Educational Notes Archive


Educational Notes 10/09/18

Everyone Has Bad Days

It was a tough loss to swallow for all involved. The Green Bay Packers made mistakes in all three phases of the game and eventually lost what could have been a dominant win. The most glaring errors were five missed kicks by the normally surefooted Mason Crosby. The 13 points would have been enough to win the game and cover up the blunders by the rest of the team.

In sports and in life there will be good games and bad games, good days and bad days, good choices and bad choices. What I enjoyed about the Packers loss and Mason Crosby’s bad day was the response by everyone in the organization.

The number of teammates that spoke out in support of Crosby shows just how classy of an organization and how tight knit the Packers are. When asked about Crosby’s day, David Bakhtiari said, “Sometimes people just don’t have their day. Obviously it wasn’t Mason’s day. Still have all the love in the world for Mason.”

It wasn’t just the All Pro left tackle, it is the whole team that has Crosby’s back. Tramon Williams spoke for the entire locker room when he said, “I have no doubt in my mind Mason is going to come back and kick as well as he always has. I know it’s a mental burden on him right now, but that’s what his teammates are here for and we’re going to be behind him the whole time.”  

Nobody is cutting their kicker any slack, he has a job to do for the team and they expect him to do it. But they know that supporting Crosby on his worst day ever as a kicker is what makes moving forward possible. Coach McCarthy put it plain and simple, “I think the world of Mason…We’ll work through it.” Aaron Rodgers is one of Crosby’s closest friends on the team and said, “We have a ton of faith in him.” And they do, but Rodgers also knows how important those points are in a close game and bluntly stated, “He’s got to make them.”  

This type of reaction is what makes the great teams special. They accept responsibility and move forward on both good days and bad. The Packers have many great leaders in the organization who are incredible models for the other players on the team. In tough moments those young players, assistant coaches and fans can listen to a veteran quarterback who can still say, “He’s one of the greatest kickers of all time,” a coach who can still say, “You don’t stay in holes, you fight your way out of them. I think our Football team has a tremendous amount of fight…They battled all the way to the end,” a kicker who can still say, “I have the best teammates in the world, so I’ve got to keep stepping that up and making sure that they know every day I’m working as hard as I can to be the best that I can.”      

I watched the game, listened to the interviews, read the stories, saw the outcry from numerous fans. What stood out to me is this: Great teams support each other in the good and the bad moments, great leaders focus on learning and moving forward in the good and the bad moments, and great players focus on the things they can control in the good and the bad moments. 

The Green Bay Packers are lucky to have people in their organization to model these behaviors. Who are the models in our own lives? Who are the teammates supporting us? Who are the leaders pushing us to learn and grow? How are we taking control of our lives? 

In the end I guess I just hope I handle my bad days as well as Mason Crosby. I support you!  


Educational Notes 03/13/18

Why should we swim in the summer or swim during our break?

As the Fall and Winter swim season is wrapping up, it is time to think about how we are going to continue preparing for our next. There will be a short break from scheduled practices following Y-State and lasting until the Spring and Summer swim season begins on April 23. Most of our athletes choose to swim the Spring and Summer. So the natural question is: What should I do over break to prepare for my next season?

First let’s start with why swimming summer is important: It’s different! Especially up here in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, the opportunity to swim outdoors in the summer is special. We spend the bulk of our year cooped up in tiny indoor pools. Once the summer hits we get a small window to swim some meets and practices outside and get extra time in the Olympic sized 50 Meter Pools. The opportunity to mix up our scenery and enjoy some change can bring new energy and life to our love of the sport. It is also important because we have more time to utilize and less on our minds because there is no school in session. This frees us up to approach the sport with more energy and enthusiasm. We encourage everyone to sign up for our Spring and Summer swim season once the information is posted to the team in the next few weeks.

