PARENT EDUCATION – July–October 2009

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October 2009

Participation in Activities Offers Benefits

High school athletes have higher grades and lower dropout rates and attend college more often than nonathletes. - Women’s Sports Foundation Survey

Students who participate in activities average 3.32 GPA while non-participants average 2.48. Further, participants miss an average of 4.9 days of school (including .7 for activities), while non-participants miss 10.8 days per year. - North Dakota High School Activities Association

Grade-point averages of athletes improve the grade-point average of the general student population in every school in every category (in-season, out-of-season, minority).- South Bend, IN Community Schools

“High-activity” students (those involved in four or more activities) average 3.05 GPA, while “low-activity” students averaged 2.54 GPA. -Indiana University study

Athletes averaged 86 percent compared to 79 percent for the general population (based on 4.0 GPA as 100 percent). Athletes averaged four absences versus seven for the general population. Eleven percent of the athletes had discipline referrals, compared to 25 percent of the general population. No athletes dropped out of school, while 3.7 percent of the general population dropped out. - Randolph County (N.C.) Schools

University of Chicago research suggests: A) By a two-to-one margin for males and a three-to-one margin for females, student-athletes do better in school, do not dropout and have a better chance to get through college. B) Student-athletes take average and above average courses. C) Student-athletes’ parents are more involved with their educational process. D) Student-athletes tend to focus more on long-term life accomplishments than short-term goals. E) Student-athletes are more self-assured. F) Ninety-two percent of participants do not use drugs. G) Ninety-five percent of school principals believe activities programs contribute to the development of “school spirit” among the student body. - Indiana University study

Extracurricular participation is a school’s best predictor of an adult’s success. - ”Fulfilling lives-Paths to Maturity
and Success” by Douglas H. Health, based on a 40-year survey

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Coffee and Caffeine

By Keith B. Wheeler, Ph.D. And Angeline M. Cameron

Q: Will a cup of caffeinated coffee enhance athletic performance? Does caffeine have any undesirable side affects? Why do so many people drink coffee?

A: No, consuming one cup of caffeinated coffee will not enhance athletic performance. Some studies have suggested that caffeine will enhance performance under certain circumstances (ie, short-term high-intensity or long-term moderate-intensity exercise). However, most studies have demonstrated no effect of caffeine on endurance and performance. In the studies that suggest an effect, the caffeine consumption usually exceeded 400 mg before exercise. To get this level of caffeine, you would have to consume approximately 4 cups (5 oz) of caffeinated coffee, 12 cups (5 oz) of tea, or 3 quarts of cola.

Consuming caffeine can have some undesirable side effects, including increased heart rate, digestive secretions, breathing rate, and urine output. Caffeine also affects the central nervous system by increasing restlessness. Other side effects include headaches, irritability, insomnia, diarrhea, hyperactivity, and depression. Keep in mind also that caffeine is recognized as a stimulant by the International Olympic Committee, and if present in excessive amounts is considered a banned substance.

Most people drink coffee because they like the taste, and it is a socially acceptable ritual.

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The Purpose of Travel Meets for Swim Teams

Many parents do not understand why coaches want athletes to travel to “away” meets, sometimes including overnight meets. There are several reasons, but one very large performance reason. Let me explain.

The key is to watch what your child does when they attend a local swim meet. The first thing they do, is go and get a… heat sheet… right? And then they scour the heat sheet for their own names and their position relative to their competitors. Because… they know who their competitors are… they see them meet after meet, after meet. And what goes on in our swimmer’s head (let’s call her Betsy) when she does the heat sheet scour…???

“Well, lets see. Suzie’s here, Mary is here, oh my gosh, Sarah is here, I can’t stand that girl… and she always beats me… and here’s Kelly, seeded below me, why would she put in that slow time? She usually beats me, so let’s see, I’ll be… fifth.”

Now, an hour or two later, and our heroine dives in the pool in the 100 free. With brilliant coaching and an even more impressive gene selection from Mom and Dad, she executes a perfect racing dive and streaks to the 25 turn wall, where she turns first, then sneaks a quick peek… “wow! I’m ahead.” Then pushes on towards the fifty wall… amazingly, our Betsy is still on the lead. Now, off the 50 wall, she is so amazed by her own performance she takes a slightly longer look at her no-longer-so-commanding lead, so she can reassure herself that she is still “out there.” By the 75 wall, her lead has shrunk to inches, as the other swimmers realize that the established pecking order is being disrupted and swim harder. Betsy, now wondering exactly what she will say to all these acquaintances of hers once she has beaten them, and “will they still like me anyway?,” begins to lose focus and slide back into her accustomed place in the pack. By the end of the race, she has creatively found a way to slide all the way back to 5th. She gets out happy to have led for awhile; she has that to talk about, but is happier that the natural order of finish in the kingdom of pre-adolescent girls has not been disrupted. In other words, she is comfortable once again.

Mom and Dad say, “dang, if only she was getting a little better coaching, she’d be beating all those girls.” Coach says, “doggone, with all those sprint genes from mom and dad, it’s hard to get her to finish a race big.”

And Betsy says “that wasn’t so bad, sort of fun, really. Now, where is Suzie, I really ought to go congratulate her.”

