Swimmer's Ear
Newsletter of the Potomac Valley Masters Committee
May 2015

    Newsletter Schedule printed 3 times a year
  • January (deadline: December 15)
  • May (deadline: April 15)
  • September (deadline: August 15)

  Note from the Chair

Greetings fellow swimmers. Winter has passed and as we move into our summer I want to say how excited I am to see the changes and responsibilities our parent organization is taking, pushing to make April Learn to Swim month, and offering programs for adults who are just learning the joys of water. What wonderful shared activities we participate in, let's get our friends and families in the water with us!

We welcome to the board two new committee members, Christina West who accepted the role of Fitness Chair and Charlie Tupitza who accepted the role of Open Water Chair. They bring years of experience to our board and we are excited to have them working with us.

PV will have it's annual picnic at the end of May, we look forward to seeing everyone there. Swim fast and see you in the water.

-- John Carlson

PV logo

  Articles & Interviews

Rob at Leadership Summit
Interview with Rob Butcher
by Cheryl Wagner

I recently encountered Rob Butcher, USMS Executive Director, at the USMS Leadership Summit. I first met Rob when he swam with Terrapin Masters in the 1990's. No one will ever forget his high energy "Good morning!" and dive from the diving board at 6AM practices. This interview was taken from Rob's emails and his blog at Rob's Blog.

Where are you from?
Rob: Well, I grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida and swam for Spruce Creek High School—the same as Ryan Lochte—my claim to fame!

When did you begin swimming with Masters?
Rob: After college, I swam on several Masters teams and ended up qualifying for the 2000 Olympic Trials at the age of 28. At the Trials, I was in an outside lane in the first heat, which is reserved for those who barely make the qualifying time. Nonetheless, I was in the big dance and my swimming dreams were fulfilled. Or so I thought.

What brought you to UM College Park to swim with Terrapin Masters?
Rob: I got a job working in the Maryland Athletic Department, found the Terrapin Masters team, and joined! Ha, that simple!!

How did you become executive director of USMS?
Rob: Inspired by Michael Jordan and the “Just Do It” era, I told my college swim coach that I wanted a career in sports marketing. Thinking I had starry eyes for what sports marketing meant, he gave me a job cleaning our football stadium. Two years later, surprised I hadn't quit, he gave me a job selling tickets via telemarketing and selling program ads by cold calling businesses on foot.

When I graduated, my alma mater created a sports marketing internship for me and paid for my grad school. I learned that when you just won't quit, and you carry yourself with integrity, perseverance, and the right attitude, it will pay off in the long run.

Twenty-four years later, I’m having fun leading a national governing body in the swimming industry. My swimming journey and dream of inspiring others to swim continues on.

Are you still swimming?
Rob: Today, I consider myself a fitness swimmer. Balancing a rewarding and busy career with twin toddler boys doesn't leave as much time as I'd like for training. I sit on several industry boards and I'm on a mission to make sure our favorite form of exercise is no longer the best kept fitness secret in this country.

Tell me about some of the current initiatives at USMS.
Rob: On the center of the usms.org home page are four words: Encouraging adults to swim. The CDC estimates 37% of American adults can’t swim the length of a swimming pool. If we’re going to encourage adults to swim, we have a responsibility to help those who can’t by creating opportunities to learn.

Teaching adults is different than teaching kids. Often, adults have to overcome longtime fears or self-doubt just to make it to the first lesson. Putting a bathing suit on for the first time and placing their trust in another adult is a big commitment, for both the adult learner and the instructor—teaching an adult to swim requires empathy and patience.

USMS has free resources to help Masters Swimming programs that want to participate in the adult learn-to-swim initiative. We also have a professionally taught adult learn-to-swim instructor certification program, which is available to any USMS member who wants to experience the rewards of sharing our sport.

Every month, my inbox is filled with emails and pictures from adults expressing gratitude and a renewed sense of self worth because they’ve learned to swim. I read the letters and feel the empowerment and victory in their words. It’s a gift that wouldn’t have been possible without Masters swimmer volunteers.