Second, what you choose to do over your short break can have a major impact on how the Spring and Summer swim season turns out.  As mentioned earlier, after being cooped up for most of the winter it is important to use your break to revitalize yourself in spirit, mind and body. This will mean something different for everyone. Some will need to take their extra time and energy and focus it on school work. Others will need to take their extra time and energy and spend it with family. Others will need to maintain a routine and will put their time and energy in to swimming their own practices.

All of these options and many more are great! Taking the open space in your schedule and using it to pour back into yourself is the most important piece of these next few weeks. However, there are a few cautions we want you to be aware of:

Do not do nothing! Although it may be enticing to simply rest and veg out watching TV at night, this does not help with revitalization. It might be a way to avoid taking energy away, but it does not add back. Do something!

You need to stay in shape! This doesn’t mean you have to swim every day or even swim at all. Whenever an athlete has back to back days without a workout, their performance dips when they start up again. The longer the break, and the more consecutive days away the bigger the impact will be on endurance, power and efficiency. Taking time away from athletics also increases the risk of injury upon your return. Again, you don’t need to swim. If you are growing tired of staring at a black line, go to the gym and play basketball. Break out your bike and get outside. Go to the weight room and lift. Take your dog or your neighbor’s dog for a run. Go swim your own workout, work on a skill you want to get better at. Find new and exciting ways to move and work that will revitalize and reenergize. Just make sure you stay in shape!


Educational Notes 02/19/18

What is the best way to be a supportive and encouraging swim parent?

Some may not know this, but I was a “swim mom” years before becoming a swim coach.  My daughter started swimming for FCYST over 7 years ago. Below is a brief article written by a “swim mom” that I wish I would’ve came across when my daughter started in the sport.  It gives 5 quick ways we as parents can help encourage and support our children while they are participating in this crazy sport of swimming. Swimming is about more than if our children win or lose in an event. It is also about if they have fun, if they have a goal and work towards it, if they build their self-confidence and develop a sense of accomplishment, if they learn how to win and lose humbly and gracefully, and how they become amazing teammates. Swimming is about empowering our children and letting them choose and take ownership of what brings them happiness and satisfaction while we look for ways to motivate and reassure them.


This is incredibly important as we approach our championship season. We want to be our swimmer’s cheerleaders and remind them of all the hard work they have put in as preparation. We want to encourage them and wash away any doubts they may have going into their big meets which can already seem overwhelming. You are all amazing swim parents and the support you give your swimmers will always be remembered and appreciated. Continue being awesome and lets all work to make sure these swimmers finish out their season on a high note!


This article was written by Elizabeth Wickham:

I was asked recently by a new swim parent on how to motivate your swimmer. The short answer is that you cannot motivate your child. Motivation comes from within. What we CAN do for our swimmers is encourage them. Try to inspire them. Hope that they love the sport and will stay motivated and focused themselves. Have you asked your swimmer why they swim? In my case, my kids learned to swim very young because we wanted them to be pool safe. They looked up to the older kids on the team and couldn’t wait until they were old enough to join. Through the years, they gained fitness, found a healthy release from studies, formed friendships, learned time management, toughness and perseverance. There are so many life lessons chasing after goals and sometimes achieving them — plus learning how to deal with failure. Here are five tips on how parents can encourage our swimmers:


Tell your child that you like to watch them swim. Don’t coach or critique their performance.


Remember that the sport belongs to your child. Let them take ownership and responsibility for their success.


Make the atmosphere and experience fun. Don’t pressure them with unrealistic expectations or compare them to other swimmers.


Be involved! I’ve noticed that the parents who volunteer are the ones who have successful swimmers. Parents who drop their kids off at the curb outside the pool and never watch a practice or meet will have kids that quit.


Give them room to breathe. The pool should be a place where they can’t to see their friends and have fun. So, don’t hover. Give them the freedom to become the best they can be on their own!


Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. Meet manager.” She’s a writer with a Bachelor of Arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug.


Educational Notes 02/08/18

Why Practice on the Day of a Meet?

