Parent Advocate article on Nutrition

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Michael Conaton:

There is much written today about sports nutrition and optimizing performance. To be honest I can’t keep it all straight. I always wished someone would have given us a menu of good foods to serve a swimmer during the season and at meets. It’s hard enough planning (and cooking!) a weekly menu for the whole family, but to also make sure it’s healthy and adequate for your swimmer makes it even harder.

This week’s article attached is from Dr. Rob Silverman entitled “Performance is about fuel, longevity is about recovery”. Dr. Silverman is an accomplished nutritionist and chiropractor practicing in Westchester. The article does a great job outlining the proper food groups and nutritionals for different occasions like practices and meets, but also for intervals during the day. It has some great suggestions for actual foods at certain meals. You’ll also see some mention of injury treatment as this was an outline for a presentation Dr. Silverman delivered in a more comprehensive lecture.

The USA Swimming website also dedicates an entire section to nutrition. It includes many great suggestions for healthy meals and snacks and explains the attributes of the nutritionals. Please see the USA website link for the section:
And this brand new article with more great meal suggestions:

For what it’s worth, I have included below some meals that have worked for us. Fortunately the ingredients for the most part are consistent with Dr. Silverman’s suggestions! But personally I think you can also drive yourself crazy trying too hard to do it too perfectly. At the end of the day, sometimes we were just trying to get calories into the kids who were training so hard and trying to hold weight. Often they would be too tired or their stomachs would be too upset following a hard workout to eat a proper, large meal. This is not unusual and another reason why, as Dr. Silverman’s article suggests, multiple meals throughout the day are a good idea.

Also like Dr. Silverman, we were fanatical about hydration. (We tried to be good at the simple stuff). These kids cannot drink enough water in my opinion. It’s the easiest way to influence performance at practice and at meets! The kids don’t realize how much they perspire in the water and inside the humid natatoriums. They have to stay hydrated. Hydration does everything from promote recovery by encouraging the flushing of lactic acid build up, to keeping tendons more supple and flexible. Multi vitamins to promote general health were easy too…keeping a bottle on the dinner table made it convenient and an easy reminder.

Remember self-selection…it was middle of high school or so when the boys asked about protein supplements. We never brought it up. It started with a bottle of Boost after each workout (I believe the practice passed down from one of Badger’s National Team members back in the day). Consuming decent doses of protein after a workout was discovered by the experts to aid and enhance recovery and became all the craze ~5? years ago. Today USA Swimming and college programs actually offer chocolate milk for example to its swimmers after practice or on trips and training camps as a recovery aid after workouts.

Protein and electrolyte regimens are becoming more and more common. I am probably very naïve when it comes to most of this stuff. We always took a very conservative and cautious approach to these supplements and only considered them when the boys were older (~16) for what that’s worth. Rightly or wrongly, we believed their natural physical maturity had to happen first or at the same rate. What do I know but it just seems that too much muscle mass on an immature bone structure for example, can’t be a good thing. Also be careful about what kids can find on their own on the internet with your credit card!

We are familiar with Metagenix, Isagenix, P2Life and Muscle Milk products. Creatine is a synthetic protein that supposedly builds muscle mass. I would encourage you to discuss this product and others with your doctors. Creatine is very hard on your kidneys I have read (yet another reason for hydration). I am not a doctor or a nutritionist and can’t endorse the use of any of these products. I only offer our anecdotal experience for your information. (Unfortunately I also found out that USA Swimming can’t endorse any of these products either due to the unlikely chance that a certain batch is contaminated).

Having said all this, these are kids too. They (and we parents) also may like to eat some stuff that may not be the best for us. During meets we tried to be more vigilant for sure, with low fat, no fried, easy digestion top of mind. But you know, sometimes a delicious In-N-Out Burger just hits the spot! Especially in celebration of a great night of swimming at a meet. The point is there is a mental aspect to some of this too. If it makes them happy to have a hamburger one night during a meet and they’re going to eat a good high caloric meal…maybe it’s ok…especially if you know you have a long night of digestion ahead (and nothing else is open or convenient and you have to get them to bed – like I said, you can’t go too crazy). As they get older your kids will also be more and more mindful of what they know they should and shouldn’t be eating, which takes the pressure off of parents eventually.

