Parent Resources

Olympic Trials Impressions

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Mike Conaton.

As a swimming parent at this year’s Olympic Trials, it never got old watching…

…the best of the best.

…Excited participants opening their goody bags filled with cool stuff including personalized water bottles and kick boards with their names on them.

…First time qualifiers on the starting blocks smiling and looking at themselves on the huge Jumbotron over the pool, right before they swam.

…Young qualifiers shaking in their boots with nerves and fear before diving into the seemingly endless pool in the cavernous arena in front of 14,000 spectators…even during prelims.

…Veteran qualifiers shaking in the same boots.

…First time qualifiers being interviewed by some of the hundreds of media in attendance….”that’s about 14,000 more people than I had ever swum in front of before” said one.

…”The wave” and hearing “U – S – A” chants from another 14,000 every night.

…Veterans…and rookies…signing autographs for the hundreds of young swimmers in attendance.  The rookies trying not to smile too much.

…Young qualifiers trying to act normal in front of the likes of Phelps, Lochte, and Ledecky but basically trying to stay out of their way in the warm up pool.

…Swimmers sipping on free smoothies and backpacks filled with free bananas, bars and munchies from the competitor’s lounge.

…Baseball…getting free tickets to the final game of the neighboring College World Series to help fill the stands of an unscheduled make-up game from a rain out the night before.  Probably more swimmers and family there than Coastal Carolina fans.

…Personal best times in the coolest venue and most important meet on the USA Swimming Calendar.

Never got old watching…

…The dedicated fan, who was probably a parent, family member or friend who awaited their loved one’s swim with a nervous calm, sweaty palms and a stomach ache.

…The enthusiastic fan who had no relative swimming, who loves the sport and event, traveled from faraway places with a young son or daughter, and watched every single race with unbridled emotion, cheering, standing at starts and finishes and crying during the medal ceremony.

…The enthusiastic fan group, which was usually an entire age group team sitting together in the upper deck of the arena cheering as loud as they could for their older teammates participating or for their favorite pro.

…The fastest swimmers, with perfect starts, strokes, turns, and underwaters.

…The dominant winners, and feeling the thrill for all the first and second place finishers who would make the Team.

…The battles for second and third and feeling the heartache for the alternates.

…The parents, family and friends of kids who made the Olympic Team – some with matching shirts, hugging, screaming, and crying…some groups 20+ strong.

…The Olympians coming into the stands to hug their parents and be mobbed by the entire family unit…and any spectator in general proximity.

Never got old hearing the stories of motivation and determination – the 19-year-old breaststroker who ate his goggles at the start (yes it happens to veterans too), didn’t have a great race, but wasn’t too disappointed to tell his dad afterwards that he was going to make the Olympic Team someday.  Yes, his dad teared up when he told me the story.

Never got old watching the dedicated and tireless coaches taking the best care of their swimmers so they could swim as fast as they could – attending coach’s meetings at the crack of dawn, shuttling swimmers to and from the hotel all day long, waiting in massive lines to sign kids up for time trials.  And always being there for the congratulatory hug or the sympathetic shoulder to cry on.

Never got old watching the best of the best…in and out of the water.

Help your kids get there some day if they want it.  I heard more than one swimmer say it was the best experience of their life.


Michael Conaton, Badger Swim Club Inc. and Badger Swimming Inc. accept no liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

Controlling Emotions

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Mike Conaton:

I felt so bad for Jordan Spieth as his second ball went in the water at the 12th hole during the last round of the Masters. Never thought it would be possible to blow a lead like that but a quadruple bogey can do it. Everyone in attendance and probably millions watching on TV seemed devastated. But you know who didn’t (at least appear) devastated…was Jordan Spieth.

We’ve all read about how important mental toughness and composure are for an athlete to command…but what about those around them? Coaches? …and even parents?

Jordan Spieth’s caddie didn’t seem to express a lot of emotion either. In fact, it is part of his job to keep his golfer focused and in the moment. I thought he did a remarkable job.

