Donna Hodgert – College Swim Coach

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HI Amy,
Thanks for checking in. Things are going real well. I am feeling great with my freestyle and swimming about 3 sec. per 100 faster on my repeats.  Fly, I am still working on breathing every stroke and getting that to feel effortless like the free. But overall, feeling great in the water and can’t wait to race this winter at a few meets.
My team is doing well too. I started them off with a lot of work with snorkels and alignment boards because the majority of them are fairly inexperienced. We have great streamlines! I would say, the best in the conference.  There are two swimmers that I struggle with getting their heads down, I can’t get them to put their heads lower in the water to save my life and I have tried everything! Even with video feedback they think their heads are low, but I am not giving up! Overall the team is looking most solid in breast and I love the “hyper streamline”, I am seeing so much progress. As a coach, it is nice to have a formula that works and the Race Club techniques are my “go to” formulas. Last year I jumped around trying so many different things but I am getting much more out the team by sticking to technique theories of drag reduction and coupling motions.
Hope all is well in FL. I miss the outdoor pool!


Donna Hodgert

Head Swim Coach
Aquatics Director
Sweet Briar College

Aryana Deshpande

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Hi Amy,
Thanks for the wonderful training opportunity at the Race Club. My daughter at 9 was apprehensive about going to train with a new coach and pool but Gary put her at ease with his wonderfully calm nature within the first 5 minutes of the first session. His ability to connect with young children is amazing.
We were at the pool twice a day for 5 days in a magical week of Olympic Swimming and it was a totally immersive swimming experience for all of us. We love that Gary encourages parents to be on deck and listen to his feedback so that we are another source of information in case our young swimmer forgets the lessons learned. Gary has a unique scientific perspective to swimming which clicked with our daughter who also wants to know the “why” on almost anything she does. Her technique substantially improved over the course of the week in all strokes and when we ended the last session with some races against the clock even she was surprised at what she had achieved. She is now a lot more confident about achieving her swim goals.
Gary also teaches lessons for life that will stand her in good stead across any endeavor. From the most important lesson of never cheating to win, to learning how to set goals, visualization of the event and techniques to focus , all what was explained by Gary is useful to any child (and grown up).
After 10 tiring sessions we thought our daughter would be dying to get back home but her disappointment on the last day of not being in the pool the next day with Gary’s voice in her ear through that remarkable headset was very apparent to us.
We also had Devin as a coach for 2 sessions and he is another amazing coach with young kids . He helped my daughter figure out how to get off the blocks with some interesting techniques rather than fall into the water like she usually does. This was her biggest mental block during training and it took a few days of Gary and Devin working her with part of every session to get her through it.
The Race Club and Islamorada is a fantastic training place for young swimmers (and their parents) and we hope to be able to come back every year.
Nikhil, father of Aryana Deshpande, age 9, from New Jersey

swim camp 2017


Tristan and Timothy Hartman

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“I wish we didn’t have to stop..” Those were the words of my youngest boy after him and his brother had spent this past weekend being coached by the fabulous and fantastic Amy Hall!
The sessions were intense, exciting, fun and highly informative and the boys could feel the difference in their swimming after a very short time of being coached. Amy’s knowledge and experience were very evident and she could advise the boys every step of the way. However, the her greatest ability and gift that she has is her ability to really relate to her swimmers. Her kindness and friendliness and willingness to listen meant a huge amount and ensured that the boys really enjoyed every moment of the sessions. She is a fantastic coach and a fantastic person and we were privileged to benefit from her knowledge and experience.
Thank you Amy!!
Anthony, Timothy and Tristan Hartman, Cape Town, South Africa

Timmy and Tristan Hartman copy

Alex and Cameron Craft

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Hi Amy.
As our first visit with you at The Race Club comes to a close tomorrow, we want to thank you, Abby and your Dad for the superb training that you have provided to our sons, Alex and Cameron.
They have had the time of their lives, and I simply have to share an experience from this afternoon that Mark and I will never ever forget…nor will Alex.
Your dad worked with the kids on breast stroke this afternoon and although it has always been absolutely Alex’s weakest stroke, Coach Hall got him on track and awakened the breast stroker in our son. After years of thinking he just wasn’t ever going to be very good at the stroke, something clicked, and your dad gave Alex the technical skills and confidence to believe in himself; it was a major “aha” moment and Alex is absolutely on a breast stroke high this evening!
For Mark and I to witness this transformation firsthand, we can only say that we are floored, amazed, impressed, and astounded at Coach Hall’s expertise.
I guess that is why we are here, but I just want to let all of you know that you have met and exceeded our expectations and only wish tomorrow morning was not our last session!!!
Before he went to bed, Alex said that Coach Hall changed his life today and that he really learned a lot  about himself and his sport.
As swim parents, you are undoubtedly aware how much our lives revolve around the pool (we wouldn’t have it any other way). We dearly love our boys and to see Alex and Cameron so happy, proud and confident with their newly learned skill sets, makes us happy beyond belief…..All that, and they had a great time too!!!
With Respect and Gratitude,
Mark and Trish Craft

Alex and Cam Craft

Cade Talley

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Gary and all the Race Club team,

Thank you so much for getting Cade in for a couple quick sessions.  He is inspired and hopefully will put the tools you showed him to use.  They are in their second week of training for this season and working hard.

