This past week, co-founder Matt Caldaroni had the opportunity to sit down with USA Swimmings Director of Sports Medicine and Science Keenan Robinson. Keenan is an extraordinary individual who’s had the privilege of working with some of the best swimmers in the USA, including the legendary Michael Phelps. In this episode, Keenan shed some light on what it really means to have a gold medal mindset, and how USA Swimming adapted during COVID lockdowns. Here are Keenan’s 5 game changers when it comes to adaption:
1. Have an overarching plan.
Keenan made it clear, “We had a plan, and we stuck to it.” It wasn’t perfect, and it didn’t have to be; so long as the group constantly adapted to accomplishing the end result, they knew they’d be good.
“We had a plan, and we stuck to it.” It wasn’t perfect, and it didn’t have to be; so long as the group constantly adapted to accomplishing the end result, they knew they’d be good, says @kkrirsh.
2. Adapt the movements, not the overall goal.
It was crucial that the only adjustments made during COVID lockdowns were to the movements athletes were using to train, and not the overall goal. There was a plan set in place and one that had to be executed. Where most would’ve fallen off, and adapted targets, USA Swimming instead just adapted movements. They found a way or made a way, to accomplish the targets they set out to.
3. Be consistent with principles.
During the podcast, Keenan mentions the importance of how the team abided by specific strength and conditioning principles that were laid out by their team's staff. Although they weren’t able to physically get into a pool during their COVID lockdowns, they still found a way to mimic the training principles. As a result, the gap they had to close, with strength and conditioning, was way smaller than what it would’ve been had the team abandoned all their principles.
Where most would’ve fallen off, and adapted targets, USA Swimming instead just adapted movements. They found a way or made a way, to accomplish the targets they set out to, says @kkrirsh.
4. Strive for excellence in something.
Even though there were many crazy periods during this year's summer Olympic preparations, Keenan made it a point to have all his athletes strive for excellence. It could be small details, like eating well consistently, or ensuring technique was spot on when they were able to get back into the pools. Regardless, Keenan was able to have his athletes consistently strive for excellence, which allowed them to really push the envelope daily.
5. Measurable KPIs are crucial.
Keenan mentions how during COVID lockdowns his athletes still had to find a way to measure their success. His belief in KPIs is something that is consistent with the athletes that he works with. Even though his athletes had to get a bit creative during COVID protocols, he still had them all find something meaningful to measure. This was crucial for his athletes to see continuous growth and progress, and something that allowed them to stay the course.