About Rick Madge

Rick Jun 2013

Here’s my life in a nutshell.
Husband to a beautiful wife. Father of 3 amazing, grown-up  children.

Electrical Engineer (hey, it pays the bills and keeps my mind busy)
Swim coach (this is where my passion lies)


Ridiculously curious. Introverted. Pretensions of creative abilities. Reader (books not minds. at least, not that you know). Athlete (reduced primarily to swimming and weights now). Collector (of weird, old and interesting items). Writer (primarily of boring technical reports and overly long About You blurbs)

29 thoughts on “About Rick Madge

  1. Very interesting. You always were a good writer. Will enjoy reading the coming blogs.
    Only for you would I read blogs. Love Mom

  2. I have a friend teaching kinesiology this fall and he injured his larynx, I was thinking maybe I could guest lecture based on your article, if I could have your permission to do so….Bob Baker, student, Univ of Alabama Huntsville. (great article by the way)

  3. I think we may have to compare notes on collecting, I seem to have this affliction too…besides writing about swim related stuff. And 3 boys, but I started late, and they are in full swing not in double digits yet.

    1. Hi Gary, that’s an interesting parallel. My boys are spread throughout their 20s, and it seemed to happen so quickly. I even have a granddaughter now. That is definitely fun. Have fun with your boys while they’re young!
      As for collecting, yes, my wife would tell you that I have a problem. I collect things that interest me. Lately it’s been antiquities and tribal art. I love the stuff. But even I recognize that I get carried away at times. I wonder if they Collectors Anonymous?

    1. Thanks Richard! Just read the article you linked. That is an excellent analysis. It seems we both like to play with numbers. My only comment on Stephanie Rice’s race is that 2008 was the time of the shiny suits. Those suits completely changed the nature of swimming, resulting in hundreds of world records when there should have only been a handful. Stephanie Rice beat the previous world record by so much exactly because of the suit.
      If you look at the 2008 Men’s 400 IM you can see that Phelps did 4:03.84. That’s 1.3 seconds faster than Lochte’s 2012 time. In 2008 Stephanie Rice did 4:29.45, while Ye Shiwen swam faster at 4:28.43. All of this just makes Ye Shiwen’s swim even more remarkable. No matter how you look at it, her swim was outside of expectations. Which doesn’t taint it, but does legitimately allow for close analysis.

  4. I’m afraid I just looked at the figures. I am starting to learn about swimming via my daughter but in 2012 I knew nothing.

    The underwater kicking stuff has staggered me. My girl has recently made great strides with her above the water swimming but her dives, underwater phase and turn are all need work. Even a non expert can see it. I guess the good news is that if she can improve those her times will really show it. The bad news is it all sounds quite hard. She is loving it though.

    1. As long as she loves it. At this point in time thats the most important thing. The underwater and turns require a lot of core strength that will be built up over time. As you said, the good news is that as those improve, so will her times.

  5. I heard your Fish-Like swimming interview on The Sci Friday show. Your attention to the art and science of swimming is helpful. Even to a recreational swimmer that came to love and appreciate the sport over time. Thank you and keep up the good work! Dave Calvino

  6. Hi. I enjoyed the science behind the swim interview you did on Science Friday. Are you the same person that created a number of games for Commodore computers back in the 1980’s? (The Rat, etc.)

    1. Hi Paul, yes, in fact that is/was me. That was a fun time in the gaming industry when individuals could write games. Now it involves large teams of people. Of course, they may have a little bit more memory to work with than we did… 😛

      1. Hi Rick, that is awesome! 64k! I remember reading about them in Power/Play when I was a teen. I know this is probably not the right place to discuss further but is it possible to contact you about this? The games you made are not available on the usual software preservation sites.

  7. Your blog is brilliant. I couldn’t stop reading it last night, and when I looked up at the clock – it was 4 a.m.! I was really hoping you were local, so I could maybe ask you which swim organizations in Southern California are most aligned with the very healthy perspectives you have about children, parents, and competitive swimming. After reading your articles, it really feels like we need to switch to a different swim organization. But alas…you are in Canada. People, things, places…they are always BETTER in Canada. And by better, I mean like 10,000 times better. Reading your blog, it feels like our swim organization is stuck in the stone ages. LIke we have just discovered swim goggles. *sigh* Thank you for being so forward thinking. It gives me hope.

    1. Wow, Sarah, thanks so much for the compliment! And not everything is better in Canada. Just last weekend we had a horrible ice storm. In April!

      There are actually many clubs all over the world with a mindset of children first, and provide a clear path towards reaching one’s potential, instead of grinding children and looking for immediate results. In all honesty, if you don’t agree with the philosophy of your team, then everybody is better off if you find a new team better suited to your thinking. Some teams clearly go for high performance and excellence, and I respect their decision even if I feel a more balanced and gradual approach is better for the kids in the long run.

  8. Hey, Rick! I am a digital learning coach from Colombia (the country, not the state), and am working on a project with a an awesome physics teacher that involves analyzing swimming performance with the understanding of force, drag, energy and movement. I would love it if we could chat through skype or google hangout! Let me know your thoughts.

    1. Hi Natalia, thanks for reaching out. I’m happy to help however I can. In addition to anything I can provide, Swimming Science also has a lot of quality information on many aspects of this as well.

  9. Hello Coach Rick,
    I am so happy to have come across your blog. I especially enjoyed the post on how much to push your young swimmer. I’ve been struggling with this topic for a few months. My daughter is 10, turning 11 in October. She has been swimming since about 6 years old. In November she joined the Junior Olympic team on our club. In a few weeks is the championship meet and she told us she’d rather go on vacation (to B.C. actually, we LOVE Canada!!) then go to the meet. We thought it was perfectly fine, but apparently in the swim world it’s frowned upon to not attend these meets. Your post gave me a lot of insight and support that we are doing the best for our daughter. She loves competitive swimming and she has tremendous potential and we don’t want to burn her out.
    Thank you again. I look forward to reading your future posts!

    1. Hi Maria, and thanks for the comment. You’re doing the right thing! Your daughter has so much time before she has to get super serious. Also, you may want to look into getting David Epstein’s new book, Range. He talks about how the key to getting better is to develop skills in many areas before eventually focussing on one. Enjoy your trip to BC! I’m there right now with my family for a little vacation.

  10. I read your articles about underwater kick speed. It seems to drop to a rate that is lower than surface freestyle swimming after the dive. However I assume this logically point of surfacing might be after the 15m mark. If top level swimming’s swam the 50m freestyle without the 15m rule would they break records? I assume they would stay underwater for up to 25m? Assuming the kick possibly being more taxing would not deplete you over sprint distances.

    1. Excellent question! My gut feeling about underwater dolphin kick is that we’re still learning how to best use it, how to maintain faster-than-swimming speeds, and how to handle the physiological demands in balance with surface swimming. Since we are limited to 15m, we don’t have a lot of definitive studies of extended underwater speed when tapered, but my guess is that the increased speed could be held for much longer than 15m. For sprint races, it would be fantastic to see championship-ready sprinters eventually find the right balance of underwater and surface. For races longer than 50m, the calculations would get far more varied, as the oxygen debt could start to create a problem as the race went on. And one factor impacting on that calculation would be the inherent dangers of strenuous and repetitive underwater swimming (Shallow Water Blackouts).

      1. Fascinating! Thanks for the reply! Seems like swimming as a sport is still in its adolescence. I’d love to see a truly no holds barred 50m sprint one day.

I love comments, especially when they disagree with my view.

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