Large turnout at Badger Mid-Winter Swim

Badger Swim Club hosted the Mid-Winter Swim on January 31- February 1, 2015 at The Apex at Lehman College.  999 Athletes from 12 teams participated in this meet.

Our goal this year was to continue focusing on developmentally appropriate instruction and training for the age group team.  However, we wanted to increase our youngest swimmers exposure to the competitive experience.  For many of our newest and youngest Badgers this was the culmination of that focus.  91 Badger swimmers achieved 272 best times this weekend.  We are so proud of their improvement.  Our swimmers also achieved four new Senior Metropolitan Championship cuts, six Junior Olympic Cuts, and 31 Zone Qual cuts.

Congratulations to all of our swimmers.

Badger Dominates the Medal Count and Places Second Overall at the 48th Geneva International Swim Championship

Swimmers from left to right:  Tanvi Pabby, Hannah Simmons, Mary Kate Melnyk, Anina Lund, Nathalie Eid, Caroline Poleway, Alexa Lantin, Lindsay Vrooman, Anya Pabby, Derek Toomey, Jack Collins, Aristedes Speres, Emily McClellan, John Collins.

January 23-25, 2015

Coach John Collins and 13 Badger swimmers traveled to Geneva to compete on the World Stage in one of Europe’s most prestigious long course meets. Swimming against over 600 international competitors, all of the Badger swimmers earned second swims and qualified for finals, and ten swimmers took home a total of 20 medals to win the Overall Medal Count.

The team was lead by Lindsay Vrooman’s four 1st place finishes- most notable was her 400 meter free in a time of 4:11.90.  This swim secured her the “Best Performance of the Meet” award- receiving a quality Swiss watch. Vrooman also took home gold in the 200 meter fly, 200 meter free and the 800 meter free. Additionally, she broke two meet records in the 400 and 800 meter freestyle! Emily McClellan swept all three breast stroke events taking three gold medals. Derek Toomey was a double gold medal winner, winning both the 50 and 100 freestyle events. Nathalie Eid added another gold medal to the Badger win column with a tie in the 200 meter backstroke. Badger took home two silver medals with Anina Lund in the 400 meter free and Mary Kate Melnyk in the 200 meter fly. Adding to the Badger medal count were an additional eight bronze medalists including Jack Collins, Nathalie Eid, Caroline Poleway, Anya Paby (age 11) plus Vrooman, Melnyk and Lund.

Badger finished second in overall scoring, to the UK’s Mount Kelly Swimming who brought a full team to this important European Championship.  Each year, the CIG concludes with a crowd pleasing Australian Knockout.  The 50 sprint knockout consists of four rounds. Each final then starts with the top eight competitors knocking out two swimmers in each round, leaving the top two swimmers left to compete for the title.  Three Badger Swimmers won the knockouts in spectacular fashion: Toomey and Vrooman won the 50 free and McClellan the 50 breast.

Badger head coach, John Collins commented on the meet results: “All the people who were suppose to win – won, which is great.”

The meet provided Badger swimmers with the opportunity to swim long course against some of the best swimmers in Europe.

The Parents’ Role

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Michael Conaton:

Ok, so I’m finally getting to this potentially tricky topic. So what should be the parent’s role in the life of a swimmer?

There are numerous resources and articles out there that I used as guidance for myself overtime. In these letters I write, I am sharing with you the related articles that have resonated the most with me, including this week’s article attached. This article is actually quite popular on many different club websites, and is even included on the USA Swimming website. The article features Badger’s own Olympian Cristina Teuscher, her mother, and Badger Head Coach John Collins. The article addresses how coaches deal with “the other stuff”, namely us…the parents. I had to think a lot about “this stuff” myself because I was so close to the sport as a former swimmer. I probably thought too much about it but at least I have a nice collection of articles today to show for it! I know many of the Badger parents are former swimmers/athletes as well. As always, I am not trying to preach or tell anyone what’s right and wrong. In this column I have been asked to try to share some of our experiences as a parent volunteer for what they’re worth and I always try to back up my arguments with third party articles.

