Buffalo Team Camp

Jul 19, 2011
Buffalo Team Camp

For years, it's been a dream to ride a motorcycle across the country, stopping along the way to visit teams.  I figured it would be a good way to see what the real swim teams are doing, but real life has a way of getting in the way of dreams.

Last week, I had a chance to realize parts of that dream with the invitation by a good friend to come share some thoughts and ideas with a group of swimmers and coaches in Buffalo, NY.    While the bike is small, it's heart is big, and with the addition of a couple bags and small windscreen, my little Suzuki and I headed out on a 400-mile trek to Buffalo.

The weather cooperated, and the scenery along Route 17, which runs along the lower border of New York state, is absolutely beautiful.  While riding a motorcycle, it's important to make sure you've got a very clear road ahead prior to looking off to the side, so you need to stay focused.  In some ways, this seven-hour journey was not only a physical challenge, but also a mental one.  It reminded me of a really long open-water swim... not always exciting, but you were glad you were doing it, rather than just sitting.

In Buffalo, I was greeted by Eric and his wonderful family.  We spent the rest of the day poolside in his backyard talking swimming and having fun.  The next morning, it was off to the school and a two-hour talk featuring many Go Swim streaming videos.  There is really no better way to run a camp than to have access to the Internet, and an overhead projector.  What do you want to see?  Boom... there it is.  Olympian technique?  We got it, and it's just a click away.  There was no fumbling with DVDs, or trying to find just the right chapter, it was all right in front of me, and there was never a question that couldn't be answered with a beautifully illustrated video featuring some stellar swimmer.  It was communication at its best.  We were all having so much fun, it's amazing how fast a couple hours go by.

From there, we headed off to the pool for a four-hour swim session.  Whenever I start one on these extended sessions, I wonder what we'll cover.  There have never been two clinics that have been alike.  That's mainly because there have never been two groups that are exactly alike.  Each coaching, teaching, or learning opportunity is unique because it's based on what the coaches want, what the groups can absorb, and what level swimmers they are.  We learned a long time ago that opportunities like this aren't about how much information we can pile on to someone.  What's important is how much information we can give that will stick.

The chance to work with good friends is always welcome.  The bonus was a long motorcycle trip.  Anyone within a reasonable distance of New York City who wants to have some fun, drop me a note and let's get it set up.  :)

Eric, my friend and the coach who brought me in, passed along some of the comments he received after the clinic.  I was very glad to see people enjoyed it.  I hope you enjoy the comments as much as I did.

Glenn Mills' "Go Swim" clinic brings energy, knowledge, experience and passion to the sport of swimming. For coaches, his clinic and expertise is an excellent resource for continuing their education of the sport as well as helping to improve coach/swimmer communication and teaching.   For swimmers, Glenn is able to not only reinforce what swimmers already hear from their coaches, but also provides different view points, technique strategies, practice habits, personal challenges and insight only an Olympian can provide. The "Go Swim" clinic is engaging, informative and energizing, providing both coaches and swimmers the opportunity to improve their knowledge base and immediately implement new technique strategies.  The clinic is flexible and effective, recognizing that not all swimmers are created equal, providing for the unique differences each swimmer possesses. As a coach, the "Go Swim" clinic provides reinforcement, the latest technique strategies, and tips on coach/swimmer communication and teaching that could benefit the most experienced coach. Glenn Mills is engaging, approachable, and easy to talk to you. He is ready and willing to answer any questions, as well as explain and discuss any and all matters swimming. Anyone not utilizing the GoSwim.tv website or the Go Swim App for smart phones/devices is missing out.

Glenn helped us strengthen our strokes, but he didn't tell everyone to do the same technique and think that would automatically make everyone's stroke better. He would suggest multiple techniques to try and we would try them and see which ones made our strokes better and which ones did not. I really enjoyed listening to how he became such a great swimmer because it motivated me to know that i can still improve and become the best i can be. I'm really glad i had the opportunity to attend this clinic and hear all the great things he had to say.