Now, after some of this, the smart coach will say to the parent group, “parent group, it is time to go to an out-of-town meet.”
“A what?”
“A meet out-of-town. You know, we get a bus, the kids all travel together, and we go as a team to another area and swim in a meet.”
“Isn’t that expensive?”
“Well, it will be about $20 a child for the bus, another $25 a child for Saturday night in a hotel, and maybe $50 for food, so all in all, just about a hundred dollars.”
“A hundred dollars! Heck, Betsy can’t beat the other girls here in our local area, what does she need to go to a meet like that for?”

Now the coach needs to know the answer… and here it is…

When Betsy swims against people she knows, she has pre-ordained expectations. And she finds ways to make those expectations come true. What she needs, is a chance for a breakthrough performance, to let her believe some new things about herself. So how does a travel meet do that?

Betsy reads the heat sheet… “yup, here I am, Betsy Worangle, 100 free, at 57.89, just a little slower than my best time… yep, I’m in here.” And then what?

She doesn’t know another name in the program. She has no idea where she fits in. So she does what? She just goes out and swims as fast as she can… no pre-conceived notions to live up to… just swim fast. Lo and behold, 56.44, 2nd place.

56.44 would have won at home. But Betsy could not get that out of herself when she had social and athletic expectations to live down to in the meet at home. On the road, she can just “go for it.” And she does. The tremendous advantages of swimming where you don’t know anyone.

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September 2009

The Positive Attitude

Written by Forbes Carlile, Head Coach of the Carlile School of Swimming and Head Coach of numerous Australian Olympic Teams. His book, “Forbes Carlile on Swimming” was the first modern book on competitive swimming.

Just as it is of utmost importance that coaches must be continually positive and optimistic, so too must parents. It has been said that 95% of us are predominantly negative in our approach to life—so most of us have a problem!

These notes are equally applicable to parents, and if not understood and acted upon by the whole swimming family, swimmers will be greatly handicapped, and not reach full potential. Being critical, no matter how much it may seem justified to the parents (“who have spent so much money and time”) is clearly a negative approach with a strongly undermining effect. When constructive criticism is needed to form the foundations of a revised plan for improvement, parents should express their ideas to the coaches. The secure coach will be able to handle such help. Most coaching organizations welcome constructive criticism, presented in the right way at the appropriate time.

Parents should continually protect the swimmers from the damaging input of negative thoughts. If they can make a habit of always being positive and only foreseeing success, swimmers will be given the greatest opportunity to transcend existing performance levels. Clearly, the training must be as good as well, but where, in addition, an atmosphere is of positive self-expectancy continually promoted by coaches and family, even when progress seems to be slow and the going difficult, swimmers will have the right mental approach. While doing their best to carry out all aspects of preparation well, swimmers will learn to regard themselves as winners, and eventually succeed in reaching realistic goals. The chances of this diminish greatly when parents, often because personal shortcomings (in having a pessimistic, negative nature) continually remind a child of the lack of improvement or failure to come up to expectations. Swimmers should continually be programming their subconscious by positive self-talk and visual imagery of success. This task should be made easy by reinforcing positive vibrations around them.

It is important for the swimmers to know that they are loved no matter what their swimming performance. The negative fear of failure is mush less likely to develop when parents emphasize their love and compassion.

When setbacks occur, the attitude of parents and coaches must express the idea…”Well, you did not do as well as you are capable of this time, but next time it will be better”…positive self-expectancy and optimism. This helps the programming of the subconscious mind that we should be striving for. The coach and swimmer should analyze and determine what can be improved and positive action taken. Parents, above all, should be the least critical and never suggest that what has happened is more than a temporary setback. If such principles are applied to all our thinking we might well improve our lives too. It is not only the swimming development of the child that parents can help by the right psychological approach. We can all benefit greatly.

The parents eventual reward for their sacrifices of time and money will be when the grown-up, mature swimmers realize that their parents have played an important part in their success as a swimmer, and as an individual, by giving them the opportunity to train without attempting to intrude, or basking in reflected glory.

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Burnout Or Choice

Coach Garry Nelson, formerly of the Plantation Swim Team, in Plantation FL advocates a broader perspective on one of the most common self-criticisms of age group swimming.

The term "burnout" is widely used in the sport of swimming. Many swimmers quit swimming every year. Many coaches and parents believe it is caused by burnout. The Physician and Sportsmedicine in a recent article, described burnout as "loss of energy and enthusiasm for the sport but that it is not caused by anxiety and stress. Sure, all of us have known that certain parent or coach who puts excessive pressure on a child to win or set records. Most of those swimmers quit because they no longer can handle the pressure and they need to quit because they need to get away from its cause. That is burnout.

At the Plantation Swim Team (Florida), we have approximately 30% to 35% turnover in our membership each year. I would think that our club is very close to the national average (Editor's note: U.S. Swimming Domestic Technical Director Bob Steele cites an average annual turnover of 33% of registered swimmers). People associated with swimming, group all of these swimmers as burnout. In fact, very few of these swimmers are really burnout cases.

There are hundreds of reasons why young people quit swimming. I believe that most swimmers who are no longer swimming quit because they are no longer improving as fast as they used to, and the results are no longer worth the time and commitment. Throughout my coaching experience, I know that I have had my fair share of swimmers leave the sport. Looking back, I can remember very few that I would consider in the burnout category. For example, if a swimmer is very successful as a young swimmer and has achieved success with limited commitment and a modest workload, when the swimmer begins to get older he or she must increase his or her commitment to remain successful. The athlete may not want to put the required time into the sport. At that point they face a choice of working harder, scaling back their goals, or doing something else with their time. But that's not burnout, it is rather a choice.

