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ASCA World Clinic 2019

ASCA 2019

ASCA World Clinic 2019

Over the last week, hundreds of swim coaches came together to network and learn from one another in downtown Dallas, Texas. We were lucky enough to be an Exhibitor at this year's ASCA World Clinic. So, I thought I'd share some pictures and memories of my first World Clinic...

First person I see? Sprint Salo. Chris Ritter just interviewed him on his podcast -- click here to check that out. 

Second person I see? National Jr. Team Director, Mitch Dalton.

Here's a picture of us reppin' the CAA. Mitch is a JMU boy if you didn't already know. He spends over 150 nights in hotels jet-setting across the world in full support of the National Jr. Team. USAS is incredibly lucky to have him. 

mitch dalton

As an exhibitor you get to talk and meet EVERYONE because all the coaches come to the booth and when they are in class all the exhibitors are hanging out getting to know one another.

The dudes at Swim Cloud were on my left; winners of the Bob Gillett Innovative Product of the Year Award!

On my right side was SR Smith, a manufacturer of starting blocks, lifeguard chairs, etc out of Oregon. By the end of the week I was inviting Larry (MAHZANGGGHAAAAA) and Christin down to our beach house for a little vacation.

Across the way was Coral Springs' Jay & Barb (amazing facility). My alma mater, Old Dominion, spent many training trips at their facility (Dara Torres was always hogging the gym space). If you are looking for a training trip spot, Coral Springs is legit.

Kitty-corner to me were the guys from FORM the new goggle with augmented reality that puts a pace clock in your eyeball. I'm a Speedo Vanquisher kindofaguy but could easily wear these; the fit is far better than what most people will expect. Canadians again leading the charge in technology innovations in the sport of swimming. Support your local Canadian Swimnerd.

And, kitty-corner the other way was Chuck Destro, former Purdue swimmer & engineer, who created a swimming tower that collapses into itself.

form swim goggles

I tend to find myself sneaking into many of the talks because, well, I'm a swimnerd and I want to hear all these great talks, too.

international swimming league

Honestly, though, this isn't the reason you should come to these conventions. Yes, many of the talks from highly qualified and accomplished people are super fantastic -- I have written many, many blogs about these talks. Most recently, Stephane Lecat's presentation on open water and long distance training.

But, you come for the discussions in between and after those talks -- just don't forget that those discussions ARE ON YOU. If you stay in your room and complain about how small this year's convention is, then you are going to have a miserable time. Side note: attendance was probably the single most talked about thing. My understanding from talking to so many old heads is that the year before the Olympics it is the smallest, the year after the Olympics it is the largest, and the two sandwich years are solid. If I had to guess I'd probably say 400-600 people were there. That is half of what they advertised which should probably miff a few exhibitors but to me you only have so much time anyways -- you can't hang out with everyone even when its only between 400-600 so how am I going to hang out with another 400-600 people on top of that? I'll need to hire some help.

If you went to either bar downstairs you couldn't get away from talking about swimming. There are dozens and dozens of coaches who have been to 20+ of these in a row and would LOVE to give a young coach some advice. Belly up to the bar next to the guy or gal sitting by themselves and offer to buy them a drink. That single beer might secure your next coaching gig. Or, you might learn the single most important thing of the weekend.

Here are a few of the people I ran into (and got a picture):

Curtis Din from The Fish. We grew up in the 757 together!

curtis din the fish

Lenny Krayzelburg. You might remember him continuing the American tradition of winning backstroke events at the Olympics (Sydney, 2000). His Wikipedia page says he is 6 foot 2 but there is no way that is true. 

Insert gold medal emojis x 4.

He now heads up the LA Current of the International Swimming League.

lenny krazelburg

When I was a high school swimmer for ODAC, Derek Shipp was our Age Group coach. My little brother even dressed up like him for Halloween and cut some nice looking widow peaks out on his own head. Low and behold, 20 years later, we run into each other at ASCA. He's now the Head Coach of FAST in St. Louis. 