What about coaches? I will admit I was pretty excited when Villanova’s Kris Jenkins sunk a buzzer beater for the win over UNC in the NCAA Basketball Championship. While I didn’t necessarily have strong feelings for either team, I definitely got into the emotion of the game and probably even let out a little whoop with that last shot. How could any sports-loving person not? Jay Wright didn’t. I noticed right away the remarkable restraint the head coach of the Wildcats demonstrated. Later there were many articles written about his reaction, one of which is featured here.

http://www.businessinsider.com/villanova-jay-wright-explains-calm-reaction-ncaa-win-2016-4

Wright would say he was still in the coaching moment and not sure the game was actually over so he was thinking about the next play. Great coaching and that state of mind aside, I have to believe there was much more at play than that. Wright also said “I’m the adult. I got all these 18- and 22-year-olds around me”. Clear indication that the coach sets the tone for the team; Sets the example for the team; Controls the emotion of the team that can work in its favor to channel focus and aggression. It can also work in a negative way if a lack of discipline by the coach results in players with the propensity to lose their cool and self-destruct with fouls or poor play to the detriment of the team.

I discussed the general topic recently with a very accomplished age group and former college swimming coach who I met at a recent big meet as he was watching some of his former pupils. I asked him about the parents’ role with their kids in this area. He said it was important to “control the modulation of the amplitude”. What? “You know”, he said, “keep the sine wave steady”. Oh right, “gotcha yea”, I said, as I made a mental note to visit the dictionary when I got home. This guy was pretty smart and, kidding aside, explained to me with what I thought was a great analogy, the importance of keeping our ups and downs, highs and lows, in control. He said we set an example for our kids – Our reactions and emotions influence our kids whether we realize it or not. We have the ability to keep them humble and grounded with perspective during the highs, and keep their spirits up, again with proper perspective during the lows. Temper the highs so the lows aren’t so low.

I understand it’s just like a coach, and especially a swimming coach to impart on THE KIDS that they can always do better – never be satisfied; don’t over celebrate. Of course recognize a milestone and acknowledge the hard work it took to get there – but use that milestone as the stepping stone to the next level. Keep working hard.

But can’t PARENTS celebrate just a little? Enjoy the moment just a little?

At the same big meet, I congratulated a mother whose son had made finals. She was of course beaming but pretty contained, and very gracious. She then also shared with me that she had just heard from her husband who was away with their daughter who had just won another huge event. She was definitely having a good day. I’d want to do cartwheels. But as she was telling me all this incredible good news, in the same sentence, almost apologetically, she said, “remember we’ve had other days too, you know”.

And so the life of the swimming parent goes – taking the good with the bad, rolling with the punches, and supporting the kids to the next milestone.

Michael Conaton, Badger Swim Club Inc. and Badger Swimming Inc. accept no liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

Caeleb Dressel, Social Media and Internet Safety

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Mike Conaton:

Caeleb Dressel, Social Media and Internet Safety

When both swimming and non-swimming friends send me the same article, it’s a pretty good indication that there are some good stories involved.  Indeed, this recent article by Karen Crouse in the New York Times contains messages for parents of swimmers young and old. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/29/sports/for-a-natural-swimming-isnt-always-easy.html?_r=0

The article features Caeleb Dressel, the rising US sprinter who recently set new American records in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle at his college conference championships.   The article summarizes Dressel’s meteoric recent rise, his ironic challenge, and his humble beginnings as an age group swimmer.

Badger 10U parents may hear their kids complaining about having to learn the difficult butterfly stroke.  Well maybe it will make the kids feel better to learn that even American record holders once struggled, and even cried over having to swim Butterfly.  And add yet another funny story about young kids and their early swimming lessons – Dressel once jumped into an empty lane during a meet and actually won the heat.  The problem was that he was not entered in the meet!  He was there to watch his older brother.

Later as an age grouper, the article makes reference to a valuable tool that many kids use today: Dressel still keeps detailed notes in a logbook to chronicle his workouts and performance.  His entries were much more detailed than other kids’ books, focusing not only on recording sets and pace times (as I know some Badger veterans still do), but also on how his body and muscles felt in the water under different conditions.  He was a study on form and technique.