Not every young person who has left swimming is a burn-out case. Most young people who have left our sport, have simply exercised their freedom of choice.

In conclusion, let's limit our use of the term burnout, which is giving swimming a bad name. Coaches should strive to make their programs more creative and appealing to minimize loss of interest. Parents and coaches should know when to make kids work and when to let them play and not be afraid to have some fun. The next time you use the term burnout to describe a swimmer who has quit the sport, think again. Maybe they didn't burn out, maybe they just chose to stop swimming.

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The Parent and the Coach

Reprinted from Hannula’s Hints, Written by Dick Hannula.

A very common topic in any swim coaches’ chat session is parent involvement. Most coaches agree that the parents do present a definite factor in the success or failure of their swimmers. More than one coach has changed jobs because of parent involvement and usually it has been a negative experience for the coach who has made this change. I have heard coaches compliment a great swimmer with the remark that the swimmer has “great parents”. I am quite certain that you have also heard coaches describe a swimmer as having “lousy parents?” Is there something that coaches can do to encourage parents to become “good swimming parents”?

Some parents give coaches ulcers, a lack of job security, a lack of confidence, and a general case of jitters. This is true, and many coaches have tuned in a deaf ear to parents over the years. Are there general characteristics that describe “good parents”? The American Swimming Coaches Association asked some of the most successful coaches about the “ideal swimming parents”.

“The ideal swimming parent is one who supports and encourages his child without pressure.” -- Richard Quick, former United States Olympic Head Coach.

“The ideal parents are the parents who follow and don’t lead”. -- Peter Daland, Former USC Head Coach and two-time United States Olympic Coach.

“The ideal swimming parent supports, backs, and listens. This parent understands long range goals. This parents sees beyond today.” -- Dick Jochums, Head Coach, Santa Clara Swim Club. Dick has coached several Olympic swimmers.

“The ideal parent is usually someone who has dealt with children other than his own, such as a school teacher or a coach. The parents are not as emotionally involved as intelligently involved. The parents also realize that there is much more to learn than just swimming fast.” -- Jack Nelson, former US Olympic Coach.

“The ideal swimming parent is one who supports their child as a person, not as a swimmer.” -- Jonty Skinner, former World Record Holder.

The kids who perform the best are the ones with supportive parents who let the coach have control of the child’s swimming career.” -- John Collins, Badger Swim Club Head Coach. 1983 ASCA Coach of the year.

“It is important for the parents to be physically, mentally, and financially supportive of their youngster. The parents should support the interest and well being of their children.” -- Don Gambril, Past University of Alabama Head Coach and 1984 Head Olympic Coach.

“The ideal swim parent needs to have a sense of humor and is primarily interested in the development of his child as a person, not a swimmer.” -- John Leonard, ASCA Director and former Lake Forest Swim Team Head Coach

“Some kids may perform better for a while with harassment and pressure from parents, but in the long run. It is best if the swimmer develops his/her own goals and discipline”. -- Rob Orr, Princeton University Head Coach.

“An ideal swimming parent is someone who realizes his child’s limitations as well as his achievements. The parent is supportive but not demanding and loves the child whether he wins, loses or draws.” -- Penny Taylor, Past Parkway Swim Club Head Coach and Former ASCA Board Member.

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Breakfast on the Run

by Carol Bozarth, R.D., L.D., Nutritionist

"I don't have time to eat before I leave for school."
"I'm not hungry in the morning."  
"I'm dieting, I'll skip a meal and save those calories."

Do your children (or you) use these excuses to avoid eating breakfast? Do they routinely "grab" a doughnut, danish, or candy bar to carry them through till lunch? Change this behavior NOW!

Breakfast is an important meal! The human body needs fuel to run on. That's what food provides. Studies continue to support the fact that individuals learn, think and perform better when their body has been nourished in the morning. A morning meal doesn't mean you need to eat as soon as you awake. For parents, it may be more convenient for you to eat once you are at your day's destination, provided you make time for it.

What would a morning meal contain?

Protein:  low fat milk, cheese or yogurt, lean ham, turkey, peanut butter (use natural), egg white, (the cholesterol and fat is in the yolk - the white is pure protein)
Grains: breakfast cereals (hot or cold - provided it is not sugar coated), bread, rolls, crackers, bagel, english muffins, rice, pasta
Fruit/Vegetable: fruit or vegetable juice, fresh frozen or dried fruit

The following are examples of quick-to-prepare, easy-to-eat morning meals:
low fat cheese and tomato sandwich (can be stuffed into a pocket pita)
peanut butter and sliced apple or banana sandwich
sliced egg (or egg white sandwich)
lean ham or turkey sandwich with sliced tomatoes
yogurt with fruit and dry cereal as a topping
reheated pizza

Additional tips:
Use disposable plates, cups, flatware
Plan for breakfast before going to bed
Wake up 10 minutes may create less stress and make the morning meal so much easier to swallow

The key to eating breakfast is convenience. It must be easy to prepare, you must have the ingredients in stock, and the clean up must be minimal. Most important, everyone must like what they are going to eat.

