Long Strokes in a Short Season

Long Strokes in a Short Season

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In 2001, I got the idea to ask one of the Total Immersion coaches to write a book on real-time coaching, using TI methods. While some people still think of Total Immersion as mainly "a set of stroke drills," dozens of coaches currently using TI methods with their teams, are finding it provides a practical set of organizing principles for every aspect of coaching competitive swimmers — from teaching technique, to effective training, to teaching racing skills.

Moreover, each of those coaches report that their teams have swum much faster, achieved more success and enjoyed training far more than they had with traditional methods. The best way to show curious coaches and others how to coach a team "the TI way" would be a season-long, day-by-day journal by one of these coaches - including sample practices each week - with explanation of why they made the choices they did. Peeking "over the shoulder" of a successful coach would obviously teach you far more than reading a dry or academic "text" about swimming theory.

I decided that Art Aungst would be perfect for this project. First, though he had never attempted a book, I knew that anything he wrote would be entertaining and engaging. He had written several articles for Total Swim, our on-line newsletter and several hundred email messages to me. Time after time he managed to be tremendously entertaining — how often do you laugh out loud while reading something? — while making compelling arguments about swimming and coaching intelligently.

Second, he coaches a high school team with a 12-week season, giving him only 50 practices to transform his athletes into championship caliber swimmers - which he manages to do with stunning consistency: Over the past six years his girls have not finished lower than second in any relay (18 total relay races) at the NY State Championships. The brevity of his season allows for a concise and highly focused picture of how to coach a swim team from first practice through taper and final race. As you will read, he does it in non-traditional, yet completely logical and practical ways. If the object of swim training is to prepare swimmers to maximize their racing potential — rather than condition them to do yet more training — you'll wonder why everyone doesn't do it Art's way.

What Art has written so far exceeded anything that I hoped for that I hardly know how to describe it. While Art tells you exactly how he coaches with such success, that is the least of its virtues. Long Strokes has breadth and depth, humanity and universality. No matter how faint your interest in coaching or swimming, I promise you'll be affected and instructed by virtually every page, just as I was 30 years ago by a book that Art cites several times —"Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance."

If you're a swimming coach you'll learn how to make practice a place that swimmers love coming to — you'll also learn how to teach essential skills like racing stroke rates. If you're an athlete you'll learn how to be a smarter and more informed swimmer —you'll also learn how to balance life outside the pool with that inside it. If you're a parent, you'll learn how sports experiences can be made to yield priceless life lessons. If you're an educator, you'll learn how to create an environment where learning becomes inevitable. Are you none of the above but simply curious about living a more examined and meaningful life? If so, you'll be both entertained and elevated by something in every chapter.

And yet this is still a book about swimming and coaching intelligently and holistically. If fact, it is the best book on swimming I have ever had the privilege to read. I am intensely proud to publish it.

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