Friday, May 30, 2014

Excellence Is a Habit of Champions - FAST Takes Swimmers to Naples for Training

"If we are to be champions, we must rehearse daily championships with ourselves."  If you were to visit the Meadowbrook Aquatic Center in Baltimore, Maryland, you would see a sign that reads these exact words hanging overhead.  It makes sense considering that this is the home of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club (NBAC), a hotbed for our country's best swimmers.  Names such as Michael Phleps, Katie Hoff, Anita Nall should come to mind immediately.  Phelps was led by Head Coach, Bob Bowman, who is at the helm of the entire program there these days. For a period of time however, quality athletes at NBAC were created by Coach Paul Yetter.  Yetter developed dozens of National age group champions, namely the above mentioned Hoff who was USA's best female swimmer at the Olympics in 2008.  Yetter took over their senior program at around 2003-04, while Bowman began a stint as head coach at the University of Michigan.  A little after the 2008 games, Bowman and Phelps would return to NBAC and Yetter made a decision to move to T2 Aquatics in Naples, Florida. It would be a better opportunity for him to be not only head coach of the team, but the program director as well.

During the 2003-2008 time period I studied Coach Yetter's style.  Seeing him speak at clinics I admired not only how he handled the "X's & O's" of our sport but especially how he treated his athletes as human beings.  I once heard him say, "we need to treat our athletes more like missiles, not cattle."  He taught me at the beginning of my career how to construct our workouts so that we could give feedback to each and every swimmer, and thus get something great out of ALL of our athletes each and every day.  This is precisely what we do at FAST, each and every day.  In August of 2013 I contacted Paul and asked if I could visit his team at Naples and learn from him in person, and so I went down there for a week.  When I left that trip I had hoped to eventually have the opportunity to not only return but give the chance for our swimmers at FAST to visit there as well.  Fast forward to April, 2014...
Coach Yetter giving tips to FAST's Sarabeth Hewa

At FAST we have provided our swimmers chances to train all over the world, literally!  In the last 20 years we have taken our athletes to Europe 3 times, Australia, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, The Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, University of Southern California with Olympic Coach Dave Salo, to name a few.

This time our travels took us to the beautiful Naples, Florida.  At T2 they have a wonderful 8 lane-50 meter x 22 lane-25 yard facility.  Coach Marci, Coach Ryan and 12 FAST athletes spent a week long trip there during the April break.  Coach Yetter, a two-time USA Olympic Coaching Staff member, spent time educating our coaching staff as well as our entire team.  We did 10 total swim workouts, 4 of which were long course meters.  Coach Yetter did a mental training session with the T2 and FAST swimmers, teaching us all a better way to focus and relax at competitions.  A few of the training opportunities allowed us to coach and train with his post graduate group, which includes several Olympic hopefuls for the 2016 team.  We also got to do some dryland medicine ball core training on the deck of their pool in gorgeous, sunny 80 degree weather.  Our friends at T2 were great to us all.

In between all of the hard work we took multiple trips to the beach and went to a nice restaurant for a team dinner.  The trip strengthened existing friendships but also gave some of the teammates the chance to create new ones with some on the trip who they may not have know as well prior.  Team bonding.

Over time Coach Yetter has taken the quote that this post started with and evolved to "Excellence is a Habit of Champions".  Our team got to experience this on the trip and much more!  Our next trip is in the works...we'll keep you posted.  

Success = Learning + Effort + Courage + FUN!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Greg Danner and His Ongoing Pursuit of Excellence at FAST

In the Beginning..
When Greg Danner and his family moved to the Rochester area from Buffalo in 1989 to join FAST (Fairport Area Swim Team), little did he know that he would begin one of the longest competitive swim careers as a FAST team member in our history.  25 years and counting!  In that time Danner's commitment has been nothing short of 'year-round'.  "He must be crazy"-you say, but if you ask Greg, "I just love the sport."  And in that time not only Greg, but the entire Danner family have been a part of FAST starting as 8 & Unders and then heading on to college and beyond.

Swimming Family:
His dad was an official and participated on the FAST MASTERS team and continues to be involved in competitive swimming.  His mom drove the 'Danner Van' which was a huge van, a style of which is no longer manufactured nowadays.  Mrs. Danner would not only take her own children, but many of their teammates to countless meets, swim camps, practices, more meets.  Greg's oldest brother Patrick qualified for multiple Zone Meets as well as Junior Nationals before heading to the IVY League University of Pennsylvania. His second older brother Brendan accomplished more of the same as Pat, had beautiful stroke technique in all four stroke disciplines, and is now married with a career in the military.  Greg has a younger sister Stephanie.  She represented FAST in two Deaflympics, once traveling to Rome for competition.  She also swam at the renown Gallaudet University.