Hey coach,   The clinic on monday was absolutely fantastic. I know the entire group really enjoyed having Glenn give us different perspectives and a new focus, it really changed my outlook on the remainder of my training. Personally the breaststroke portion of the clinic was the coolest, most eye-opening portion of the clinic. I had never put the concept of pull and kick separation together, because of that I was swimming with a pretty inefficient breaststroke, and overall it was a pain in my butt. Yet today, I was holding 32s-34s in the middle of 250s (50br 50ez 50br 50ez 50br). And just last week, I could not break .14 seconds in a 25 breast OTB, yet today i get up after practice and go 13.4 no problem 4 strokes. Boom Boom drill for the win. Also the idea of really aggressively shooting the hands forward was another thing that clicked, its one of those things that my coaches had been telling me, but SEEING Glenn do it in the pool helped me immensely. But over all, my favorite part was getting a chance to swim with an olympic team member, hanging out and just being a sponge and learning as much as I could, and Glenn getting into the pool to hang out with us and show us the things we had difficulty with was extremely helpful, it gives a perspective of its own, and you get to see even as he claims he out of shape, you can see the power he creates within each stroke. That was pretty sweet. In comparison to the rest of the nation, I am by no means a great swimmer. My goals of wanting to go :56 100 breast and 2:04 200 breast are done by guys (and probably some girls) everyday in their sleep. But for me it means a lot to hit those times, and maybe take a trip to DIII NCAA's, and make my coaches and teammates proud. I was impressed so much by Glenn, although an amazing background working with incredible swimmers, treated me with what I believe would be the same respect he would show a kid qualifying for DI NCAA's. If my point hasn't gotten across yet, it was an amazing experience. I am very glad I had the opportunity to be there, and it is an experience that will shape the rest of my swimming career and how I hope to coach someday.

I was very impressed with the next letter, as I always encourage kids to WRITE DOWN everything they can remember once they get home.  Pretty cool when he got the letter.  

Dear Coach Mac, Thank you for inviting me to the clinic, I had lots of fun (and a good learning experience).There was so much new information learned that I can't write it all, I learned about some people in the Olympics, but I probably learned the most for turns and breaststroke.  

• When going into a turn, to save the most oxegen take a double breath...meaning, once close enough to the wall take a breath to one side and then directly into a breath on the other side (I practiced it this morning at practice!!)
• The flip turn should be as close to you as possible (tucked in like a ball) it will be faster when it's smaller. • Don't look at the wall, you shouldn't look at the opposite wall at all while swimming, don't lift your head up (warm up is a good time to 
"get to know" the pool)
• (The Waterfall drill was mentioned, but I didn't really get how it is used)

• I learned the "boom, boom" drill, practicing when the hands and feet should finish (at different times)
• Your thighs should feel some resistance in the water before you start the kick after the pull
• The pull should be pretty much finished before you start the kick, the separation drill works on this
• the pull out should start before you start slowing  down
• also, I learned that when swimming across the pool under the lane lines, I can hit 4 of them with my...bottem (but technically it could have been 5 because I was, like, 2 inches off...)  

• follow your arm up when you breathe,"connect"your cheek and shoulder
• when you breathe make sure you can still see the bottem of the pool, only lift half of your face out of the water

I hope that's enough information for you, I might have forgotten some information but...well, it was a lot. I've tried some of the ideas given to us like the under water dolfin kick. I learned a lot of helpful things and I'm glad I got the opportunity to come to this clinic.

Well... there's no way you can get through a clinic without SOME negative feedback.  ;)

Very informative.  It gave me a different perspective on how to swim.  The drills we did had an immediate impact on my strokes, especially breaststroke.  One downside was that i was freezing cold.

One final note:  The 400-mile ride back was beautiful, but lost a bit of it's luster with an extremely hot day, and a certain part of my body was starting to pay the price.  Ahhh... again, the painful sacrifice we make for the sport! 

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