Recently, I got back from home from running a swim camp up in Alaska with Gregg Troy. It was an action packed week, that including a beautiful 3-day swim camp for local and visiting swimmers in Seward, Alaska. The camp was hosted and put on by the Seward Tsunami Swim Club who is the home team of Olympic Gold Medalist, Lydia Jacoby.
From a town of 3500 people and a state that only has 1x50m pool, Lydia’s rise to the Olympic Scene is a special and unique story. She spent most of her time training out of a local high school 25-yard pool to make it to where she is today. In my eyes, Lydia is basically the “Michael Jordan” of Alaska – most recently announcing a collaboration with Kaladi Brother’s Coffee (a local coffee brand that put an artistic photo of her on the cover)!
But unlike in most cities, Lydia’s home pool is struggling to keep its’ doors open this season. If you’re an avid swim fan, please consider donating to the Camp Lydia Fund which uses the funds to help pay for lifeguards, meet fees, and travel opportunities for the High School Swimmers and Club team participants. They have been tasked with fundraising $15,000 through the 2023-2024 season to pay for lifeguards and continue to keep their doors open! Lydia proves that no matter where you live anything is possible, so please consider donating using the QR code below!
Let’s get started!
This year was actually my second year attending the Seward Tsunami Swim Camp. Last year, I had the wonderful opportunity to coach camp with some fellow Georgia Teammates and Olympians: Melanie Margalis and Nic Fink!
One of my favorite parts about traveling and conducting camps/clinics in different areas is the opportunity to be on with other coaches and athletes. As much as I come in to pass on my knowledge, it is also another learning opportunity for me as well. I always come back and reflect on the things I’ve learned from others and decide how I’m going to take forward the pieces I keep with me.
Gregg recently connected me with some swim coaches in New Zealand and one of the responses I got about our Gregg and I’s camp time together included:
“What a great experience – being in Alaska and working with Gregg Troy! That would tick a couple of boxes on a lot of people’s bucket list!!”
I couldn’t agree more – it was a dream come true. Here are the 5 key takeaways I took home after this camp:
1.) Hard Work Works
If you know Gregg Troy, I think most people think of a smaller physically-statured man with an intensity level that is unmatched. Gregg has many Olympians including – Elizabeth Beisel, Caeleb Dressel, and Conor Dwyer.
One of the key points Gregg drove home into the swimmers at this camp is you can’t just DO IT HERE. It’s an everyday process. From teaching a swimmer the importance of keeping a logbook to having them repeats sets if not done correctly or intentionally – Gregg definitely commands the pool deck and gets the MOST out of his swimmers!
2.) “If You Can’t Demonstrate it Well, Don’t Teach it!”
I loved this quote from Gregg. I was asking him something in regards to his demonstration of the Freestyle Catch and why his hand was placed a certain way and this was his response. He said he had an old coaching mentor who told him the same thing and he truly believes it.
As a coach, Gregg advises do not teach something you can’t do yourself and I couldn’t agree more. That’s part of the reason why I still find myself at the pool for masters swim practice at 6am. I’m not there to break any records or compete, but to make sure I can totally understand and articulate well what I’m trying to get my swimmers to do.
3.) “Just When You Thought You’ve Finished Grinding, You GRIND More.”
This life advice really hit home. I was discussing with Gregg my business and opportunities that have come up along the way and he said this directly back to me. Gregg mentioned there was no better time in my life to grind than right now and even when things get better (which he mentioned he believed they would), that’s when I would decide to grind harder.
Gregg then transfer this thought process over to swimming. He said people always think it’s hard to make one Olympic team (which it very much is), but he said the real pressure is being an Olympic Gold Medalist or World Record Holder and making the team A SECOND TIME. That pressure is unmatched.
At SLAF we definitely know all about the grind and quotes like this reinvigorate me as if I was an athlete – knowing I cannot let me foot off the peddle. If anything, it’s time to push harder.
4.) Technique Should be Focused on at ALL POINTS IN THE SEASON!
He said many coaches fail to bring it back to great technique. When Gregg discussed a season plan, he talked about breaking the season into 4 chunks of 4 weeks ~ a typical high school season length.
He said most coaches do a great job of focusing on technique at the beginning and ends of the season – but they skip the middle (where the hard work is) and that is not enough technique work.
Gregg mentioned that throughout the swim season there shouldn’t be any sloppy swimming because even warm down can be done using drills. And it just makes so much sense. That’s really one of the main reasons we created our 4 and 8 month technique season plans for coaches because these plans help give coaches that framework to incorporate drills and technique into practice every single day – without loosing sight of the goal or doing too much of one particular thing.
5.) Don’t Waste Time at Practice Calling Out Times
Gregg mentioned that he thinks most coaches are spending too much time calling out times for their swimmers at practice and staring at their stopwatch, versus what is happening in the water. Gregg said he thinks it should be up to the swimmer to be calculating their times as they go. He gave the analogy that if you have 4 people in a lane, which are all about 5 seconds apart. That is 20 seconds you’re staring at your watch – yelling times – waiting for all the groups to finish. And during that 20 seconds, you miss the other swimmers who already came start their next rep and do their pushoff/breakout!
Gregg is big on accountability and being intentional with what you’re doing, so one of the ways he prefers his swimmers to swim is by being engaged themselves and if he asks them what they’re time was – they tell HIM, versus the other way around.
It’s not everyday you get to be on deck and ask questions to one of the greatest coaches who has ever done it. As a swim nerd, fan, swimmer, and coach myself, this experience was something that can never be rematched and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity. I hope by sharing my 5 key takeaways you also gained some tidbits too (like you were on deck with us), as I believe the central part of making us all better is through education and collaborating of ideas.
Huge thank you to the Seward Tsunami Swim Club, Leslie, Solomon, Lydia, Gregg, Lindsay, Coleman, and the families that made this week possible. There is something exhilarating about being surrounded by greatness and then, asked for more of it to come out of you!
Until Next Time,