 Derek Shipp

This is Coach Ellis' second induction this year. He was just inducted into the ISCA Hall of Fame last month and for good reason. If you've never seen Pride, you should, it is one of the most important stories in swimming history. Terrence Howard plays Jim Ellis.

What Jim Ellis has done for diversity in aquatics will never go unforgotten. 

Speaking of convention...the Diversity in Aquatics Convention is April 16-18, 2020 in Washington DC. I have attended this convention twice it is excellent -- I hope to see you there! 

Jim Ellis

I got to share a couple of meals with these two: David Arluck and Brett Hawke.  Arluck started the Fitter & Faster tour -- they are doing over 1200+ sessions this year which is simply astonishing. 

Brett said Bruno Fratus likes my blogs so hopefully he reads this and smiles.

david arluck

Has anybody done more to put a spotlight on swimming in the last decade than Swim Swam? The answer is No.

Working with Mel is what I hope it is like to work with us. If I call/text/email, I get a response faster than Kristof Milak can bring home a 200 Fly. 

I also got to eat lunch (not pancakes) with SS video superstar, Coleman Hodges. If you haven't seen his latest video, here it is. He interviews his own brother aka One Oh One Wyatt, as he went 1:01 in the 100 LCM Breast last summer. He's 28 years old and has a full time job...

It was neat to listen to how Pancakes + Practice is being woven into the very fabric of swimming. A lot of young swimmers watch every episode and when they meet Coleman guess what they want to talk about?


The ASCA Hall of Fame Induction was beautiful. We laughed, we cried. The stories were outstanding and the people even better. Swim coaches are certainly some of the best folks to work with and I saw this theme reiterated several times over the week.

Some other people we hung out with but didn't get a picture with...

Karl "The Mooch" Hamouche, Founder of Swim Smart. Swim Smart makes a variety of products including the Push Paddle (basically a standard paddle but with a hole in the middle that provides you resistance -- great for underwater kicking). Dr. Karl (he is in his residency) wrote an entire huge thick book about the biology behind swimming with all his own handwritten notes and drawings -- pretty amazing stuff. I picked up a harness & parachute and some push paddles so I will let you know how our Masters team likes them. The harness is different because it puts the resistance in the middle of your back rather than down at your hips -- I like the idea of that. 

Ailene Tisser and Cindy Freedman from Swim Angelfish created educational resources for the world’s adaptive swim lessons needs. Drowning is a leading cause of death with children with Autism, as they are very much attracted to the water. Their certification program is done completely online and I believe there is a big need for lifeguards to be taught some skills to be aware and ready for action.

Sam and Tim VanCura, of Total Performance, is the father and son team that have been providing you with towers and racks for a very long time! Not to mention Stretch Cordz and Vasa Trainers.

Mike Waldmann from Andrews, Texas. He's an OKB (Original Kickstarter Backer) that was messing me at my booth as he had pulled out his phone, connected to one of the clocks, and was turning it on and off from far away -- I didn't know what the heck was going on. It's people like Mike that you want to buy the beer for. He was air dropping videos of his circuit training to a 25 year old coach he met just 30 minutes prior.

I had a couple of great conversations with Glenn Mills from Go Swim. If you live under a rock, Glenn was one of those young American swimmers that made the 1980 Olympic team but didn't get to compete in Moscow, Russia. He knows everybody, he has amazing stories, and he just freaking loves swimming. Glenn revolutionized underwater video taping. Go Swim has been sending royalty checks to swimmers, every quarter, for 17 years. He truly understands the social media world we live in and how to deliver high quality products to millions of people.

I'm leaving out a lot more people like Tristan from Tritonwear and Abbie Fish from Swim Like A Fish. We never did get that drink together Abbie...

The Bottom Line

You can't host this event in September -- makes no sense. There are many reasons for the low numbers at ASCA but this is the #1 reason.

