Professional, Online Coaching From Sean Baker
We CAN W1N.
CAN= Canada & its also the idea of Yes We Can.
W1N= Not a 4-letter word - WIN shouldn't be looked down upon or watered down. WINning is good as long as its done the right way.
Getting to Gold; its both literal & figurative.
FIRST, let me state that I am a WIN - AT - ALL - BENEFIT person who believes that WIN is not a 4-letter word. Winning at all benefit means to win fairly squarely and by the rules. Its about realizing the champion while celebrating those who competed.
I never understood the mind-set of "you are all winners" and "winning doesn't matter."
Life to me is a competition, in all the fun, exciting ways. If you consider, there are only so many really good paying, rewarding careers, only the best students get those opportunities. Those opportunities usually come from the test scores from College or University. College & University are getting harder and harder to get into, especially in Canada where we just celebrated our largest immigration ever.
I admire the majority of immigrants as they often work far harder and are more disciplined than a lot of people because they value education as a way to a better life. Many times they have left a country that doesn't offer what our great country offers; they appreciate what we have. (*Thanks Veterans!)
Here is another viewpoint on why Winning matters...How would you like to have the Dr. that scored 72% on there exams treating you; the ones that just want to kind of do well... Sorry but I want the best; I want the sharpest, hardest working, most dedicated Dr. working on me. Trust me, when you have gone through a challenging health situation and had a GREAT Dr. you will appreciate why it is important to value WINNING. Think about it, does your Dr. constantly stay updated on the latest research, the newest techniques and treatments? Are they willing to always stay informed? Do that extra reading? You want to hardest workers, the most diligent people who are willing to do the work. Parents, that's why we coach the kids from the basics forward. We get them to think that way, we demand that they take the Hard Road In vs. the Easy Way Out. Employers, do you want the person willing to be early & stay late because they are those type of people? Or do you settle for the clock-punchers who show up last minute, leave the second their shift is over etc. Isn't it very clear? Those are the things we are trying to get the kids to do so that by the time they graduate, every school in North America wants them.
In my occupation, I travel a lot & you see the huge differences in the service industry. I have shown up with my team when the restaurant is just about to close & have experienced both sides of the coin. The "doers" who say, "Come On In!" and the laziest clock-punchers out there..."Sorry our kitchen just closed" Obviously these were not the owners LOL. Another case - in - point.
I think its when winning becomes everything and the process is forgotten about, that's when we get into trouble. Its when the focus is on win-at-all-cost
Obviously it's competitive swimming, keyword COMPETITIVE, but the real Gold comes from the life lessons kids learn only by going through the rigors of training, goal setting, time management etc.
These are the tools everyone needs to WIN, to get to GOLD. The process of developing great age group swimmers is really teaching life lessons. What makes this hard is that in today's society, everyone wants it now. The credit card society; I want it now & I'll charge it now.
I recall my Dad being very proud that he was able to save up money so that he never had a car loan. It may have taken 9-10 years, but he did it. Phelps went years without a best time in his signature event, the 200 Fly. But he eventually learnt from his mistakes and came back to break through again. Delayed gratification.
It seems to me, that during Covid-19, we can all invest in a little delayed gratification while we work around/through/under/over the current challenges and end up WINnig!
Premise: I WANT YOU ALL TO FOCUS ON DOING THINGS EXCEPTIOANLLY WELL – ALL EXERCISES WITH GOOD TECHNIQUE/BACK STRAIGHT/POSTURE/SMOOTH CONTROL…What I don’t want is injury. When you go from a primarily Non-Gravitational activity like swimming to doing a primarily gravity-based exercise regime, you need to take progressions slowly. I certainly don’t want anyone getting back to the water w-ankle/IT band/Hips Flexor injuries because you over did it. Challenging and “good pain” is ok…
Monday - Wednesday - Friday
1) 5 min rollout – 5 min Skipping
*WHILE watching Youtube Videos of past Olympics on your phone
2) Week 7-8= 5x
[20 Dble Fig 8s / 10 Hip Tucks / 20 Mntn Climbers / 10 Camels / 20 Dips / 10 Judo Push
3) Bands *TRICEP EXTENSIONS ONLY* Not Fly Pulling (stretch cordz w-PA)
Wk #7-8= 10x (:90 on / :60 Off)
4) Perform this SwimSwam dryland workout #1 below to the challenge you feel good about. Increase reps from the first 2 weeks *Log into your Log Book.
