Aqua Notes

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Happy New Year!

I used to swim for Eddie Reese. He used the quote, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” That is true.

The problem with doing 9 to 10 thousand meters a practice is that it is nearly impossible to hold a perfect stroke through that distance. Things get sloppy with fatigue; look at some of those flip turns out there, and they don’t change to perfect for the big race. Watch the starts of the 1500 guys at the Olympics, most of them are TERRIBLE. I think that it’s safe to say that for the most part the further the distance a swimmer claims as their event, the worse their stroke technique, start and flip turns are. They sacrifice this for more aerobic capacity. Read more

The Season of Giving

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Have you inspired anyone this past year? We all have the opportunity every day. You don’t need to win Olympic medals to help someone, to make a difference, to give. Remember that: not just during the holiday season.

I’m going to tell a short story, an embarrassing one. During my junior year in high school my family took a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. At some point I met a beautiful girl from Palo Alto. She invited me to go out with her that night. I snuck away and we went to a club. We ordered a couple of drinks each and the bill came. I had twenty some dollars and it wasn’t enough to cover the bill for both of us. She didn’t have any money. I was panicked, not so much because I was embarrassed. At that age I was quite familiar with embarrassment. I was panicked because the waiter was very upset and his waiter friends were closing in around me as I tried desperately to explain in broken Spanish that the LA Dodgers hat I was trying to offer him was worth about $15. Read more

The Race Club: Past, Present and Future

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We made it through a serious hurricane season. Thanks for your concerns. Sadly, we lost our Lexus LX 470 in this last storm to a speeding tree and our storage shed is off to Oz. Our second annual fundraiser at the famous Joe’s in South Beach has been postponed due to the hurricane. It is now on December 11th. The event raises money for The Gary Hall Jr. Foundation for Diabetes. My very pregnant wife Elizabeth has worked tirelessly to make this event happen. I’ll tell you more about the foundation later.

My wife and I are expecting our first in December, hopefully not during the event.

This Aqua Notes is going to cover briefly, where The Race Club comes from, where we are, and where we are going. Read more

Swimmers for Life

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You could almost hear the hearts pounding inside the nervous lean bodies of the six swimmers preparing themselves on the starting blocks for the finals of the 200-yard breastroke. After the starter had blown the whistle signaling for the start, it was that quiet. Most of the eyes of the 2500 spectators inside the Payne Whitney Gymnasium at Yale University on this evening just before 9 pm in the Spring of 1946 were focused on the odds on favorite, Jimmy Counsilman, the fastest qualifier in lane 3 from Ohio State. Most thought that it was Counsilman who had the best shot of breaking Joe Verdeur’s world record of 2:21.0. But even with the meet in the bag for Ohio State, there was so much tension; the spectators, perched in the highest seats five stories directly above, perspiring from the humidity, looking down on a swimming pool that appeared to be no larger than a small tank to a circus diver, could feel it. Read more

Ha Cha Cha

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“Hey,” I say. What’s going down. Big congratulations to Anthony Ervin and Nicolas Messer on the new Race Club record. As a team effort the three of us landed a grouper that tipped the scales at over 50 pounds, the largest fish in Race Club history. How it happened.

The three of us set out on The Race Club clipper looking for good times and fish, heading towards the Bahamas. We swam tirelessly throughout the day. Then, in the early afternoon we found a reef system teeming with life. We anchored and swam out scouting the perimeter. I located a decent sized grouper and shot it, splintering it’s tail. It swam for a ledge and made it. I shot it again through a hole in the ledge. The grouper was too large to pull out through the hole so I called for help and Anthony speared the fish again from under the ledge and we got the fish out and to the boat. I dove down to take a deeper look into this ledge. I tell you now before God that I saw a mighty fin. Not knowing the size of the beast I shot and made contact. My pole spear shook violently, thrashing back and forth as a combination of sand from the bottom and blood filled the waters around me. “Holy Indian!” I surfaced. Read more

Mission Viejo Master’s Nationals

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For the second time in two years, the Race Club was represented at the Master’s National Championships. Last year, we were at the Spring Nationals in Indianapolis and this summer, at Mission Viejo, for the long course Championships. Of course, last year, with the Olympics, we had a group of the world’s fastest sprinters training with us and so the Race Club made a pretty big splash (they were still talking about it in Mission).This summer, Gary Jr and I represented the Race Club, and Gary did most of the splashing (with a world record in the 50 m fly). Like everyone else at the meet, we both had a blast!

