Which Hot Dog Would You Rather Eat?

I regularly pull the swimmers aside and speak with them as a group. Recently, we talked about setting higher personal and team standards. Setting group behavioral and attitudinal expectations goes a long way in crafting a championship culture. While I was talking to the group that day, I recalled an article I wrote a couple of years back that was germane to the subject of higher standards. It’s only a few paragraphs long, so reading it will not take up a good portion of your day. The article follows...

Which Hot Dog Would You Rather Eat?

When I was 12 or so, there was a commercial that had an impact on me. It was, ironically, a hot dog commercial. The irony is I rarely eat foods like hot dogs...but I digress. The hot dog maker, Hebrew National, used the commercial to explain that while government regulations allowed them to add certain things to their product, they don’t. They can’t. They had to answers to an even Higher Authority. By all accounts, the end product is a much better tasting and healthier hot dog.

OK Rich, what does this have to do with swimming. Here’s how I see the connection.

Our society has laws and norms. Most people feel that if you are a law abiding citizen, you are deemed to be a good person. Also, if you follow the generally accepted societal norms for your peer group, you are accepted by the majority of people within that circle. While good and accepted is desirable, that, in my opinion, is setting the bar pretty low for living your life. I believe life’s leaders and champions live under higher standards; and answer to their own Higher Authority...their own personal standards.


While the commercial has a religious overtone, you do not need to base your higher standards on religion. If that is your choice, fine. The point is, look inward and ask yourself, “are my attitudes, expectations and behaviors in line with the standards needed to excel in my sport and in life?”. If you are honest with yourself, you may see areas that could be improved and bring you more in line with the standards of a champion. Every true champion I have ever met committed to living to higher standards than were required to be accepted by society in general.


It’s not an easy task for any of us to design our own set of standards; let alone for younger, developing children. That is why we have developed the Levels System. It is designed to help our swimmers set higher standards for themselves during every step of their athletic journey.  

I have put the first five levels advancement requirements online. I feel that if we can internalize and display these attitudes and behaviors on a daily basis, we will grow and thrive as individuals and as a team. Excellence, by it’s own definition, is not normal. There are a lot more people clapping for those on the podium, than are on it.

How do you want to live your life? By the normal standards that govern regular people or, by the higher standards of a champion. Will you choose to be your own Higher Authority?  Let me put it another way. Take a look at the two hot dogs below. They were crafted using a very different set of standards. Which hot dog would you rather eat?


Here is the original 1970s commercial to also help you decide:

Click Here To View The Commercial


Our Levels System information can be found on the top right navigation bar of our club website.