Friday, February 19, 2010

Brad Hamman: All Guns Blazing

So, the Missouri Girls' High School meet prelims have concluded. It has been a big day for Missouri swimming. We have inducted our first coach into the newly formed MISCA Hall of Fame. The team race is on fire for the top 3 spots. The depth is crazy and the finishes that determined 9th and 17th were close all the way across the board. Triumph and tragedy! Crying and cheering!

... and being the sorry excuse for a blogger that I am, all I can bring you is a link to prelim results and an interview where I am having fun picking on one of the officials.

Man, I suck at this.

Brad referee's my home meets. We swam together in college. I feel I have the right to rib him a little. Gotta give him props for playing along!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Heading to State!!

We are about to load up the car to drive across Missouri to hit the Girls' State Meet. SwimmingWorld.TV won't be covering the meet this year, as MSHSAA is partnering with When We Were Young Productions to provide their own coverage. I am not sure of the details, but they might actually have a live stream. Should be awesome.

I carry my camera with me everywhere I go, so maybe I can snag some interviews or something while I am there. I have permission to make a highlight reel and other non-full-race footage if I have time to mess with it. It should be a fun weekend.

See ya there!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Congrats to Jason Hite- Regional Coach of the Year!

From the Springfield News-Leader:

"The National Federation of State High School Associations has named Springfield's Jason Hite its Midwest Region Coach of the Year. Hite coaches the boys' and girls' swim teams at Kickapoo High School and the boys' teams at Nixa and Greenwood. Kickapoo's boys' team finished eighth at the state championship meet in November, its fourth consecutive top-eight finish under Hite. Kickapoo's girls team posted the best finish in its history, seventh, at the state meet last February.

The NFHS midwest region is comprised of Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, and only one coach from that six-state region is chosen each year for the NFHS honor. The NFHS has been recognizing coaches through an awards program since 1982."


I have had the honor of getting my butt kicked by the Kickapoo Chiefs for over ten years now with Hite at the helm for most of it. I am embedding an interview below with him and Rockhurst's Paul Winkeler after prelims at the MSHSAA boys' state meet, where you get to see a little bit of what it is really like to be on deck with him.

Fear the 'POO!

Swimming Videos on Floswimming

Saturday, February 13, 2010

How do you turn it around?

So, what do you do when you go to the big meet and it doesn’t start off the way you had hoped? Sometimes you can do everything right: the training, the taper, no colds, no flu… and it still ain’t there. My girls had a mediocre prelim yesterday at our conference meet. There were some good swims, but the excitement never built up the way it usually does for that meet.

We all try to pretend that it doesn’t matter, but the first few swims of a meet have a way of setting the tone for an entire weekend of racing. There is some sort of psychological tie that teammates have that can cause a meet to either snowball down the hill and turn into something spectacular or melt before it gets rolling down the hill at all.

On my team we talk about the fact that what goes on in our minds is one of the few things that we can control. We visualize. We maintain positive self-talk. We take responsibility for our part in motivating the people around us to do their best for the sake of the team… but sometimes, it is just not there. You know… that underlying buzz. That layer of excitement that transcends a typical, in-season meet and helps athletes to believe that they will be amazing just because being at the big meet with your team behind you is amazing. While this is an individual sport, it is undeniable that one of our greatest motivators is the team concept, and the synergy that comes with it can be rocket fuel. Unfortunately, it can also become an anchor, even when we know better than to let it.

What do you do when it just doesn’t click?

Let me tell you what Fat Jack did for us once. (Yes, we affectionately called Coach Steck at Missouri State “Fat Jack.” I still do, twelve years out.) At the 1996 Missouri Valley Championship, we thought it was the year we were going to take the title away from the Saluki’s. We were swimming well enough to be on track until, BAM-- relay DQ. Jack adds up the scores and we are still in the game, but he is visibly angry. He protests and is denied. That evening he looks over the scores and realizes we are still in it, until the next day when--- KABLAM! ANOTHER RELAY DQ!

This was at the SIU home pool. The Saluki’s knew we had their number. Accusations flew. There was a lot of anger. Ugly anger. The meet was delayed in heated protests. If you have never seen Jack Steck on a tirade, you have not seen it all in swimming. His scalp glows red, veins pop out of his forehead, foam drips from his mouth… he is kind of like Rodney Dangerfield’s evil Doppelganger when he gets mad. He has been called the Bobby Knight of swimming. We even got dressed and almost loaded up to go home at this same meet over an underwater dolphin kick DQ the year before.