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The Nature of a Judgment Call

Guy Edson, ASCA Staff

For nearly every decision regarding age group swimming development there is little or no scientific evidence for making a decision one way or another. How then can a decision be made and who is best suited to make that decision? In most cases, the coach is best suited to make decisions about age group swimming development. That is why a club hires a coach -- to coach and make decisions. Additionally, most clubs, through the Board of Directors, give the coach the authority to make decisions. This authority is usually expressed in a contract or in a written job description. Unfortunately, it is sometimes given only verbally and as Boards of Directors change, unwritten authorities also change, placing the coach in a difficult situation. It also needs to be pointed out that a coach needs the freedom to make an error in judgment occasionally without fear that he will lose his job. People learn from making errors. John Kennedy said, "An error doesn't become a mistake unless you fail to correct it." Judgment errors rarely result in a long term effect of preventing an athlete from reaching their ultimate athletic goals.

Situation: A parent of a 10 year old wants their child to swim with the 12 year olds (who are doing 2000 - 3000 meters a day more than the 10 year olds). The parent points out that their 10 year old is faster than some of the 12 year olds. The coach disagrees. Although there is no evidence he is aware of that says it is bad for a 10 year old to do 5000 meters a day he still does not want a 10 year old doing 5000 meters a day. Why? Based upon his experience coaching age group swimmers, he feels that young swimmers need new challenges from season to season in order to stay motivated and need a steady progression of increased work load. He has seen young swimmers who do too much too soon drop out of the sport before they have a chance to reach their full potential. He has even seen it happen to swimmers in his programs early in his career when he gave up trying to educate a parent and allowed a swimmer into a group they should not have been in. He says it doesn't matter that they are capable of doing more work, what matters is that when they are given tomorrow at the expense of losing today they lose the chance to be the leader of 10 year olds and all the fun of being with children their own age.

Why would a parent disagree? Each of you may have your own reasons but the reasons I hear most often are "My child wants to be with the older swimmers to do more child wants to be a state child is bored in the 10 and under group." Two comments: I am always suspect of whether or not the child truly wants it or if they are just reflecting what Mom and Dad really want. Young swimmer's try so hard to please their parents. The second comment is, there is a difference between want and need.

How does a parent decide when a 9 year old should go to bed? Is there conclusive scientific evidence that says a 9 year old should go to bed at a specific time or sleep for a specific number of hours? There are probably guidelines written down somewhere but no definitive answers. The child WANTS to stay up until 10:00 but you, as the adult, make your judgment based upon what you feel are the child's NEEDS and your experience. Quite simply, this is a judgment call and the parent is best suited to make this decision.

Dr. Ken Low, director of Action Studies Institute, a think tank focused on adaptive intelligence, says that one of the most disturbing trends of the 80's was the stripping away of peoples freedom within institutions to make judgments. People are given rules and not allowed to use their own powers of reasoning to make exceptions when exceptions are due. We need coaches in this country to have the freedom and the Board-given authority to make judgment calls on age group development issues. This is how new ideas are formed. This is how programs progress into the future.

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August 2009

The Importance of Fluid Replacement During Training for Age Group Swimmers

By Dr. Keith B. Wheeler, Ph.D. and Angeline M. Cameron

Question: Can age group swimmers dehydrate during a 1 1/2-hour swimming workout? Does the temperature of the water alter the situation? How often, how much, and what should a swimmer drink to prevent dehydration?

Answer: Yes, dehydration, or a lowering of body-water levels significantly below normal, can occur in swim workouts of 45 minutes or longer. The body continues to lose water through sweat even when submerged in water. Also, a lot of additional water is lost through increased breathing.

The temperature of the water can affect the amount of water loss, with higher water temperatures causing greater body-water losses. Although research hasn't been done specifically with varying water temperatures, similar changes in body-water loss occur when air temperatures varies. Water loss in sweat increases approximately 13% for each degree centigrade (7% per degree Fahrenheit) increase above ambient air temperature. Thus, if a swimmer normally loses 2 pounds of weight (body water) during a 1 1/2-hour workout at a given temperature, a 5 degree F increase in water temperature would increase the body-water losses to 3 pounds. In the warmer water, the swimmer would need to drink an additional 16 ounces of fluid to maintain the same hydration level as in the cooler water.

Swimmers should plan to drink 16 ounces of fluid for each pound of weight lost during a workout. Fluid should be drunk over an entire workout, that is, 8 ounces of fluid should be drunk every 15 minutes. Water is a good source of fluid; however, glucose-polymer-electrolyte solutions such as EXCEED (R) Fluid Replacement & Energy Drink have been proven superior to plain water in maintaining body-water balance during many forms of exercise. Drinks containing simple sugar such as colas, thirst quenchers, and fruit juices, should not be drunk during a workout.

Editors Note on August 17, 2009: The above article was written during the time that Swim Parent News was sponsored by Ross Laboratories, makers of Exceed. There are many fluid replacement sports drinks on the market at this time and ASCA encourages coaches and parents to make informed decisions as to which brand may be appropriate for the use of the athletes. Here is another article from the internet. If you click on the link and follow the story to the end you will find a chart comparting a number of fluid replacement drinks.