One final observation…Breakfast became a new found asset for us. It’s an easy way to get ahead in the day and get some good calories and lots of protein in the diet. We evolved into bigger and bigger meals as they got older, eventually even before school with bacon and cartons of eggs. Saturday morning breakfast after practice was a big deal as well.

So following are some suggested meals for what it’s worth…bon appetite!

In General:
Water, Water, Water; Chocolate milk; Boost; Vitamins;
Spinach, rigatoni, chicken; Pesto tortellini w pepperoni; Salmon, asparagus and biscuits; Chicken parm and pasta; Any protein and veggie stir fry; Tacos/burritos; lettuce tacos; Shake n Bake chicken, fish; Stuffed peppers; Steak, rice
Breakfast burritos; Turkey Bacon and eggs; leftover rice, eggs & bacon skillet mix; Waffles; French toast; Tater tots, bacon & eggs skillet mix.
Low sugar cereal; oatmeal; yogurt; bananas; English muffin peanut butter banana; soft pretzels; bagels.
Restaurants at meets:
Subway; Soup and salad bars; Non spicy tex mex (rice, beans chicken); IHOP; pasta.
Hotel room:
Water; Gatorade; Bananas; mini-Bagels; Cereal and milk (if refrigerator); Trail mix; Power bars; Cliff bars; Nutrigrain bars; ….Oreos.

Keep those topic ideas rolling in…

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.

Maturation Part 2 – “Self-Selection”

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Michael Conaton:

Last article was about physical maturation.  It stands to reason that early developers may be able to swim faster when they’re relatively bigger and stronger.  And we also argued that the comprehensive Badger approach of learning, loving and excelling was a practical way of accommodating both the early and later maturer.  We concluded with the observation that kids mature and matriculate through the Badger program at different rates and ages, by design.

Moving up through the groups at Badger and ultimately learning how to excel often happens in conjunction with what I’ll call your swimmers’ “self-selection” and enhanced dedication to swimming.  The article attached this week was on the USA Swimming website a few years ago.  It is in the form of Q&A and, right on point, addresses questions related to climbing the ranks within a swimming program.  Questions like:

“What type of commitment is necessary for a higher level of swimming?”
“Are morning workouts necessary?”
“Is my child sacrificing too much?”
“What does it mean to say the swimmer controls 80% of her training?”

Interestingly, the article is entitled “Training for Older Swimmers”. USA Swimming wrote this for “Senior Swimmers (13 & Over)”. Remember per last week’s missive, depending on physical and mental maturity this could be 13, 12…even younger? It’s not unusual or necessarily inappropriate for Kip and John to want some girls to train more at an earlier age, for example, as we all should know that generally females may mature physically earlier than males.

I still remember the day when our kids came home and said Kip wanted them to move up to John’s group.  They weren’t sure if this was good or bad!   What it means is the coaches believe your swimmer is physically ready to train more and push their bodies to excel (more on that later).

The article attached suggests that it helps when the kids are mature enough to step up their focus and dedicate themselves to harder and harder training…mental maturity, if you will. Because the sport of swimming is especially tough, the kids have to be self-motivated at a certain point.   For what it’s worth, our kids played and enjoyed different sports growing up which I believe actually contributed to their physical development and enabled them the perspective to be able to self-select ultimately into the sport that THEY wanted to pursue.  This happened at different ages for our kids. As parents, we were all about trying to get them to follow through with commitment but some days, you know life was just too short. We definitely had our moments of tears and dragging heels before some practices when they were a lot younger.  It tests your parenting skills for sure. They definitely missed a couple practices in the early days! What’s wrong with a mental health day every once and while to keep everyone fresh?