Dressel would emerge onto the national scene, first at the age of 15 as the youngest male competitor at the 2012 Olympic Trials, then a year and a half later making the 2013 Junior World Championships in Dubai.

But when he came home from Dubai, despite all his success, Dressel unbelievably quit swimming.   Introducing one of parents’ greatest challenges with their kids – Social Media and the Internet.

Dressel suffered from feeling the burden of expectations.  It seems his days of racing anonymously were long gone.  Dressel said in the article, “as a 17-year-old kid, people put you on this podium, and it seems like you’re just a source of entertainment for people.  I felt like I was swimming for other people and they’d never be satisfied”.

The author of the article summed it up – “The “other people” are strangers on the internet.  Dressel’s ascent has coincided with the rise of social media, where every person with access to Twitter has the equivalent of a megaphone”.  Dressel was feeling the pressure from social media that expected him to be something special every time he swam.

The point combines two concepts, one we have written about in the past regarding the need for kids to swim for THEMselves. To me the second point speaks volumes of some of the other pressures our kids face today. You can literally be the fastest kid in the world and still feel peer pressure and feel bad about yourself – in this case delivered through the internet and social media. How many times have we had discussions (ok, fights) about social media in our household…It’s obviously here to stay so we all have to figure out how to deal with it – both the unintended and the very intentional and downright mean communications via the internet. I don’t know what the answer is, and obviously there are a lot of great things about the internet (I know I’m showing my age and tech inexperience), but I believe we parents can’t be blind to what goes on with social media and just hope for the best.

Back to the story…Dressel was back in the water after a much needed six-month break from the water.  With continuing support from family, friends and coaches, Dressel is constantly reminded to keep his success in perspective and his focus on himself and his teammates.

Three time Olympian Brendan Hanson is quoted in the article, summing up this last point very well when he spoke to Dressel’s mom – “the best thing you can do for your kids is put away your stopwatch and let it be THEIR sport, not yours”.

As for social media…hope is not a method – very coincidently, our local high school recently hosted a presentation by Laura Forbes, Senior Assistant District Attorney with the Office of the Westchester County District Attorney and member of the High Tech Crime Bureau.  Ms. Forbes spent a couple hours scaring parents with horrible stories and describing the many risks presented by the internet. In short, the following top 10 list of recommendations were discussed:

  1. Set parental controls on devices
  2. Talk about content with your kids (violence, language, other)
  3. If you give a 10-year old a phone, limit it
  4. Don’t let young kids play games or watch movies made for older kids
  5. Tell kids not to give away passwords, personal information or disclose their location
  6. Turn off devices at bedtime – take it away if you have to
  7. FOLLOW YOUR KIDS ON SOCIAL MEDIA – ALL OF IT – FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, ETC.
  8. Tell your kids to stop if you don’t like what they’re doing online
  9. Help your kids or find help if you don’t know what to do
  10. Be aware of Apps that hide content from you on their phones and computers

So we’ll add to the list – Parents are awesome…it ain’t always easy…and it can be really scary…

 

Michael Conaton, Badger Swim Club Inc. and Badger Swimming Inc. accept no liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

Swimming and Team Sport Parents

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Mike Conaton:

I spent some time recently with a very successful high school coach of a dryland team sport.

I will say, I’m thankful we are parents of swimmers – i.e. athletes in an individual sport measured ultimately by how fast they can swim. Of course our coaches need to be teaching the right strokes and training the kids the right way, but for a large part, swimming can be a sport that has a high correlation between work and improvement/success. In other words, the swimmer tends to get what the swimmer puts into it. While leadership qualities, attitudes, work ethics and other characteristics are certainly important, at the end of the day comparing swimmers’ times can be pretty straight forward.

As we all know, athletes in competitive team sports not only have to perform but also have the added challenge of distinguishing themselves in a much more subjective environment, measured by many variables with different degrees of importance to a biased judge, or coach…rightfully biased by his/her philosophies, experiences, team goals.