Did we screw up? Yes. Is Jack Steck the most patient and wise coach in the world? Nah… but he is a damn good coach. There are some things that Jack can do that I might work at for my entire career and never come close. Jack can make a sale. He can convince some darn good swimmers to come to Missouri State even with one of the most pathetic facilities in the nation…. and he sold us on the idea that we could still swim fast, even when things aren’t going our way; even when that conference championship was no longer on the line.

Rather than chew us out on the break between prelims and finals on the last day, Jack took a different route and did what he does best. He made us laugh. We thought we were having a meeting to finally tell us that the loss of 64 points had put the nail in the coffin of the dream of our first MVC championship. Instead, we got to hear the story about when he was in college and courting his future wife. He went skydiving on a dare just because he wanted to impress her. It was a long story, but I will never forget it. The story ended with him soiling himself on a date, and our team meeting ended with a group of 18 to 23 year old men rolling in the bleachers laughing our asses off. Just like the tirades, if you haven’t heard Jack Steck tell a story, you haven’t seen it all in swimming.

We swam great that day in finals. We swept the breaststrokes. We walked away feeling like bad-asses. Feeling like a damn good team-- and I walked away with a lesson that I have carried with me into my coaching career: Help them relax. Remind them that the big meet is a celebration where they get to see the pay-off from all of their hard work.

I am planning to make my girls laugh today before we warm-up for finals. Let’s see if we can turn this one around.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Conference Central is Online! has CONFERENCE CENTRAL up and running. I guarantee I am going to run down the battery on my iphone several time this weekend pulling up results.

Of course, I have to take this as an opportunity to brag on my Missouri State Lady Bears who had a heck of a first night at the Missouri Valley Championships. They are leaving the 5 team field behind with wins in both the 200 Free and 400 Medley Relays. Brianna Willoughby took the 200 IM with three seconds separating her from second place in 2:05.58, and Freshman Amber Green owned the 50 by 4 tenths, turning in a 23.30.

The swim of the night though, was turned in by a Saluki. Southern Illinois' Freshman Kristen Groome turned in a 4:44.48 in the 500 which was not only an SIU team record; it took the Valley record by over ten seconds and broke Janie Coontz' pool record from 1983 by a solid four!


I don't think anyone doubts that Coach Rick Walker can get a distance swimmer ready to race. He wasn't named America's Open Water Swimming Man of the Year for his good looks!

Way to go Valley girls! Keep it up!

Sarah Sjostrom on MSS

The world record holder and world champ in the 100 fly was on the Morning Swim Show this morning and it was kind of a fun interview. I think the best part about the MSS is that it helps us get to know these great swimmers in a way that we have never been able to before. Swimming's personalities get to shine, and if we are ever going to reach new heights in popularity that is the only logical place to start.

With Sarah Sjolstrom's interview, it was refreshing to know that she is just a pretty average 16 year old. This is the girl who broke Inge DeBruin's world record, and she is just as much of a mall-rat space case as every other girl I coach who is nowhere near as fast!

When Peter Busch said something about her seeming nervous, she said "my English is not the best, but I try as good as I can." I think she did pretty well. At one point she said her friends think she is a "retard for not swimming the 200 fly." When asked what she would reply if Michael Phelps sent her a text message, she said "Oh My God!"

Sarah, you would fit right in on my American high school team. If you want me to get the ball rolling on all that foreign exchange paperwork, just let me know!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Combined D1 Championship Meet?

The Missouri State Bears just posted a “20Q” interview with two of their international swimming seniors, Ciro Sauaia and Stacey MacDonald on their athletics website. They did an excellent job, and showed a tremendous amount of pride for their school and their sport. While I love to promote my bears, it is not the only reason I mention it here. One of the first things they said in the interview was about the team atmosphere in college programs and that they wished the men and women could swim together at the same conference meet. The women are in Missouri Valley and the men are in the MAC. This ties into a current topic in the swim blog-osphere.