Comes a time though when the kids have to commit and want to do it themselves. I’m not saying not to push as that is our job to get them to the pool, but don’t be so hard on yourself parents…you can only push so much.

There’s no question there are the Phelps and Ledeckys of the world that train long and hard and swim fast at a young age and go on to become Olympians. If a kid self-selects that early and can physically and mentally train productively, all the power to them.   But it’s OK too if it ends up being a longer process…both the physical maturity and the self-selection.  I know it’s a recurring theme of mine, but I think it helps the kids (and parents!) to always think long term and trust in your coaches who know when it is time for your swimmer to be moved on and pushed a little harder. See article here.

Thanks for your input.

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 note from Badger Parent Advocate, Mike Conaton, on Maturation

Maturation (Part One)

This week’s article found a long time ago addresses the concept of maturation.  What hopefully is easy for you and your swimmer to understand is that kids grow and mature physically over different periods of time.   The article suggests that “early maturers” may not even have perfect stroke or technique but are able to out-perform given their early physical development.  The challenge parents may have with these kids is trying to keep their accomplishments in perspective early on while keeping their kids interest later when their peers catch up.  The challenge with the “later maturers” is helping them keep a longer term perspective while looking for that incremental improvement along the way, and working on stroke and technique in the meantime.

By the way, I never believed physical stature told the whole story anyway.  We can all think of examples of great athletes who may not have been as physically gifted as the next.  When I was growing up the world record holder in the 400 IM, arguably one of the toughest events in swimming, was held by Ricardo Prado who stood ~5″5′.

The second part of the article addresses strategies to deal with the early and late maturers.  The first point to highlight is “to keep in mind that early success does not predict later success”.  Studies show that early champions are not always the same kids later in life.  What is more alarming in the studies is that many kids stop sports all together after enjoying early success, due in part to the feeling of inadequacy or disappointment after their peers catch up.

Learn, Love, Excel…the Badger approach is meant to accommodate both the early and later maturer.  It is also meant to be a comprehensive approach to nurturing a swimmer’s physical abilities while cultivating more and more interest and, finally, intense dedication to swimming…over time. As your kids progress in the coaches’ estimations, they are handed up from group to group. Obviously this very often coincides with age and related physical development. Learning the right techniques obviously helps all swimmers as they grow.  Learning to love swimming and learning how to train will help both early and late maturers to get through their respective challenges mentioned above.  Once your coach believes your swimmer is mature enough mentally and physically to handle the tougher practices, they move on through the programs and begin to excel.  This last step comes at different times for different kids.  I will talk about this in Part 2 next time.

Some commentary for what it’s worth – It’s really hard and potentially very unfair to yourself and your family to put too much emphasis on comparing your kids to others, especially at younger ages. Good news/bad news – Ours is a sport that is measured by times, instantly recorded on Meet Mobile and in the US Swimming and metro logs. The good news is we can measure and track improvement in black and white. Our kids are not subject to playing time dictated by a subjective coach of a team sport. The bad news is (or better put – the perspective to keep in mind), is that comparing times is not always apples to apples. Obviously times are tracked by age group, but we all know even within a tight two year age group that kids all grow at different times. This is a huge contributing factor to speed, especially at the age group level.

Please see article attached

Keep your emails and questions coming… Thanks!

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 note from Badger Parent Advocate, Michael Conaton:

“Dad, my shoulder’s getting worse…” Those dreaded words. The sinking feeling in your stomach. The helplessness of wondering how to help. The agony of sharing their pain as they try to get through a workout or meet. Dealing with your swimmer’s frustration as they kick in lane one or have to miss practice all together.

I hope you never have to go through this, but we all know that the repetitive motion in a swimmer’s joints can cause vulnerability to episodes of inflammation, tendinitis or worse. What to do?