The coach I talked to believed strongly in communication with the athlete, AND the parents – to allow first and foremost the athlete to understand those measurement variables and priorities on his team; and secondly to make the parents aware of the same. He knows parents can be very worried and even vocal about their kids’ opportunities with limited positions and large competitive teams. By including the parents, he accepts that he can be observed and even measured every single day by parents who are looking for consistency in his message – one of his many challenges with his parents.

We compared and contrasted our parents and found some common denominators –

Parents mean well 
I truly believe parents mean well…we just want the best for our kids. I’m not a psychologist, but I’m sure there are many reasons for this. One simple reason is we love our kids and want them to be happy and do well for THEMselves. I talked to the team sport coach about my belief that parents are an untapped resource. I believe we are coachable, and that the communication he offers is welcomed and a lot better than silence and guessing, leading to potential frustration and even misbehavior. (Not sure he totally agreed about the coachable part, haha). A coach’s ability to project fairness, consistency, confidence and knowledge, i.e. credibility, I told him as a parent, I think goes a long way.

Parents have means 
And I’m not an economist either but this generation seems to have means and the mind set to want to see our kids improve and do well at startling costs. The use of private technique coaches, nutritionists, and weight lifting coaches seems to be more and more pervasive in more and more sports. Too bad you can’t buy perspective, which we both agreed parents can benefit from. Again communication and education is key – what does it take to contribute? To play on his team? To improve? To play/swim at the next level whatever that is? There are many high schools and colleges in the world and there is a fit for all of our kids if they want to pursue that level…for themselves. And by the way, I wonder how much of a kid’s inherent character, dedication and hard work, if applied fully, could equal or even exceed the benefit of some of those ancillary tutors…

Parents can be mean
We have all heard the stories of the ugly parents. I think we parents just have to try to keep cool, keep perspective and maintain decency and respect. Coaches put a tremendous amount of time and dedication into taking care of our kids and frankly, probably aren’t compensated commensurately – at least monetarily. They do it in large part because they love helping kids. Above all, we parents always need to ask ourselves how we would want to be spoken to and treated at our work? …at our home? …by people who are supposedly supporting us?

Of course none of us are perfect (including me and especially my use of homonyms you’re thinking), and I don’t mean to preach, but I’d like to think we all try do our best, with our kids top of mind, and hopefully with respect for others around us.
 

Michael Conaton, Badger Swim Club Inc. and Badger Swimming Inc. accept no liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

Badger Text Alert – Don’t Miss Info – UPDATED

UPDATED INFORMATION

Greetings to everyone.

Yesterday we sent out information regarding a free text messaging service under badgerswimclub and the response to it was overwhelming.

So many have signed up that we have decided to branch out with a second service to help make sure everyone receives the correct information.

We ask that you read the below and sign up for the correct group to ensure you receive the correct info, don’t want the 8 /unders showing up at Lehman College when Senior Team is rescheduled.

All 8/Unders Comp. and Non-Comp, Learn to Swim, Swim School, Non-Comp 11/u

You will need to reply Stop to the reply text you received from Rainedout.com yesterday to end subscription to badgerswimclub

Send a new text to 84483 with the message of badgerswimschool to sign up for your designated group.

Junior Team, comp 10’s and Senior Team 

Please continue to use badgerswimclub and or sign up for it by texting 84483 with the message badgerswimclub

 

ORIGINAL MESSAGE

With Snow in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday, make sure your receiving the most up to date information regarding workouts our plans.  Still Check your E-Mail for further info.

The service we are using is Rainedout.com  a free text messaging service that is funded by ads that will show up at the end of each text.

This service will allow us to send texts to everyone subscribed of any urgent news, changes or items of interest.

The signup is very easy on your mobile device you will need to text the number 84483 with the content of the message being badgerswimclub      (one word)

This will automatically enroll you in the service and receive a response within 2 minutes.

Have your swimmer enroll too.

We will still be emailing you updates, but we strongly encourage you to sign up for this service as this will be our first way of notifying you of anything urgent.

Dear 10U Parents…

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Mike Conaton:

There once was a 6 year old who false started in lane one during a meet. He was so embarrassed he grabbed on to the bottom of a ladder and stayed under water as long as he could hold his breath.  He finally surfaced to thunderous laughter.  

