Swimming Questions: Answered
I had a few questions for SwimLabs co-founder, Mike Mann. What better litmus test for swim success than a tried and true veteran? He is a Colorado native who started swimming at the age of six, going on to play Water Polo and swim at the University of New Mexico where he earned his business degree at the Robert Anderson School of Business. Mike continues to participate in Masters Swimming and Water Polo and has earned All American status in both sports. Mike has participated in numerous open water swims, Maui to Lanai open water relay, Trans Tahoe relay race, 5K Big Shoulders Chicago, 13K Galway Bay Swim Ireland, and the 2.4 Rueter-Hess race. Mike currently owns 11 world records in Master swimming and was twice awarded World Master Swimmer of the Year in 2009 and 2010. Mike still coaches masters swimming and insists his success is attributable to his lovely wife of 30+ years Ann and his three beautiful daughters.
Can you tell us how your start in swimming opened doors for your career?
Swimming is a mental game, get up at the crack of dawn and immediately jump in cool water train for 1 1/2 hours, eat breakfast and go to school and repeat the swim every afternoon. Swimming makes you focus and set priorities. It's great training for the business world, set goals, prioritize and you will see results.
How have you seen that play out with students you have coached? What are some of their success stories?
WOW big question, how much time do you have? I think we help students understand what it means to train with proper technique and how that results in better race times in the pool. It is difficult to say we are the reason for the success, many swimmers have swum much faster after coming to SwimLabs and using what we have taught them in their training.
Our unique facility creates the perfect environment for new swimmers and competitive swimmers to swim safer, stronger and smarter...faster!
How can a parent capitalize on swimming lessons and swimming athletics without pushing their child too much?
It really depends on the parent's ability to put a barrier between being a parent and a parent/coach. The parents should encourage the swimmer to participate and leave the coaching to the coach. I think enhancing the child's ability with competitive lessons always makes the swimmer better.
What are some avenues open to swim athletes?
There are scholarships for swimming, but I would never go into the sport thinking my child is going to get a scholarship. Life skills cannot be ignored, we practiced six days a week including every morning and afternoon in college. You have to be organized and a time management expert to compete in sports in college. The life skills of discipline and managing your time while setting goals flow right into the real world after you are done with the sport.
If you were a new parent, what are some things that would make you consider swimming as a sport for your child?
Swimming is a basic skill all children should be given the opportunity to experience. It’s a skill that makes travel a lot more fun when you can snorkel around reefs, windsurf, sail, fish, bodysurf, scuba dive etc… You can make lifelong friends in the sport. Even today I play at the National water polo championship event with guys I played with in college 43 years ago.
SwimLabs caters to students of any age with learn-to-swim programs for adults, kids, and even toddlers! Find out why people love SwimLabs!
I know this is a bit harder to imagine, but if you were a child, what kind of things make swimming an interesting hobby?
The fun of jumping off a diving board, a fishing dock, or into a crystal clear lake off of the floating raft 30 yards from shore.
Photo credit: Denver Post, "Swimmer Masters Stroke Later in Life"
What swimming avenues are open to individuals with disabilities or physical difficulties? Fear of water?
Anyone can learn how to swim, I have a client with severe spinal issues, no legs below her knees, and she can swim all 4 strokes.
Why is important to start young? Is it necessary to start at a swim school?
Like any skill the earlier you learn it the easier it is. You can start learning the skills in a local pool with your parent's help, I would recommend having a swim “teacher” show you how to swim, they are experts and know the progression of skills and they can help the child or adult relax in the water.
If you are a parent of a high-schooler is it too late to get them involved in swimming? College student?
Swimming is a life skill, you can learn how to swim any time in your life, albeit it is easier as a child learning how to swim. Many college swimmers started competitive swimming in high school.
How do you continue your love of swimming in your past time?
I like swimming for a number of reasons, it's very social, I have numerous friends new and old that participate in the sport. Even better, my body has fewer aches and pains after swimming as opposed to other activities I have tried like running. I love to compete and recently I have discovered open water swimming and I’m having a blast competing and training in the open water.
2017 Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim; Mike Mann and Team take first place!
Thanks for talking with us Mike! We will be looking for your advice again soon!
If you are interested in learning more about swimming lessons or are looking for a SwimLabs near you Contact Us! We'd be happy to help!