Nutrition and the Athlete: Fluid Replacement

By Linda Boeckner, Extension Nutrition Specialist, University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center

Of all nutritional concerns for athletes the most critical is proper fluid hydration. One of the key functions of fluid for the athlete is for body temperature control. Lack of this element above all others can hinder performance and lead to more serious complications.

A fluid loss of as little as 2-3 percent of body weight impairs performance. Fluid losses of 7-10 percent of body weight will lead to heat stroke and death. For a 150-pound person, a 2-3 percent fluid loss equates to 3 to 4 1/2 pounds of body weight. Read more by clicking here.

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Reprinted from the Mayo Clinic Nutrition Letter *

It's 5 o'clock and dinner won't be ready for another hour. But you're hungry now. A bag of chips sits on the counter. There's nothing in the refrigerator but a few wilted carrot sticks and limp stalks of celery. Temptation strikes

The real problem with snacking is not when you snack or even if you snack -- but what you choose to eat. Whether you buy your snacks ready-made or make them at home, the trick is to steer clear of excess fats and sugar. To do that, surround yourself with plenty of good-tasting foods rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber. Create an illusion of fat and calories by combining creamy and crunchy or chewy textures. And use a little imagination.

How to turn a potential liability into an asset

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 75 percent of women snack. Yet even routine snacking is not all bad. In fact, frequent mini-meals can be good for you. Here's how:

bulletblack Binge control -- If eating a bagel at 3 o'clock in the afternoon keeps you from eating second or third helpings at dinner, you may actually save calories. A 160-calorie bagel hardly compares to the 500 or so extra calories you may be tempted to devour because you're so hungry.

bulletblack Satisfaction for small appetites -- Young children's tiny stomachs can hold only small portions of food at one time.

Older adults who are less active and who burn fewer calories may also feel more comfortable eating smaller, more frequent meals.

bulletblack Extra energy and nutrients -- Traditional meals often lose out to busy schedules. A grab-and-go meal is often the difference between some nourishment and none at all.

Snacks rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber will give you immediate energy that has some staying power. A small amount of low-fat protein adds more sustained energy.

Snacks to pick and fix:

Good-for-you snacks start with a proper pantry. Stock your refrigerator and shelves with foods that are fast -- not fussy. These ideas for healthful snacks keep fat and calories at bay by maximizing whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Best of all, you can make them all in 10 minutes or less.

bulletblack Toast one-half whole-wheat English muffin. Top with Canadian bacon, tomato slice, low-fat American cheese. Microwave until cheese melts.

bulletblack Mash one-half banana into peanut butter and spread on a whole-grain bagel.

bulletblack Mix cold leftover chicken (or convenience-type chunk chicken), seedless green grapes, sunflower seeds, plain yogurt and a dash of curry powder. Stuff into a whole-wheat pita pocket.

bulletblack Spread one-half cinnamon-raison bagel with part-skim ricotta cheese. Top with apple slices.

bulletblack Layer soft mini corn or flour tortillas with shredded low-fat cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese. Microwave until cheese melts. Slice into bite-size pie shapes.

bulletblack Spread a brown rice cake with farmer cheese (similar to cottage cheese, but drier and firmer) and fresh strawberries or low-sugar spreadable fruit.

bulletblack Top a baked potato with plain yogurt and Cajun seasoning.

bulletblack Spread raisin toast with apple butter.

bulletblack Spread a slice of whole-grain crisp bread (wafer-thin cracker) with fruit-flavored low-fat yogurt.

* Reprinted from Mayo Clinic Nutrition Letter with permission of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Rochester, Minnesota, 55905.

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Balancing Breakfast Needs with Morning Workouts

By Keith B. Wheeler, Ph.D. and Angeline M. Cameron

Question: What do you suggest for a swimmer who cannot eat breakfast before a workout and immediately goes to school after the workout?

Answer: First, the swimmer needs to realize how important it is to get some nutrients (primarily carbohydrate and water) both before and after a morning workout. Research has conclusively shown that fasting will reduce both endurance and performance in a wide variety of activities.

If a swimmer gets up at 5:30 AM to workout without any nutritional support except when he or she ate the previous night (10 hours earlier), endurance and performance will likely be compromised. If the same swimmer then skips nutritional support after the workout, the day's subsequent activities could be quite stressful and cognitive abilities would be reduced.

Swimmers should try to consume at least 12 ounces of water or fluid and at least 100 grams of carbohydrate before a morning workout. A 12 ounce glass of orange juice or apple juice in addition to 3 bananas or 4 apples would supply this amount. If the athlete cannot tolerate solid foods during this period, complete liquid supplements (eg, Exceed\ Sports Nutrition Supplement) are excellent alternatives. One or two cans before and after a morning workout will help supply needed nutrients and water.

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July 2009

The Fallacy Of Age Group Rankings

This title is not really what you think it means. Those of you who are licking your chops saying, "Ah hah! ASCA thinks age group rankings are counterproductive!", are going to be disappointed.

The common and popular argument these days is that a fast swimmer at age ten is almost a contra‑indicator of later success. It is true that individually, this has some basis in statistical fact. A lot of early fast swimmers do so because they are physically mature and muscularly far in advance of their age peers. As their peers catch up, the early developers may become discouraged and drop out of the sport, or "not realize their early promise." This is a result of simple difference in the developmental rates of human beings, not the effects of early success in the sport.

