Brett Hawke is a former competitive swimmer and coach. He represented Australia at the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics and won 7 international medals. As an Auburn Tigers swimmer, he earned 17 All-American honors and 9 NCAA titles. After his pro swimming career, he became an Assistant Coach at Auburn University. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he guided Cesar Cielo to victory in the Men's 50 Freestyle. Cesar's gold medal swim was the first in Brazil's history. At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Brett helped guide Bruno Fratus to a Bronze medal in the Men's 50 Free. Today, Brett hosts the #1 swimming podcast in the world, “Inside with Brett Hawke” where he interviews some of the world’s highest performing swimmers (and humans). He is also the Head of Creator Acquisition at AnyQuestion!
I became an Olympian after visiting a friend at Auburn University and being introduced to the swim coach Bill Pilczuk. The coach saw my times and took me for breakfast where he offered me a small scholarship which changed my life. Transcript: "Hey, Ronnie. This one's really easy for me. I never become an Olympian without this moment in time happening. It was actually-- I went to visit a friend after the 1995 World short course championships in Rio de Janeiro. I had a friend who was just going to school-- he was just a regular student-- at a place called Auburn University in Alabama. And after the World Championships in Rio, I decided to fly up to Alabama to see my friend, just to hang out. And he said to me, hey, we have a pretty good swim team here. And all I had with me was my Australian swimming outfit because I'd just come from the world championships. I knew nothing about college swimming. I knew zero college swimmers or coaches-- nothing. I just knew a friend who was going to Auburn University. He said, come down to the pool, I'll introduce you to the coach. I was like, great, sure, why not? I walk under the pool deck. Down the other end of the pool are the coaches and a bunch of swimmers. I see a guy walk towards me. I find out later that the man walking towards me is Bill Pilczuk, who goes on to become world champion only a few years later, beats Alexander Popov. He comes down and says, hey, write your times on a piece of paper. He takes those times back to David Marsh, who's at the other end of the pool. I see David and look at the piece of paper and then look up at me, and then look down, and then look up, and then David walks towards me. Next minute, I'm sitting in David Marsh's car. We're going for a coffee for breakfast, and he writes on a scrap piece of paper a small little scholarship offer. And I wish I had that scrap piece of paper, but he writes it on a piece of paper in the car on the way to breakfast, just outside. And man, that's the moment that changed my life. That was it. Nothing else happens without that moment in time happening. Incredible."
To be successful in swimming, I coach my athletes to do a 500 with fins to warm up, followed by three rounds of in and outs, followed by a 50 kick for time to evaluate their kick, 25 chutes to build explosive power, a 50 easy into a 25 dive, 4 rounds of a 50 fins for time with paddles option, and some connective drills at the end. Doing this every day will build up confidence and nobody can stop them. Transcript: "Cam, I totally understand your objective here and what you're trying to get at. And I think we all have moments where we've done something where we feel really good about it. But the way I coached is I didn't want my athletes walking into the pool trying to be excellent. I wanted them to be exceptional every single day, every single workout. So the way that I wrote my workouts was to set them up for success. I try not to do too much and try not to do too little. Just get them to the point where we could be successful. So here's an example of an everyday set where I want you to walk off feeling like you could win a world championship at the end of this workout. You set it up with a 500 with fins on, mixing it up between some swimming and drilling. Really, that's your space to get your head where you need it. And to get your body into a position where it's feeling water and you're feeling good in the water. Then we move on to the three rounds in the in and outs, three cycles, two cycles, and one cycle. So you go push off the wall, you do three cycles flip back into the wall, then you go two cycles flip back into the wall, then one cycle flip back into the wall. Just warming the body up, getting it ready to go fast. Then it's a 50 kick for time on video. I want to see what our kick looks like. Now, listen, the kick is the engine of the body here. The legs are going to go first in the sprint. So we need to train these legs. We do this very regularly, a 50 kick for time, have a look at it, see what we can do better. We go into full rounds here at 25 chute. We're pulling explosive power. Then we go into a 50 easy into a 25 dive. All right. Our dive is on point. Our breakouts are perfect. We're getting to the 25 as fast as we can. 50, easy, and then finish with a 50 fins for time here fast, paddles option. You go four rounds of that. Finish with some connective drills at the end. Listen, if you eat a meal like this every single day, in three months, you're, going to be unbeatable in your mind. Put in the work every day. Don't look for that magic workout. Look for the workouts and a gear to get you that confidence every single day. And by the end, nobody can stop you."