Another 8 year old became so afraid of meets because his goggles kept falling off when he dove in.  It became a real worry and caused much anxiety.  He wasn’t sure if he ever wanted to race again. 

Then there was the 7 year old boy who loved going to practice, but liked swimming at his own pace.  He started to become aware of his friend in the next lane over who started to swim a little faster.  He wasn’t sure how to interpret that…and he wasn’t entirely excited about racing in meets either.  But he loved to swim, at his own pace.   

Now the 9 year old, she was a little older and “wiser”, and she started noticing the activities of her non-swimming friends.  She had always been a dedicated attendee of practices but her mom was starting to encounter some resistance.

The 10 year old boy loved to swim, but he also loved lacrosse, basketball and soccer. It took a fancy computer program to figure out his weekly practice schedules, and a new tank of gas in the car at least every 5 days…

And many other anecdotes….It’s all good…and normal! I’m just guessing, but parents of young swimmers may be trying to figure out these and other behaviors (all true stories by the way).   You are not alone!   These are growing kids with many interests and varying degrees of physical, social and mental maturity.  Please don’t get too down on them…or yourselves for maybe feeling puzzled and maybe even frustrated.   The kids will grow through it and it will all workout.  Above all…DO NOT compare your kids to others. It’s meaningless…they are all different shapes and sizes and on different schedules and programs at this age!!

The toughest encounters we had were when the tears flowed and they just didn’t want to go to practice.  Our hearts were wrenched by seeing our little kids in such supposed agony…was it really worth it? Was anything really worth that drama? Would it really be the end of the world if they missed one workout? But on the other hand, they and we made a commitment. Would we be horrible parents for making them go? If we gave in, what would we be teaching our kids about responsibility? How could we justify wasting the money we already spent? Money doesn’t grow on trees…

Looking back on it now…those days don’t seem so traumatic…we survived. And you and yours will too. There are no right or wrong answers to the dilemma above of course. I guess sometimes we gave in, sometimes we didn’t…depended on the day, the other kids’ schedules, the homework schedule, the baby sitters schedule, our work schedule, my travel schedule, the dog’s schedule, …and on and on. It’s not easy for sure.

Now, the coaches will want me to say, and I do agree, that dedicated and committed parents definitely put their kids in a better position to excel. But like their kids learning how it works, I believe it’s OK for parents to try to figure it all out too at this early stage, for themselves and their respective households. We all do our best. Now when the kids are older…we can talk about that later. It takes commitment.

I just wanted to offer this pep talk to the parents of the youngsters. It’s way too early to sweat a lot of this stuff. I think the Badger coaches would tell you just try to get them to the pool and they will do the rest. We all get through it and before you know it, they’re off to high school and college (with all kinds of new drama!) Happy New Year!
 

Michael Conaton, Badger Swim Club Inc. and Badger Swimming Inc. accept no liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

A look inside the Cera Ve Invitational

Photo Courtesy of Taylor Brien

Through the eyes of a lens, Swimming World Magazine captured some great moments at the Cera ve Invitational including a great shot of our very own Carly Cummings and Anina Lund.

As reported by Swimming World

“Swimming World intern Grace Schwiederek had a chance to get on deck and capture some of the magic of the evening session of day two. Schwiederek’s photos especially captured some of the faces from behind the scenes.

Along with Schwiederek was Swimming World’s Taylor Brien capturing the action and some candids of the athletes participating in this weekend’s meet.”

View the Galleries

Returning To The Pool: Bobby Yribarren

Photo courtesy of  Taylor Brien 

AS REPORTED BY SWIMMING WORLD MAGAZINE

“Bobby Yribarren glances briefly at the opponents to his right as he waits behind the starting block, quickly returning his gaze to the furiously churning turquoise waters at his feet. From an outside standpoint he is like every other swimmer on deck–perhaps a bit nervous, but absorbed in his personal goals for the event. But Yribarren is anything but similar to the young men he is swimming against.

In fact, he is much older than they are.