If you know how to swim and want to give back—if this message has stirred you—then please volunteer to teach another adult. As much as the adult learner will benefit, you, too, will receive the gift of making a significant difference in someone’s life by sharing the opportunity to experience the lifelong benefits of swimming.

Wyatt Bradbury
Backstroke Technique
by Wyatt Bradbury

UMAC Masters has focused extensively this season on technique. We started in the fall with an in depth analysis of the catch for all four strokes and how to most effectively grab water. Starting this spring, we began to explore a concept I’m calling “outrigger canoe”. This concept allows us to use our arms to both balance our bodies and grab as much water as possible with each stroke thus improving our efficiency in the water. This brief on Backstroke will expand upon these concepts and more. The included video segments should help give a visual to what is described.

For simplicity, I always try and relate a new concept back to freestyle. So, although this is an article on backstroke, I will start by describing the freestyle catch and drawing out similarities and differences. In freestyle, I teach a catch on elbow up, fingertips down. I use a demonstration of wrapping my arm around a big yoga ball to properly achieve this positioning. In backstroke, there is just a simple replacement of our “yoga ball,” “water ball,” or “anchor.” Here, the elbow rotates down with the hand to the side. We are grabbing a ball of water above our head and to the side and pressing as our body slides past that anchoring. Notice that as Ryan pulls in the video provided below, he keeps his wrist locked and hand perfectly perpendicular to the water through the pull phase of the stroke. He does not change his hand pitch or slip through the water in the S-Pattern I so often see. Rather, he maintains a constant anchor to push himself through. Remember, increased speed of hand movement through the water rarely equals faster swimming.

With rotation, notice the degree to which the shoulders change angle. Notice that both shoulders are always pointing in opposite directions (constant rotation, not just moving one shoulder). He also does not “flip the hand” halfway through the stroke like many were taught. He exits with his thumb and as his body rotates he allows his hand to. Try this, stand up where you are and rotate your body from the hips just like backstroke. Now simulate the arm and hand motion. You should feel as your hand reaches near 11 o’clock that it naturally wants to rotate. It should be this way when swimming. The pinky does not rotate down to enter until the hand has almost reached the water. Early forceful rotation can lead to shoulder problems.

Body Position:
Notice Ryan’s body position. His hips are high just below the surface of the water. His body is straight not curved or bent as he swims. From his lower back through his head the body is in alignment. He does not bob his head nor wiggle it (two common mistakes) and it is not pressed upward or tilted back out of alignment.

Enjoy this clip and look for what was discussed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xviHn1Qg-5s

Head Position Drills:
For fun during warm down sometime (because we don’t have time for fun in practice), try doing backstroke top hat drill (same as freestyle, just inverted). Take a yellow or big red strokemaker paddle and push off holding it squarely on your head. So long as your head is positioned correctly, the force of you swimming through the water should keep the paddle square on your head. This drill will also force you to rotate along your long axis not snake through the water in a wiggling S-Pattern. For those of you who really want a challenge, try to fully rotate and kick while balancing a bottle on your forehead. Once that is mastered, try swimming like that. These drills will force you to keep your head back (in alignment), fully rotate, and keep your body in line. I could not find good enough videos online but I know more elaborate descriptions can be found. If you have any further questions or need a more exact description, ask a coach on deck while you give it a try! More about head position can be read here courtesy of Gary Hall Sr. and Swimswam.

Outrigger Concept:
Imagine an outrigger canoe. It has two long narrow hulls that together make it more hydrodynamic than one. It is balanced and built for speed. How can we transfer this to swimming? Kick on your side with both arms down. You should feel a little pull on your shoulders. Not very efficient right? now kick on your side with one arm extended. Feel the press on your palm as you stay balanced. You are much more hydrodynamic and balanced now right? Also notice that while you are on your side in this position, your reach is the maximum it could possibly be. Now getting this to transfer to the stroke is the goal. Do a drill like 6-kick switch and feel the extended catch. Now try and swim grabbing that same amount of water. When paired with the proper catch technique both lead to a significantly more powerful and balanced stroke.  