When looking at the upcoming schedule, our athletes in the Junior and Senior Groups will have practice on the morning of Saturday, February 10. This is the third day of the OSHY Swim Series. This practice does not take the place of the meet. It is a full practice with the same expectations as any other practice. For those that have not experienced this, there are always questions that come up:

But won’t I swim slower at the meet?

Won’t I be too tired to swim fast?

But then I will be at the pool all day! When will I rest?

Can I just skip it and come to the meet?

Why not just go to practice and skip the meet?

All of these are valid questions I hope to answer here in the next few paragraphs. Like most questions about training and practice attendance, the real answer will depend on the individual’s goals and aspirations. We recognize the difference in all our swimmers and understand not everyone has the same desires to swim at a higher level right now. Our hope is to help kids figure out how to be great at swimming if and when they make up their mind to commit to being great at it.

“Our Mission is to provide all members the opportunity to reach the full potential of their goals and aspirations through the experiences gained by being a part of our team. By promoting the core values of the YMCA and our dedication to teaching the lifelong skills of commitment, work ethic, and patience, we offer our members a direct path towards continual personal growth.” This is the FCYST mission. It doesn’t require talent. It doesn’t require achieving a certain time or place. This mission requires our athletes to learn about what it takes to be better than average and to implement those strategies into their daily routine.

Back to my original train of thought. Why practice on the day of a meet? Ultimately the answer is, unless your objective for the season is to peak at the OSHY Swim Series, practice time is valuable and important the same way gaining race experience is valuable and important.

Every practice attended throughout the season or throughout your journey towards a specific goal is like putting money in the bank. The harder you work or the more you get out of a practice, the more money you deposit. When you choose not to attend a practice or workout it is like making a withdrawal. As missed practices accrue, the amount withdrawn increases exponentially. A three day stint away from the pool will mean on day four your body will not function on the same level as someone who has been at those practices. You will need to work extra hard and exert more energy to complete the same workout. In essence, you are playing catch up.

Giving away practice opportunities in order to see minor fluctuations in time can be likened to buying small comfort items instead of saving for a large and more desirable purchase. Why swim .3 seconds faster in January at a meet that means very little long term when you can save your “money” and swim 1.3 seconds faster in March at a championship meet?

The other answer to “Why practice on the day of a meet,” is twofold. First it provides a fantastic opportunity to train the body for prelims finals formatted meets. Most often large meets require athletes to swim at their absolute best twice in one day. Believing a practice in the morning will significantly hurt performance hours later is the same as accepting the premise you can only swim fast once a day or only when conditions are perfect. Second, learning to swim fast when the body is not perfectly primed to do so will help prepare you for the biggest meet of your life when something inevitably creates a challenge. Nothing ever runs according to “the plan.” More often than not there are hiccups along the way and knowing you are capable of overcoming those obstacles is more important than having perfect conditions to compete in.

So the exact answers to the five questions I asked above are:

Yes, you might swim slower but the long term benefit is well worth it.

You will only be too tired to swim fast if you have not trained adequately or you do not take care of yourself between swims.

Take advantage of the small amounts of down time you do have. Eat a healthy recovery meal and take a nap!

You can only skip practice if you are willing to accept and are okay with the possibility of not reaching your goals.

Both practices and meets have their own inherent value and it is important to take part in all aspects of training for big meets and big races. 

Toughness is a learned quality which is achieved through attacking challenges rather than backing down from them. It is a skill that can be applied throughout one’s life and across disciplines. Good athletes, good leaders and good role models know how to use obstacles to propel them forward. This practice, or any practice is always a chance to invest in your season ending goals as well as your long term goals. For those of you in Junior and Senior we will see you on Saturday morning! 


Educational Notes 01/23/18

Last week the Jr and Senior groups had some opportunity for some Q&A time with coaches. It was awesome to have so many athletes asking great questions. Both the swimmers and coaches learned a lot by taking part. Thank you for participating! We also had some supportive interaction at the Steering Committee Meeting on Thursday and received some great ideas on continuing education for the parents and swimmers of all ages. Thanks again for your support. Remember to keep letting us know what you want more information on!