I'm also not so sure Dallas was the best place. It's a real city -- it's huge -- #8 most populous in America. As one coach said, he almost felt trapped inside of the hotel. Probably doesn't help that your schedule starts at 7 AM and ends at 10 PM. There wasn't much time to run amuck in the Big D.

I dunno about ya'll but I want a beach. Next year it is in Orlando and my understanding is that they want to make it more inclusive for entire families to come down together for Swimming & Disney. I wouldn't mind getting on some roller coasters one day but Orlando is not on the beach.

Price is obviously a huge barrier of entry. I never stay in the hotel that is hosting the conference as it is far too egregiously priced. I stayed in an Airbnb about a 10 minute walk away. Other than their internet and coffee maker not working the place was awesome. Huge brand new apartment all to myself. Full kitchen. Washer/dryer. I paid HALF of what the hotel wanted. And, I got away from the insanity each night for a few minutes.

Speaking of pricing problems, here is what an exhibitor has to deal with: the 3rd party vendor that rents you booth furniture, internet, and electricity. It was $529 to rent 1 folding table, 1 chair, and a tiny trash can for the week. No kidding, exhibitors literally got off the plane and had their Uber driver take them straight to IKEA. I purchased a table on Amazon and had it shipped to the hotel. The hotel charged me $30 to store said table and another $120 to store my clocks/tripods/booth stuff. I gave my table away to a swim coach in Texas. Electricity was $200 so I brought extra batteries for my clocks.

The reason this was our first ASCA clinic was because in the past we just didn't have a big enough marketing budget. I hope that ASCA begins to offer a deal to startup businesses in the swimming community, as it is very difficult to afford early on. Perhaps it should be a 3 step system. First year is $600. Second year is $1200. Every year after that is normal price $1800. That would help the little guys build their businesses earlier and quicker and get the exposure they need to grow.

I'm certain Mike Koleber, Paris Jacobs, and Co. are going to do everything in their power to innovate, include, and inspire.

At the end of the day, it comes down to what you make of it. And, I for one, thoroughly enjoyed my first ASCA World Clinic.

See you all in Orlando,


Long Distance Training Keys & Strategies by Stéphane Lecat

Long Distance Training Keys & Strategies by Stéphane Lecat

To say that France is passionate about open water swimming would be an understatement. They now have 12 open water swims on their schedule. Check them out they look awesome.

Stéphane Lecat, the Open-water team director for Fédération Française de Natation (that's French for FFN), was scheduled to speak at the 2018 Fina Convention but had trouble with his flights and was unable to make it to Hangzhou.

Coach Lecat doesn't just talk the talk but he walked the walk. According to his International Swimming Hall of Fame bio he, "won 3 FINA World Cup Series, 3 Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean, 4 Rio Corondo, 3 Traversée Internationale du Lac Memphrémagog swim, 25 km European Championship, 10 times French Champion and an Around-the-Island Marathon Swim in Atlantic City plus a very fast English Channel in 8 hours 19 minutes." He knows what it takes to be a champion.

I had been waiting months for Coach Lecat's presentation -- it was of course the one I was looking forward to the most. I DM'ed him on Twitter and we got to talking -- low and behold he had made a short video for his presentation that was never played the Convention. I asked if I could share it with the world along with a copy of his presentation slides. He said yes.

So, here it is, in all its glory:

Coach Lecat's 17 page .pdf presentation can be downloaded here.

We added English subtitles to help you follow along.




00:00   Hi everybody. My name is Stephane Lecat. I am the Devita of the Open Swimming Federation, a Swim French Federation for open water and since 2013. Today I am speaking by video because, yesterday I have a problem with my flight, and I tried to find the solution. So I had that situation and this is open water, so, you have to do the same when you are coaching open water. So that's why I wanted to do a video, not to miss my presentation for any point. So Finna invite me to speak about long distance swimming and the key strategies, because since many years, the French Federation and the swimmers have the French Federation have good results. So on slide two presents you what we will speak. We speak on content will be: open water French team description; history and context; discipline characteristics; performance model with some specificities; development tools; and perspectives.

