Entering a New Era

It’s a dark day, today, but a necessary one most likely.  Even though I never thought the day would come, alas it has fallen upon on us all.  Last week, Wabash entered the Twittersphere.  You can now follow us @WabashSwimDive.  I will try to post relevant and important information up as well as keep you updated on what is going on with Wabash and the team.  And if you’re lucky, you may even get some hysterical Coach Barnes ‘isms!

Stay tuned.

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Appreciate the moment

There has been a lot of debate lately about the Women’s 400 IM results and if the results are tainted or not.  I for one, don’t care either way.  What Ye Shiwen did was unbelievable and possibly one of the best moments in the Games so far.  Elizabeth Beisel swims for Gregg Troy at Florida.  Gregg Troy is known for his high volume training and getting his swimmers to finish races just about better than anyone.  And this fact was proven by how well swimmers such as Beisel, Lochte, Dwyer and others brought home their races at the Olympic Trials.  But Ye Shiwen punked everyone on that last leg of the 4 IM.  The only other time I saw such a huge comeback was when Michael Bonomo swam by Scott Armstrong in the last 100 of  the 1650 at DIII Nationals in 2002.  But if you look at the results from all the Chinese, they are dominating the last potion of all their races.  Sun Yang back halfed the 400 and 200 frees like no one else so far this meet, and he will probably do it again in the 1500.  Ye Shiwen proved she was no fluke when she came from behind yet again yesterday to win the 200 IM.  Yet there are people saying that since she dropped so much time, she must be doing something illegal.  Really?  What about Katie Ledecky and Connor Jaeger for the US?  Their improvements over the past year have been phenomenal, yet no suspicion there.  What about 15 year old Rute Meilutyte from Lithuania who won the 100 breast yesterday?  She’s made great improvements at such a young age, and no one has a problem with that.  Let’s forget about what country is winning medals, and who may or may not be doing what.  Let’s all turn on the TV and watch some great swimming.  Let’s take a step back and realize that when people work for 4 or more years to be at their best and put their heart and soul into their work, that great things are bound to happen over time.  The Olympics are about amazing inspirational moments, not about crying over wins and losses.  Could you imagine how differently the United State would feel if in 2008, the world went crazy of Jason Lezak’s split in the 4 x 100 M relay.  he had the help of suits, he had performance enhancers, blah blah blah.  That would have dampened a great moment for the country and been unfair to Lezak.  We need to respect other countries accomplishments as much as we respect our own accomplishments.  There are impressive races happening all over the place.  And at least for the next couple weeks, let’s celebrate the greatness we see instead of immediately trying to prove it as being less than great.

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Why Phelps Losing is Good

Since 2000, coaches have been telling swimmers, “Well Michael Phelps has great underwaters, so you need to have great underwaters.” Michael Phelps this and Michael Phelps that statements were introduced to swimmers to help them understand what they needed to do to succeed and be better.  Invariably, the response by swimmers would be, “Well Michael Phelps is a genetic freak and if I had his body and talent, I would be the best in the world too.”  To often swimmers overlooked the practice habits and dedication of Phelps in favor or his genetic traits and natural swimming gifts.  Then in 2012, Phelps got 4th in the 400 IM.  And to the delight of many coaches, it can serve as a powerful lesson for swimmers everywhere: Talent is great, but talent is everywhere.  Talent alone will never win titles, talent + hard work will win titles.  Phelps took a break from training after 2008 to mentally and physically recover from his Olympic performance and hard work in the water.  Meanwhile, Ryan Lochte realized that talent alone will only go so far, and totally took his training level to another level with the singular focus of being THE MAN at the London Olympics.  What we discovered from 2008 to 2012, and especially at the 400 IM final in London is that talent thrives because of dedication to be better, not because talent exists.  Ryan Lochte, Thiago Periera, and Kosuke Hagino, spend 4 years training for the 4 IM.  Phelps admittedly spent about 18 to 24 months training for the event.  That two year training gap was the difference in that race.  No matter what level of swimming you are at: country club, summer league, high school, college, or international, talent will only take you so far.  Once you get to that point, it’s the extra time you take to develop and refine your talent that gives you the extra edge.  It’s the extra day of doubles you do, when others are taking the day off.  It’s working on getting 10 underwater kicks off your walls, when normally you take 7.  It’s constantly challenging yourself to do what you have never accomplished before that will enhance your talent and make it stronger.  It’s challenging yourself to fail everyday, so you can succeed when it matters most.  So the 400 IM in London was a great time to acknowledge all the hard work that Lochte put into training for the past four years.  And for those who always want to say that talent beats hard work, the race should be an eye opener to you.  The race should show that you give too much credit to talent and not enough to work ethic.  So as you prepare for the upcoming year in the pool, don’t think about why someone is better or faster than you, and don’t believe it’s just because that person is more talented.  Rather look at the effort you put forth everyday, and ask yourself what you are doing every day to get better.  Because rest assured that someone else is out there asking those questions in order to prepare to succeed at the highest level.

