Monday, February 21, 2011

Help a former swimmer with The Biggest Loser

Hey Coaches;

If you know anyone that might fit this note, let me know and I'll forward it to the producer.  The only people I know might be coaches that were not Olympians.  Any help will be appreciated.

Subject: Hey Bob;
I'm producing a show on NBC called "Biggest Loser" (hope you've watched!), and we're looking for former Olympians or pro athletes who have lost their motivation and gained a lot of weight. Specifically, I am looking for people who are more than 100 lbs overweight. If you know anyone who fits this bill, would you let me know and point me in the right direction?

Many thanks,

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Two Practices Each Day… The Argument for Morning Training.

One of regular questions we get in the American Swimming Coaches Association offices is in relation to the importance and effectiveness of swimmers attending morning workouts.  To our knowledge, no reliable scientific research exists to support or discredit this practice.  On the other hand, anecdotal evidence and the history of swim training provides a rich resource of information.

Double workouts per day have been around for at least 6 decades in our sport.  Typically they are used with teenage athletes and not with pre-teens. The primary purpose is to allow for an increased volume of training. If the team already provides unlimited time in the afternoon practice, there is still an advantage to having two shorter workouts which allows for great intensity in each workout, rather than a longer and less intense session in one training bout in the PM.

A typical pattern over time might be (during the school year) one AM session before school at age 13.  At age 14, two AM sessions per week and at ages 15 and older, 3 AM sessions per week. Plenty of teams use 4 or even 5 AM sessions during the school year. The operative question concerns balancing the young athletes’ need for sleep, rest and recovery versus adding a progressively larger training load.

Many good programs in the USA train twice daily during the summer (non-school) vacation period.

Historically, coaches report significant gains from athletes who begin a two workout a day regimen.  Also, athletes and coaches tell us that it takes 3-6 weeks for the young bodies to adjust to the change in schedule and then it becomes much easier to “get up and get going” in the morning, with some athletes even preferring the school day where they have been “awake and moving” for 2-3 hours before school.

Length of morning practice varies wildly from 1 to 2 plus hours in each session.

Swimmers are typically good students, perhaps partly because the training schedule forces them to “do it now” when it comes to studying and not procrastinate.  Certainly many hundreds of thousands of young people over the 6 plus decades that this practice has been common have been successful in getting good grades, training twice per day and getting their rest. To think that “today’s children” are any less capable of doing so, is supremely disrespectful of their capabilities.

Finally, it is important to note that many excellent programs exist and thrive on only one outstanding workout per day. There is no magic to “having to have” two workouts a day to succeed. American Swimmers have proven that they can succeed under any variety of training conditions.

Conducting two workouts per day for your team is neither the “holy grail” of training, nor is it an option to be feared. It’s been successful in the USA for many years, fitting into our educational system for young people. It’s also “not the only road to success.”

All the Best for Good Swimming,

John Leonard

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

2011 AG State Tshirt order form

Please see below form and follow instructions for acquiring shirts for the youth in AG state

2011GAState_T-shirt order Form

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Should Age Group Swimmers do Weight Training?

“My daughter is 10 years old and not very strong. Should she be involved with a weight training program at this age?

From the editorial Staff at ASCA:  First, let’s be clear on what we mean by “weight training” or “resistance training” or “strength training” – all are used interchangeably in the literature and in popular usage.  While there is no official definition of weight training, to most people it implies the lifting of heavy weights.  Visions come to mind of a red-faced and straining athlete with arms quivering attempting just one more repetition of a weight loaded barbell during a bench press.  There is a place for this type of training, but probably not with most children under the age of pubescence.

Weight training is, in fact, a very broad term encompassing use of all types of equipment from no equipment at all – body weight exercises (calisthenics) -- to stretch cords, to medicine balls, to dumbbells, to machines, etc..  A better term for weight training in our swimming world is “dryland training.”

Dryland training is a crucial part of a swimming program for all ages.  With the decline of quality physical education in many parts of the country we are now seeing children with poorly developed basic skills such as balance, proprioceptive ability, and coordination.  Dryland training can help build these skills as well as help swimmers improve strength.

Let’s look at the strength component of dryland training as this is the area many parents have concerns over safety and injuries.

Research has shown that weight training carries the same risk for children as it does for adults, no more and no less.  The majority of injuries come from overreaching with too much weight or from accidents from dropped weights or overcrowded conditions.  Reports of damaged growth plates from lifting heavy weights have been exaggerated, research shows.  However, caution is still important and pre-pubescent children should not be lifting to failure using weights which limits them to 6 repetitions or less.  Use less weight, more reps; at least 8 to 10.

Age 7 and under’s can do basic exercises with little or no weight, calisthenics, and balance and coordination exercises.  Learning proper technique is very important.  Children 8 to 10 can increase the number of exercises and add a bit of weight.  1 to 2 pound Dumbbells are highly recommended as they require balance and each side of the body to do its own work.  11 to 13 year olds continue to add exercises, improve technique, and add resistance.  Noted major league baseball trainer Vern Gambetta says he can make a professional athlete wince using only 15 pound dumbbells – surely our 11 – 13 year olds can receive significant results with much less than 10 pound weights.

There are hundreds of light resistance exercises available for the coach to prescribe to prepubescent children without danger of injury.  We believe that a well balanced, well supervised, and progressive dryland program is beneficial to a young swimmer’s total fitness as well as long term swimming success.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Workouts and the Common Cold

When swimmers show signs of a common cold should they continue to practice?

Sometimes over ambitious swimmers, coaches, and parents choose to treat a cold as a simple inconvenience and push on toward that all important qualifier meet in February.

Using common sense with the common cold is the best policy. Some "colds" may be far more serious infections waiting to become more intense as stress increases and resistance weakens.

Anthony Verde, PhD, exercise physiologist at the Sports Medicine Center in Wayne, Pennsylvania, stated in the June 1990 issue of The Physician and Sportsmedicine, "You have a good chance of turning a cold into something more severe by exercising with any intensity during the incubation stage."

However, in the same article, Harvey Simon, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School provides the following advice to physicians, "Try to reassure your patients that colds and exercise do not interact in major ways. If anything, anecdotal evidence says that some athletes feel better exercising with colds. This would make sense because exercise can increase mucus flow, which might provide relief for upper respiratory tract symptoms."

Edward Eichner, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Oklahoma and an editorial board member of The Physician and Sportsmedicine has found that physicians who regularly treat athletes with colds use the following guidelines: (Also from the June 1990 issue of The Physician and Sportsmedicine.)

"If the symptoms are located above the neck (runny nose, sneezing, scratchy throat), then exercise is safe...[however] athletes should not exercise with below?the?neck symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and hacking cough with sputum production."

Some parents wonder if it is permissible for swimmers to participate in dryland activities and avoid the water during colds. In fact, breathing the super humid air at the water surface may help relieve cold symptoms. So long as athletes do not have a fever, history of serious virus infections of which the cold may just be the beginning of, or feel weak and lethargic, a light to moderate swimming workout may be beneficial. The Swim Parents Newsletter editorial staff recommends the conservative policy of always checking with your family physician and encourages swimmers, coaches, and parents to remember that an upcoming qualifying meet is not as important as a child's opportunity to recover from a cold.