Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Team Doesn't Take Bathroom Breaks...

we take smoke breaks.

I am all about reading up on the latest science to help me become a better coach.  Of course, there are a lot of off-the-wall coaches out there spouting some really ridiculous stuff, so I don't buy into everything I read on the internets.  Have you seen those Boomer Chronicles videos?!  Yeah, right!  What a bunch of hooey.  I only  pay attention to articles that use big sciency-sounding words and cite sources and stuff, because that means I can believe every word they are saying.  I like to think I am somewhat of an innovator, and that is why I love it when I stumble upon a gem like this one, in a scientific journal, written by someone like me who really thinks outside the box.

Kenneth A. Myers, BSc wrote a really intriguing review of existing research entitled "Cigarette Smoking: An Underused Tool in High-Performance Endurance Training."  In it, he explains that several studies have pointed out that smoking has an impact on three factors related to endurance performance:  serum hemoglobin, lung volume and weight loss.  Essentially, he is saying that smoking gives us all of the benefits of altitude training and more, with results that are much less temporary.  He cites several sources showing data supporting these claims, and then says "despite this scientific evidence, the prevalence of smoking in elite athletes is actually many times lower than in the general population.  The reasons for this are unclear; however, there has been little to no effort made on the part of national governing bodies to encourage smoking among athletes."

USA Swimming needs to get with the program.  USA Cycling is years ahead of us in pursuing a more science based training regimen.  

The best part of the article is that the author sees this as a developmental tool in age group athletics.  He states that since the benefits of smoking "appear to be dose-dependent and may not develop until many years after initiation of treatment... smoking should be commenced at as young an age as is reasonably possible.  Children who have not yet developed a pincer grasp might require modified cigarette holders, safety lighters or both."

Wow.  This guy thought of everything.  He even says this regarding the laws that prevent anyone under age 18 from buying cigarettes: "countries should strongly consider repealing the existing laws or at least allowing exemptions for people thought to have athletic potential in endurance sports."    Where do I apply to get my 10 & unders their smoking permit?  Fan-freaking-tastic!

This picture of a young Kate Ziegler proves that her  coaches in Florida had identified her talent and had her on the right track before she had even graduated from their lessons program.

I can't wait to fill in my assistant coaches on the new direction our program is going to take.  I plan to give every new member a carton of Marlboro's when they sign up.  Well, maybe I should start with menthols for the little guys, I guess-- but by the time a child turns eleven years old and can start swimming the 500 and the 200's of the strokes in meets, I hope to have them up to about a pack a day.  Really, I should be progressively building the kids so that they smoke two packs at every practice by the time they get to high school, which puts them up to four packs a day when they start doing doubles.  Should I contact the PE coach to see if they can light up during their weights classes at school?  That could put us up to six packs a day which would be pretty freaking phenomenal.  I am pretty sure none of the other teams in the area will be smoking anywhere near that many cigs.  I wonder if I can get my swimmers' parents to stand at the end of their lanes with lighters so my swimmers don't have to miss their intervals when they have to mess with lighting up between repeats.  Come to think of it, the kids can't really just set a lit cigarette at the end of their lane next to their water bottle. It would get all soggy with the splashes from their flip turns.  Do they make waterproof cigarette protectors?

this guy is getting ready to rip that 1500 in half.  There is no way he ain't gonna make that trial cut.
This is really exciting to me.  I get so sick of all of these so-called "experts" writing their books and selling their DVD's to tell me how to make my swimmers faster.  Really?  Can you show me one single scientific study that proves that pilates is anything more than a waste of time?  Can you prove to me through scientific hypothesis that getting the right balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats will help my swimmers to recover better?  No, you can't... because you were making all that crap up!

I plan to make a real change in the way I coach my swimmers at all levels, and I got the science to back it up. The term "smoker" ain't just reserved for the guys in the outside lanes any more.


  1. From the abstract:

    "Improper correlation or extrapolation of data can result in dangerously flawed conclusions. The following paper seeks to illustrate this point, using existing research to argue the hypothesis that cigarette smoking enhances endurance performance and should be incorporated into high-level training programs."

    The point of the paper was to make fun of people who selectively choose data to support a hypothesis. It was a joke.

  2. What a waste! Menthols?? Like teaching your swimmers to put together their own sweeds, you should be incorporating rolling your own cigarettes in the begin to swim program. Imagine how much better they would be if they smoked no filter cigs! You would have a team full of 12 year old OT qualifiers. To hell with Stickel's dry-land and less yardage plan for age groupers, no filters for '16 or bust!

  3. this is why A. Popov was so great

  4. Boomer Chronicles-- my take is that it is stuff every coach needs to understand, but don't expect them to be videos the kids will watch with you. They'll fall asleep.

  5. Artur Wodjat was know to burn a few before practice at Mission Viejo and Iowa. Polski luv to smoski...buildi lungies...