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

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


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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


It is my opinion that the word responsibility in swimming terms is defined as the ability of how you respond to different situations. For instance: Coach does not put you on the “A – Relay”. Are you responsible enough to respond to his decision in an appropriate manner? If you swim hard and don’t make your JO cut, or your sectional cut. Do you have the ability to respond in an appropriate manner? Or if you make your cut and set a team record, do you have the ability to respond in an appropriate manner?….to be a CHAMPION you must be RESPONSIBLE  

In my opinion accountability and responsibility go hand in hand no where in this post do we find the word “entitlement”. Last year I watched a TV segment on Dateline called the “Eco-Generation”. It was about children of baby boomers that were born in the 1980’S and beyond. This group of people have a sense of entitlement; they have high self esteem for no real reason, mostly because all their life they have been told that they have done a good job…therefor they are entitled to all the rewards. All you have to do is to participate, and you get a reward. All you have to do is to show up …and we give you a trophy! This is the way our society is going today. In Canada’s school system, schools are not giving failing marks any more they simple call it delayed success.

Swimming makes an attempt to give your children high levels of self esteem through hard work and strong effort. Coaches try to have them think and believe in themselves as winners. Coaches want them to think that they are not entitled to anything unless it’s earned! Coaches want them to learn how to handle situations that effect themselves as well as other people

Coaches want to teach them how to get up after being knocked down. Coaches teach them how to know when something good happens to them, we want them to not only see the flowers; we want them to smell them too!

In closing I want to share this short story with you. Someone asked, “why do you spend all day with your son fixing his bike when the bike shop down the street could fix it in an hour” and the father replied, “because I am building a son-not fixing a bike”

Swimming is all about building character, building people,building tradition,giving a sense of self and skills…this is what we teach in US Swimming, I hope you agree I would appreciate your comments

Coach Pete

January 31, 2008 Posted by | Age Group, Coaches, Parents | Leave a comment

Butterfly Stroke

Yesterday I visited a small town in the Rocky Mountains called Estes Park. It is the last town just before entering the Rocky Mountain National Park. By now you must be saying,”Ok, so what does this have to do with butterfly stroke?” I took a photo of the majesty and power of this huge mountain. It was  awesome!


Then today I visited the Denver Aquarium with my grandchildren and watched the power and majesty of some of the most powerful fish in the world they to were awesome! And I thought to myself as awesome as the mountain was and as awesome as the fish  were, I tied the two together and thought a bit about butterfly stroke

A green sea turtle swims past a school of Raccoon Butterflyfish near Hawaii.

  Now this may seem as a weird analogy, but I think that you treat the butterfly stroke as that mountain to climb with it’s high peaks and slippery slopes. Then I think about how peaceful the fish were and how easily they moved through the water no matter how big they were or how powerful they were. They all had a feel for the water and used their body motion to move them swiftly and effortlessly.

If you use your body in a undulating motion keeping your weight up front and kicking from your hip using your legs as a whip. This motion alone will move you through the water. You have to relax and feel the water, not fight it!

A good drill that I have used with my age groupers was a drill that used fins. I would have them put their hands at their sides and keeping their feet together move their body’s in a see-saw motion pushing their chest down into the water and their butt popping up out of the water. This undulating motion moved them across the pool in a butterfly motion and gave them a feel for the water….try it, it may work for you, and don’t make it a mountain to climb, just relax and enjoy it. 

January 28, 2008 Posted by | Age Group, Stroke Technique | Leave a comment

TWA Swimmer Playing Water Polo at Colorado State University


Andrea Victoria playing water polo for Colorado State University

Last Night I had the privilege of watching one of our own Team Weston Swimmers play water polo at the EPIC Center Pool in Fort Collins Colorado. What impressed me so much was to watch a young lady who was a stand out player for St.Thomas High School take a different role as a player on a mature team of veteran players. Andrea was a shooting star at St. Thomas, and now she is playing defense for her college team. This shows me that Andrea has accepted her role to be a TEAM player. It shows me that her level of maturity is at a high level, she plays with little complaining and gives her all throughout the entire game. Her coach has been giving her a good amount of playing time considering that she is a freshman.

What really impressed me was to watch her Mom and Grandmother who traveled over 2100 miles  cheer for her in the teams first home game. As I wrote about earlier parents are wonderful supportive people.