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Another Award for Wabash Swimming and Diving

Recently, the College Swim Coaches Association of America named Wabash College Swimming and Diving one of it’s Scholar All-American Teams for the team’s collective spring GPA of 3.21.  This is a great honor for the team, as it shows how well they have been able to manage their time and work as hard in the classroom as they do in the pool.  With some more hard work, the will look to make it’s way onto the list again this fall and hopefully sport an even higher GPA.

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Olympic Trials

For the US, the Olympic Trials are just about as good as it gets in the swimming community.  For all you swimmers, think of your biggest meet of the season, the end of year taper, and all the hoopla and nerves that comes with that meet and that moment.

Now imagine being in an arena with over 10,000 screaming fans, laser lights show galore, swimming celebrities all over the deck and in the stands, and fire spewing from the ground.  It’s a crazy sight to behold in person, let alone while your swimming in a final with the 8 fastest people in the country in your event.  Luckily for me, I was able to sit close enough to the action to hear some of the Olympic Coaches to be take to some of their Olympic hopefuls about how they were to prepare for their races, how they were to stay focused, stay alert, keep everything in perspective.  What I came to realize is that whether you are an 8 and under competing at your country club championships, a high school freshman at your state championships, a college swimmer at the NCAA Championships, or Ryan Lochte, there will always be nerves and there will always be distractions.  The sport is the same at all levels and its the job of the coach and the swimmer to spend each day, week, month, year, and 4 years preparing for a moment in the spotlight.  Nerves never go away, and they shouldn’t.  Nerves mean you are excited and your body is preparing to go fast.  How one controls and responds to those nerves is another story.  Imagine being Ryan Lochte and swimming a breaststroke leg of the 4 IM on Monday.  All of the sudden, you see flames shooting up from the deck and you are blasted with a wave of heat.  How do you deal with that?  It’s no different than a swimmer going to a meet on a Wednesday night and needing to block out the test that was failed only hours before.  It’s about showing up every day at practice, and blocking out all the distractions and keeping a laser focus on your goal.  Maybe your Allison Schmitt, and you take the 1st half of your 400 Free out under world record time and get the crowd to their feet.  But at Olympic Trials in this event, you don’t have a coach or a counter letting you know if you are on pace or not, you just have to know in your mind what your strategy is and how you are going to make it a reality.  Ms. Schmitt, just like all 400 free swimmers, probably worked forever on pace work until she knew what she was pacing down to the hundredth of a second.  Taking accountability for your actions in practice, owning your workouts each and every day and knowing how you are going to progress to your goals will get you where you want to go.

Imagine being labeled as a “failure” by some in the world because you didn’t win your race or a gold medal.  It’s happened to the best of us, even the best male breaststroker in United States history, Brenden Hansen.  As Brenden as stated previously, in 2008, he was not having fun, and that lack of fun lead to a less than stellar performance in the Olympics.  Imagine the scrutiny and the pressure to be so overbearing you take a long break from the sport.  Then with 12 months until Olympic Trials, you rediscover your love for the sport.  You go to practice every day with a smile on your face, and a strong focus, not necessarily on winning a gold medal, but on making yourself proud every day.  Then you step onto one of the biggest stages in the world, with much less training than you have done in the last 12 years, only to be the only American to break the 1:00 barrier in the 100 breaststroke at Olympic Trials.  Then you rise from the ground on a platform, turning around in a 360 degree fashion, with a bright smile on your face waving to the crowd as you get crowned with your gold medal and a spot on the Olympic roster for the 3rd time!  When Summer Sanders asked Brendan what was the difference between 2008 and 2012, he said, “2008 was no fun.  And right now, I’m having a blast and enjoying what I’m doing.”

So no matter what pressure in on you in the pool or at school or at home, remember to have fun.  It does not matter what age you are or what ability level you are, you have to set yourself up for success and have FUN doing it.  It’s fun to win, it’s fun to be part of a team, and it’s fun to challenge yourself to do things you never thought possible.  So maybe one day, you will be making Olympic Trials, or maybe your goal is to make the conference scoring team, or your country club championships.  Whatever your goal is, find a path towards your goals and do your best to not let anyone knock you off that path.  If you get bumped off, find another way to get back on the path and be proud that you found your way back.  And at the end of the day, making the journey each day and enjoying the moments are just as rewarding as reaching your goal.  And for everyone around you there for support, there is nothing more rewarding than watching you do it with an undeniable smile of glowing joy.