Many coaches and some lay‑persons interpret this individual scenario to project a swimming wide trend. They then proceed to state in effect, "if early success is bad, let's not worry about how fast our age group swimmers swim.....let's not be concerned with producing fast age group swimmers."

Now there are two ways to interpret that approach. The first is the assumption that we will produce fast swimming by piling on a great deal of early physical work to the young child. This will certainly make them successful in relation to their more lightly trained peers. The second approach is to seek fast swimming through aerobic base training, and careful attention to detailed and thorough stroke instruction.

Far too often of late, we see whole LSC's or regions of the USA, where coaches are adopting the "don't worry about fast age group swimming" attitude....and then doing "lazy coaching"....not working either physically, or on technical excellence. Naturally, those areas don't produce fast age group swimming. The LSC coaches and lay persons then pat themselves on the back about how progressive they are.

Wait a second.

The same areas producing slow age group swimming, are also producing slow, (or no) Senior Swimming. And a few of these include areas of the USA which have previously been very productive in other decades. What was the point of de‑emphasizing age group swimming? I hear a small voice out there saying "Retention". You think so? Take a look at USA Swimming's retention statistics. There is no statistically significant difference between "fast" and "slow" swimming areas in terms of retention in the sport. (at least in USS swimming) We have poor retention in all parts of the USA.

Now, lets get back to the main point of all this. Areas with fast senior swimming also have fast age group swimming. There are sociological reasons for this, of course, but there also are swimming dynamic reasons.

The primary reason among these is also the simplest. Area "B" has two young swimmers. John Jones is a super‑developed 10 year old, ranked in 6 events in the National Top 16, and a super stud in the ASCA Age Group Motivational Times rankings. Billy Bullwinkle is the original 46 pound weakling at age 10. Billy never beats John, but he sees him win all the time, and swim fast. He aspires to be like John.

At age 12, Billy is starting to catch John both physically, and in the water. Since Billy couldn't win (ever) at age ten, or get ranked anywhere, he concentrated on learning good strokes from a caring coach, who knew that later Billy would grow. Now Billy is growing, and getting faster, and still chasing John.

By age 15, John is swimming marginally well in the 50 free, and Billy is maturing into a lean, mean, lanky 400 meter freestyler and IM'er. By age 17, Bill is swimming well at Senior Nationals, in the NAG Top 16, and John might be on his high school team, or out of the sport.

Now, did John help the sport of swimming in his area? You bet he did! He provided the incentive and the measuring stick of excellence that Bill chased in his years as a developing swimmer. If there were no fast early developers, exactly where would the stimulus come from for the later developers to get better? How would they measure excellence?

Let's stop taking individual cases, and acting as if they compose the collective development of an area. We all develop to exactly the degree that others around us stimulate us to reach. Great Age Group Swimming (done the proper way, with great mechanics and aerobic base) later provides great senior swimming, even if it is not in the same individuals. Observe our nation, and the relative strengths of age group and senior swimming. Fast swimming begets more fast swimming. It's been that way since the beginning of age group swimming, and it is still that way today, and will be tomorrow. Let's work for fast, appropriate age group swimming at all ages, and stop using the bugaboo of age group rankings to explain our failures.

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Are Ideal Weight Charts Meaningful

By Keith B. Wheeler, Ph.D. and Angeline M. Cameron

Question: A 10 year-old child who swims for times a week for 90 minutes weighs more than the published "ideal weight" for his age and height, but the child does not appear to be overweight. Are ideal weight charts meaningful? Should the child be placed on a diet?

Answer: Ideal weight charts are only applicable for people who are 18 years of age and older. Growth charts are used for people younger than 18 years. Growth charts express a percentile rank of height, weight, or height-to-weight ratio. Using growth charts, doctors can compare a child's development growth pattern with population norms. Just because a child is in the 95th percentile for weight does not necessarily indicate that the child is overweight. It is possible for a child 10 to 12 years of age to drop from the 95th percentile of weight to the 50th percentile during 1 year of rapid growth. A child who is in the upper percentiles of weight should not automatically be placed on a diet. A restrictive diet could be more harmful than helpful for a child who is preparing for puberty. If they feel that their child is overweight, the parents should discuss the issue with their child's doctor; but, if the child does not appear to be overweight, chances are that he or she is not.

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Join Swim Team to Lose Weight?

By Guy Edson

Question: We are signing up our 10 year old boy for the swim team to lose weight. What can we expect?

Answer: Losing weight requires a combination of exercise and calorie reduction through controlled and monitored dieting. Of the two: dieting and exercise -- dieting is by far the most important element. Exercise is great for improving cardio-vascular fitness and strength, but as a weight loss tool, falls far short of most people’s expectations.

Continuous moderate freestyle swimming for a child weighing 130 to 150 pounds will burn about 500 calories per hour. If the child attends 5 practices of 1 hour each that would be 2500 calories. To lose one pound of weight, a person needs to burn 3500 calories so that would take about 7 practices or about a week and a half.

However, a novice swimmer is not going to be swimming moderate freestyle continuously for an hour. There is going to be a lot of stroke work, easy swimming, and waiting for their turn. A novice swimmer might be burning 250 calories an hour which means it will take 14 practices, or almost three weeks, to burn off 1 pound.

So the answer to what can you expect is this: Expect a very slow reduction in weight – and ONLY if the child doesn’t increase their caloric intake.

