Written By: Steve Lazaraton
“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”
The new season is upon us with new goals, new challenges and new expectations for our teams. August is the month that we spend the least amount of time on the pool deck as we transition from the end of long course season to the beginning of short course season. It’s not a coincidence that this is the month that a lot of us celebrate our wedding anniversaries due to the lack of weekend conflicts (I was one of three coaches on the same team that were married on consecutive weekends in August in 1996).
As I reflect on the time I’ve spent as a coach over the last 2.5 years since the beginning of the pandemic, I believe the one of the greatest ideas to come out of it is the importance of rest. Specifically, finding rest as a coach.
When the shutdown occurred, most of us were off the deck frantically finding ways to keep our swimmers engaged and active but within that, we also found time to rest. No morning practices, no alarm clocks, almost no set schedule. It was glorious in some ways (not to overlook the struggles, the loss of life, the permanent shuttering of programs etc.).
We had time to reset, re-evaluate and I believe come back to the deck stronger, more motivated and wiser.
Coaches, we do a great job preparing swimmers for peak performance in competition by providing a rest phase before the “championship” meet. We may give the same swimmers the day off after the competition but we often are back coaching the following day with little regard to our own need to rest (truth….this article is a self-critique).
Wife: “What are you writing”
Me: “An article on the power of rest”
Wife: Laughing….”Really? You?”
Yep….Definitely a self critique
Our sport is unique because it is almost year round. Most teams take 2-4 weeks off at the end of the summer and then go straight through the year including holidays. Included in our profession are the 3 day meets on consecutive weekends and those of us who travel to Junior/Senior Nationals and spend two weeks at each meet. As a college and club coach, I’ve spent over 30 days this year in a hotel room (love the points but that’s one month out of eight gone from my own home)
Rest is important. Taking time off helps us physically and emotionally. Organizing our time efficiently provides an opportunity for rest. And the good news is that research shows how we spend our time off is more important that how much time we are off in terms of how much we are recharged! The more we can detach ourselves from our jobs the more restoration we gain!
Coaches, I challenge you and myself to make rest a priority this year. Let’s be intentional in scheduling time for ourselves, for our own families outside of our responsibilities to our team. Communicate to our teams, our board of directors etc. that rest is vital for us to be the best we can be and let’s be creative in developing periods of rest through this upcoming season.
There is power in rest.
Steve Lazaraton was hired in January 2019 as the first head coach of swimming and diving at Simpson University. A former All-America swimmer at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, Lazaraton has built an extensive coaching resume over the last two decades-plus at the high school and USA Swimming club levels in Florida, Alabama, and California. Lazaraton also competed on the University of Florida club swimming team while completing his undergraduate degree. He served as the senior assistant coach for The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla. for 16 seasons from 2001-16. At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, three former Bolles student-athletes, all who trained under Lazaraton in some capacity, earned six Gold medals. He served there under the mentoring of head coach Jon Sakovich, current Virginia Tech head coach Sergio Lopez-Miro, and current University of Florida head women's coach Jeff Poppell. At those same Rio Games, two of his former swimmers turned in record-setting performances. Ryan Murphy (USA) set a world record in the 100m backstroke, and Joseph Schooling (Singapore) set an Olympic record in the 100m butterfly.Over the last 22 years, swimmers under his coaching have earned 4 high school team national championships, 6 national high school individual event records, and 32 state high school team titles (boys and girls). Since relocating to California, Lazaraton has spent three seasons as head coach of the Shasta YMCA Sharks (formerly SOAR), a community-based program leading swimmers at the national and state championship levels. Lazaraton has also served as an adjunct instructor at Simpson teaching classes in Calculus and Algebra since 2017. He graduated from the University of Florida (1995) with a degree in geology. He also earned a Master's degree from the University of Florida (1996) in Science Education. Lazaraton and his wife, Lisa, are the parents of Sophia and Chloe, and reside in Redding.