I initially started out on the spot creating workouts, but have since evolved to using a Google spreadsheet to write down and share my workouts with other people. Transcript: "This is interesting question because this is something that's really evolved for me. As an assistant coach, I started out kind of just being on the deck and being prepared to help the head coach any way that I could. Generally, it was David Marsh in my early years as an assistant, and he would always just kind of on the spot, take a group of athletes and tell me to go work with them. So creatively, I'd have to think on the spot. And then later on, I'd go back and write down some of those ideas that we worked on, you know. Or I'd put it on a whiteboard, write it up. They'd do it. That's kind of the way I started learning to write workouts [? with ?] just actively thinking about them. Then as I progressed into kind of a lead assistant and then the head coach, I needed to plan more, so I needed to have people prepared, to know what was going on. So I did start to actually physically write down the workouts on a pad. Now I've actually evolved to kind of this method here where I am utilizing Google. And I just write down-- I typed down all the workouts on this Google spreadsheet, and then I can share it with anybody that I want to share it with. So that's kind of what I'm doing now. And it seems to work really well, and I like that."
The best supplement for sprinters is belief - believing in yourself, your coaches, and the process. This will have a placebo effect and can help you to achieve success. Transcript: "Khalid, listen, the most important and effective supplement for sprinters, and I take a lot of it, I try and take as much as I can, is belief. Belief, man, belief. Believe in what you're doing. Believe in how you're doing it. Believe in the process. Believe in the outcome. Just supplement. Belief, belief, belief, belief, belief. Believe in your coaches. Believe in the people around you. Believe in yourself. That's the best supplement you can have, man. It's like the placebo effect. When you believe, nothing can stop you."
I use speed charts from the Queensland Academy of Sport to determine my front end speeds, back end speeds, and the types of training that I want to do. The speed charts tell me the specific places I want to be for my goal time. These speed charts can be found online. Transcript: "Colin, I think I've mentioned this in the past. I use these speed charts, these Queensland Academy of Sport speed charts from back in the day. It breaks down every distance. It gives you a hand time here. And then it keeps going on all the distances. It gives you a finish time. It gives you a turn time. And then right here in specific part of your question, the front end speed, the first 50 and then the second 50 is your goal time. So if your goal in the 100 butterfly is 51.5, you want to be out in 24.3 and back in 27.1. It gives you the turn time. It gives you the finish time. These speed charts are the things that I use to determine my front end speeds, my back end speeds, and the types of training that I want to do. But anything off the blocks for me, would be front end speed. So I'd probably come to this section of the chart. I might do a 15, 20, 25, or 30, 35, kind of thing off the blocks. And then what are the specific places I want to be for that goal time, it tells me right here. So you can break it up that way. So these speed charts, I believe, can be found online."
Fred Bousquet was very dedicated to his core and flexibility, so much so that he would come to practice an hour early to work on those areas. He also worked hard on body position, head position, and rotation, doing drills constantly. Transcript: "Hey, thanks, John. I've been having a lot of fun going through my phone and just finding videos from 10, 15 years ago. And a lot of Fred Bousquet stuff on there, which is exciting for me. I mean, just one of the greatest sprint freestyles in history. And a couple of things that made him special, I guess, where he did have very flexible shoulders. I'll say that. He was very strong, but very flexible. And he worked on his flexibility a lot. I mean, he would come to practice an hour early. He'd do a lot of flexibility work. He would do a lot of core strengthening. I think that's the other key here is sitting high in the water has to do with core connection. And Fred's core was among the best I'd ever seen. But he worked at it every single day. He put in the time. He put in the hours. Most people would come in and mess around before practice or they'd sit there and talk. Fred was doing work, real work. And I did a podcast with Cameron van der Burgh that I released today, and he said the same thing. So like the best of the best get it, the ones that want to be the top, and Fred certainly did that. So core connection, flexibility-- I mean, body position was key too. He worked very hard and diligently on body position, head position, and rotation. We did drills constantly all the time. So it's just a matter of putting in the time and energy."