Splash - March/April 2013 - (Page 18)
By Bonnie Moss
niversity of Southern California coach
Dave Solo, who has the best of both
worlds by coaching college and post-grad
swimmers, sees himself more as a life coach
than a trainer, and holds his swimmers accountable to a life plan.
“I’m always asking my swimmers,
‘What’s your plan?’” says Salo. “Life exists
beyond college swimming – what are they
going to be when they grow up?”
When USC swimmers come to campus
as freshmen, they soon discover Salo and
his staff have a vested interest in their lives.
By the time they are juniors and seniors,
they’re on a career path with an internship
in their field.
Academic schedules trump training
schedules, and Salo and his staff resolve
scheduling conflicts by running back-toback practices. He doesn’t like his athletes
changing majors to accommodate training.
“I don’t compromise on academics,”
says Salo. “Do you want to be a pretty good
swimmer for the next three years, or do you
want to be an engineer for life?”
SPLASH • March/April 2013
Coaching his post-graduate club team
is a different element altogether. In the
collegiate environment there are many distractions. Without these in club swimming,
he can hold his athletes to even higher life
As much as he loves coaching worldclass swimmers, he doesn’t encourage
them to keep swimming if they don’t have
“They should never linger to relive
college years, or keep grinding for that one
elusive medal,” he says. “I have a responsibility as a coach. It’s a reciprocating partnership – I’ll train them to be the best they
can be, but they have to work really hard.”
He’s now helped countless swimmers
land on their feet both during and after
illustrious swimming careers.
Salo is not one to follow a training script.
“I don’t write the workout on a piece of
paper and slap it on a kickboard. I run my
practice by seeing how it’s going with who
is there and what they need.”
Salo is on deck several hours a day and
credits a great staff that helps him deal with all
the behind-the-scenes administrative tasks.
“My skillset is being on deck coaching,
so that’s where I like to be,” he says. “I
embrace what kids come up with. Larsen
(Jensen) came to me and said, ‘Coach, I
need to do 16 x 400,’ so I set aside lanes for
him. I listen to kids and I’m not afraid to
use their advice.”
Salo never gives the same sets to everyone. His common theme is race-pace,
technical, fast drills and swimming fast. He
considers milers as really long sprinters.
A typical set for a sprinter like Jessica
Hardy includes: 100-75-25, 100-75-3x25,
100-75-5x25, repeat that cycle three times
through. The 100s descend 1-3, the 75s are
easy and the 25s are full speed. The focus is
breakout speed and breath control.
The distance swimmers (long sprinters) would mimic this with added length:
200-150-100, 200-150-3x100, 200-1505x100. The 200s are descend 1-3, the 150s
are negative split by at least five seconds
between first and second half, and the 100s
are 500 goal pace. The focus here is to keep
splits even or negative split.
Salo incorporates many details into his
sets that are specific to a race.
“I try to make sets interesting but highintensity,” he says.
COLLEGE VS. CLUB
“I like college swimming because there
is a defined season, and I love the team
concept. The NCAA experience is by far
the most intense competition, and there is
a strategy to scoring points. Dual meets are
very fun,” says Salo.
The big advantage to club swimming,
though, is that many of his athletes
are professional swimmers. They have
much more freedom to maneuver
through a tough schedule of training,
traveling, speaking engagements and
“I would love for my college swimmers
to stay for the team and the scholarship,
but I’m very supportive of my athletes
turning pro,” Salo says. “Our responsibility
as coaches is to seize the moments and opportunities. It’s hard to make money in this.
I want them to stay, but they need to take
advantage for themselves and make a run of
it. Otherwise, it’s just too selfish.
“There is no difference in what I favor
more. College has more distinctions, and
it’s a new group with new energy every
year,” says Salo. “But I’m a life coach to
both groups and they all make history and
build a legacy.”
RYAN PIERSE/GETTY IMAGES
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Splash - March/April 2013
Splash - March/April 2013
Table of Contents
Swim Briefs/Justin Case
Top Ten Tweets/Point-Counterpoint
Strength & Conditioning
Keys to Success
NCAA Championships Preview
Hanging With Schmitty
The Perfect Fit
2012 Top Ten Lists - LCM
Swim Nut Zeke
Best Race Ever
Getting To Know
America’s Swim Team Athletes
Splash - March/April 2013