The Montclair Swim Team

Adventures of a 12 & Under swim team from Oakland, CA.

26 January 2011

The swift Terrapin

According to Wikipedia, "the diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) or simply terrapin, is a species of turtle native to the brackish coastal swamps of the eastern and southern United States. It belongs to the monotypic genus, Malaclemys." Nowhere on the Wikipedia page is the speed of the terrapin discussed.

And that brings us to swimming. There is a team, a quite successful team, called the Terrapins. Heck, Natalie Coughlin swam for the Terrapins. And they have cool caps with a picture of the turtle on one side; I think the caps come in orange AND blue. You see them winning heats all day long at these meets.

Naturally, at the last swim meet, I wondered aloud, "is the terrapin a particularly fast turtle or something?" I mean, swim teams are named "sharks" and "baracudas" and "undercurrents" and "halibuts". Not many named after turtles, even particularly fast ones.

Luckily, the Montclair Swim Team's head coach has been around the block a few times and had to answer this many times over the years. As legend has it, the founding coach of the Terrapins was a big Grateful Dead fan and named the team after "Terrapin Station", an album by the band. The team name up until then had been an alphabet soup of district names and clubs sort of like SRVLA but longer.

So, the name has history and some sort of aquatic connection. I guess it could have been the Dancing Bears.

10 January 2011

Oakland Undercurrent and the Berkeley Trio

I really like the Oakland Undercurrent; they run a good team and do something very rare for swimming....diversify it. And they swim fast. And they make cool videos. You'll probably recognize some of their swimmers that are on the wall watching these UC Berkeley swimmers (Nathan Adrian, Alex Cushing and Damir Dugonjic) show them their specialty strokes.

Thanks to the Undercurrent coaches for putting this video up on YouTube for all of us to enjoy.

30 December 2010

Practice starts on January 3rd

Getting ready for the winter session is not easy on parents or swimmers. Parents have to line up carpool duties, remember where the pool is, and sort through swimbags to find half-eaten granola bars and mildewy swim caps. Swimmers have to shake off a month of lethargy, hope that they haven't outgrown swimsuits with a growth spurt, and remember all of their teammates' names.

And both have to wonder where all those goggles went. Luckily, Rob over at RobAquatics knows:

The Goggle Monster got them. We all know kids grab the wrong parkas all the time; that is their fault. Goggles? A whole other that involves a creepy sinister force that will cause nightmares on the brightest of days.

For this reason, as the new session approaches, I encourage all of you to visit our locally affiliated online swimshop and buy goggles. Lots of them.

22 December 2010

Thank you Olivia

If there were a talking Shark, it would be Olivia. Constantly entertaining and chatting at practice and meets, Olivia kept the pool cool for the whole team. As an individual and one of a kind, it is only appropriate that she is the only Shark aging off this session.

Good luck Olivia and keep swimming fast!

30 November 2010

Congratulations JO Swimmers!

Please join me in congratulating Montclair's five JO swimmers heading off to Pleasanton for a weekend of fun and cold (see forecast, brrr). These swimmers are spending an extra week practicing getting ready for the big meet and then will take their December break.

In order of age, your JO qualifiers:
  • Grace S: 50 Free, 50 Back
  • Jolen: 50 Free, 50 Back, 100 Back, 50 Fly, 100 Fly
  • Mallory: 100 Free, 50 Back, 100 Back, 100 Breast, 50 Fly, 100 IM, 200 IM
  • Camille: 50 Back, 100 Back, 50 Breast, 100 Breast, 50 Fly, 100 IM, 200 IM
  • Winston: 50 Back
Swim fast and stay warm!

29 November 2010

Video review

Last night the JO swimmers reviewed some video. Bill pulled out his USA Swimming DVDs with races from World Championships, Olympic trials, and USA swimmers with world records.

I had watched every single one of the races that were reviewed from the standpoint of a fan but watching with a critical eye to teaching the swimmers techniques and reinforcing good habits was a whole different ball of wax.

They started with the Michael Phelps in a 200 IM. This was back when he could still beat Ryan Lochte if you can remember that far back. Coach Bill and the swimmers broke down his start, his dolphin kick, and spent a lot of time watching his arm recovery. The breakout on backstroke was a recurring theme through the night; every single swimmer got a chance to see how important that second arm is during the breakout (keep it still!). What was amazing was that when Michael Phelps is dolphining, his head and hands do not move. Well, the move forward obviously, just not up and down.

The best race for the kids was watching Mary Descenza swimming the 200 fly. She was about a body length behind after two laps (100M) and pulled forward for the win. It was a great example for the kids of keeping your form throughout the whole race. But the part they wanted rewound and played a few times was the swimmer two lanes over who swam right out of her cap! One second she has a black cap on, an presto change-o, the next she has a pink cap on.

We'll see next week how much this video review helps these swimmers and probably start scheduling more to reinforce what Bill is focusing on in practice that week.

03 September 2010

50th Anniversary Reunion Picnic

The Reunion Picnic went off without a hitch. We had swimmers from every decade that the team has been in existence. Camille, a 9 year old swimmer on the team, estimated that the 60s and 70s had about 5-8 swimmers each. There was even a swimmer who was 8 years old on the first year of the team's existence in 1960.

Three past coaches and many family members came. I find that very interesting because it speaks of the community that the team creates. Swimmers aren't just on the team with the other swimmers...parents and brothers and sisters are all involved in the team. The swimmers see their coach more than they see most family members and friends. They create lifelong bonds with everyone on the team.

This picture says a lot to me. A swimmer from the late 80s kept the boxes of her ribbons and medals for over 20 years. In the original handmade boxes that she probably did in her early teens. If you ever doubt how much a swim team can mean to a swimmer think of those boxes.