John Leonard, the President of the American Swimming Coaches Association, recently appeared on the Morning Swim Show to present the possibility of a combined NCAA Division 1 Championship. I was a little disappointed that the discussion in the comments section never went anywhere. Fortunately, the forums at did, and once you sift through the junior high level sexist humor, there were actually some pretty valid arguments posted from both sides. Some of the comments:

“Everyone is missing biggest drawback of a combined championship, that being a guaranteed reduction in the number of participants.”
“The NCAA meet should not be combined. Each meet has tradition and special meaning to whom ever has been there.”
“I've been on deck at plenty of combined conference meets (SECs, Big 12s) and plenty of separate meets (ACCs, Womens NCAA, Mens NCAA). I think the combined SEC meet has the best atmosphere of any. Certainly no one (outside a few narcissists perhaps) is annoyed that they have to watch women's swimmers. The fans certainly cheer loud enough.”
“Bottom line is there aren't really any venues that can hold that number of swimmers. IUPIU is the only one that comes to mind, but no one wants to go to Indy every year in march. Plus, I thought even that was crowded this summer. And face it, our sport doesn't have the pull to get a set up like they had for trials every year.”
“The only legitimate reason I have heard against a combined meet, which in fact comes from the women's side, is that the times of the men's swimming make the women's swims seem less significant and so they don't want to do it.“

In his interview, Leonard addressed the facility issue by stating that Myles Brand, former head of the NCAA was on board with the idea, and that they had already discussed having it at a temporary facility similar to the Trials in Omaha. They also addressed the idea that there would be even less qualifiers when he mentioned the idea that conference champions with B cuts might be invited to the meet and that the NCAA would accommodate by increasing the number of invitations to the meet.

In my opinion, if they can pull it off, I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want to. The timeline would be an issue, but if they swam the prelims in 8 lanes at either end of a 50 m x 25y facility, they could combine finals in the middle. That does present a problem for the schools who don’t have a separate coaching staff for the men and the women, but most of the programs with a large number of qualifiers do.

Division 2 runs a combined four-day format and that is a selling point when they are recruiting athletes. Space is more of a concern for D1, but it could be done at Indy… at least until a feasibility study could be done to see if spending the cash on a temporary pool in a large stadium would be a wise investment. It is not like the NCAA can’t afford it. TV contracts for football and basketball have increased exponentially. Their cut has to have increased enough to trickle down and help the swimmers out some.

Come on, guys. Let’s give this topic the discussion it deserves. Give me some thoughts in the comments section. Why do you, or don’t you, want to see the combined D1 meet happen? Let’s give the big brains some opinions to chew on while they are trying to decide if it is worth the effort. Give the comments section some love!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Now That's My Kind of Swim Practice!

That's Johnny Weismuller in the ad, in case all y'all didn't notice!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kick-Ass Trailer

Every morning when I wake up, I wonder if today is the day I am going to start fighting crime. These guys apparently took it to the next level.

This is gonna be awesome.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Water Drop in Slo-Mo

A former coach of mine forwarded me this link. His message said, "Don't just swim in it... understand it."

Click the link. You will be surprised at the way water behaves in slow motion.

Thanks for the link squidhead!

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The Screaming Viking became a fan of Little Norway Vikings
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To see more details and confirm this invitation,
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The Facebook Team

Just spreading the word. They are trying to get 1000 fans by Syttende Mai.
Go there and take a look at almost 200 photos of the greatest party on earth.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Random Thoughts from a Stressed Out Mind...

Occasionally, when I am questioning a decision I have made, I worry that a future version of me is going to bust in my door to “beat some sense into me.” I mean, honestly… if time travel is invented when I am like seventy years old, that is probably the first thing I would do. You know… go back and do a little personal house cleaning. It might be fun to travel back and swat fast food out of my own hand give myself warnings like, “she may be hot but it ain’t gonna end well…”

Of course, the flip side of the time travel thing is that if a high school age version of me were to get a hold of that technology somehow, I worry that he might bust in my door in the present to kick my ass for not deleting that Britney Spears album and two episodes of ‘Barney and Friends’ from my ipod.

So, if you happen to see either a seventy year old man in a futuristic time travel suit or a skinny kid with long hair and a black Metallica shirt beating the hell out of me, just let it be. It is probably just me, and I probably deserve the beating.

I like to imagine that after I take my licking like a middle-aged man, I might team up with my future/past self and go on some cool adventures and stuff, maybe set some world records and bet on some big games or even try to steer the titanic out of the way of that iceberg. If I ever get the chance, I am gonna go back and make some really whacked out cave paintings to confuse
archaeologists. I think I would be a great sidekick for myself.

I hope they invent time travel soon… even if it means I have to watch out for alternate reality versions of me screwing with my life.