Underwaters: Watch Ryan’s kicks. The visual I have used is walking on the deck. As we step forward we have a bent knee. The degree is similar to that we would use when kicking a soccer ball. Our stationary leg, however, is perfectly straight. You will notice in the video that the upward kick (for backstroke dolphin kicks) has bent knees and the downward half of the kick (again for backstroke) is straight leg. Remember that freestyle will be the same concept of kicking just on your stomach. Too often I see swimmers that are only kicking up, not down (or down, not up for freestyle). You’re missing 50% of your kick! Think about how much farther we could go if we really worked both parts. Also notice the origin of the kick. His upper body is very still as the kick originates from the core. Every wall is an opportunity to improve this so start playing around with this during practice.

This last video is kind of a fun way to sum all the others up and conclude. Besides, I have loved watching Tyler swim since I was an age grouper and he was a budding senior level swimmer. In the shots from above, notice how linear their bodies are. There is no motion of any kind to the side. Notice the reach they are able to have (outrigger concept). From the side, watch the rotation, head position, and hand rotation. Underwater, notice the catch, and dolphin kicks.

If you have any questions about any of what is discussed or shown, please ask your coach or shoot me an email.

Train Hard, Swim Fast! - Coach Wyatt Bradbury, UMAC Masters, wbradbur@terpmail.umd.edu

Esther Williams
photo from newreplublic.com (non-copyright)

Who says swimming doesn't pay? Esther Williams (1921 - 2013) set national records in her teens but was unable to compete in the 1940 Olympics because of WWII. While swimming in Billy Rose's Aquacade she trained alongside Tarzan star, Johnny Weissmuller. Spotted by MGM scouts, she made a number of films in the 1940s and 1950s known as "aquamusicals" -- elaborate productions with synchronized swim teams, animated partners, and water-skiing. They built a swimming pool in the studio just for her movies.
Esther Williams



Potomac Valley Annual Awards Picnic - May 30, 2015

Save the Date! Saturday, May 30, 2015 at Seneca Creek State Park, MD
Potomac Valley LMSC is hosting their annual picnic/cookout for all PV registered swimmers. Please bring your families and enjoy an afternoon of grilling out and socializing with friends.

Hamburgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs, chips, veggies, fruit, soda, and water are on the menu. Local craft beer from the Pub Dog brewery - owned and brewed by a fellow PV masters swimmer - will be served! The event will be held rain or shine.

May 30th, 2015 from 1pm-5pm
Seneca Creek State Park, Buck Pavilion
11950 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg MD 20878

Note: There is a nominal fee for park entry, $3/person for MD residents and $5/person for out-of-state residents.

Please let us know by May 27 if you plan on attending, so we have plenty of food and beer! Click here to RSVP for the Picnic http://goo.gl/forms/33laOyh1I1.

Have you been inspired by one of your fellow swimmers? Does your coach guide you to swimming your very best? Is there someone that goes above and beyond to keep things running smoothly for your team? If so, take a few minutes to nominate a fellow swimmer, coach and/or volunteer for their hard work.

Potomac Valley LMSC would like to recognize its members with the following 3 awards:

  1. Inspirational Swimmer Award - This award recognizes a PV swimmer who has overcome adversity and provides inspiration to others while pursuing the sport of swimming. Their participation in Masters swimming has had a positive effect on their life whether in training, competition and/or fitness activities.
  2. Debbie Morrin-Nordlund Volunteer Award - This award recognizes an individual who plays an integral role for their local team and/or represents PV to the broader swimming community with tireless effort.
  3. Mentor Award - This award recognizes an individual who displays good sportsmanship and provides guidance, technical advice, camaraderie, motivation, and/or encouragement to others.
For each of these above awards, please submit a brief description providing details regarding the reasons you are nominating the individual for the award. Please send nomination information by May 1, 2015 to PVAwards@usms.org.