Communication is key, starting with your swimmer. Encourage your kid to tell you and their coach about unusual and persistent pain. All swimmers experience frequent aches and pains. The trick is to be able to identify serious issues early enough so that they can be addressed and resolved quicker. I am not a doctor or a coach. But as a parent, I am sensitive to recurring complaining beyond the typical aches and pains. When it was more than just trying to get out of a practice or a meet and you could just tell there was real discomfort, I encouraged the conversation with the coach. The coach is also not a doctor so they might suggest you see one, or they might have you change lanes for a day or so to see if it calms down. All very tricky and case by case stuff that has no right or wrong way to address. The point is to keep lines of communication open and talk about lingering issues and potential corrective courses. I believe Badger coaches definitely have the kids’ health top of mind. Kids should not feel guilty for missing practice or a meet if they are proactively seeking and carrying through with prescribed remedies, AND if they are communicating with their coaches.

We all have our own doctors and PTs that I’m sure are all qualified and will help your child with their issues when you feel the time is right. For your further reference, Dr. Scott Rodeo at HSS has treated many Badger kids and is interested in working further with Badger families. Dr. Rodeo is a former swimmer, an accomplished orthopedic doctor, and team doctor for the US Olympic Swimming Team and NY Giants. Short of the MRI and X-ray consultation for chronic or acute issues, many Badger families have had success with physical therapists and chiropractors. Often pain associated with a swimming injury is actually a result of another issue like an impingement or misalignment. Again for your information, Badger families have been treated by Dr. Rob Silverman, an accomplished chiropractor and nutritionist working with several Westchester area sports teams. Dr. Silverman is also interested in working further with Badger families. If you contact Dr. Rodeo or Dr. Silverman, please identify your kid as a Badger swimmer.

Whatever course of action you take, we have found that there is a very meaningful mental aspect to how you approach your treatment. Go with your decision and don’t second guess your course.  Having confidence in your decision and following through and feeling good about your path is important. What works for you IS the right way. Also it’s important to keep a long term perspective.  All of our kids have long careers ahead of them. If they miss a day, or a week, or heaven forbid a few months, in the grand scheme of things it will be OK. You and your swimmer will get through it. If not through doctors and PT and rest, then with body maturity over time. A lot of kids will grow out of it. Don’t panic. Your kids will see your panic. I believe our job is to certainly seek out the course of action we think is best, but to also then convince our kids that the treatment chosen is in fact the right thing to do.

Finally, preventive maintenance is obviously a great path to pursue. This week’s article was written by Dr. Rodeo and includes many shoulder and core exercises geared toward strength and flexibility. The older Badger kids are doing many of these exercises during the seasonal dry land workouts. I honestly think it’s tough to expect your kids to come home and work on some of these drills in their bedrooms. But at least you have them and for those so motivated, setting up a set of rubber bands in their bedroom or a sit-up mat for the occasional exercise is probably not a bad thing, IF DONE MODERATELY and CORRECTLY.

Download PDF on Shoulder Injury Prevention

Thank you for your emails to date. Please send your further comments and questions to me at

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.

October Baseball and Swimming?

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Michael Conaton:

I’ve always loved baseball and consequently my kids will probably tell you I use way too many baseball analogies to describe life’s lessons. More specifically, there are so many appropriate baseball comparisons to swimming that it makes watching this week’s World Series prompt these thoughts…

Baseball players can’t live and die by every pitch, every at bat, or every game. They wouldn’t be any good if they couldn’t shake off the bad days. They know they will always get another at bat. So too with swimming. If you’re having a bad workout, or bad meet…there will always be tomorrow or another race or meet to look forward to. Don’t stress it! Strikeouts happen. Bad races happen. Help your kids move on and forget about it! (And equally as important…please also note that maybe they already have moved on…so don’t bring it up again at dinner!)

There are always those ball players that are able to get the big hit at just the right moment in the game – The clutch home run seemingly coaxed over the wall by all the screaming teammates in the dugout. In swimming, we notice the kids who are able to step up and swim fast at the right time in the season, or race the person next to them to the wall, or come up big in a relay. If your kid is given a chance to stay late at a meet and swim on the last relay of the afternoon or night, stick around and let them swim it. Relays are different from the individual swims and it could be that contagious comradery that allows your kid to step up for their big hit. Relay swims can be equally as important as individual swims!