Swim Meet Process for Parents

We had our second largest group of swimmers in a meet this year at the Titletown Freeze and it was awesome to see all the progress they’ve made. Attending meets is an awesome part of being on a competitive swim team. Our parents do a great job of knowing how the process works and what is needed prior to racing and after racing. Please read through these notes even if you’ve been through the process before. You never know where you might find some useful tips and hints.

Step 1: Check the meet schedule. There are two places to check the meet schedule and we recommend using them both. The first is the list of meets the team is planning to attend this season. It is posted at the beginning of the season and can be found by using the dropdown menu for the Meets and Events Tab at the top of the team website and clicking on the Meet Schedule Tab. As we get information about the meets, we post items to the Events section towards the bottom of the team website. Sometimes this information is available for coaches months in advance. Other times it might only be a few weeks or days. Keep looking and checking back.

Step 2: Sign your swimmer up! Using the meet schedule to determine which events are good events for your athlete to participate in, you can click on the Edit Commitment button in the Events Section and Sign up your swimmer. Please remember to either pick events for your swimmer (which the coaches may choose to adjust), or note the days your athlete is available to swim so the coaches can pick events for them. The coaching staff recommends swimming in as many of the available meets as possible. It is always great for the swimmers to spend time with their friends, teammates and coaches and to perform what they have been working on in practices. Meets are a great way for athletes to learn about themselves, their teammates and what we have accomplished up to that point in the season.

Step 3: Get to the meet. The coaches will send updates about the meets to the team and to those who have signed up when we receive it from the host clubs. If you are not able to get your athlete to the meet but your swimmer wants to participate, see if they might have a friend who can bring them along. Our team is great at helping out and making sure all the athletes have ways to attend! If you sign up but have something come up where you will not be able to attend it is always a good idea to notify the coaches asap. We know this happens from time to time. Please note that once entries for the athletes have been processed and sent to the host club, we are unable to offer refunds for non-swims but do appreciate knowing they will not attend.

Step 4: Enjoy! Meets are fun and exciting for everyone involved. Yes they come with their own stresses and worries but meets are an awesome opportunity for large groups of swimmers, parents and coaches all participating together to enjoy competing and watching as those around us accomplish amazing things. Meets come with challenges, they come with exhilaration, surprises, disappointments and jubilation! Appreciate all the moments along the way and the growth that comes with.

Step 5: Know the real purpose of what we do. At the end of the day this sport is about watching and appreciating as the athletes who are participating develop a positive, growth driven mindset about themselves and what they can accomplish through the opportunities provided to them along the way. Always remember to tell your swimmer that no matter the results in the pool, you love them and enjoy watching them compete. Remind them that every time they work at something and try to get better, they earn the right to be proud of themselves for the effort they put in.   



Thank you again for making this past weekend in Green Bay such a fun and exciting meet! You all are doing a great job to make sure FCYST is always number one! I also wanted to say thank you to all the officials we had on deck at the meet. We were well represented as a team and it was very much appreciated by everyone involved in the meet. Keep up the great work! 


Educational Notes 01/12/18

It is right around the midpoint of our Winter Season and the coaching staff wants to start amping up our communication and education opportunities for swimmers and families. You can expect to begin seeing more of these Educational Notes pamphlets. We are trying to provide an avenue for our families to see and connect with several types of items. They might range from inspirational stories, to philosophical write-ups, to nutritional guidelines and more. We are encouraging you to read the articles, share them with your athletes, suggest topics you would like to see talked about, write your own pieces you might want the coaching staff to share, write responses to the articles provided and ultimately use these educational pieces to deepen your knowledge of the sport.