01:11   Slide three. So some numbers on the French Federation. Visha we have 25,000 numbers precipitate in an open water event in France in 2013. It is a lot of 2018. It is a lot of number of person who participates, but between May and the September in the open water events in France. And it is very important for us, because it is more or more popular every year. So maybe because this port is in actuality with a colonial navy thing or maybe because of the athletes of the French Swimming Federation is having good results. We have 41 open water event between May and October. 19 countries take part at the French Open Championship this year. And we are proud about that because now it is a French Open, of course. It is a land camp too, but it is international event for us, and it help our swimmers, juniors and seniors to prepare for the international competition.

02:21   We have 193 swimmers take part at the 10K at the French Championships. It was a 119 women on the 149 men. It was big numbers, and all the women started at the same time and the men too. And this is very important because when you are in a international competition like World Championships, where you have to qualify at the Olympic Games. You have to find a way, the best place at the beginning, at the end. And if you not take part in this kind of race with many people, it is hard for you to adapt and to find a solution. That is why it is important to propose a good event for many, many countries in our championships. [inaudible 03:10] we have four hours, 20 minutes live on television, French international television are doing the French Open.

03:17   So it is a good picture for our discipline, and we are very proud about that. We have to do the same thing next year of course. Since 2014, 73 international swimming medals won in French and international competitions. It was 49 in gold; 14 in silver; 21 in bronze. We are so happy about that, and we worked hard for that. And always we are asked if it is luck or because we have a good strategy? I think it is mixed, because we have very good athletes, and we have very good coach. And we will speak about that after. And we have a, I think, a good organization too, and we know to adapt. This last number is very important. French Swimming Federation and the first Olympic medal in Rio in 2016 with Marc-Antoine Olivier.

04:28   It was the bronze medal at the Olympics for the men's. And we are very proud about that. So slide four. So History and Context - open waters is like life. Sometimes you have to face strong waves, but passing them allows you to find the voice to success again. This is very important because, for example, in Rio 2016 our athlete, Aurélie Muller, had the silver medal. She was silver medal, one meter before the end and she was finally disqualified just one meter before the end and it was very hard for her for course. And for the whole team, but one year after, Aurélie won three medals at the World Championships - two gold medals and one silver medal. And she was Athlete of the Year in 2017. This is really open water, she, you have sometimes [inaudible 05:34] and this is top level sports.

05:38   Sometimes you have bad [inaudible 05:39], but you learn about that on the [inaudible 05:42] after, of course, it is not finished. Aurélie, we want to support her to try to be number one at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. She won the first step, and we hope we'd be the same in the future.

06:00   Next slide. So the History and Context. Why take the direction of French open water in February, 2015? Well, I decided to be National Devita at this time because the plan proposed by the Federation at the time was, in my way. If your plan is not with your philosophy, it is not a good idea to take the position. And for me, sharing skills to ensure the French swimmer perform on a high level, is very important. Many French swimmers win medals, which is the most important, to create beautiful emotions, together because we work for that too.

06:48   And they share time together. This is very, very important for me, in my team, for junior and senior. To share the emotion, to share the podium because we are together. It is not one swimmer, and one swimmer, and one coach, one coach, we are together. We work together, and this is very important. So how? I am the director and the manager. So it means, for me to be director, of the open water, you have to see and you have to take care about your coach. Not only about the swimmer because you are the coach. Sometimes call the coach one day and say, hi, how are you doing and you asked me, why are you calling me? I said, just to ask you, if you okay. And this is very important to take of my team.