It has quite literally been a long and winding road for Yribarren to get to this point. The thirty-year-old Harvard University graduate is the oldest swimmer at the 2016 CeraVe Invitational by a wide margin–a whopping six years separates him from the next oldest competitor. In no way has this dissuaded him from returning to the pool.

“It’s definitely humbling, but I’m really happy for the other swimmers,” Yribarren explained of the unusual phenomenon that comes from competing against swimmers 10+ years his junior. “It’s really great to see how fas the sport is getting. A lot has changed [since I was swimming D1].”

“It’s been a process to get him back into any kind of swimming shape,” admitted Badgers head coach John Collins. “We’re happy to have him because he’s a good middle distance, open water type swimmer, and he trains well with the group that I have right now.”

Collins has been coaching the thirty-year-old for just over five months now, as Yribarren found his team in September of 2015. Prior to joining the Badgers, it had been two years since he hit the water competitively. It was during that time period that he went through many changes, the most notable being physical.

“I was 260 pounds at one point,” Yribarren explained. “I couldn’t even see my toes.”

“That’s a big drop, right?” he joked with a thousand-watt smile lighting up his face. Despite continually facing a great deal of adversity, Yribarren speaks passionately and enthusiastically, even about a difficult time in his life. Rather than see it as a road block, Yribarren chooses to see that time period as a “lifestyle change.” It is this optimistic attitude that he believes is crucial in handling the pressure of a competitive swimmer.” [READ MORE]

Inspiration

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Mike Conaton:

Swimming from inspiration can be very different from swimming “for” someone else. When the kids are mature enough to understand the nuance, experts believe it’s important for them to swim for themselves, for their own reasons and goals: putting in the hard work for themselves and enjoying their own challenges and rewards. We have all read the warnings about parents being careful not to put the burden and pressure on the kids to try to please US and appease OUR hopes and dreams for them. It should be THEIR hopes and dreams…and inspirations…that motivate their dedication and hard work.

It is certainly natural and can be very beneficial for a swimmer to be INSPIRED by another person, coaches, parents, swimming heroes, events…using other people’s experiences, characteristics, accomplishments and stories as motivation and stimulus.

This story about Glenn Mills will help me explain my thoughts on this subject better. Many vintage Badgers and swimming world types know Glenn – a 1980 Olympian, NCAA breaststroke champion, and today the founder and owner of GoSwim Productions, the leading producer of swimming technique videos. Above all, we all know Glenn as an outstanding human being, tireless swimming advocate and loyal friend.

Glenn was recently named one of The Top Ten Most Impactful People of 2015 by Swimming World Magazine for launching his new GoSwim online teaching platforms and coaching aids and being picked as the official video training partner of USA Swimming.

My favorite story about Glenn involves his inspiration – his older brother Kyle. During Glenn’s middle school days, Kyle lost his leg to a rare cancer. Kyle’s struggle with his illness and his courageous recovery from that bout made a huge impression on Glenn as he describes it. “If I had a tough practice one day, I would just think of Kyle getting along with his one leg and somehow practice wasn’t so tough anymore”, he once told me. Glenn loved and admired his brother even more from the experience. Which is all the more reason why Glenn was so devastated when Kyle passed away from his recurring cancer when Glenn started high school. Swimming took on a new dimension for Glenn. The article linked here  from 1981 about Glenn and his family includes the following quote:

“I’m probably always thinking of Kyle. A lot of times I’m swimming for him and myself. I’m always thinking about Kyle because I like to have some extra incentive. He helps me out a lot.”
Glenn dedicated his training to Kyle and made the 1980 Olympic Team. It was even more impressive as Glenn was just an 18 year old on his way to the University of Alabama.

Of course Glenn had to be a great swimmer and dedicated athlete to achieve such a feat. I also know of the sacrifices he and his family made which contributed to his training and success, including moving to another city and switching high schools to attend an elite swimming program 250 miles from home. But there also can be no doubt that Kyle was Glenn’s greatest motivation and inspiration contributing to this story book ending.

 

Michael Conaton, Badger Swim Club Inc. and Badger Swimming Inc. accept no liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.