Ultimately, I went out of my way to try not to coach or give too much advice to my kids along the way, or certainly compare my experiences to theirs. I had my time, this is their turn. We didn’t have any school colors or USA flags on our walls at home. We tried to consciously separate the pool from home. Home was an escape from the pool. After the kids did have me as a coach for little league baseball for many years, I told them that they had moved on to “real” coaches. If they had questions or issues I told them to talk to their coach and build a rapport with them, that I was not their coach. I’m not saying any of this is the right or wrong way to do things, but that’s what we did. My wife is a lot like Michael Phelps’ mom referenced in the article. She did not know any of the kids’ times, and the kids knew it, and consequently always loved to be with her after practice or at a meet for her conversation about anything but swimming and her unconditional love.

For my part, like I said I tried to bite my lip and not ask about underwaters or stroke count or streamlining or not breathing off the start or the wall….and for the most part hopefully the kids would tell you I stayed quiet. I tried to sense when they’d be receptive or not. And I always, always, pointed out something awesome about a swim before I asked if I could “offer a suggestion”. I probably shouldn’t have even done that.

And obviously not all kids are alike. Some like to talk about swimming, read “swimswam” too much, post goal splits and dry land schedules on their bedroom walls…and others don’t want to talk about it at all…or only on their terms. The point is, we found that there is an element of knowing your kid. They are all different with different needs. For all of them we always tried to be as supportive as we could be. For the most part, that involved driving them to practices and making sure they were eating enough and eating the right things. And for the most part, coaches would say that’s really all you need to do. Let the coaches do the rest. That’s certainly the recurring message in many of these articles on the subject.

The leap I made was to put the kids in the coach’s hands. I’ll admit it was difficult in the beginning. And to do that you have to have faith and belief that the coaches know what they’re doing. I knew John from the days when I used to swim against Rick Carey (unsuccessfully). It was a bit surreal to me that my sons would be swimming for John so many years later. I felt lucky that we had a Badger, world class-caliber program in our own backyard. So this part was actually pretty easy. Hopefully my letter a couple weeks ago describing the Badger program and giving perspective to other similar programs can help you all have faith and belief in the program you have chosen. And you need that faith because once you start questioning the coaches at home, you start to undermine their credibility and the kids start to question and lose their faith.

This is not to suggest that any of this is happening, I’m just highlighting the importance of the parents, kids and coaches all being on the same page and believing in one another. After all, parents mean well and only want the best for their kids. It’s hard for us to let go and believe that we are in fact doing the best we can by actually not getting too involved. Coaches know this too and know it’s hard for us. But have some faith, not only in coaches but in your kids. Allow them to self-select into this sport. At the end of the day, they’re the ones who have to put in the hard work.

USA Swimming has a whole section on the coach and parent relationship with some really good articles: Click here.

In general you will see in these articles the recurring theme of less parental involvement is preferred by the coach. I do understand this, but…I do also believe the parents at least have a right to have access to the coach. We are the parents after all, we are paying the bills, and we mean well and want the best for our kids. There probably is an absolute right and a wrong way to go about this access though. We just need to ask the coaches what the protocol is. Proper lines of communication are key. Like any other person in any other work place, we need to communicate with coaches with respect and with the protocol they determine…we just need to ask…probably after practice best, and away from the curious kids.

I can also try to answer questions you may have directly and even privately one on one if you want. In the meantime, I’ll try to keep anticipating topics to help the coaches. Always interested in more ideas. Thanks for reading.


Download the Article.

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.

Five Things to Watch in 2015

Featured on The Chuck Weilgus Blog: Five Things to Watch in 2015.

