Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Energy Drinks: A No-No for Young Swimmers


Energy drink illustration.The USA Swimming Sports Medicine and Science Committee has recently reviewed the risks and benefits related to energy drinks and is providing information to call attention to the differences between energy drinks and "sports drinks" used for rehydration, to point out the risks associated with such drinks, and to provide suggested alternatives to use of these drinks.

In the coming weeks, the Sports Medicine and Science Committee will publish a series of articles on usaswimming.org on the risks of consuming energy drinks. This week, nutritionist Jill Castle covers the basic nutritional facts behind these drinks.

By Jill Castle, MS, RD

Red Bull, Rock Star, Amp, Monster Energy—enticing labels for a tired and thirsty swimmer. Energy drinks are one of the fastest growing segments of drink sales in America and their popularity is growing, especially among youth. Athletes use energy drinks to rehydrate after a workout, boost attention and focus during school, “wake up,” or as a routine beverage at meals. Don’t be misled by something that sounds too good to be true—while an all-in-one drink is tempting, it carries some serious considerations for young athletes. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children and teens should avoid energy drinks.

Confusion exists about the difference between a sports drink and an energy drink, so let’s clear this up. A sports drink contains a small amount of carbohydrate, minerals, electrolytes and flavorings and is designed to replace those nutrients lost through sweating after exercise. Gatorade is an example of a sports drink.

Energy drinks contain stimulants including caffeine, guarana and yerba mate (herbal stimulants) and taurine (an amino acid). Ginseng, if present, enhances the effects of caffeine. Other elements may be added to energy drinks, but their benefits, safety and side effects are questionable.

An average energy drink contains 70-200 mg caffeine per 16 ounces. Some energy drinks can contain up to 500 mg of caffeine, the equivalent of 14 cans of soda. For children and teens, caffeine consumption should be limited to 1.25 mg per pound of body weight (for a 100-pound swimmer that’s 125 mg caffeine per day). More than 100 mg of caffeine per day in adolescents has been associated with higher blood pressures.

Growing children and teens should avoid excess caffeine consumption. Excess consumption of caffeine is associated with agitation, anxiety, poor sleep, rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure and altered mental states.

Too much caffeine can mask fatigue. Gauging fatigue is important to staying fit, healthy and in the pool. If jacked up on caffeine, swimmers may miss the body’s signal for rest.

Caffeine can alter mood and behavior, resulting in physical dependence or addiction. How do you know if you’re a caffeine-addict? Without caffeine, you experience withdrawal symptoms such as headache, tiredness, depressed mood and nausea.

If that’s not enough to make you re-think your drink, here’s some more food for thought.

Energy drinks contain sugar—up to 30 grams per cup (almost ¼ cup of sugar). Limiting sugar consumption is a healthy practice, for any growing child and teen, whether an athlete or not.

Energy drinks are dehydrating. Due to the concentration of caffeine, energy drinks encourage frequent urination, and energy drinks with higher sugar content can compound the dehydrating effects of caffeine.

Feeling tired, losing focus and struggling with low energy? Rethink your nutrition, hydration and sleep program. No magic bullet replaces a nutritious diet of real, wholesome food, adequate water and other healthy liquids, or a good night’s sleep. And that’s no (red) bull.

Jill Castle is a registered dietitian and child nutrition expert. She is the owner of Pediatric Nutrition of Green Hills and creator of Just The Right Byte, a child and family nutrition blog. Jill lives with her husband and four children (one swimmer!) in Nashville, Tenn.

Physical Growth and Development Article

as found on USA SWIMMING


Did you know?

Athletes follow a predictable pattern of physical growth but the rate at which you go through this growth varies by individual.


  • You typically grow about 2.5 in/yr and gain about 5 lb/yr.
  • Your growth spurt occurs during puberty/adolescence.
  • This means that someone the same age as you can vary by as much as 5 biological years, meaning with two 11-year-old swimmers, one may be 10 and the other 15, biologically.

What can you do?

Be aware of your growth cycle so you understand what is happening to your body as you develop.

Did you know?

Performance can be influenced by rate of maturity, which is out of your control! Some young athletes, therefore, may have a performance advantage over others.


  • If you are an early maturer, you may have a physical size advantage and may perform better than late maturers. Early maturers experience more early success due to a physical growth advantage and not necessarily enhanced skills or abilities.
  • If you are a late maturer, you may experience frustration because of being physically "behind" someone that’s the same age as you.
  • Late maturers often catch up to or exceed the performance of early maturers by the mid-teen years, but only if you stay in the sport. Some athletes drop out because of a lack of early performance success.
  • Early maturers can maintain early gains by develop good technique and take on new challenges.

What can you do?

Early maturers keep success in perspective as late maturers will often catch up. All athletes are encouraged to recognize individual improvement and avoid comparing athletic performances.

Did you know?

