I started swimming as a little kid, just for fun, in lake Baiyang near Beijing. The local population noticed that I was unusual and suggested that I train as a competitive swimmer. I grew up swimming competitively, through local, regional, national, and Asian levels. At the 1988 Olympics, I placed fourth in breastroke. Breaststroke is the most technical and most difficult stroke to "brute force". I had trained extremely hard, like other Olympic athletes. But I was skinny and lacked the physical strength that other Olympic swimmers had. I had to resort to technique, strategy, and focus to achieve anything at the Olympics.
After the 1988 Olympics, I was recruited to train the Thai national swimmers. A lot of them also lacked the muscular strengths of Olympians. Thus, I made it my priority to swim smarter instead of harder. That philosophy allowed me to stay competitive in the international arena. In the early 1990's, I was recruited to swim for colleges in the American Midwest. From Michigan, I became a 14-time NCAA champion.
After college, I became a professional trainer of competitive age-group swimmers in Illinois. The concept of swimming smarter resulted in a lot of local and state champions. Beyond coaching, I was promoted to head the Aquatic program of Peoria Park District in the mid 1990's.
In the late 1990's I met a Purdue professor who was working on a sabbatical at Caterpillar Research Center in Mossvile, IL. We got married in 2000. Our daughter and son became competitive swimmers. They were on the list of top-10 age group swimmers in the US for several years. They trained pretty hard, but I emphasize training smarter instead of harder. I minimized their training time so that they spent more time preparing for college.
I use swimming as a means to train concentrating on the task at hand, and daily training as a means to sharpen focus on a goal. If that sounds vague to you, don't worry. Most of my swimmers do not see beyond my simple instructions either. Just trust that mental sharpening is what makes my swim team unique. Our seemingly easy routine practices have borne good fruit. My swimmers are very successful not only in competitions, but also in school and at work. My children are at top colleges studying challenging STEM majors, on merit scholarships. I would like all my swimmers to be successful not only in swimming, but more importantly in education and life.
I would like to share more of my experience. Please give me a call or chat.
Coach Fujie Xia.