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The book …And Then They Won Gold: Stepping Stones To Swimming Excellence Volume I was inspired by a conversation with Coach Eddie Reese suggesting that swimmers, coaches and parents could use a “recipe book” for how to reach their potential. The book contains eight short stories, about eight great swimmers that collectively won 28 Olympic gold medals. Each story reveals the experience that the athlete had from their very first swimming experiences to progressing to the Olympic gold medal. Each story also has inserted training programs that they used for each step in the swimmers’ development.
A second Volume is planned to tell the story of great women swimmers. The remaining athletes in Volume I are Matt Biondi (sprint free), Mike Barrowman (breaststroke), Josh Davis ( mid-distance free), Lenny Krayzelburg (backstroke), Ian Crocker and Grant Hackett.
Peirsol Excerpt and authors note: Aaron Peirsol is generally considered the greatest backstroker in the history of the world and holds both the 100 and 200-meter world records today. This excerpt is from his freshman year at the University of Texas:
Just as there were visitors to Nova practices, there were often ones at the University of Texas. On a Saturday morning there was a coaches’ clinic hosted at UT. Over time Aaron learned that these days were something to watch out for because practice was going to be especially hard. The main set was 6 x 200s (yards) on 6:00. Aaron thought to himself, Now there’s something I can do well on. His first swim was 1:48, then he gradually progressed down to 1:45 on the last one.
Aaron grew to understand that in the Texas program Eddie trained people for the end of the season or the end of the summer. There was a larger and longer progression and evolution of training loads and type of work over the course of a five or six-month season than Aaron had experienced with the Novas. Although he tried to challenge his teammates to keep up with him in practice, he also gradually accepted that there were times he didn’t have to swim at 100 percent effort. The end result of the training progression was that during the season an athlete was likely to be very fatigued and not swim nearly as fast as when he was rested at the end of the season for their championships.
By late January the team and Aaron were tired from hard training. They took the bus four hours to Dallas to swim SMU in a tri-meet with Arizona. Aaron loved the experience of college swimming, the dual meets and the team camaraderie. But he also loved targets, goals and the thrill of achievements. When they arrived at the pool he stood under the pool record board and studied the times.
Eddie Reese walked up and stood next to him. “What are you looking at?”
Aaron answered, “That 1:43.8, 200 back.” Ryan Berube had set the record. He was the 1996 NCAA Swimmer of the Year and an Olympic gold medal winner. He was also a fantastic underwater dolphin kicker, making him a great short course swimmer.
Eddie told him, “You can’t do that now [this time of the season].”
Aaron smiled. “I don’t know about that.”
When the 200-yard backstroke event came, Aaron ripped through the distance. As he approached the finish, he reached for the wall with his right arm and extended his left pinky and index finger into the “Hook ’em Horns” sign. He looked at the time on the board and aimed the “Hook ’em Horns” gesture at Eddie and the team. The time: 1:42.8. Aaron Peirsol was officially a proud Longhorn.Win a copy of ...and Then They Won Gold: Stepping Stones to Swimming Excellence, Volume 1* by being the first to email me the correct answer to this question:
Who is the only swimmer, other than Peirsol, to hold the men's 100 LCM back world record since August 21, 2004?
*Only if you've not won in the past seven (7) years. Sorry Kevin & Tim...