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Another Great End to the Semester

Many people will tell you that student athletes grades tend to slip once their sport ends and they are no longer on a set schedule.  For swimming, the end of two-a-day practices, the promise of warm, sunny spring days, and the end of the school year in sight can sometimes lead to a drop in GPA.  This had been the case for Wabash Swimming and Diving for the past two years.  Early in the fall this year, I addressed the issue to the team and told them they need to step up this spring and be leaders in the classroom.  After reviewing the team grades from the spring semester, I am very proud to announce that team grabbed a 3.2 GPA in the spring semester, the same as in the fall.  We had a number of individuals that made a huge jump in their GPA from the fall to the spring, which certainly made me smile.  Eight members of the team earned a GPA of 3.7 or better, and six of those eight had a 3.9 or higher!  To see the team have such discipline in all areas of their life is quite exciting and rewarding and will serve them well in the next stages of their careers.  I am very excited to continue to build on the team’s academic success next year and for years to come!  Congratulations to the team on taking the term STUDENT-ATHLETE to heart!

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The Class of 2016

Another Year, Another Big Class for Wabash Swimming and Diving.  The team has doubled in size in two years, with no signs of slowing down.   We are very excited to have another large, talented, and excited group of young men joining the team.  Without further ado, here are the new faces you can see making a big impact in the pool next year:

Jack Belford- Jack comes to Wabash out of Carmel High School.  Jack finished in the Consolation Finals of the 500 Free at the IHSAA State Championships.  Jack’s times places him just off school records in the 500 Freestyle and 400 IM.  But, Jack’s 1000 and 1650 personal bests come in well under the school record in those events. Jack will also look to compete in the 200 Fly next year.

Josh Bleisch – Josh hails from Noblesville High School.  At the IHSAA State Championships, Josh competed in the 100 breaststroke.  Josh will help fill a strong lineup of Wabash breaststrokers with his prowess in both the 100 and 200.  Josh is working on his freestyle sprinting as well.  Josh’s breaststroke times will place him in the consolation heats at the NCAC Championships.

Cathedral High School

Arturo Granados,  – Arturo comes to Wabash from Cathedral High School in Indianapolis.  Arturo finished 3rd at his sectional meet in the 500 freestyle, as well as touching the wall 4th in the 200 IM.  He is also a distance swimmer who also focus on the 1650 and the 400 IM.

Clayton Highum – Clayton is the second of three Carmel swimmers joining the team next year.  Clayton was a member of the state championship team for Carmel.  Clayton comes in with times in the 100 and 200 fly and 400 IM that would place him in the consolation heats at the NCAC Championships.

Elliot Johns – Elliot Johns completes the trio of Carmel High School swimmers joining the squad next fall.  Elliot competed in the 100 back and 200 Free at the IHSAA State Championships this year.  He was also a member of the 400 Free Relay.  Elliot can swim all freestyle distances as well as the backstroke events and will be a key member of the 2012-2013 squad.

Erik Kile, Greenfield IN – Erik Kile is a distance swimmer from Greenfield Central High School.  Erik’s primary events are the 500 and 1650 freestyles, 400 IM, and 200 Butterfly.

Ivan Koutsopatriy – Ivan is leaving Eaton, Ohio for the great state of Indiana in a few months.  Ivan is a relative novice in the sport.  He is primarily a freestyle sprinter and will be looking forward to advancing his skills at the next level.  At the Miami District II meet in Ohio, Ivan placed in the top 8 in the 50 freestyle.

Christian Lopac – Christian comes from Cokoto, MN which is about an hour outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota.  Christian excels in the distance freestyle events, 400 IM and 200 Butterfly.  Christian is also a fantastic writer.

Chris McGue- Chris McGue will follow in his father’s footsteps as a Wabash student.  Chris has only been swimming for three years, but has developed quite a repertoire of events, being able to swim every distance of freestyle.  Chris finished second in his sectional in the 50 freestyle and 3rd in the 100 freestyle.  At the ISHAA State Championships, Chris was a member of Chesterton’s 200 and 400 Freestyle Relays.  He will be a welcome addition to the team in the fall.

Dylan Miller – Dylan Miller hails from Milan, Michigan.  Dylan is the ideal teammate and is able to swim both sprint and mid distance freestyle events.  His versatility will provide much balance to the roster next year.  Dylan competed in the 50 and 100 freestyle at the Michigan Division III state meet this past year.  Dylan will also be graduating from high school this spring as one of the top students in his class.

Joel Paquin – Joel won’t be traveling too far from home next year when he sets foot on Wabash’s campus, as he hails from Brownsburg.  Joel has an uncle that graduated from Wabash.  Joel is a distance swimmer that swims the 200, 500, 1000, and 1650 freestyles.  At his sectional meet, Joel finished in the top 5 in the 200 and 500 freestyle events. He is looking forward to being part of a large distance group this fall.


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