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    Ducks Go Global!

    The American Swimming Coaches Association has tabbed Coach Michael to headline the UAE Coaching Certification School (Level 3) in Dubal. Physiology, Training Design and Long Term Planning comprise the curriculum for 200 UAE coaches seeking international certification.

    Coach Michael is a Level 5 Certified Coach and has previously been a Guest Lecturer at the American Swimming Coaches Association World Clinic (1998, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013) and the FINA Development Clinic (Nassau, Bahamas, 1999).

    You can checkout the ASCA/UAE Coaching School on Facebook. Watch for Coach Michael's travel report on our website and the LFSC Facebook page (don't forget to "LIKE" us!).


    And The Winner Is . . .

    Congratulations to Coach Michael, elected today to the Board of Directors of the American Swimming Coaches Association in Jacksonville, FL. With approximately 9000 members the ASCA is the largest professional swimming coaches association in the world.


    "The Journey Is More Important Than The Destination . . ."


    Duel In The Pool Team Photo


    Let's Watch A Swim Meet, A Really Good One.

    Hey! I’m back! The final hours leading up to competition are very busy and every decision becomes critical. Competition is simple once the starter says “GO” (as Ditka says, “Hit the other guy harder than he hits you.”), but preparation has many critical components. Trying on a suit at the last minute, forgetting to check the goggle strap or to dry a towel . . . these are things that can cost you a gold medal. Just prior to competition my job is to remove the stressors from everyone—coaches, athletes and other staff.

    But let’s talk about the swim meet and how to learn from it. OK? Last time I said “It’s easy to be entertained and impressed with how fast these swimmers are . . . try something new: see if you can figure out WHY they are so fast.” So, let’s think about that. How can you watch the meet with a new focus? You already know what to look for, you just need to do it. Don’t believe me? Read on . . .

    1     Remember the 4H’s. Look at the body line of these swimmers. Hands, Head, Hips, Heels is straight alignment throughout the stroke and race. You won’t see much movement away from a high, flat, straight body line. Is that geometry where we learn the shortest distance is a straight line? Works here too—if you want to get there fast, get your body in the 4H position.

    2     Good swimmers always (ALWAYS!) do a good push-off. Streamlining is the simplest skill in swimming, even non-swimmers can do it. Watch the greats. There will be plenty of underwater shots on TV (I think) to learn from. And if you see a bad streamline, think about how you would help that swimmer get better. Streamlining: hands together, elbows straight, eyes up/down. Good swimmers ALWAYS do this right.

    3     Kicking is hard work but it matters. Lazy kicking is a sure way to give away a race. Watch how all of the top swimmers can make waves like a motor boat. Look at the difference between the kick of the winners and the rest of the field. When you see a swimmers drop the heat by a body length or two, check his/her kick. Be that swimmer now.

    4     Underwater swimming is the 5th stroke. The underwater work of these swimmers is simply amazing. You cannot compete at this level without developing this skill. How do you do it? See 1, 2, and 3 above. Here’s another tip: Tom Shields is considered one of the best (maybe THE best short course) underwater artists in the world. If Tom is in the race I suggest you record and watch a continuous loop for the next 2 weeks.

    5     Wall discipline. You can change directions, rest or gain speed on the walls. That’s all a choice you make when you race and it has to be a disciplined choice. I’ve never heard a football coach say “We won because we lost our discipline in the red zone”, and the same is true for swimming. Turns are our red zone and losing your discipline there—no streamline discipline, no breathing discipline, no effort to get faster—will send you to the bleachers, not the podium.

    I know the results for the meet are out there and you’ve read them by now. I won’t add anything to spoil your watching just yet. But I can tell you I learned things you can’t learn from watching TV, things you can only truly learn by being up close to the action, and I will continue to bring those things to every practice I coach.

    And one final thing . . . this is a lot of fun. The swimming is great but we get to really rock at meets like this. Don’t believe me? Watch the video clip below. This is the band for opening ceremonies to the meet. And yes, WE ROCKED THE EUROS!

    Fheiceann tú go luath!



    Copyright, 2013, Michael Lawrence. All rights reserved. No republication permitted without the express prior consent of the owner.



    Getting Ready In Glasgow


    Well, let’s see . . . last I left you we were talking about the various things I do for the National Team in competition. That was an overview but not the whole story. Here’s a little more . . .

    Once we hit the ground it’s chopping wood and carrying water, not at all glamorous. Moving a large group through an unfamiliar airport, customs and onto one or more busses is a real challenge. And everyone—including me—is usually very tired. Most competitions provide a very nice hotel for the athletes but “nice” sometimes depends on the country and city. The Marriott here in Glasgow is very modern and comfortable so no worries.

    In the days prior to competition we have to distribute uniforms, a little spending money ($20, just enough for an emergency) and set up rooms for massage, medical and meetings. Double-checking all of arrangements with the hotel is critical to our success. One of the most important concerns is food and water. Food is prepared and tastes different all over the world and not all water throughout the world is drinkable. In some countries you can use the water for everything EXCEPT drinking and we have to find pure bottled water in those instances.

    We keep everyone safe by notifying the US Embassy or Consulate that we have arrived and then find the local police stations, hospitals and emergency clinics. The US team travels with at least one doctor and usually an athletic trainer, physical therapist or massage therapist. I’ve witnessed some very scary medical mishaps over the years including broken bones, bad head wounds from falls, and seizures. All of our medical people volunteer their time and are key pieces of the success puzzle.

