Coach Pete

Expert advice for Swimmers, Triathletes, and Coaches

Doping is for Dopes

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Who is the real Sports hero?

With the latest news about one of my  favorite sports heroes taking performance enhancing drugs started me thinking about my little age groupers. These little guys work hard every day trying to achieve their goals, now we have another athlete accused of cheating. I wonder what impression does this have on them? I wonder do they think in order to succeed in athletics should they also cheat? Should they find ways to beat the system of hard work? Do they feel that drugs are the substitute for hard work. There are honest athletes who work hard every day and refuse to cheat to achieve fame and glory and we have to put these athletes on the pedestal of success.More has to be said about them and not the cheaters. The most common goal for our young swimmers is to reach the Olympics. This goal is now tarnished with the stigma of performance enhancing drugs, when records are broken we wonder, “were drugs involved”? It seems to me that the Olympics are supposed to be an event that matches the best athletes in the world against each other. It gives them an opportunity to represent their country with pride. It is not supposed to be a doping forum!

The Dallas Morning News reported that athletes on another high school football team told their coach that an athlete on the USA Today’s No. 1 ranked football team, Carroll High School, in Southlake, Texas, allegedly used anabolic steroids. Two other Texas high schools are also accused of steroid usage in the report released by the local school district.
What’s next? Will there be steroids or other methods used on the high school level? Or could it possibly be that this type of behavior could move even further down to little league, Biddy Basketball and Pop Warner or into US Age Group Swimming ?
It’s a scary thought but not impossible. I just hope the “evils” plaguing the sports world can be eradicated, returning athletics to the once proud state where achieving feats weren’t questioned.

I recently asked John Leonard the Executive Director of The American Swim Coaches Association, how do we as coaches explain to our little ones in simple terms that Doping is not the way to go and here is John’s answer

Coach Pete – I believe it is a simple and direct message. “Doping is cheating. Don’t Cheat. You don’t want others to cheat when you race them, don’t you cheat when you  race others.” Taking hits on an asthma medication when you don’t need to, is part of doping Don’t do it. Cheating is false winning. Don’t do it. When you cheat, you live with the shame for the rest of your life.

Don’t do it. Swim Hard, Swim Clean, Performance Enhancing Drugs are indeed for dopes.


February 18, 2008 Posted by | Age Group, Coaches, Masters Swimming, Parents, Triathlons | Leave a comment

Interview with Coach Bill Spahn Head Coach of the Fort Collins Area Swim Team (FAST)


Bill Spahn, former Head Coach at the University of New Mexico, joined FAST as the Head Coach in April of 2005. Bill coached both the men’s and women’s teams at UNM for 23 years with a great deal of success, including several All-Americans. He also had the pleasure of coaching Tom Jager, who at the time was the world champion in the 50 free and 400 free relay, the world-record holder in the 50 free, and a gold and bronze medalist at the 1992 Olympics. Bill coaches the Senior and Pre-Senior groups (email:

1. What motivated you to become a swim coach? I started
out as a school teacher after graduating from college and
after one month I found out that I needed to find another
job to implement my teaching salary. I thought if I
needed to work another job it might as well be doing
something that I might like. As a former swimmer, I
thought that maybe I could coach (I had experience
coaching a summer country club team). I was able to start
a team at a YMCA along with teaching lessons, etc. That
was the beginning of a 44 yr. and still going career.
2. What has been your most rewarding coaching experience?
No one experience. Many, many things but all involve
working with and being around kids of all ages. I began
my career as a club coach and 13 years later became a
college coach and then 28 years after that a club coach
again. So I have worked with boys, girls, and young
adults of all ages.
3. What was the highest level of swimmer you have coached?
I coached Tom Jager for almost 6 years and was his coach
when he set the American Record in 50 yd. free that lasted
from 1990 to 2005 and also the World Record in 50 mtr.
free that lasted from 1991- 2000. Tom also made
1992 Olympic team and was 3rd in 50 and 1st in 400 free
relay that set world record. Tom had other significant
achievements while I was his coach. Also coached Ron Neugent
who made honorary 1980 Olympic team in the 1500.
4. What is your greatest asset in conveying your message
to your swimmers?
I think that I have been a pretty good
role model and I think that in itself helps in conveying
messages to swimmers.
5. What do you feel was your worst experience in
Having had a successful men’s program dropped
(University of New Mexico 1999).
6. What was your most memorable moment in coaching? Had a swimmer swim under bulkhead into empty lane on the last 25 of a race at 1972 sc national championships in Dallas,
Texas. He was entered in the race but didn’t swim it as we
didn’t think he would meet qual. time (back then you had
to prove qual. time after race if time wasn’t met). This
could never be done now but the story of the “phantom
breaststroker” lasted years and years and is still talked
about on occasion. The swimmer involved remains today as
one of my closest friends.
7. What are your goals for the future of swimming? Don’t
really know as I am on the short end of my career and
really have a small impact on swimming right now. I just
want to improve the program that I am in charge of right
now and hope that when I finally retire I might have made
a difference to this club.
8. What was your most humorist moment in coaching? See
question 6
9. What do you love most about coaching? Working with
kids and watching them reach goals no matter how small.
10. What would you have been if you were not a swim
Probably would have continued teaching and been
retired for good by now!!!

