That Swim Is Music To My Ears

Guest commentary by Jim Lutz

Each year, the holiday season brings some annual favorites to the airwaves of radio. I am immediately taken back to my childhood. The pending excitement would build, escalate, and end with racing towards the tree and tearing open the presents.

As a child, I remember watching Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman when shown for the first time on network TV. Sequels were developed throughout the years but nothing came close to the original(s).

The music we heard from the crooners, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Perry Como and Mitch Miller. The Sing Along with Mitch album came with song sheets for everyone to use while caroling around the neighborhood. During the next few decades, rising singing stars brought their own version to the holiday classics.

What I have always found interesting were the artists not known for their Christmas songs, but rather pop or the “Devil Music”, Rock and Roll.

Artists like U2, the Beach Boys, Annie Lennox and the Eurythmics, Elton John, John Mellencamp, Leon Redbone, Twisted Sister, Billy Squier, Barenaked Ladies, Sting, The Chipmunks, Elvis, Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen have all recorded Christmas songs.

One of the least-likely duos to perform together and recorded one of the most emotional songs were David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s, Little Drummer Boy. No one could have imagined this unlikely twosome could have created such a special song.

All of these talented artists have brought their own talents and unique style to create memorable songs for others to enjoy and enhance their holiday experience. What it has taught me is there are many ways to achieve a memorable event. This is not unlike the beauty of USA Swimming and how EVERY coach can train their swimmers in a manner they feel is the best method.

In 1985, I had just moved to Southern California and met Dave Salo. Dave was on the receiving end of a rash of ridicule for his theory of training; short bout, very fast and recovery. What seems like logical now, was verging on heresy less than a decade removed from the more-is-better mindset of the Mission Viejo dynasty of the 1970’s.

As we move forward 20-30 years, we have been through a lactate machine on deck, cycle training, energy systems, leg driven, shoulder driven and we might as well throw in heart-driven swims. Some constants have remained, Dave is still Dave thankfully deserving his rightful respect, coaches still coach and USA Swimming offers the opportunities for those willing to do it their way.

During the college recruiting process, I had a fear recruiting a swimmer who had been with the same coach more than four years. The biggest injustice that can be done is to give a swimmer the illusion they can only swim for one coach.

When a swimmer earns the right to represent the USA in an international competition, seldom does their home coach get selected as part of the USA staff. It has happened but don’t assume it will happen for you. The swimmers needs to prepare for dealing with, gaining insight and experience from qualified and seasoned coaches who have also earned the right to represent the USA.

These coaches write the music that makes the whole aquatic world sing. Enjoy the melody and realize these songs will make an impact that will last from childhood to the rest of your life. Sing loud and sing proud. It is these different types of training that truly creates the harmony that is USA Swimming.

See you on the podium.
Jim Lutz

Jim Lutz is the Head Age Group Coach for Viper Aquatics in Westfield, Ind. Lutz has coached at the club and college levels for more than 30 years, with stints as head coach at Illinois and Michigan State as well as serving as an assistant at Arizona. He’s also served as a head coach for several club teams.

Lutz also is a published author with several books available on Amazon.

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