Judy and I really enjoyed our short visit and can’t wait to find the time to get back for a full week at the Club.  Your hospitality and patience was amazing and we left feeling like part of the family.

You are all passionate and inspiring people and I hope to meet you again soon.

Chris Talley, father of Cade Talley, 16


Maranda Edwards

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Hi Amy,

Our experience at The Race Club swim camp was exceptional in every way.  I knew it would be a great swim camp when I read all the swim blogs and viewed the swimisodes on the website, but when I watched my Age Grouper learn and go, go, go at swim camp, I became even more of a fan.

She was inspired to swim better and faster than she has ever swum before. And it transpired into the post-swim camp arena as well.  Shortly thereafter, at championships, she dropped 1 second off her 50 meter freestyle, 4 seconds off her 100 meter butterfly and 5 seconds from her 100 meter freestyle.  I can’t wait to see what’s next.  You not only inspired my young swimmer, you inspired me as well.

The Race Club swim camp experience is high-quality and first-class ~ from the website, to the registration, the swim camp venue, the equipment, the instruction, all the information and expertise, the invoicing, and the yoga.  The yoga was such a favorite too.  Yoga designed specifically for swimmers and swimmer muscles – young and older, novice and elite.  There is knowledge and depth of understanding threaded throughout and it becomes evident in the outcomes. Being with The Race Club now, is like having an additional swim support network for my swimmer. It is one of the most satisfying and solid swim experiences we have ever encountered.  One which we are excited to continue.

Good swim camps may inspire swimmers, but great swim camps inspire entire families.  This is a great swim camp.

Our sincerest thanks and gratitude!  Daphne & Maranda Edwards, Age 10

Ike and Zeke Erickson

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I just wanted to let you know how much my boys enjoyed the camp, and how much they learned!  They were amazed at all of the knowledge you and your family possess, and really appreciated the objective, and timely feedback they got. Thanks again for everything.  You guys were Awesome! – Todd Erickson, father of Zeke and Ike

Thanks for all the help!! When my dad signed me up for [the camp] I was on the fence of quitting or not but after these days, I remembered why I loved the sport. And that alone was worth it not to mention how much we learned. :) – Zeke Erickson, 21

Alexa Hommen

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Dear Race Club,

Thank you so much for the amazing experience. I had a wonderful time and learned a ton of techniques that will help me earn quicker times. Thank you for teaching me the shoulder driven freestyle, I will drop seconds. Thank you again for teaching me breathing in freestyle too. I absolutely feel as though breaststroke will be my best stroke after the improvement you guys gave me. I hope to come back some time in August and learn butterfly the Race Club way. I dropped five seconds on my PR for freestyle.

Best of wishes,

Alexa Hommen, 11

Lynne Meneses

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The Race Club: What did you think of the swim sessions at camp?masters swimming

Lynne Meneses: They were good. THe pool was great and almost like private. I remember the comments from coaches and will keep them in mind during my swimming workouts. And good to learn the dryland part.

TRC: What did you think of Gary Hall Sr. and the coaches?

LM: He was knowledgeable, professional and communicated well with us. All of you were very friendly and knowledgeable.

Lynne, age 59 from New York

The Mehoks’ – Family Swim Camp

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Amy-Thank you very much for the wonderful week! You, Richard and of course GH Sr. were great hosts and fantastic instructors / coaches.
My girls asked me if we can come back next year…  I said, absolutely.
I thought the way you presented the concepts to the girls was excellent. Considering they are 9, and their attention span is less than that when measured in seconds; they absorbed a lot. In facts they spent the entire ride from Islamorada to the Miami airport telling [their mom] the stories GH Sr told them, every single one – they liked the one about him swimming in the Disneyland pool ;-)
What you guys taught them are fundamentals that will make a difference as the grow into the sport. Thank you.
When I asked the girls what they enjoyed most about the Keys, they said (in priority order), 1) parasailing with Dad, 2) Richard’s Bungee cords and 3) painting coconuts.  For the Race Club to make the top three is a huge accomplishment. Richard should be proud!
Thank you so much for the phenomenal week. I will stay in touch throughout the season.
Btw. I tried Gary’s sets below. But I chickened out my first day back this morning and instead did 20 50s free on a 86 stroke rate with high elbows and head down-made them all (no fins). It was tough especially after a 40 min dry land circuit.
21 point here I come :-)))

All the best,