The USOC’s selection as Boston to be the U.S. candidate city for the 2024 Olympic Games was a surprise to many of us. While Boston is a great pro sports town, it has never had much of an international profile with Olympic sports. A Boston Olympic Games would be a tremendous boost to all Olympic sports, and especially so for swimming. Just think of all the excitement that would be generated throughout the Northeast! And what would be a better legacy than for Boston to construct a new major aquatic venue? READ MORE

The Power 5 conferences are taking over the highest level of college sports, and the future of Olympic sports is uncertain. As the ACC, Big Ten, Big-12, Pac-12 and SEC determine how they will reshape the college sports landscape, we must become much more active to protect and preserve DI level scholarship swimming. READ MORE

Participation numbers in almost all youth sports are on the decline. This is not a good trend, and many sports, including swimming, are working hard to stop the slide. Because of the concussion issue, football faces the harshest decline, but participation is down in baseball, golf, tennis and many other sports. READ MORE

For the past 5 years, USA Swimming has confronted the issue of sexual abuse head-on. Our sport has among the most extensive programs of policies & guidelines; screening procedures; training & education; and a structure for reporting and responding to complaints. We have hired and committed full-time staff for this critical responsibility. Above all, we have been successful in raising awareness about what are the appropriate boundaries between adults and young athletes.READ MORE

I have asked the senior staff team at USA Swimming to join me in making this “The Year of the Foundation.” After a decade of ups and downs, I think the foundation has finally started to get real traction; and with a full-time Annual Fund Manager and Major Gifts Director now on the staff team, I foresee a time of real growth and new results in the year ahead. READ MORE

Swimming Organization Overview

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Michael Conaton:

Happy New Year – The start of the New Year is a good time to review the landscape of the swimming world we all enjoy.  I’ll do my best to answer some questions recently submitted and describe some of the swimming organizations I am familiar with. I don’t know if I’ll be 100% accurate with the following but hopefully I’m directionally correct.

Best I can summarize, the competitive swimming world can be generally divided into international, national, local and school related “leagues”. Competition is promoted amongst geographies, like-organizations, and relative skills, including of course, the best of the best. The seasons for these leagues or affiliations can possibly overlap and actually cause conflict for the swimmer regarding allegiances and priorities. (Maybe we’ll address that as a topic later but not the point of this letter). Following are some examples that come to mind and commentary for what it’s worth:

School Swimming
Obviously high schools and colleges sponsor competitive swimming. In New York, our family learned of the interesting concept of the state high school “federation” – the inclusion of both the public and Catholic schools in a single championship. At its heart, I think a great thing to get all the kids in the same meet together to push each other to go faster. In NY, the girls’ season is in the Fall and boys’ in the Winter (varies per state). Most school teams hold seasonal practices, especially if they are lucky enough to have a pool. Some schools do not have pools…or teams for that matter. It can be possible for the kids to have a high school swimming experience by “affiliating” with another high school team. Kip is familiar with how this works if you have questions. You may ultimately even have multiple schools get together for a single combined team. I applaud Kip and the area schools and their administrations for providing this for their kids. High school swimming can be an amazing experience and an activity providing an essential sense of identity and comradery at an important time in a kid’s development. We have found Badger to be very accommodating of the kids who want to compete in high school meets and some practices. Where the kids train (either at their club or the school) can be a very tricky subject. Badger’s affiliations with New Rochelle, Bronxville and Fordham Prep high schools (that I’m aware of) results in a great appreciation for high school swimming (which can conflict with Badger) and is an incredible advantage on many different fronts.

College Swimming I am learning is another world today. I won’t spend a lot of time on it from a Badger parent’s perspective as obviously the kids are away and training with another coach. Again, another age old issue is where the kids train when they come home from school. Holiday training is an easier decision as the old club is close to home. As kids, we used to love it when the college kids came home and trained with us over the holidays and in the summer. Perhaps another topic someday…

Local Swimming
We’re probably all familiar with community summer swim and country clubs that offer limited seasonal summer training, local dual meets and end of summer championships. Great experience for our kids – these summers represented some of the fun aspects of swimming – being with friends, learning team comradery, looking out for the little kids…etc. And yes some great head to head racing. It gets tough as the kids get older and need to start to prioritize and have to make some potentially tougher decisions – Fun practice and dual meet or Badger practice? Fun dual meet or a Badger meet? Fun dual meet or Eastern Zone Champs or even US Jr. Nationals? As the kids self-select the decisions become easier.