Jen Carlson, PV Awards Chair




"My Mom said she learned how to swim when someone took her out in the lake and threw her off the boat. I said, 'Mom, they weren't trying to teach you how to swim." - Paula Poundstone "Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant?? I'm halfway through my fish burger and I realize, Oh my God.... I could be eating a slow learner." - Lynda Montgomery

  Meet News


Albatross Open - March 21, 2015

PHOTOS: http://www.pvmasters.org/~newsletter/May-15/Albatross-3-21-2015/

Colonies Zone April 10-12, 2015
PHOTOS: http://www.pvmasters.org/~newsletter/May-15/Colonies-Zone-15/



UMAC/Terrapin Masters - Bring a Friend to Practice - May 2015

Have you ever wanted to bring someone to a Master’s Practice but never had the opportunity? May is Bring a Friend to Practice Month for UMAC-Terrapin Masters. While anyone at anytime can request a free trial pass good for three practices we would like to extend a special welcome to anyone who is brand new to Masters Swimming. Our goal is to reach out to those in our workplaces and lives who don’t have a regular pool to call home and show them the best of what our masters team has to offer. UMAC-Terrapin Masters is an institution owned team practicing out of the Eppley Recreation Center Natatorium at the University of Maryland. We offer six ninety minute practices and one dryland session a week. Our team is highly competitive with many swimmers qualifying for Nationals and earning spots on the National and World Top Ten Lists. We also have a significant number of swimmers participating in triathlons or open water swims using our practice as their swim conditioning or part of their fitness regime. All of our practices are coached by experienced, qualified coaches who are highly interested in helping you meet your individual goals. If you or someone you know is interested in trying out UMAC-Terrapin Masters have them contact Coach Wyatt Bradbury (wbradbur@terpmail.umd.edu) and check out our website (umac.umd.edu) for more information. We are looking forward to having you join us! Train Hard and Swim Fast!

The Barbados Swim Festival May 12

Where does one even start on describing this event? Situated in gorgeous Barbados and held on one of the nicest white sand beaches in the world, this spectacular festival showcases everything the Caribbean has to offer.

Just the calm, beautiful and warm waters make this an extremely fun swim in it’s own right but the event itself takes things to another level entirely. The first few days feature guided swims where swimmers will see fish of all kinds and it is quite common to spot sea turtles as well. The day before the race features an open water clinic by Open Water Olympian Alex Meyer. Although this Festival is only a few years old, it has already become world renown and is expected to have over 600 participants this year!

Festivities during the festival also include stand-up paddle board races and kayak races. The main GSS races feature a 1.5km and 5km distance, with the 5km comprising of 5 beautiful loops around the bay. With loads of prizes and a truly unique and festive atmosphere this should be at the top of anyone’s list for a destination race!


Jim McDonnell Lake Swims and Clinics May 23 & 24, 2015

The Jim McDonnell Lake Swims and Clinics will be held May 23, 24 2015 at Lake Audubon, Reston VA, hosted by Reston Masters Swim Team. Now in its 28th year, the JMLS has grown into a 2-day event. On Saturday May 23, Reston Masters will be hosting the Fitter and Faster Swim Tour: Strategies and Techniques for Open Water Racing (Lake Audubon Pool), in conjunction with the JMLS Race Clinic /Lake Practice Swim. Sunday May 24, gives swimmers a chance to apply their new open water skills in the 1 and/or 2 mile races in Lake Audubon.

