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...
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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,