My strongest recommendation is to get with a pediatrician or a licensed dietitian to recommend, monitor and control your child’s diet. Dieting is the primary means of losing weight.

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Race Day Fuel: A Winner’s Breakfast

By Melanie McMullen // correspondent

What a swimmer puts into his or her body before competition is almost as critical as what they put into training before a meet. To find out what foods are optimal race fuel, Swimnetwork checked in for advice from two sports nutrition experts: Barbara Lewin, RD, LD, and owner of Sports Nutritionist,and Kathleen Laquale, PhD, ATC, LAT, LDN and professor at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts.

Here are some tips from the experts:

1. Not everyone should eat like Mike. While Michael Phelps’ famous 12,000 calorie-a-day diet that (supposedly) includes three fried breakfast sandwiches, chocolate chip pancakes, five-egg omelets, grits and French toast may work for him, nutritionists hesitate to endorse it for race day.

If the typical swimmer ate what Phelps eats, “they’ll feel like a wet potato sack,” says Lewin.

“Swimmers need the right kind of fuel to perform well,” she says, noting that the perfect race day meal is low in fat, low in fiber, and high in carbohydrates. Her recommendations include a bagel with jelly and a bit of peanut butter, or a couple slices of white toast with jelly and a banana, or a fruit smoothie.

She also recommends white vs. whole grain breads. While whole grains are healthier in general, they take longer to digest and can weigh a body down. A racing swimmer needs foods that get to the muscles as quickly as possible.

2. Practice your pre-race breakfast meal. Laquale recommends that swimmers “practice” using certain foods on high-intensity workout days to see how the body performs with specific breakfast foods.

“Swimmers should consume foods they enjoy and are familiar with, and they will know how their body will respond,” says Laquale. She recommends simulating the race time, too. For instance, if the morning heats start at 9 a.m., the swimmer would want to simulate competition on a practice day also at 9 a.m.

3. Even if you are a ball of nerves, don’t run on empty. Face it, everyone gets nervous before a race. The worst thing you can do to battle a nervous stomach is skip breakfast.

“You have to give yourself the endurance you need for competition,” says Lewin. “A swimmer who doesn’t eat will have zero energy.”

Laquale advises those who have nervous stomachs to try foods that are low in bulk and easily digested, such as Carnation Instant Breakfast or Boost. She also suggests that a sports bar - with two cups of water per bar - might be helpful.

4. Don’t sneak a Snickers. Swimmers may think that having a candy bar before an event will provide extra energy. Incorrect, according to Laquale. “I knew a swimmer who believed that. He did okay in the first heat, but by the second and third heat, performance deteriorated,” she says. Eating candy causes a quick rise in blood sugar level that spikes the release of insulin, leading to a feeling of fatigue.

5. Time your meals according to your race schedule. Lewin recommends having breakfast at least one hour before competition and bringing meals and snacks to eat at intervals throughout the day. “Plan ahead, and always have plenty of fluids and the right foods such as fruit or yogurt with you,” she says. She also recommends bringing energy bars or a favorite baked option such as banana bread.

Laquale suggests these foods (consumed 3 to 4 hours prior to meet): breakfast cereal with milk, or scrambled eggs and toast, or a bagel and banana. For 1 to 2 hours prior to competition: a fruit smoothie, or cereal bars and fruit, or breakfast cereal with milk. With less than one hour to competition, she suggests: sports drinks, carbohydrate gel, or sports bars (with two cups water per bar).

Melanie McMullen, BaySide Media (, is a freelance contributor for and a member of the Downtown Oakland YMCA Master’s swim team.

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The Coach Seems Harsh

Published by The American Club Swimming Association

“My child feels the coach is being excessively harsh on him. What can I, as a parent, do to help?”

Answered by: Coach Maureen Sheehan and Coach Mike Lawrence of the Lake Forest Swim Club, Lake Forest, Illinois.

Three very important relationships influence the success of any young swimmer’s career: The coach-athlete relationship, athlete-parent relationship and parent-coach relationship. In any problem situation, it is crucial to maintain the integrity of all aspects of the parent-coach-athlete relationship. Often it is a breakdown in communication that leads to a problem. Striving to reestablish clear lines of communication is the key to maintaining good relationships and providing opportunities for successful swimming careers.

Parents are the most important role models in a child’s life. The way that a parent handles a difficult situation will serve as a role model for the child. Problems provide opportunities for parents to teach children how to work through difficulties. It is important for a parent not to over react to a situation. If the child sees a lack of respect or support for the coach from his/her most important role model, the child will probably act in a similar fashion. Non-support of a coach as an initial reaction may irreparably damage the coach-athlete relationship.

How do parents show support for both the coach and their child at the same time? Take the role of a listener; the child needs to clearly describe the situation. This description is how the child feels he/she is being treated but is not necessarily a reflection of the coach’s intent.

Ask your child questions to help him/her think clearly about what actually is the problem. It is important for you to help the child achieve an objective view of the situation. Ask the child why the conflict is a problem and how it can be solved. Give suggestions and guidance but try to let the child solve the problem or conflict without interference.