February 16, 2008 Posted by | Coaches | Leave a comment

Kick, Kick, Kick

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Travel, from meet to meet. Go across the nation from north to south and from east to west and you will hear coaches bellowing out the same lament to their swimmers….Kick, Kick, Kick! We watch Michael Phelps and are amazed at his kicking power. Does this just happen? Or does he work extremely hard at this attribute? I wonder what kind of kicker he was a a young age grouper? I wonder did his coach ever toss him out of a workout for not kicking? It is so important to get it into your heads that if you  ever want to truly compete on a high level of swimming you have to begin to work on the kicking part of your swim now! There are all kinds of kicking drills your coach can come up with, it’s up to you to get it into your head that what he is doing is good for you. You have to be open to receive his drills with an open mind. I have said this many times, “Your mind is like a parachute, it only works when it is open!” Take the challenge and Kick!…. Kick on your side, kick on your back, kick with a board, kick with fins, kick with your head down, kick with your head up, kick with sneakers on, …just kick.

Make kicking fun, challenge the lane next to you, or kick one lap as fast as you can then jump out of the pool and do ten squats. Jump back in the pool kick a lap as fast as you can and again jump out of the pool and do ten jumps as high as you can.

This can be done as a circuit in your workout ask your coach to make it a part of his kicking drill. Add time factors to your kick sets, this helps push you harder. Your goal should be to improve your kicking endurance….so go KICK!

February 14, 2008 Posted by | Age Group, Stroke Technique | 1 Comment

How to Build Your Swims


Nicolas Alemann – Team Weston Aquatics

  Think of every lap you swim as having a short life of it’s own. It has a beginning, middle and an end. In the beginning get your stroke together by concentrating on efficiency. Then while you are keeping up with being efficient, start building – like beating drums to a roll. By increasing your kick and stroke turnover, you increase your speed down the length of the pool.

You should build every length, every series, every workout. Every stroke also has the same beginning, middle and an end. The hand speed of your stroke should speed up underwater to an explosive push at the end of your pull. Try to increase the length of your stroke as well as the depth and speed of your stroke to be efficient.

Take the challenge – Lengthen your stroke and build your swims…don’t just spin away and wind up going nowhere!

The one arm freestyle drill is excellent for working on your length of stroke and shoulder roll.

February 13, 2008 Posted by | Stroke Technique | 1 Comment

What should my Child eat before their next swim meet?

Ryan May 001 Swimmers need to eat what is good for them-and eat food that they like. In an article from “About Swimming”, written by Mat Luebbers.

He writes, that you think you are doing a great job helping your children make good food choices.

There are plenty of things that will work , and as you probably have found out what is good for one swimmer is not good for another. Some of the choices will vary based on timing – what works if eaten three or more hours prior to a meet might be a bad choice eaten 30 minutes prior to a meet

The meal decision requires some real-world testing, and with a day or two to go before the meet it may be too late to try new things. He suggests you go with what works for each of them, regardless of whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner type meal. What is their favorite pre-swim meal? Go with it! it could be pasta, noodles, rice, cereal, toast, eggs, a sub-type sandwich, pancakes, waffles, even a peanut butter sandwich – as long as it is a meal that hits the main food groups, is easy for them to digest, and is familiar to them.

Get the meal done two to three hours prior to the meet, then “keep the fuel tank topped off” with easy to digest, lighter foods – fruits – ( apples oranges, banana, pears raisins, etc.) power bars, sport drinks, pretzels, pop-tarts, a simple sandwich( peanut butter and banana, banana and honey, jam etc.) low fat pudding, rice cakes, plain toast, etc.