07:39   My team is coach and swimmers. It is very important to have a coach who knows to win. We have Phillip Breca in our team. And I think, it is this coach who showed the way at the French Swimming Federation in Portsmouth on the open water swimming, how to win gold medals in an international event. And this is very, very important for us, because when Phillip came to us in 2015, he helped us to have confidence. And he the learned to everybody, how to show the way to the victory. And to show the way, not to accept the defeat. And this is very important. We do not win always, of course, but we want to try, every time. And this is very important. And then become a team. At the beginning of course, we build it, but now I think we have a team.

08:42   We are a real team. The place of the open water in the Federation. Today, open water has an important place because it is a further possibility to win medals at the Olympic. It is a possibility to increasing the number of members in the Federation. This is very important. Maybe we have 10,000 or 15,000 members more, because open water, since the four years, open water has become bigger and bigger. And it offers the possibility to perform in a singular challenge. It is not because you are not top level, you cannot do open water challenge. You can cross a channel, like the channel between England to France, or everything. This is open water, you do not need to be top level. You can have your personal challenge and it is with a boat, and its safe and there is not injury most of the time.

09:45   This is a very, very good sport. That's why open water is getting bigger and bigger. On the Open Water Scientifics, this is very important. I know in our part like [inaudible 09:55], the open swimmer must be able to adapt himself. How about what? The natural environment, because we swim in the ocean; we swim in the lake; we swim in the river; and you have to adapt to that. This is very important too, how to adapt that with your technique; with a tactic; with your brain; and between the other streamers, the opponent. Next slide.

10:28   Open water Characteristics. Open water is the discipline where the swimmer must use all his qualities: philosophical, technical, tactical and mental to face the problem related to the environment in which he evolves as well as those related to the opponents in order to touch pad first. What are the essential performance factors, In my view, of open water? Coaching because the coach, for me, is very important because they show the way everyday to the swimmers. Tactical and technical, because it is not because you do not have, the more you have a beautiful, good technique, efficient, the more, you will be better in a 10k finish it. Physiological, because it is very important too. Observation. The observation to your swimmers and the other on the other team is very important, as is the other spot - mental. And, of course, in the middle of everything you have the swimmers.

11:34   Next slide. Provides the means to win: Create a Performance Model. Observation. From 2013 to August 13. I did observation and analysis with the international opponents and the difference between the swimmers. Which was very important in Barcelona 2014, to see how the Brazil team, U.S. Team organize everything before the race, during the race and after the race. Because it wasn't tough on the, we were number seven in the world. Of course number seven in the world, is not enough when you want to be first. So you have to show how the best is doing, and then after you have to adapt with your culture and with your swimmers, and with your organization that is very important. Construction of the French Performance Model on the 10K. Race strategy, planning strategy training analysis, individualization. Individualization is very important because each swimmer do not have the same quality. So you have a plan for everybody, but yet, you have to adapt even with each quality of the swimmers.

12:48   Next slide. Development tools. From the performance model, identification of key points to work on. For each phase of the race, you have a quality to improve. Endurance capacity; speed at the end of the race; technical and tactical works. Lucidity works. This is really important, make a choice at the right time in the race. On the promote open water French culture and dynamic training camp with the senior engineer. Every, every year we do two or three training camp together and with a junior and a senior. On the this swim camp, help us to knowledge sharing between coach and coach training camp with the best international. Go to the swimmers. Sometimes some swimmers and coach go in the international coach to see how they manage the open water training session. Scientific sports. So we are working on the hypoxia on altitude training; Heat acclimatization (warm and cold environment); individual race strategy before each major competition; work on lucidity in the race. About lucidity in the race. This is very important, because sometimes you are very strong, but if you do not have the capacity to be lucid and with a big vicinity you cannot win. You have to be very, very lucid about what you can do; and what you have to do; and what you want to do. Maybe one or two minutes, after the moment you think about that.