Gender differences in physical growth and in the timing of the growth spurt contribute to the overall difference in the height and body shapes of females and males.


  • Girls reach peak growth spurts around age 12 and boys around age 14.
  • Hormonal differences in males and females cause body composition changes in adolescence, changes which are out of your control but which may impact performance (positively and negatively).

What can you do?

Understand gender differences and make sure you understand the basics of the developmental process. Allow time to get comfortable (physically and emotionally) with changes in your body. It’s normal and YOU ARE normal! It take time to adapt to growth changes so expect it to take some time for you to be able to take advantage of changes.

How Your Training Changes as You Progress

Knowing what to expect through different phases of your training as you progress through the sport can help you understand how your training should be structured for optimal performance in each phase and as you move from one stage to the next. When you’re very young (age 6-14) athletes are in what we call the generalized phase. In this phase, coaches are trying to build base fitness and endurance while focusing on proper technical development of strokes, starts and turns. This pre-pubescent and pubescent stage of growth and development is the aerobic and technical foundation for more intense and specialized work in the next phase.
During the generalized phase, especially for the younger athletes (6-10 years) structured play, games, establishment of rules, how practices are structured, and gaining more experience at swim meets are some of the major focuses. From age 11-14 swimmers may hit their growth spurt if they are going through puberty. This is when you may see changes in your body and when you may even feel more clumsy or uncomfortable in your own skin. You may seem sudden performance gains or just the opposite: a plateau or even see a decline. It’s especially important in this phase of training that you focus on technical development, off-events, or even other sports to enhance athleticism outside of the pool.

The second phase of training is Specialization. By the time you get to this phase you may be on the tail end of puberty or have entered adolescence. In this phase, you can start to work at higher intensities and put in higher quality workouts, if you have a strong aerobic base. You really begin to refine race strategy and take more responsibility for your own training. Because you may be more physically developed you may even begin a structured dryland program. This is also the point where athletes choose one sport to focus on and will put more time into that sport.

The final phase of training will hopefully take you to the end of a very successful and satisfying career and where the fully mature as an athlete. Athletes in this phase are really ready to put on more muscle mass, train at top end speeds with the balance of recovery, and also realize the importance of other training factors such as sleep, nutrition and psychology. Athletes in this phase are expected to be highly motivated and take an active role in planning their training.

Although these phases are generalizations you can often see characteristics overlap into different phases. Depending on the rate of your own growth and development, you may see some characteristics occur either or earlier or later. What’s important is to know the progression that usually occurs and to be able to apply it to your swimming.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kids are like Dogs article

Absolutely love this article... check it out he's on to something here!

Kids Are Like Dogs

Posted by Glenn Mills on Jan 05, 2012 09:07AM (0 views)
After working for several decades with swimmers of all ages, it struck me the other day that young swimmers are like dogs.
This is a touchy subject, so prior to starting to write, I did a quick Internet search and discovered that I'm not the only one who thinks that kids are like dogs.  While I could have titled this article "Swimmers Are Like Dogs," that would be too encompassing.  To further preface this post, it has to be said that first, I love kids and young swimmers.  They're the biggest reason I do what I do here at Go Swim.  I love seeing the breakthroughs and the enjoyment that youth brings to the world.  Second, I love dogs.  Nearly all my life I've had a dog, and usually a yard, but now that I live in NYC, I daily show my love for my dog by following him down the street with a little plastic bag to... well... clean up his waste.  It's not pretty, but it's worth it.  Heck, we as parents spent plenty of time doing that with our own children... so similarity #1 is taken care of.  Of course, we just hope our kids grow out of us having to do that. ;)
What I want to get across in this article is the similarity between how dogs and young swimmers are taught...and the similarity between how they respond to the teaching.
DOGS - Training a dog to go outside to do his business takes time and constant effort.  If you didn't take the proper steps to train a dog that they're not supposed to pee in the house, one can only imagine how embarrassing Thanksgiving dinner would be with Fido marking your guests.  First you have to teach the dog how to pee on a newspaper.  Then, step-by-step you teach them that the ONLY acceptible place to relieve themselves is outside.  It's a painstaking process that takes time, consistency, and patience, but the end result is a much happier dog (because they don't get yelled at), and a much happier (and cleaner smelling) household.  Watch the following video, and imagine we're talking about a swimmer, and not a puppy.

KIDS - Training a young swimmer to be puncutal is basically the same thing.  Kids, when left to their own devices, aren't typically the most prompt beings.  They have a tendency to allow their minds to wander, and to focus only on what they want to focus on.  It's up to the coach, (adult trainer) to teach them step by step that when they commit to attending a practice, they have a responsibility not only to show up but also to show up on time.  Sometimes this means a stern look, a shake of the finger, or making them sit in the corner while you hold their treat (getting in the pool) at bay.
DOGS - Speaking of treats, let's say you wanted to teach the dog to SIT on command.  Again, this is done via a step-by-step process that typically involves a reward.  That treat is gained only after the accepted task is performed. It's a long process of repeating, repeating, repeating, and repeating until the trick, or task, is learned and becomes understood.  Watch the following video, and listen to the commands... not just given once.

