How not to ruin a swimming prodigy


Interesting article here on The Wall Street Journal, on how Missy Franklin’s coach Todd Schmitz has focused on fun and avoiding burnout, ever since she started training on his team at the age of 7.

Many coaches with a prodigy in their stable would choose to increase her workouts to test her potential. But in the view of Schmitz, the biggest danger for Franklin and for all his swimmers is burnout. So even as Franklin broke record after record, Schmitz treated her like everyone else her age in his elite group. That was the equivalent of owning a Ferrari and driving the speed limit.

This meant that Franklin would swim two hours a day, five or six days a week, with an average of roughly 4,000-5,000 yards per day—less than half the yardage logged by top college swimmers. In the summer, he doesn’t hold Saturday morning practices, giving Franklin and all of his other swimmers a weekend-long break from the pool.

“The last thing I want to do is for them to get to the end of the summer and feel like all they’ve done is swim,” he said.


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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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