Keith Dickson – Coach
This week we are talking with Keith Dickson, the mastermind behind Multisport Madness Junior Team. Haven’t heard of Multisport Madness? They are the most successful non-recruited junior team in the world, in fact they have had more success at the Junior Nats and World Champs than USAT’s recruited team. Let’s talk to Junior coach and team director, Keith Dickson.
Andrew – Mr Keith Dickson, where do we start…You have developed one of, if not the most successful junior teams in the world on the outskirts of Chicagoland, without recruiting. You have set aside a lot of time and money to get the team off the ground and have created a lot of phenomenal youths. We all know that the coach can only do so much, but come on, every year you have another athlete stepping up and shining. What is it about your coaching, your club, your team that makes it so successful?
Keith – I had two Hall of Fame coaches growing up that I draw from and I was on 6 different national championship swim teams that I can remember very well that I model after. At one point there were 7 Olympians on my team. Bottom-line, it is the passion and vision that drive this bus and really the help that I get from other elite coaches.
Andrew – A lot of parents, athletes, and onlookers make the common claim that you are just living vicariously through these kids. That is not at all the case, you were a swimmer at Florida, and then went on to swim in some giant, historical swim meets. After swimming you got into triathlon and got out of the water at Hawaii first overall (before pros got a 15 min head start) multiple times. Talk about 3-5 highlights that defined your career in your eyes?
Keith – Ha-Ha…that’s funny because I had one parent telling everyone that the only reason I do this is that I didn’t win a gold medal and I am still trying to chase one!! (I won several gold medals….never won the big one) Let me correct you on Hawaii…not sure if I was first overall but I did get out ahead of Scott Molina! For a poser like me, that was fun. I think breaking the WR in the 200 SCM backstroke in 1978 against the Russians was probably my best swim ever. Having said that, I was second to my roommate Marc Foreman by 1/1000 of a second….they don’t even go that low anymore. Looking back, it was all the training with my teammates that was the most fun…the process is what is so awesome. Those guys and girls are still my friends today.
Andrew – Currently the team is a seven day a week, 1-2 times/day, training team. As you develop these phenoms at the Junior level (which is draft legal sprint distance), as they grow are you going to continue coaching them as they hit the U-23 level (draft legal Olympic distance)? If yes, what tweaks will you make to their training?
Keith – We are only going 6 days now….softening a bit. For the fall of 2011, I am starting an elite college program where we will have scholarship athletes who will be supported by private funding and the USOC. we want at least ONE place to go if you are “above the line” as a young triathlete. We have athletes who have single sport scholarships in hand but want to pursue triathlon and go to school and WE MUST support them if they can get on the international podiums. Tweaks? More of the same…..just good hard fun.
What changes do you see in the future?
Keith – The sport is changing fast. Take the rate of change and overlay it into the future. It will be different in 2016 and 2020. I get frustrated with folks who look at 2000 to 2008 and tell me that’s how it’s gonna be. We may have a sprint distance in 2020. Imagine a strong super fast 800 freestyler who can time trial like Staryk and hang on for a sub 14 5k. The new normal is 21 year old world champions. The exceptions will be the older guys.
Do you seriously still ride an aluminum frame?
Andrew – No, in 2009 I moved from the Aluminum Veritas to the Carbon Ordu and Opal. Seriously…it is about the design of the bike. I put out quite a bit of power and until the last few years, no carbon frame was as stiff as aluminum. Now that carbon technology is there, it is lighter and stiffer (when properly laid and glued) than its predecessors. To me at the end of the day there are 2 things that are important. #1 – Stiffness, #2 – Aero, weight is not really a concern of mine.
Now it is time to tap dance. With the 2012 Olympics around the corner, in your opinion, how do you think that the atheletes for the US should be selected? Do you agree with the USAT’s current qualification policy of best man (woman) at each of 3 races, or do you think that the US should build a team with team leader(s) and domestique(s)?
Keith – Do we have anyone who can win a gold medal in 2012? In order to compete in the Olympic Games for medals we need to rethink everything we are doing. Our current junior system needs to be rewired, we need more “real athletes” and yes, how we select the team should be examined. But a little longer term, I cannot understand for the life of me why we can’t go 1-2-3 for the United States…forget the domestique.
Thank you very much for your time Keith. I look forward to seeing you at the races and continued success of your Chicagoland juniors. Happy and Safe Training.
All the best,