The Morning Swim Show, Sept. 1, 2011: Paul Stafford Continuing History of Developing Talent at Terrapins

PHOENIX, Arizona, September 1. ON today's edition of The Morning Swim Show, Paul Stafford talks about developing swimmers for long-term success on the Terrapins Swim Team.

Stafford, who is the Terrapins head coach, talks about two young swimmers on the team, Chelsea Chenault and Justin Lynch, as a way to exemplify his belief that swimmers should be set up on his team for success into college and beyond. Watch the full show in the video player below and visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.

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Peter Busch: This is the Morning Swim Show for Thursday, September 1st, 2011. I'm your host Peter Busch in the FINIS monitor today. We will talk to Paul Stafford. He is the Head Coach at the Terrapin Swim Team, which among many other things was Natalie Coughlin's club team growing up. We have some more young stars on the rise now and coach Stafford joins us right now in the FINIS monitor from Concord, California. Coach, welcome to The Morning Swim Show, how are you?

Paul Stafford: Pretty good. Thank you having me.

Peter: Pleasure to have you . I mentioned some young stars that you have, Chelsea Chenault is at the top of that list for sure.

Paul: Yes, she is. She had another good year, good couple of years.

Peter: Tell us about Chelsea, because she is approaching that Olympic level for sure.

Paul: Yeah. She is getting there and that is certainly her goal. Boy, Chelsea, she is a fierce competitor, has all the physical tools to, I guess, go as far as she would like in the sport, so we are looking forward to this next year. Take care of some other things that maybe we didn't take care of last year and move forward.

Peter: She is in high school and in California the high school season is late spring, not ideal timing when you are trying to make the Olympic team with trials in the early summer so what is she going to do?

Paul: Well, our focus — we have somewhat of a unique situation at our facility. We can train short course and long course year-round so her training is definitely going to have a long course focus throughout the year. That will definitely be her emphasis through the high school season. We have had a good relationship with the high school coaches in the area, and as long as I keep them informed of what the plans are and kind of involve them in kind of her training plan for the year, I think we will be able to participate in high school swimming, but in a sense de-emphasize that leading into the summer season.

Peter: So she'll train mostly with you, maybe she swims the meets maybe she even swims the high school championships, but likely not—.

Paul: Oh exactly, exactly and they don't have a problem with the kids training 100% with us and as long as we allow them to be part of the team you know for a certain events and functions and like you said the meets.

Peter: Yeah, they will take the points at the dual meets.

Paul: Yes, exactly.

Peter: Alright. Another guy who probably we won't see on the team next year but maybe in 4 or 8 years is Justin Lynch. The guy's only 14, already going sub 55 in a 100 fly long course.

Paul: Yeah, he is one that has come through our age group program, kind of been quietly developing over the last several years under our head Coach Doug Reid and kind of had a breakthrough season this last year and kind of took his swimming to a new level. So the timing is right and he is still the young guy, still in a developmental training mode, but yeah if we do things right we think he is going to continue to get better.

Peter: Now we caution to compare people to Michael Phelps. I don't want to put too much pressure on the 14-year-old kid, but he did just break that Phelps' old high— or 13 to 14 age group record in that 100 fly, what is he like you know physically?

Paul: Actually, he is going to be a big kid. I think he is kind of in that growth stage right now. We are slowly adding things to his training program. We will add a little bit of a strength component, but we will continue to maintain kind of a base training focus over this next year. We don't want to specialize to early with them and Justin realizes that I think he realizes that this is just a step in his development so we are not putting a whole lot of emphasis on the record per se.

Peter: What would you say your coaching philosophy is?

Paul: Boy, you know our program design or our program model was developed many years ago by then Head Coach Ray Mitchell. We recognized that we coach girls and boys and not men and women so we really take a developmental approach to our young kids. We make sure that we are providing a foundation so that when they are— that they are swimming fast when they should and later in their high school years and their collegiate years. So my philosophy is one of taking a developmental approach and making sure that we are doing things right at the younger levels. We are not training our young kids as collegiate athletes.

Peter: Does that mean you know don't do as much yardage or as much intensity, I'm still a little unclear what that means.

Paul: Yeah, I think we certainly like to do as much yardage as we can, you know with our top kids we are you know trying to get in 60,000 plus a week, hopefully more than that with some of them. So it is not so much a yardage parameter as it is the type of training that we are doing. At the young ages we are looking at more sub-maximal effort levels it is more of an aerobic base and then as they progress and as they go through those sensitive periods of growth and maturation we will start adding to their program. We will add a strength component, we will add more quality sprint work, but that is not really our emphasis at the young ages. It is great to have fast 10 and under and 11 and 12s, but you know not at the expense of just a long-term focus or foundation aspect of what we feel the kids need to do at that stage.

Peter: I know coaching mentalities have changed over the past decade or so, how about the swimmer's mentality? I mean we are talking about a teenage kid, do they respond differently to what you are trying to get them to do now than maybe 15 years ago?

Paul: You know I think there is a difference. It was not as difficult to get kids to really work hard many, many years ago and I think right now to get the kids to embrace that aspect of it, the work ethic aspect of it just takes a little bit more education. You have to explain to them why you are doing things and not just we are going 10 400s just because we said so, but you know we have to educate them on the process, and parents as well.

Peter: Tell me about the history of the Terrapins. You started it right?

Paul: Pardon me?

Peter: You started the club right?

Paul: I was part of the founding fathers. The team was a result of a merger between a club with a lot of history, Concord-Pleasant Hill Swim Club. At the time my current national group assistant Rick Waterhouse was with that club and Ray Mitchell was our head coach at that time. He is now our team director and so the club is a result of a merger between Concord-Pleasant Hill and our club which was the La Marinda Aquatic Club. And we have been in—the Terrapins have been in existence for I think it is 23 years now. So yes, I was around day 1 learning from the best.

Peter: Well good to see you are still cranking up fast swimmers Paul.

Paul: We are trying hard.

Peter: Well thank you very much for joining us and good luck throughout this next year.

Paul: Okay, thank you for having me and we will see you soon.

Peter: Alright that is Paul Stafford joining us in the FINIS monitor from Concord, California, that is it for today's show. I'm Peter Busch reminding you to keep your head down at the finish.

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