Some batters hit for average. It obviously helps to have a high average. This is a concept that kind of merges the first two thoughts. Keeping the intensity, awareness and pressure to consistently achieve at a high level is a valuable trait. Maybe you can’t always get the big hit, but you’re always trying and on average, you expect, and do in fact succeed overall. In swimming it’s the concept of constant improvement. Help your kids look forward and take note of their incremental progress. Help them with the long term perspective. It’d be nice to see improvement from meet to meet, but sometimes it’s season to season and year to year. Swimming is that kind of sport. Set your own expectations and perspective for this, so you can orient your kids the same way.

The good players always seem to be able to “salvage their series” with a key hit at the right time or during the last game that propels them to the next series. During long meets especially, try to point out the one or two swims that really stand out that bode well for great things to come. That one swim somehow makes that entire 3-4 day meet successful. Don’t let your kids get down – look for the noteworthy positives and help them build on those.

I marvel at the coaches and managers in the dugout who watch baseball games with little emotion or even frankly much visible coaching. But if you think about it, they’re obviously not the ones playing…the players are! We’re not there at spring training or in the weight room or at batting practice when coaches are giving their guidance. And during the games…they let the players play. In the pool, it’s our kids who have to execute and try to swim fast. Of course we are pulling for them and maybe even imagining (in agony?) every single stroke that they’re taking in a meet. But it’s their time to perform. Let them play…it’s not about the coaches…or you. And I guarantee you the guy last night was not trying to strikeout with men in scoring position. And in fact he remained calm, walked to the dugout and none of his teammates or coaches asked him about his at bat. Let your kids move on to the next inning or swim meet. Let the coaches work with them on their swings at practice the next day…I’m not a batting coach or a swim coach…our job is to drive the team bus!

Finally, I don’t have much of an article this week. I do offer a favorite excerpt from the book, Moneyball. Very coincidently, I was at a conference a couple weeks ago where Billy Beane was the guest speaker. Billy is the general manager of the Oakland A’s and early adapter of using statistical analysis to improve the player composition of a ball club. In his playing days, there were huge expectations for Billy as he was a gifted athlete and player. But he will admit that his lack of mental ability would be a hindrance to his career…put bluntly, he was a head case. Conversely, Lenny Dykstra, who played at the same time, wasn’t as gifted physically as Billy, but let’s just say if you don’t have the mental capacity in the first place, it won’t get in the way. What the funny story attached basically says, and maybe even contrary to everything previously written in this article is….DON’T OVER THINK THINGS!!! Just go out and play ball…er, leave ‘em alone and let them swim fast!

As always, please write me at with comments or questions on these topics or others.

Read the Money Ball Excerpt Here.

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.

Tis the Season for College Recruiting

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Michael Conaton:

Thanks for your comments from last week’s letter.

As of the date of this writing, I have heard about Badger’s David Stewart and Jack Collins announcing their commitments to Notre Dame and Indiana, respectively. Congratulations to David and Jack and of course to their parents and families for their years of support and sacrifice! I’m sorry if I have missed others announced.

We are generally late in the recruiting cycle (can start as early as freshman-sophomore year) but early in the commitment and signing cycle (November, early signing, April-August regular signing, commit anytime) for this year’s seniors. It occurs to me that we can offer a quick review of what the broad timelines are for our high school swimmers interested in considering college swimming.

From the NCAA’s perspective, to be recruited and/OR to swim at the collegiate level, you must register and be academically eligible with the NCAA. One of this week’s attachments outlines the basic steps. Very generally, you can begin registering with the NCAA at the beginning of your sophomore year at During your junior year (or whenever your child takes the SATs/ACTs) be sure and send results to the NCAA entering code “9999”on your test notifications. Finally your senior year you will have to have your school send your final transcript to be deemed eligible. This is the organized way to do it. I’m aware of all of this being done in a couple day fire drill before the first day of college practice, but this is not recommended!

