As many of you know I am fascinated by sustained excellence. Just the law of averages will allow a team or individual to win one championship but to win 29 straight NCAA Division III Men’s National Championships and 22 women’s championships is beyond incredible. This past week I spent three days at Kenyon College in Gambier Ohio. This year I am working with the Kenyon athletic department on staff development in athletic development. Jim Steen, the Swim coach was instrumental in arranging this. This is Jim’s 32nd years at Kenyon. His fire, enthusiasm and desire to excel is contagious. Three years ago I designed their dryland program and he wanted me to upgrade the program and help the other sports. Here are some lessons reinforced during my visit: You must have a system. Coaching is not something you do to the athletes it is something you do with the athletes. Quality is more important than quantity. Winning is process. Winners are constantly learning. Management and organization are essential. Continuity is essential. The premium is on coaching, not on training. Facilities do not matter you can get it done anywhere.(Just a note until three years they trained in a six lane pool, it wasn’t always like this).
The sprint swimmers spent more time training out of the water than in the water. Starting at 6:00 AM they come to dryland every 10 minutes matched up in pairs. It was really fun working with this group. The distance swimmers do their dryland on pool deck. I know if I were a beginning swim coach I would go to Gambier Ohio and see how this works. In fact any sport can learn from Jim Steen, his staff and his swimmers. I did not even need an airplane to fly home I was so excited from this visit.