Mom getting into the game………

January 25, 2008 Posted by | Age Group, Parents | 1 Comment

How do we coach the 10 and under Phenom

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Jenna Moodie        Andrea Vallejo      Bogdan Cioanta       Emma Lincoln

I have coached all of the above swimmers,  Junior Olympic Champions, National Top 16, and Florida Gold Coast All Stars….all accomplished as 10 and under’s. Are they off to the Olympics? and are they superstars? should they be treated any different than the rest of your 10 and under’s? My experience coaching young age groupers has been, to not get too excited about the Phenom. Many parents get very excited at this early success and that is understandable. However as a coach you have to take things very slowly and with little pressure on the child. The burn out ratio of young age group swimmers is extremely high. Many swimmers who have had great success as age group swimmers never get passed the aging up process. I have known swimmers that quit the sport by the time they were 15 years old due to too mush pressure to soon by both parents and coaches.

Be patient and let them be ten years old, have them do the same workout that your entire group is doing, don’t start loading them up with more yardage. Be very patient, and the end result will be a great reward. Work very hard on the foundation of proper stroke technique, rather than beating them up with intense hard long workouts.

Teach them the value of being patient, and work with their parents as to what your game plan is for their swimming Phenom. 

January 23, 2008 Posted by | Age Group, Parents | 1 Comment

Quotable Quotes

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Only those risking to go far will ever know how far they can go

Only a mediocre person is always at his /her best.

Practice is 90% physical – 10% mental. Championship meets are 10% physical- 90% mental

Pride, intense pride, that’s what it all comes down to.

Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they themselves discovered than by those which have come from others.

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People who feel good about themselves produce good results.

Swim each practice as if it was the most important practice of the year.

Take the best team and the worst team. Line them up and you would find very little difference. You would find an emotional difference. The winning team has dedication – they don’t accept defeat.

Take all defeats as a temporary setback

Don’t ever give up!

January 22, 2008 Posted by | Age Group | 5 Comments

Keep them Motivated

How many times have you come to the pool and found that the only person motivated and ready to work was you? Your swimmers were in some sort of funk and not with today, just not ready to give their all. Maybe you have been pushing too hard, maybe they need some sort of diversion, some sort of activity other than swimming that can bring them together as one family so to speak.

I have found this to be very helpful and productive. Below is a photo of Team Weston with their fearless leader on a Family bike ride after a Saturday morning practice. We stopped had some bagels and made our return trip back to the pool. On Monday afternoon practice they were up and ready to….Give it a try, it might work well for you, be inventive find some activity that will encourage your swimmers to be a TEAM…Team Weston and bike ride

Lighten up on them and have some fun!……It Works

January 19, 2008 Posted by | Age Group | Leave a comment

Basic Backstroke Start

The key to a powerful, explosive backstroke start is getting a good grip on the wall. USA Swimming has recently passed a rule that should help you and make it a bit easier, by allowing you to have your feet above the water line


Feet above the water line – However you may not stand in the gutter or bend your toes over the lip of the gutter


Even though the old rule kept your feet under the water, you could still develop a solid foundation by focusing on how to position your feet. As with all starts you must stay focused. Stay compressed and be ready to explode in the proper direction.


In this start it may be better to place one foot higher that the other, as in the track start. This is useful if the walls are slick. It’s usually better and safer to go for a good grip than for quickness or distance or height. While you may end up dragging the lower leg through the water a bit more, this is better than slipping down the wall and wind up going nowhere.

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To set up for the start you can either grab the block or the side of the pool. The decision depends on your age, height,strength, and flexibility. Grabbing the block is the ideal way to start, however for younger swimmers I find it places too much stress on the arms and shoulders, and the gutter serves them better. In either case stay comfortable while waiting to hear the command “Take Your Mark”

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When you move to the starting position, try not to lift yourself out of the water. Instead, try to draw yourself toward the wall, focus on the pressure on your feet. Remember, the goal is a strong start that sends you back not up!. No matter whether you grip the block or the gutter, you should roll your head forward as you take your mark. Your head is usually the first thing to move backward when the starter hits the beep. By rolling the head forward, you coil your body and prepare to explode all of your energy and movement.


 ” If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”

January 18, 2008 Posted by | Age Group, Stroke Technique | 2 Comments