From the coach’s perspective, visit this link to a good old article:

In short, fast swims can get on coaches’ radar screens as early as freshman or sophomore year but clearly this is not the norm. By September 1st of your child’s junior year, DI and DII schools can start to send mail. By July 1 before your senior year, coaches can start to call the kids. You can contact a coach or school at any time and they can respond. After September 1, up to 5 paid visits can be offered to seniors. During junior year, “junior days” are becoming more popular whereby larger numbers of kids can be invited by coaches to attend a tour and information session on campus as a group, at your expense. Parents are typically welcomed.

Having said all this – most kids do not get scholarships or even get recruited. I am not going to harp on the numbers as I do not believe in negativity. I believe every kid has a chance and should aspire for scholarships or to be recruited if that’s what they want. Of course it’s bloody competitive out there as we all know.

There is still a place for prospective collegiate swimmers out there if that’s what the kids really want. You just have to do a little more leg work (and swim fast, of course). Filling out online applications and questionnaires makes it a little easier to explore. Do it! – Preferably early your junior year to establish long term interest and get on the radar. Find schools and conferences that best fit your time ranges now and also your kids’ times with a reasonable improvement trajectory. Again, all of this is online. Visit schools and arrange meetings with coaches when you are there! Get your name out there and establish a dialogue and any hook you can (team or family legacy, school or curriculum affinity, etc.). Most coaches are very direct about your kids’ prospects. Some are more diplomatic with the delivery than others, but the candor should be appreciated. I’ll stop there in the interest of length, but can share more on all this if you like in a conversation. I may be able to help with some knowledge of certain schools and coaches or can try to put you in touch with the right folks. Obviously John and the coaching staff will also give guidance to your kids when the time comes. Make sure your kids ask!

Finally, let me conclude by attaching one of my favorite articles about “Walk-Ons” from The Stanford Magazine back in 2007. Again, not everyone can get a scholarship or even be recruited. The article describes all of the distinguishing characteristics possessed by those “true” walk-ons “who knock on a coach’s door out of the blue, and prove they have the chops to make the roster”. Many times those traits are incredibly infectious and very desirable for a coach to have on his/her team.  And of course the swimmer benefits as well, being admired by a coach for his/her hard work and embraced by 25 teammates with unconditional acceptance – An incredible way to start a college experience away from home, if that’s what your kids want.

More articles to come…if you have any comments or questions about this or any other topic please contact me at to make an appointment or call.


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 Parents are Awesome

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Mike Conaton:

We will do anything for our kids – drive them anywhere, cook them anything at any time, buy them countless suits and goggles, and travel long and far for meets to name a few selfless (and expensive) things. We do it because we love our kids and want the best for them, plain and simple.

Please allow me to start this season with a pep talk – You, me, all of us parents are doing an awesome job!

It’s hard to be a swimming parent. Getting our kids to multiple practices a week, on top of helping them with school work and attending to other sibling’s activities while trying to keep our jobs – in and of itself is a huge accomplishment. The weekend meets and eventual morning practices are in addition to all this. It’s not normal!

I just want to say thanks to you all. Please take a step back and realize that you all are awesome and your kids are blessed to have your support.

Being a swimming parent isn’t easy. This week’s article asks the question “is it all worth it?” Of course it is. While the article is written from a baseball perspective, (please insert your own experiences), it reminds us about the life’s lessons our kids are learning through swimming. OUR jobs are to let them learn these lessons and support them as much as we can without interfering too much or getting too overwhelmed with the demands.

My take away from this article is to remember the proper perspective. Of course we want our kids to swim fast (and we will talk about that as the year goes on), but I just wanted to remind myself and hopefully you that we’re also trying to make sure our kids become awesome human beings too…like us!

More articles to come…if you have any comments or questions about this or any other topic please contact me at to make an appointment or call.


Read the article here: Parent’s Pep Talk– A .pdf article found on


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.