As Head Coach of the Tokyo Frog Kings, Dave Salo Eager to Leap Into ISL Season

Photo Courtesy: Maria Dobysheva

As Head Coach of the Tokyo Frog Kings, Dave Salo Eager to Leap Into ISL Season

Dave Salo loves fast swimming.

Now, he is making the move to the forefront of racing and competition by venturing into the International Swimming League (ISL) as the head coach of the Tokyo Frog Kings.

“In swimming, it’s so much about just the training, the training, the training, and maybe swimming fast once or twice a year. But this is really impressing upon the athlete that you got to be fast all the time,” said Salo about the ISL.

In ISL, swimming fast pays off. Besides the immediate reward that comes with winning races, Salo sees it as an opportunity for athletes to market themselves in an international light in a way they might not have been able to before, allowing for a longer and more sustainable career.

“I think that’s one of the things that opens up these athletes to wherever their team is located, that increased exposure, marketability, and professionalism,” Salo said. “And I think that’s really valuable.”

The international scene is also an exciting coaching prospect, as coaches and athletes from all around the world will get to experience and adopt new perspectives to help their teams perform at their best. Elite athletes from around the globe will now be in the same training groups, which will bring a heightened sense of competition, even to the practice environment.

As a coach who has always believed in athlete independence and self-reliance, Salo is looking forward to watching athletes come into their own as they learn to trust themselves and their training in a new, unique environment.

Salo is known throughout the world swimming community for being an innovator, which he believes can help lend credence to the ISL movement. There is a renewed team spirit within the ISL that mimics that of collegiate dual meets full of camaraderie and enthusiasm.

“I think I work pretty well with athletes that have kind of different backgrounds and, flexibility and a partnership with the athletes to get what they need,” he said. “So, what we’re trying to do is bring these athletes together in this very distinct, different environment this year, give them what they need in a team environment.”

Although the athletes on his team will come from different coaching mentalities with varying levels of yardage, Salo is used to being flexible and creative to cater to all training needs in a cohesive team paradigm. The Frog Kings are a diverse group, but Salo is familiar with several athletes on his team whom he coached to collegiate success at USC, such as Vlad Morozov and Cristian Quintero.

“My group at Tokyo is a little bit smaller, but I think with Cristian and Vlad, both kind of the ends of the spectrum per se, that they’ll help kind of guide our group a little bit more to give them a sense of trust that that they don’t have to be afraid of it,” Salo said.

The opportunity to spend five weeks with international coaches collaborating in the same environment is something he looks toward optimistically.

“There’ll be – hopefully there’ll be – some sharing going on and experiencing just different ideas and chatter and talk and working with elite level athletes is always a lot of fun, and just seeing what they bring to the table,” he said.

Although the pandemic has presented some challenges, true to form, Salo is innovating. Operating from a bubble-like situation, the Frog Kings plan to bring in a specialist in strength and conditioning as they work to take care of business on the dryland side.

Salo is working with the general managers for the Frogs to maintain an optimal team environment. Kosuke Kitajima, who is leading the GM group, is working on the concept of training camps in California with the whole team for an extended period of time to build the culture outside of competition.

“It will be a lot of fun,” Dave Salo said. “I get to see some athletes that I’ve been around over the years, but because of the pandemic, you have missed all that. So, to get to be around athletes that I’ve known for years and share again, the vitality of ISL would be great.”

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