Feed them what you know is good for them and what they think of as tasting good…..Good Luck

February 10, 2008 Posted by | Parents | 2 Comments


weston sweimmers 023

As we are preparing for the big meets that are coming up, we have to ask ourselves are we ready? This month and within the next few weeks three major meets are on schedule. Division II Championships the JO’S and Sectionals. So how do you feel about yourself? Do you think of yourself as a Winner? Your not so sure? Well here is what I think about Winners:

Winners take chances, like everyone else, they fear failing but refuse to let fear control them. When things get rough, they hang in until the going gets better. Winners are flexible. Winners know that they are not perfect. Winners fall, but they don’t stay down. Winners don’t blame fate for their failures, nor luck for their success. Winners are positive thinkers who see good in all things. Winners believe in the path they have chosen, even when it’s hard. Winners are swimmers like you….

Have great swims at the big meets!

February 8, 2008 Posted by | Age Group | Leave a comment

Swim-A-Thon, What’s this all about


Swim teams like any other organization need funds to operate on a daily basis. Coaches salaries, pool rental fees, entry fees, team supplies and many more items that are needed for the day to day operation of the team are required. These funds can not be supported solely by club dues paid by it’s members, there is a need for fund raising. One of the most effective fund raisers has been swim-a-thons. In a recent swim-a-thon held at The Athletic Cub in Weston Florida, Team Weston Aquatics held it’s annual swim-a-thon. They enlisted the help of Olympic Champion Gary Hall, Gary HAll  

Here is Gary with Jessica Modrak, Jessica was the winner of the most money raised at the event.As a reward, Gary invited her to train for a week end at Gary’s Swim Race Club in Islamorada, Florida. If you are interested in conducting a swim-a-thon, US Swimming has guidelines you must follow. Below is an article from US Swimming on swim-a-thon I hope it helps you.

Swim A Thon

Swim-a-Thon is a fundraiser in which participants earn money for their team by swimming lengths of the pool. Swimmers have a two-hour period to swim a maximum of 200 lengths. Participants get pledges from businesses, family, neighbors, etc. prior to swimming. Some choose to get pledges and money prior to swimming while others get pledges per length and collect the money following the Swim-a-Thon. With over 500 Swim-a-Thons conducted each year, this program has proven itself over and over again as a successful method of raising funds for teams.

The exciting benefits of this program are that Swim-a-Thon is not only an excellent fundraiser, but also an opportunity for teams to combine swimming and a social event. Additionally, Swim-a-Thon can boost team spirit and increase community awareness of the team.

Since USA Swimming owns the Swim-a-Thon trademark, organizations must sign a contract agreeing to certain conditions regarding use of the term Swim-a-Thon, how a Swim-a-Thon is run, the collecting of donations, etc. Once a club completes the contract, USA Swimming supplies a detailed 30-page handbook that contains forms, promotional materials and all that is necessary for conducting a well-organized fund-raising event.

Swim-a-Thon is the only pledge for length swimming program recognized by USA Swimming and USA Swimming insurance. Swim-a-Thon is a registered trademark owned by USA Swimming. Holding a Swim-a-Thon without a contract would be a violation of this trademark. Any other type of swim for laps, lap-a-thon, etc. is also considered by the courts to be a violation of the registered Swim-a-Thon trademark.

February 6, 2008 Posted by | Parents, Uncategorized | 2 Comments


A humpback whale slapping the surface with its tail.

You train a swimmer, you watch him get faster and you watch his skills get sharper, you watch his stroke technique improve and you watch his work ethic produce faster times for his particular events. Then you watch him hit a plateau it goes on for some time, you wonder why? His stroke is efficient, his workouts have not changed, his attitude is strong and yet his times remain stagnant. What’s the answer? Do we let up on workouts? Do we give him a day off? Coaches wish they know. What works for one swimmer, does not work for another. Then out of the blue at a meet or during a workout he has this phenomena that we call a BREAKTHROUGH.He breaks his time by a huge amount of time. What caused it? Why did it happen? I wish I had the answer, I wish there was some rational explanation.

I have talked to many swimmers and coaches and no one seems to have a definitive answer. The only advice we have for swimmers is to be extremely patient during these trying times.

If any coach or swimmer out there can come up with a reasonable explanation of this phenomena….please comment on my BLOG I would love to hear from you  

February 2, 2008 Posted by | Coaches, Uncategorized | 1 Comment