National Swimming
Badger is an example of a program that strives to make the kids ready for national and international competition. The Badger developmental and age group programs offer local competitions with an expanding radius of meets beyond the NY Metro area as the kids get older. As the kids progress, Kip and John take their kids to some outstanding national meets in places like Boston, Baltimore and even Florida. This is a chance for the kids to race swimmers from other programs from other parts of the US. They get to expand their horizons and generally realize there is a big competitive world out there beyond Westchester. The meets are a chance to race against new peers at impressive venues as an invaluable developmental step. And personally we always viewed some of these meets and opportunities as a reward for the kids who work so hard in the pool year round. It’s not quite like going to the beach with the family (ok nothing at all like that), but at least it can be fun to travel to a faraway place if the budget allows.

Badger and comparable programs operate as members of the USA Swimming organization (, “USAS”). USAS is the national governing body of competitive swimming in the US and is a highly structured organization with over 400,000 swimmers who participate on member swimming teams nation-wide. Member teams are further governed by geographic zones and local chapters, if you will. Badger is a member of Metropolitan Swimming encompassing the NYC metro, Westchester and Long Island areas (, within the Eastern Zone (Maine to Virginia). Meets and championships are held within these divisions as well (Zone Champs, Metro Champs, Junior Olympics). USAS also organizes the US National teams recognized by competing countries and ultimately the US and International Olympic Committees. USAS, itself, subscribes to the international governing body of swimming, the Federal Internationale de Natation, or FINA, (

USAS is dedicated to a fundamental and developmental approach to swimming and competing. After the promotion of learning how to swim and building a base for organized swimming, USAS promotes and facilitates competitive swimming, but again, with a relative and developmental focus – thus the concept of qualifying times: B, BB, A, AA, AAA, AAAA, etc. in that graduated order. The time standards are an attempt to provide for competition amongst comparable abilities and levels. Those competing within a time standard push each other to graduate to the next level. Once you make the next level, generally you can’t go back to the lower level meets. So the purpose is not only to create relative, comparable and fair competition, but to also encourage goal setting and natural measurable progression within the sport. In fact, the title of the following summary time standard document is “Motivational Times” – these are the latest time standards I could find on the USAS website: Click Here. 

If you are a registered member of USAS (which you probably are as a Badger), I believe all of your times from sanctioned meets are forever chronicled and automatically categorized by the time standards your swimmer has achieved, ultimately to the point of national rankings, and even world rankings by FINA. Your coaches use these to enter your kids in the various meets requiring (or prohibiting) certain time standards. Look up your times here.

In general, USAS offers a lot of resources and links found on their web site, including the articles for parents I often refer to.

To me, your kids’ basic awareness of how they stand in the local, Metro, Zone and national ranks, is generally a positive thing if taken, like many things, in moderation. As mentioned in a previous letter, kids (and parents!) can drive themselves crazy obsessing about some of this stuff which I think can be unnecessarily stressful for all. I think the coaches might even go further and tell the kids to just put their heads down, do the work, and good things will come. I do believe it can be beneficial to have the awareness of how your peers are doing nationwide to keep the level of aspiration and goal setting high. It brings tangible relevance to John’s old adage that Badgers should never be just satisfied with local success. By the way, I personally have always believed there is absolutely nothing wrong with that local success as its nice for these hard working kids to get some recognition every once and awhile. But John’s point, which I agree with, is not to be satisfied with just the local success and that the end game can be national and international competition if that’s what the swimmer aspires to and works hard for.