14:35   Next slide. Improvement of several qualities: technical, tactical, mental. You have on the screen, the example what we do on a test. We do a test scale on the average speed of the swimmers, it is 100. Then he might have to decide the strategy, how he wants to do before the test. And you have to stop three times and when you stop, you have a question about lucidity. And after that we do the analysis of everything. About speed, about [inaudible 15:05] that. about lucidity too, and we do everything. We take into consideration everything, to understand how the swimmer is good or not in every point. Who is very important. Next slide.

15:26   Improve the speed at the end of the race. The key factor of the 10K. You can see now, that you have the top 10 time on the 200, 400, on the 800, and 1500 female woman. Or you can see the level is very good, for the man and for the woman. This is women, yet you need in your career a minimum speed, top speed maybe in the top 50 men and 50 women in the world [inaudible 15:53] ranking, to being a good open water swimmers. Next slide.

15:59   At the Word Cup in Abu D'habi, this year, you can see the percent of the speed of the swimmers. Are the 400 freestyle for the men on a throwing on variable quandaries. And you can see [inaudible 16:11] is not an on the higher percentile on the speed. Because you are a reserve, so because he have [inaudible 16:18] it is not comfortable for him to win the race.

16:21   So it is not only the one quality but it is one of the biggest quality. Setting-up a French open-water culture and an effort culture. Training camp principles. Two or three weeks with senior and junior, two times yearly. Advantages - skills sharing between coach; training with world championship. Take the time to perform several analyses in various areas - physiology, technique, tactics, psychology. And multiply the number of the open water competitions to better immerse yourself in the discipline. It is very important to take part at the competition.

17:02   Next slide. Be the dynamic team of course. The director is available and attentive with a committed and trusted staff. Strong relationship between the seniors and juniors. Scientific advisors on disposal to the coach, very important. Support swimmers and their coach. Maximization of physiological capacities in altitude. Setting up tools: measurement of level of fatigue; physiological test every day; heat acclimatization, you have adpoted better race strategy, worked on lucidity, like I explained to you, before.

17:42   Next slide. Perspectives. How to explain the success of the French, open water swimming. Caring and investment are the keys to the French system. Coach who know how to win and are fair and consistent with basic principle on high level requirement like Philippe Lucas, of course, Éric Boissiere, Magali Merino and many more. The taste of victory. A logistical organization focused on the swimmer and the coach. How to sustain and optimize results? That's a question. I think individualized training depending on the swimmer, response is very important. Support and offer experts to our coach. Involve young coach with the best French or foreign coach or use external expertise. This is the best [inaudible 18:38].

18:38   And now, for the next slide, you will have a short video to explain between 2014 to now, what we build in our team. Thank you for everything. Goodbye.

FINA Strikes Gold With Sun Yang

Sun Yang Duncan Scott

We were kidding (not) when we suggested the ISL should fabricate crazy stories to get people to watch swimming.

Kudos to FINA for listening and jumping on the idea before the ISL even gets an opportunity. What they have propagated over the first few days of World Championships is nothing short of remarkable. This is truly next-level marketing.
First, by rekindling the 400 Free rivalry between Chinese superstar Sun Yang and Australian Mack Horton.

Then, after Danas Rapsys wins the 200 Free, he is quickly disqualified. 


Rapsys' false start moves Sun Yang into 1st place and Duncan Scott (and Marty from Russia) into 3rd place since they tied. Here's what happened next:

For a quick recap, let's check in with Olympic swimmer Maddie Groves (follow her on Twitter she is funny):

Duncan Scott's podium protest culminates with Sun Yang verbalizing the aforementioned, “I’m better than you.”

Just listen to those cheers!

The most savage part has got to be the fact that the UK & Australia can't actually watch World Championships, as they could not come to a broadcasting agreement. This is a smart move by FINA, as it heightens the suspense to actually watch the Olympics next year.

You might not agree with FINA's drug testing controls but you cannot deny their ability to get people to tune in on Twitter to talk about it.
Just wait until Sun Yang is cleared at his CAS hearing in September paving the way to Tokyo 2020.

 Bad guys are essential...