5) Some time today M-W-F
Week 7-8= A- Family contribution (Dinner/Wash/Clean…)
Week 7-8= 8x Gator Walk Up (Mostly arms) Bkwd Lungewalk down + 10 Up & Overs FAST after each set
7) Those who have hot tubs/pools or can get into some water …
Week 7-8= a) 20x Streamline Push & Glides *Back Flat/Engage Abs
b) 20 min Cordz Kick 8x [2:00 smooth / :30 All Out]
c) 8x [30 Freestyle Strokes W-Sn – 20 Breast – 10 UW Pulls
8) PM: BANDS
2x15 ER/SAB/SAS/Laying Down on Bk both arms from center to extremities /Chuck Norris
9) Watch: Hoosiers & Do a kind of “Movie Review”
Sometime in 1979, I recall my parents asking me if I had any desire to swim on the Kenora Aquatics Swim Club. At the time, I didn't really know what I was agreeing to but I have to say that my answer that day changed my life forever. That one decision has steered my education, my friendships, my life experiences as well as my exposure to the world! It lead me to my beautiful wife and allowed me to start a family. The sport has given me so much that I think I need to give a little back.
Nearly 40 years later, I find myself reaching into new territory with this Blog. It is my hope that this site will be a helpful, interesting and provocative medium for everyone who loves the sport of Competitive Swimming.
Why is it that so many people love the sport of competitive swimming? It is my belief that the sport helps to instill the old fashioned values that are quickly fading away in today's "I want it now" society. Values like Pride, Discipline, Loyalty, Commitment, Delayed Gratification, Time Management, Work Ethic, Goal Setting & having to work hard over a period of time to even have a chance to reach it.
It is my opinion these qualities and characteristics that good programs teach are what give our kids the toolbox & ammunition to be competitive in the real world. In short, this process leads to them being successful outside the pool, usually more than in it.
In so many areas of life, we have taken away challenge & failure; we have created a mentality of "we are all winners" and "well you did your best" when its simply not often not the case. The workforce will quickly slam that notion into a brick wall & if kids are not resilient, that will have a hard time dealing with that reality.
I am talking about simple things like taking down Monkey bars, or disallowing kids to climb trees, actually FAILING a test or a grade if they don't actually pass or getting kids to understand that true fairness IS NOT equality.
I think a great swimming program allows the opportunity for each individual to reach their maximum potential through the daily process of working on those "Old Fashioned Values."
The understated word here is opportunity. We all have the equal right to become unequal, but with great teams & clubs, usually there are great coaches who educate, challenge, reward, motivate and create a love for the sport. These kind of Coaches have lasting impacts with kids. The kind that carries over into school, into University, into the workforce & life! Just recently after my AGM, I had a parent come over to me and thank me for my speech. She quickly attributed her success to her old coach. She said definitively, if it wasn't for Mark, I would never have become a Cancer Surgeon. WOW, there is a testament. Here is the thing, she was never a superstar but she made the top group because she constantly displayed the things he wanted within his group. Never (rarely) missed, worked hard every day, had a great attitude towards challenge, made her teammates better and made a contribution to the daily training environment.
I did the same thing in my first cycle when I went to Hamilton in 2001. The entire top 2-3 groups could "try-out" for the Senior group. I told them up front that there would be 24 spots available and it was going to be based on ATTITUDE-COMMITMENT-WORK ETHIC. That's it. Because as many of you know, the hardest part of getting a great team is to get a top group that shares common goals & characteristics. They have to be like-minded in purpose.
Once you have that, you get positive peer pressure and it makes it a lot easier to get things rolling.
A phenomenal program has the organizational framework to allow coaches to really coach & bring the best out of kids. These programs have clearly outlined roles & responsibilities between the "wet side & the dry side" A clear business model that empowers the staff to run the day to day operations of the club, while the Board of Directors oversee policy & procedure while supporting the staff. But that's another Blog for another day
Bare with me as I get up to speed and learn how to connect with people using this tool.
I hope you enjoyed my first attempt at a BLOG and will join me for my next one within a week.
Coach Sean Baker
I have been noticing a few common denominators with successful swimmers lately. It has come to my attention that my best athletes have taken an approach of "Swimming the Hurdles".