Moving along….You can include YMCAs and the NCSA into what I’m calling the national leagues as well. YMCAs often have pools as a part of their facilities so naturally they have various instructional swimming programs.  Large or interested memberships might also host their own competitive swim teams.   Local examples are the Rye and Greenwich Ys.   These YMCA teams often dual each other during (winter training) spring and summer seasons often within local geographies.  The YMCA also holds annual short course spring and long course summer national championships I believe for Y members only.

According to their website – “The NCSA (National Club Swimming Association) is a private non-profit organization for professionally coached swimming clubs and professional club swimming coaches in the United States of America. It is not an organization for all swimming clubs and swimming coaches in the United States. The NCSA is for swimming clubs and club coaches that are independently organized and operated, not being under the direct control of any other institution”. I am frankly not that familiar with the NCSA and really don’t know of any local clubs. One prevailing belief I have heard is that the NCSA took ownership of a popular national competition time slot in the spring when the USAS moved juniors and nationals from the spring to winter. Again the National and Jr National NCSA champs I believe are for member clubs only. I do believe both NCSA and YMCA swimmers can compete in USAS events if they are registered members.

Finally….International Swimming
The obvious international competitions include USAS Jr. National and National team members. The US Junior team is selected from the top 6 long course times by American kids 18 and under in each Olympic event following the summer season. These times can come from any number of USAS and FINA sanctioned events including, those held by YMCAs and the NCSA. The US National team generally includes the top 6 American finishers at the annual US long course Nationals. Examples of international meets attended by national team members include last summer’s Pan Pacific Games in Australia, Youth Olympic Games in China and Open Water World Champs in Hungary.

National clubs like Badger may sometimes strive to introduce their kids to international competition sooner than later. Badger believes strongly in expanding horizons even further with international competition. John has taken a team to Geneva, Switzerland for the European age group champs off and on for many years, for example. Many members of various European Junior National teams attend this meet. In addition, we are very lucky New York is so relatively close to Toronto and Montreal where Badger has attended meets for years, including at the awesome site of the 1976 Montreal Olympics. In addition to learning how to swim fast on these new stages against rising international stars, the kids can also experience interesting things like putting mayonnaise on French fries and walking through an international Jazz festival on the way to a meet.

One final, final after thought regarding the basics… International swimming is predominantly held in 50 meter long course pools with short course 25 meters thrown in seasonally in the winter and spring. The summer Olympics are long course meters. Thus USAS national teams and competitions are based on long course in the summer. Winter and spring swimming in the US is predominantly short course 25 yards, mirroring the traditional Collegiate swimming venue and seasons. Consequently, the summer Badger season is generally long course 50 meters, while winter and spring competitions are short course 25 yards. Having said all of this, it is not uncommon for coaches to want to train the kids long course as much as possible year round, or even hold long course meets “out of season” (like Rutgers). It is actually a real advantage to be able to train long course as much as possible to enable the kids to keep the feel for the longer distance and position them well for the all-important long course summer season. And of course the coaches like the kids to get in that extra mileage when they can as well!

That’s way too much for now…sorry so long.
Remember, most of these letters are written in response to emailed questions. Please keep them coming.


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.

Holiday Training

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Michael Conaton:

Seems to be a contradiction…For a swimmer one of the most joyous and festive times of the year can also be the most brutal time of the year for training. The extended school holiday situated at the perfect 2-3 months before championship season, makes for a coach’s dream. This is an ideal time for double workouts and longer sets to help the swimmers build their aerobic and endurance based foundations. As your swimmer gets older, Holiday Training can become more and more challenging. This week’s articles are offered to provide a couple different perspectives.

