim time they have ever performed) competing at the highest possible level they can (which is a lot of pressure!), then I’d say, for the time being, they have succeeded for the time being, though contentment should not set it. Going forward, past experience should inform future goals through reflection with a plan to return to that level and find greater success.
There are just a few more weeks of summer vacation! Enjoy the down time and allow your body to heal from a season of hard work while also staying active with some things you enjoy (25 perfect push-ups!). Great job and thank you for swimming and competing this summer Porpoises, we’ll see you soon!
~ PPSC coaching staff