Parents cannot solve their children’s problems, but they do need to make a limited assessment of the situation that assures the child mom/dad cares about them. Some very important but difficult learning experience takes place in youth athletic activities. Teaching a child about the relationship with the coach can go a long way towards easing problems in the future. Is the coach trying to encourage or motivate the child rather than pick on him/her? Is there something the child can do differently to encourage the coach to treat him/her in a specific way? What kind of treatment would be viewed as support?

Children need to learn to communicate with their coach at en early age. Encourage the child to ask questions and seek answers. This allows a child to learn about building strong relationships, in this case between the swimmer and the coach. A special meeting between the coach and the swimmer to discuss goals is an excellent step for the swimmer to initiate with the coach. This gives the coach an opportunity to let the athlete know what is expected of him/her and allows him/her to ask the coach for specific forms of support and encouragement. It is a chance for the coach and the athlete to determine a path they are going to take together.

If necessary a parents-coach meeting may be in order. These are best approached as discussions of how the child feels, which helps avoid possible conflicts over what was or was not said or done. Such discussions allow the parents and the coach to work together on a mutual goal!

Some dos and don’ts:

· Listen; pay attention to your child’s feelings
· Ask questions
· Make a limited assessment
· Try to help your child to work through this problem
· Work to see this problem solved in a positive manner for all involved
· Encourage your child to find his/her own answers
· Relate this to another area in life to help it be a growing experience
· Try to help build a positive image of the coach in the child’s mind
· Support the coach
· Support the child
· Follow-up with your child

· Overreact
· Make this a family crisis or team issue
· Create a situation that undermines your child’s respect for the coach
· Deal in comparisons with other swimmers
· Limit the coach-athlete relationship for the future

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Are All Efforts Good Efforts?

Published by The American Club Swimming Association

Concern: My 12 year old is a good swimmer who regularly places in the final 8 in several events at swim meets. The coach, however, is sometimes unsatisfied with my child's performance. I believe that all my son's efforts are good efforts, regardless of time or place. The coach should not be unsatisfied.

Response: Congratulations! You're right on! Your approach is outstanding for a parent. Why "for a parent"? Because the parental role is different from the coaching role in swimming. You are doing a perfect job of parenting -- unqualified support for your child's efforts. That is exactly as it should be, and your child should feel loved and respected for his efforts.

The coach, however, has a different role. The coach role is that of the technical evaluator. That is a role that a parents cannot, and should not play. As a technical evaluator, it is important that the coach never appear to be "satisfied" with a swim. The coach will typically make a "sandwich' of their comments. For example:

"John, that was a good swim, I really liked your turns, and the streamlining out of them. You were kind of slow on the 2nd and 3rd splits, then you did a good job of bringing it home."

Positive comment, correction, positive comment. Sometimes, it might be two corrections sandwiched around a compliment. In any case, this is the function of the coach. Your coach probably recognizes that you are already doing a good job reinforcing the positive things that are happening for your child, and feels free to evaluate the swim quite honestly.

You want the coach to do this evaluation because it tells the child that there is more that can be done to improve. What would be the purpose of telling someone, "John, that was perfect swim!" Perfect means there can be no more improvement!

The only problem I can see here is if the child is perceiving the post-race comments as negative only. If this is the case, the coach and athlete need to sit down and understand mutually what the purpose of pre and post race comments is.

Congratulations on your approach, its terrific!

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The Career Club Coach

Published by The American Club Swimming Association

I met with an old friend who was in town on business the other day. He's a parent of three memorable children I used to coach on a USS club team in the Midwest. It's a nice feeling to be the friend of a swimming parent.

I told him I enjoy working in my current position with ASCA but I nevertheless am looking forward to returning to coaching some day. He asked me what college division I was interested in. He was surprised to hear me say that I have no intention, either short term or long term, of coaching in college. He explained that he had assumed all coaches aspire to someday coaching in the college ranks.

I wonder how many parents assume their club coach is aiming at a college coaching career when in fact he or she wants to be a career club coach? The pinnacle of coaching is not necessarily college coaching. For many coaches, club coaching IS their chosen career and they want to stay right where they are at now.

Boards and parents groups might have a better working relationship with the coach if they realized that the coach is not necessarily using the program as a stepping stone.

The coaches of the 90's seek stability. Read that, "stay-ability". They want to be part of a community, they want a home for their family, and they want to lead the program to success at all levels. They do not want to move to a new program and new town every two years or so.

Where does "stay-ability" come from? At ASCA we believe it comes from two areas. First, it comes from the improved ability of the head coach to LEAD the program.

The coach of the 90's must be able to administrate as well as coach. To administrate the program means working with people, knowing how to get the best efforts from staff and volunteers, managing budgets and fund raising, personal organization, delegating effectively, long range planning, communication, and reporting. In short, the coach of the 90's must be the Chief Executive Officer of the club. There is no such thing as stability for the coach who wants to "just coach".

"Stay-ability" also comes from a recognition by the Board and parent groups of the coach's experience, education, achievement, ability, and dedication. This recognition prompts the club to treat the coach as the club's greatest asset deserving of respect, responsibility, authority, and compensation.

Why hire a coach to lead young people in one of the most meaningful experiences of their lives, but pay him less than the going rate for a baby sitter and give him little authority to make decisions about children's swimming development and the overall program development?

When a club matches a coach of this quality with its own enlightened willingness to allow the coach to lead the program, it will truly have a program of stability and continued growth with a coach that is making his career right in that community. This is the most important challenge facing clubs and coaches today

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