Fitter and Faster Swim Tour Registration, Timeline and Content: http://fitterandfaster.com/swim-clinics/strategies-and-techniques-for-open-water-racing-reston-va/

Race Clinic/Practice Swim & JMLS Race Registration, Timeline and Race Day Details: http://www.restonmasters.com/jmls-lake-swim/event-weekend-timelines/

Kayakers needed!! 7.5 Mile Potomac River Swim for the Environment - June 6, 2015

The Potomac River Swim needs support kayakers. There is a $ reward for recruiting qualified kayakers. (Email Cheryl for details.) The swim benefits bay and river environmental organizations and each kayaker supports an individual swimmer in his or her crossing. Kayakers receive:

  • 2 nights' free camping at Point Lookout State Park
  • pre-swim supper
  • post-swim luncheon
  • t-shirt
Please email Cheryl Wagner cherylw@crosslink.net     http://www.potomacriverswim.com

World Police and Fire Games Volunteers needed - June 28

RMST is in charge of the open water swim for the World Police and Fire Games (WPFG). This is a great opportunity for us to give back to the community. There is a special website for volunteer registration, a bit long to fill out due to security protocols. The link is below, you will need to be able to load a photo for your ID. When you get in there you can specify just the Open Water Swim which is on June 28th.
To volunteer: https://wpfg15.fusesport.com/registration/199/SwinmmingSC/

Turks & Caicos Race for the Conch Eco-SeaSwim 2015

Spectacular open water swim racing on July 4 in the clear, turquoise waters of Grace Bay in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos. Providenciales (“Provo”) was recently rated as "Best Island in the World” by Trip Advisor.

Perfect for swimmers new to open water racing, as well as seasoned swimmers looking for a new challenge (and take home a conch trophy).

Race Distances: 2.4 miles, 1 mile, and 1/2 mile. This year the event will welcome Olympic Gold Medal winner Rowdy Gaines and once again world class open water swimmer Yuko Matsuzaki.

Co-Race Director, Ben Stubenberg, is a former Masters Swimmer with Montgomery Ancient Mariners who moved to the Turks & Caicos. For more information and on-line registration, go to http://www.ecoseaswim.com

Terrapin Cup - July 10-12

This July the Terrapin Cup will return to our summer schedule. It will be held July 10-12 at the University of Maryland. A full events lineup is scheduled for all three days. Please plan on swimming or volunteering at the meet. More information will be out soon but please please mark your calendars for this weekend.

3rd Annual Ocean Games - July 18, 2015

Supporting research and awareness for traumatic brain injuries, Ocean City, Maryland Ocean Games.
To register:

Private Swim Instruction

I am happy to announce that private swim lessons are once again available to anyone looking to dramatically improve their swimming technique. Our coach, Wally Dicks, will be available this spring and summer to work with you one on one or in small groups. He will also be able to provide video analysys of your strokes. If you are interested in private lessons, you can email me or Wally directly. His email is wallymariner@aol.com.

There also is information at http://www.claybrittswimming.com/masterstriathletes.html about lessons, Masters workouts and to arrange a private clinic for your team or friends. I’m excited to be able to offer private lessons again and I hope this can benefit you.

Clay Britt http://www.claybrittswimming.com

PV LMSC Meeting Minutes - March 21, 2015

meeting minutes 3-21-15

LMSC Leadership Summit

I represented Potomac Valley at the LMSC Leadership Summit in Phoenix, Arizona. Here are my minutes and recommended action items which I will discuss in more detail at the Awards Picnic for anyone who is interested. - Cheryl Wagner

Registration Notes by Jeff Roddin

Registration News



Potomac Swim 6/6/15 Needs Kayakers -
$ Reward for Recruiting

Please email Cheryl Wagner cherylw@crosslink.net
Info: http://www.potomacriverswim.com

UMAC Masters

Try us for FREE!! – 3 trial practices available.
Questions? - Coach Wyatt - wbradbur@terpmail.umd.edu
Administrator Natalie Ferdinand - nferdina@umd.edu
More Info

Bonzai Sports

All things Triathlon -- rental & retail

Private Swim Instruction

Clay Britt http://www.claybrittswimming.com

  Photo Credits


All photos by Cheryl Wagner unless otherwise noted.

  Events Calendar



Pool Event Calendar



Long Distance/Open Water Calendar