KIDS - When we train swimmers, many coaches get frustrated because they end up telling the kids the same thing... over and over and over and over again... with the same results.  Yet if they give one "good boy" too soon in the process, the result is that the swimmer will chomp the treat too soon the next time.  Think of how many times coaches have had to tell a swimmer to streamline, only to look at practice, and see a large percentage of the dogs, er kids, still pushing off with the arms apart.  Let's face it...we have to tell swimmers constantly to do the simple things.  It's simply part of the job.
DOGS & KIDS - Getting them to do what they don't want to do is never a fun thing, like taking a bath.   In my opinion, getting a dog to take a bath is just like getting young swimmers to jump in the pool in the early morning.  The difference here is that we can eventually corner the dog, pick them up, and drop them in the tub.  I know that, with my dog, once he's iN the tub, he remains motionless until the ordeal is over, but getting him in there is typically a lengthy convincing process that takes place prior to the event.  The following video pretty much sums up what kids would want to do if they could when asked to get in to the pool.

While we could go on and on with this list, it all comes down to giving dogs and swimmers a consistent message, which requires discipline and you can't always be the nicest person to get what you want.  To get the desired result, which is happy dogs, happy swimmers, and happy coaches, the dogs and swimmers are going to need to do what they're told, and they have to be told those required messages again and again.
The great thing is, when a dog is happy, and a swimmer is happy, it turns in to some of the best times and memories.  It makes all the effort worth it, and eventually, the discipline that had to take place is forgotten, and good habits come out.
In this final video the kid is, of course, way too young... but it's hard to watch without smiling.  It brings together the joy in both that we're all looking for.  It may not be perfect, but it certainly ends this well.


Guess Who's Going to the Olympics?!

Trials that is... and to watch... not swim

This girl!!  RIGHT HERE woot woot!!

How exciting... I'll be going to Omaha June 29-30 and maybe July 1.  I will be watching

Friday, June 29

Women's 100m Free
Men's 200m Back
Women's 200m Breast
Men's 200m IM

Friday, June 29

Men's 200m Breast - Final
Women's 100m Free - Semifinal
Men's 200m Back - Semifinal
Women's 200m Fly - Final
Men's 100m Free - Final
Women's 200m Breast - Semifinal
Men's 200m IM - Semifinal

Saturday, June 30

Men's 50m Free
Women's 800m Free
Men's 100m Fly
Women's 200m Back

Saturday, June 30

Men's 50m Free - Semifinal
Women's 200m Breast - Final
Men's 200m Back - Final
Women's 200m Back - Semifinal
Men's 200m IM - Final
Women's 100m Free - Final
Men's 100m Fly - Semifinal 

Super excited and pumped up to see some amazing swimmers along with my childhood favorite Amanda Beard!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Smug Mug Swimming Photos Thanks to Jan Scott

Click on the link above to take you to them.  Some of my favorites include:


Updates on your favorite club

Well... when I started in May of last year with the Morrison Seahorse Swim Club we started with 10-12 swimmers on a good day!  Our numbers are now 30-35 swimmers... and a WHOPPING 20 kids at the last swim meet of our Winter season.  25 kids out of those 35 kids have participated in A swim meet.  Our meet percentage is actually quite amazing for a restored team!

I am PROUD of this Club and how it has grown the past year.  Our Paint the Town fundraiser as well as our Spirit Gear Sales (t-shirts/sweatshirts) and the loose change competition bought our brand new lane lines... which are beautiful as the picture above shows! 

We began our journey as a team in the summer... we played soccer, rode bikes, went to French creek park, and really started to get to know each other as team mates by answering questions and taking turns being "the star". 

We recruited in the Fall and had a whopping 33 regular kids!  Amazing...  We added a new subgroup -Piranhas  and started attending swim meets.  As stated above we did good with participation and even better with performance!!

Some high lights of our Fall/Winter Season...
Fun Fridays and treats!
Our loose change drive earned me about 8 pies in my face and a fun day!
Halloween brought costume relays
Before Christmas we had our memory contest around the pool about our friend's wishlists
Christmas break brought stroke/technique clinics
We voted on and ordered our TEAM suits!
Our Bring a Friend to Practice Night was a CRAZY success 62 swimmers!! And of that 62 only about 24 of them were actual MSSC members!!!!
We will be ending the season in a few short weeks but not before we take team pictures and encounter FUN WEEK....

We will have our Awards Banquet in March- Annual Meeting as well.. and begin our Spring Season with Try outs on April 12th and 13th... with practice resuming April 16th