First of all, kudos to Mark Moore, the coach of the Nadadores Master’s program and the meet organizer and host! It seemed the meet could not have been run any better. The meet volunteers to all the services provided and the great reception dinner were superb! Even Mark’s surfer-dude son and beautiful daughter devoted their entire weekend to helping their dad (good training, dad!). As expected, the southern California weather cooperated beautifully. Read more

The World Master’s Games

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Last week I swam in my first competition since 1997 at the World Master’s Games in Edmonton, Alberta. I must tell you that the entire experience was incredibly fun, but the competition was definitely a rude awakening. Most of us have heard about the concept of being in “race shape.” Well, that was clearly where I was not.

Each year it gets a little bit harder to fool your body into believing it can still race, and this nearly 54 year old body was not about to be fooled. Having worked out only three times per week for the past year and a half, I certainly was in no position to have delusions of grandeur. Nonetheless, almost as if someone upstairs is teasing me a bit, every so often, I actually feel pretty good in practice; good enough to think that I might still be able to get up and race. Racing has a way of quickly bringing one back to reality. Read more

Camp Race Club: A Family Affair

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I’ve always thought that a family run business would be the best kind of business to have. Not that our family always gets along. The fact is, when you raise a bunch of strong-willed athletic children, you consider yourself lucky to get through a family dinner without a major fight breaking out. But since none of my six elected to follow their father into the field of medicine, thereby breaking the string of three generations of doctors, I decided, ”if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

This year, after 50,000 plus eye surgeries spanning a 24-year career, I am retiring from ophthalmology. Well, not quite. I am changing my focus from the surgical treatment of eye disease to the prevention of eye disease. One of my pet peeves of ophthalmology is that day after day I see solar-related eye diseases galore; cataract, macular degeneration, pterygium, lid cancer etc. Yet not many out there in the world get it. They don’t understand how damaging the sun is to the eye. So I am going to try to change that and hopefully, prevent some of these serious eye diseases for future generations. More about this in a moment… Read more

Elizabeth’s Empanadas

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In the year leading to the Olympics, I served as a sort of den mother to the athletes training with my husband, Gary, in Islamorada. I cooked, cleaned and generally made sure that everyone was getting what they wanted and needed and that they were happy and comfortable. From my experience with Gary, I realize that rest-time is as important as the workout. A swimmer needs to eat good food and have adequate rest.

Fortunately, I LOVE to cook!

One week, after a weekend spent together at home in Miami, I sent Gary down to Islamorada with a batch of empanadas. Sabir Mohammed has recently requested the recipe. Apparently, he liked these tasty little meat-filled pies. Read more

Opening Camp Race Club

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We are getting close to opening Camp Race Club. The coaches and swimmers and folks that have signed up are really excited about this. Here at The Race Club we continue our efforts to promote the sport of swimming. We support top level swimmers that are in a position to promote the sport and advance the sport through faster swimming. We provide what I feel is the optimum training environment. We look to bring out the best in our swimmers and the sport.

Thank you to all of you that have sent in emails. I do try to get back to everyone but there are so many and I have been so busy. But keep them coming, I love to hear from you.

Natalie Coughlin posted The Race Club’s most flattering comment on the US Swimming website when she mentioned that she would like to come down at some point to train. Thank you Natalie! Know that you are always welcome here for any amount of time. As a matter of fact, let me know when you would like to come down. Terri McKeever (Natalie’s coach) is welcome to come down as well. Read more