    Every day I am the first one awake and greet the team at the breakfast room and check to see if there are any problems or concerns from team members. Checking in with the Head Coaches daily is key also. Then it’s to the bus and off to the pool. At most competitions we arrive at least 3 days prior to the meet and the days prior to competition are training days. Yep . . . practice happens twice daily for most athletes and I mean practice. You don’t face down the best in the world just taking a hot shower and thinking happy thoughts!

    At this meet I’ve been a little more involved in the media aspects because it is a made-for-TV  event. The easy part is reminding athletes of any media obligations, the hard part is dealing with pushy photographers and reporters. At times we even have to tell the athletes that their preparation comes first and an interview comes later. Here’s a shot of Katie Ledecky doing a TV spot.

    Tonight is the first night of competition. I think everyone is ready. We’ve had a few good days of training and spirits are pretty high. The team looks and sounds loose, a good sign. I’ll give you a look at the meet from a new angle soon—I hope you are planning to watch on TV. If you want a little history on the meet check out this article from USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Weilgus.

    Keep up your good work in practice and watch the meet with a goal of learning something new. It’s easy to be entertained and impressed with how fast these swimmers are . . . try something new: see if you can figure out WHY they are so fast. Then try it in practice!

    I’ll be back with more on the meet soon. PS—I won’t get to watch this on TV . . . if anyone can make a copy there might be a prize involved.



    Copyright, 2013, Michael Lawrence. All rights reserved. No republication permitted without the express prior consent of the owner.



    Hello From Across The Pond


    Hello from the Clyde Valley in Glasgow, Scotland! Team USA has landed and we are into our pre-competition preparations and routines for the meet later this week. I haven’t seen much of Glasgow yet as most of my time is spent organizing the team. Today I plan to explore the area around the hotel a bit and tomorrow we have a team activity in the city. Wondering what I do on these National Team trips? Here’s a look . . .

    I am the General Manager for the team, coordinating the various travel and competition details for the team. Prior to the event USA Swimming staff make all of the hotel and travel arrangements and I provide an extra set of eyes on the preparations. There are 5 key areas I look at in planning for our trip: Travel, Hotel, Food, Medical and Security. All of these are important and fit together like a jigsaw puzzle to support the team in competitin. You might think I go to these events with a goal of winning the most medals possible but I don’t. “There and back without incident” is my goal and National Team mantra. The athletes will take care of the medal count, and will do an especially good job of doing that, if I meet my goal.

    Everything is driven by the competition. There is a pretty rigid competition schedule and protocol in international competitions and I have to look at that schedule and figure out things like when do we eat and when do we leave for the pool each day. Little things like how far it is from the front door to the locker rooms, where do we put the massage tables, and where is the meet administration room all require research and planning. There is no such thing as a “little thing” in planning for success in competition. The challenges mount up quickly when you toss in things like language barriers (PS—I can hardly understand some of the locals here! It’s English but not like we speak!), driving on the wrong side of the lane and an international set of competition rules.

    During competition I have to know where every athlete and coach is at all times. I have a little help from an Assistant Manager, team coaches and a spotter but I have the responsibility of getting every athlete to the blocks for every event. The easy part is the racing and fortunately they are all very highly motivated and driven to achieve. The hard parts I take over and smooth out for them. I’ll give you a little insight on our daily training prior to the meet and what happens on game day soon. Both Coach Mo and Coach Laurel have worked as National Team managers and can answer some questions ‘til then.

    I hope you plan to watch some swimming this weekend. The US Nationals are scheduled for broadcast on Saturday and the Duel will broadcast on Sunday. I expect the Duel broadcast to be pretty slick with both NBC and Sky (Scottish TV) really combining efforts for a great presentation. You will get to see some of the greatest performers in the swimming world in head to head competition in a very special event. The US roster includes names you know like Katie Ledecky, Cullen Jones, Jessica Hardy and CONOR DWYER!!!

    Watch the website for updates as I am able to post them. You can send me a few questions if you like, or ask your parents to help you. I’m sure Coach Mo and Coach Laurel will help you, also. Send questions to coachmdl@sbcglobal.net, train hard and you might be here someday, too!



    Copyright, 2013, Michael Lawrence. All rights reserved. No republication permitted without the express prior consent of the owner.



    Holiday Swimming At The Duel In The Pool


    Coach Michael is heading to the land of bagpipes and William Wallace for the 6th Mutual of Omaha Duel In The Pool. The Duel is a made-for-TV (What! Coach Michael is on reality TV?) event first held in 2003. It has been contested since in every year except Olympic years (2004, 2008 and 2012). You can learn more about the Duel from USA Swimming or British Swimming.

    Curious? Ask Coach Michael a question!


    Thanks For Pie!!!


    Coach Michael Named To US National Team Staff

    Coach Michael will join the US National Team once again, this time in Scotland. The team travels to Glasgow in December for the 2013 edition of the Mutual of Omaha Duel In The Pool.

    The meet, considered the Ryder Cup of swimming features an All Star lineup from Europe vs. a similar US team in competition over 2 days. Competition begins on December 20th and will be televised on December 22nd on NBC.

    LFSC alum Conor Dwyer has been named to the US team following his outstanding performances at the World Championships last summer in Barcelona.

    Follow the news for Team USA at www.usa-swimming.org.