What I mean by that is simply this; the better athletes choose challenge over comfort. They find the HARD WAY IN rather than take the EZ WAY OUT. They enjoy the process of finding challenge and setting out to conquer it.
That sounds simple but if you take a good look around, you will see all sorts of short cuts being taken by good athletes. Watch a kick set and see how many swimmers pull into the wall compared to those who kick all the way in. Check out who wears a band on pull sets or who holds their breath control in/out of turns compared to those who "break". Add it up; it makes a difference in a sport that is measured by 100ths of a second.
Little things add up to mean a lot. Ask anyone who has missed an Olympic team by .01 seconds & had to wait 4 years to try again!
Some of the best athletes I have had the pleasure of working with have done some amazing things or even asked for it! I had 2 boys race the 1500 LCM BUTTERFLY.
A couple of weeks ago, my swimmer, Commonwealth Games Finalist Mabel Zavaros swam a LTB (Life Time Best) in the 1500 at Santa Clara while doing the last 50 BUTTERFLY in :30.99 and 23 Strokes!
In 1997, I had a young lady race the Pan Pac Trials Unshaved & made the team, then went on to win a Bronze medal from Lane 8! This gal wore ankle weights to school under her dress as "one of those hurdles"!
Look for the athletes who are at practice during exams, watch for the swimmer who goes to Prom and still shows up the next am ready to rock & roll. They find ways to DO IT rather than use excuses on why they "Can't"
Yes, its a small thing and some may say, "let them have a life" and for most that's ok but for truly great athletes, I believe that they don't want to miss, they don't want to take the easy way out. As a Coach, I am actively LOOKING for the kids who act like that, who make those choices on their own (sometimes with a bit of suggestion yes)
As Coaches, we try to find these hurdles to place in front of the swimmer to see how they react, to watch how they handle the challenge, to see what character is revealed. Part of our job is to SEEK OUT failure. Its the point where we get better. Once we truly fail, we can look at ways to go back to that set and do better. Was it mental, was it that the swimmer didn't execute the set correctly, did they save too much etc. But you have to get to legitimate failure with honor.
Kids may get down if they fail; its our job to point out that the failure is the doorway to the next breakthrough. Its about breaking it down & finding out where we need to be better and how to execute properly so we will then have the best chances to be successful.
Take this mid-distance set of 400s LCM.
12x400 Free done;
2x[1@5:20/1@5:00/1@5:10/1@4:50/1@5:00/1@4:40]*2nd round better than the first.
You may find that some athletes drain themselves on the first round & fail on the 2nd round - that is ok, they will be Marines..they will ADAPT-IMPROVISE-OVERCOME.
Or how about a IM transition set;
8 rounds of:
[3x50 Back @1:00 Holding MiniMaxi of mid 50s (SC + TIME = MM#) 25sc + :32 = 57
[1x100 Breast FAST [@1:30/1:25/1:20/1:15]x2
*Maybe they can't make 1:15 but set the target somewhat reasonable but get them to stretch to that time...they will find a way to be better.
Or a 200 Fly set:
20x100 @2:00 [50-Free Moderate mid :30s 50 Dive ST FAST]
Quality Control: 50s FAST have to be done at goal stroke rate (SR), stroke counts (SC) and executing underwater (UW) kicking rates.
*They will wobble on the blocks, they will really find it hard; but they will adapt next time in a few weeks, come back to it again.
Its those little differences that add up to mean a lot. If you take a basic example of
TALENT + WORK ETHIC + SKILL = X...BUT THE REAL KICKER IS MULTIPLYING IT BY TIME. Months, years, Olympic Cycles etc. So I like to talk to my athletes about consistency day in & out, but multiplied by TIME. I once read that the hallmark of great athletes in consistency.
(TALENT + WORK ETHIC + SKILL) x TIME
So to cap this Blog off, I want to encourage Coaches, Swimmers and Parents to embrace the idea of picking the hurdle to swim over rather than avoid it. It will make you a better person in addition to becoming a better athlete.
Coach Sean Baker is one of Canada's most successful swimming coaches. Coach Baker has earned such distinctions as Coach of the Year, 3 National Championships (2013/2015/2017) as well as been the Head coach of Canada's best medal performing Junior Pan Pacific Games team. Hawaii 2016