At a certain point during this week, it could be a natural reaction for your kids to wonder if the Badger coaches might actually be crazy. Do they really think the kids can do that set? Yes they do…and they’re not alone. The first article is about one of the greatest coaches of all time, Eddie Reese at the University of Texas. Eddie has won 10 NCAA team titles and has coached 29 Olympians to 39 Gold medals. The article touches on some of his beliefs and training philosophies. No surprise these are similar to those at Badger as Eddie and John Collins are contemporaries and friends. It’s no coincidence, for example that Badger Hall of Famer Rick Carey matriculated from Badger to Texas and swam so well during college, and went on to win his Olympic gold medals with John later in 1984. John’s son Wyatt is also currently a coach with Eddie at Texas. The article explains that Eddie (and many coaches including those at Badger) believe in building a strong aerobic background. Distance and repetition is one way to do this. I got a kick out of reading that some of the world’s best sprinters and stroke specialists of all time were not allowed to leave the distance lane at Texas until they reached a certain goal time in the 500 free.

The other major take away from this article is the concept that swimmers’ bodies can only make changes if they are under stress. Heart rates, muscle fatigue and pain thresholds, are all physical barriers to be tested under the duress of hard and intense training. How can your swimmer expect their bodies (hearts, muscles, lungs, etc.) to reach a certain apex in a race unless they push those limits in practice? So the article serves to not only attempt to explain some of the reasons for intense workouts, but also substantiates and corroborates certain Badger philosophies and practices that have produced nine Olympians of their own over time.

The second article is about Jim Steen, the legendary coach of Kenyon College from 1976-2012. Jim won over 50 NCAA Division III titles, and coached over 150 NCAA champs and over 300 All Americans at Kenyon. I like this article in the context of Holiday Training Week for some tips on the mental aspect of tough training. The article suggests the kids have a choice of approaching a hard set as either a threat or a challenge. Your kids picked swimming because they love to challenge themselves. When this is done in partnership with the coach as the article mentions Jim’s kids did, there can be a lot of success. The article’s message is for the kids to believe in their coach, believe in themselves and their ability to challenge themselves. So as painful as Holiday Training might be, remind your swimmers that the coaches know what they’re doing and that the tough sets are truly for their own good and best managed head on.

Finally I was lucky to attend the Golden Goggles Awards in New York City a few weeks ago. Let’s just say I can’t believe how far swimming has come over time. TV and Broadway stars complimented the presentations to this year’s top performers from USA Swimming. Lots of flash for sure but I have to admit, impressive as well. Towards the beginning of the ceremonies, the current USA National Team was introduced to the huge crowd, including new American Record holder, Badger’s own Cody Miller. Later in the program, an honored presenter of one of the actual awards was Badger alumna Cristina Teuscher. Many Badger families met Cristina this summer at the Lantin Family’s end of year picnic and know of her Olympic medals in 1996 and 2000 (not to mention her NCAA titles while at Columbia). Cristina was joined at the podium by Fordham Prep and Harvard grad Bobby Hackett who won a silver medal in the 1976 Olympics. It was very special and heartfelt that during their presentations both Christina and Bobby gave tribute to their respective coaches, John Collins and Joe Bernal from Harvard at the time. Suffice to say that Badger was very well represented that night.

See Eddie Reese’s article and Jim Steen’s article.

Here’s wishing everyone Happy Holidays! We’re thankful for a great 2014 and look forward to an even better 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.

Badger wins first place in men’s and second in combined at Oklahoma Pro-Am

Pictured Above: David Bravo, Nathalie Eid, Ian Bidwell and Garrett Towne

Badger Swim Club placed first in the men’s events and second in combined scoring at the 23rd Oklahoma Elite Pro Am in Edmond, Oklahoma.

Complete results are posted on and meet mobile.

During the meet, Badger swimmer Cody Miller broke the American and U.S. Open Records in the 50 yard breaststroke. Well done!

Greats swims from Cody Miller, Lindsay Vrooman, Ryan Feeley, Derek Toomey, James Wells, Emily McClellan, Ian, Nathalie, Anina, Josh, David, Garrett, Alexa, Haofeng, Riley, Seth, and Liam. Congratulations to all that attended.

Next stop BAC’s Cera Ve at Rutgers and the 2015 CIG in Geneva at Geneve Natation 1885.