**We strongly encourage all swimmers and parents to submit your own work. If you submit a piece or suggestion to the coaches via email you will get a response from the coaching staff but understand we may or may not choose to use your item in the next publication or at all**  


Educational Opportunity for Junior and Senior Swimmers

On Tuesday night, January 16 Coach John and Coach Elizabeth will be holding a meeting for our Junior and Senior athletes instead of getting in the water for practice that night. This meeting will be a Q and A session for the swimmers to get some questions answered by their coaches. We want to know what you want to know so we can help you to learn and grow (sorry for my rhyming). Questions can range from why we do certain sets, to why we do certain meets, to when should I be wearing race suits, to what is Coach John’s favorite color. Please have your swimmers come ready to ask questions and ready to learn from the answers.

The meetings will take place upstairs in Childcare Classroom 4 around the corner from the Apvion Gym. Juniors will meet from 5:45-6:45p and Seniors will meet from 7-8p.


Educational Article

 Below you will find a link to an article written in the Evansville Courier & Press. The story was written about a freshman in high school named Mikaela Jenkins. I had an opportunity to see Mikaela compete while I was coaching in Newburgh, IN. She is an athlete who swam on a local club and someone who always embodied a competitor’s spirit. Mikaela loves to race, she loves to work, and she doesn’t back down from a challenge. She earned a fantastic opportunity and is a great inspiration for anyone who gets to know her.

Link to Article


Educational Notes 10/31/17

 From time to time we will be including some educational information that pertains to our team. These articles can be from any number of sources but are a great way to keep learning about the best ways to help FCYST grow and flourish as a team.

In regard to this article: Many of our athletes have been working on developing and understanding their roles. We want to do our part and communicate what those roles are. This write-up outlines a great structure to think about.


Three Corners of the Team Puzzle

Teams are comprised of three major components. The athletes, the parents and the coaches. These groups are the corner pieces of a much larger puzzle. Everything that happens on a team is influenced by one or more of these groups. When all three pieces are working together the experiences had by all are extremely rewarding and fulfilling.

Club sports are special because relationships are developed and maintained over many years. This also makes it that much more important for all three corner pieces to work in harmony. If one corner of the triangle is disconnected it can cause a disruption to the growth and development of the athlete. If one corner is not put together correctly the puzzle ends up as a mess and we never see the big picture. To prevent this, it is important to know what each corner of this relationship triangle is responsible for:


Roles of the Athlete:

Attending Practices and Performing Workouts

Developing and Working on Skills

Having a Positive Presence

Setting Personal Goals

Finding New Ways to Have Fun


Roles of the Parent:

Providing Transportation for the Athlete

Providing Unconditional Encouragement and Love to the Athlete

Providing Healthy Guidelines for the Athlete and Their Choices

Offering Support and Assistance to the Coaches

Having a Positive Presence  


Roles of the Coach:

Providing and Developing Practices, Workouts and Education

Shaping and Implementing a Team Philosophy

Guiding the Athletes in Their Goals

Instructing the Athletes on Technique

Setting Schedules and Plans  


There are more items that could be added to each list, but this is a start that was developed and adapted by many teams to provide a framework of responsibility. When each group is following through on their responsibilities teams develop a sense of harmony and consistency. It is easy for each group to step past their own role and into those of the other groups. When this happens lines get blurred, unrealistic expectations get set, and people get hurt.

When coaches drive the goals of the athlete, the athlete’s personal desires go unheard and unrecognized. It is impractical if athletes are asked to take sole responsibility for the food they eat and how they manage their time or get to practices. When parents cross over into the coach’s role of teaching skills and planning workouts, the athletes get mixed signals and information. It is important for each corner to understand their roles and let the other groups manage their own parts. This allows the jigsaw nature of the puzzle to connect seamlessly without overlap or gaps.

This isn’t to say that all three should cease to interact, communicate, and understand why those working in other roles are doing everything they are. When each group in the triangle fulfills their job and is understood by the others the picture comes into focus and the athlete has the best opportunity to be successful.