Danner's Pursuit of Excellence:
Greg, the last of three Danner brothers has had an illustrious career at FAST.  In the above mentioned 25 year time with FAST he has qualified for 8 Zone Teams, was awarded the National Walt Shuleter Stroke Technique Award at age 10, competed in 4 Junior National Championships and raced in over 10 USA Senior National Championships.  He has also competed for FAST in two World Cup competitions, 1 World Championship Trials, 1 Open Water Nationals and has finaled at the US Open.  Greg's range of swimming events in unlimited.  He can do them all, but his signature race would be the 200 butterfly. Yards or Meters, it's all the same to him.  Danner swam all four years of college on a swimming scholarship at St. John's University.  While at the Red Storm he was an All-Big East team selection and eventually went blistering performances in his 200-yard fly (1:47) and 400-yard IM (3:55).  Unfortunately his alma mater would cut their swim programs at the completion of his senior year due to Title IX but that doesn't stop Greg from organizing unprecedented alumni swim functions for SJU to this day.
Greg (left) with FAST teammate Elias Homerin at 2010 USA Open Water Nationals

Danner, FAST Published in the May Issue of SWIMMER Magazine:
This past month Greg was contacted by SWIMMER Magazine, a publication for MASTERS Swimmers, to be the featured athlete in their 'FROM THE CENTER LANES' section.  It mentions how Greg's 'Secret Weapon' is training with all of our HS-aged athletes in FAST's senior teams to "keep his edge."  Greg comes to our workouts straight from work where he gets right into the pool regardless of where we might be within the workout at that time.  He earns his living as a systems engineer for an IT consulting company.

Setting an Example:
Coming to practice a few minutes into the warmup sets because of this work schedule, he'll never complain or ask for his own lane.  Greg knows the sport and has a great ability to immediately adjust himself into wherever we might be in our workouts upon his arrival.  This example teaches the young athletes at FAST the importance of going with the flow, thinking for yourself and being flexible to the situation.

The Best Sparring Partners:
In the sport of boxing they have sparring partners.  For example, Muhammed Ali had Larry Holmes.  Ali was the greatest of all time and the heavyweight champion, where eventually his sparring partner Holmes would become the champ after Ali's retirement.  Greg is the best sparring partner for our teammates at FAST.  His is an in-water coach for our athletes at on a daily basis, giving them advice and constantly encouraging everybody to be their best.  He'll go head to head with anybody during main sets, pushing our athletes to move past their limits (and we do!).  For that, he is well respected by the kids.

Record Setting Ways & Giving Back:
While becoming more involved in MASTERS swimming over the past years, Greg broke the USMS record in the 3000-yard freestyle for the 25-29 age division in a time of 30:38.07.  That's averaging approximately 1:01 per 100 yards!  He also serves as the Niagara LMSC Chair, Top-10 recorder and webmaster.  In addition he is a member Niagara LSC's Executive Athlete Committee.

Eye on the Prize:
Greg has upped his attendance at FAST workouts these days, with his current goal to medal at the MASTERS World Championships taking place later this summer in Montreal.  That would be a fantastic accomplishment.  In typical Greg Danner fashion, when he puts his mind to it he can can accomplish anything.

Monday, May 27, 2013


FAST Head Coach & General Manager, Marci Callan, recently received a nice letter from Fairport Varsity Head Basketball Coach, Scott Fitch.  Coach Fitch was recently in attendance at the Annual Rochester Press Radio Club Dinner, and while reading the event program for the event noticed that Marci was a recipient of the highly prestigious 'Jean Giambrone' award.  It was very thoughtful of Coach Fitch not only to recognize Marci, but the Fairport Swimming program as a whole.

From Coach Fitch-

I was moving & found this card I had wrote a while ago and figured I would send it on and say thank you for always doing a great job!!  You make Fairport a better place!! (the original note below)

I just wanted to say congratulations on your award at the Press Radio Dinner.  It was nice to see such a genuine person and great coach be recognized.  I was very happy for you (and your "team" of coaches).  You guys do a great job.  I hope you have a wonderful spring and summer.  Continued Success!

Best Regards,
Scott Fitch