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How Doug Frost Prepared His Prize Pupil World Champion Ian Thorpe


Paul Quinlan

After the outstanding results of the Australian swimming team at the 8th World Swimming Championships in Perth, Australia, SWIMNEWS plans a series of profiles of the Australian coaches who led their swimmers to success.

The home of Doug Frost's club is the Sutherland Aquatic Centre in the southern suburbs of Sydney. The facilities include 50-m and 25-m pools, both indoor and outdoor. Training is done year-round in the outdoor pools, while the indoor facilities are dedicated to community teaching, fitness and recreation programs.

For many years Frost has been known for his Padstow Indoor Club, based in his own 25-m indoor pool, where he still operates his development and teaching programs. The opportunity to move to the 50-m facility came when Coach Hodge resigned from the Aquadot Club to take up the position of swim director at the New South Wales Institute of Sport in October 1997, immediately after the Australian world championship trials.

At those trials a 15-year-old was selected to swim the 400 freestyle and 4x200 freestyle relay events. Ian Thorpe, whose sister Christina is a former Australian team member, had made his national team debut at the 1997 Pan Pacific championships in Fukuoka, Japan. Thorpe swam to second place behind teammate Grant Hackett in the 400 freestyle. At 14, he was the youngest male to swim for Australia since the legendary Jon Konrads, who has taken a personal interest in encouraging the newcomer.

Frost is a level three (highest level) coach in the national coach accreditation scheme of the Australian Coaching Council and the Australian swimming federation. He has been recognized by his peers with a number of coaching awards including Australian Age Group Coach of the Year in 1997 and the National Coaches Association outstanding coaching achievement prize.

He was a member of the national team staff at the 1997 Pan Pacific championships and 1998 world championships, as well as a number of New South Wales touring teams. He has for many years been an active board member of the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association.

Computer technology is a core element in planning for his star athletes. He says, "I wouldn't be without my laptop. If you want to be fully organized in your coaching you need to work with a computer."

Frost's long list of national team swimmers include: Lisa Burnes, '78 Commonwealth; Wendy Bowie '82 Commonwealth; Phillip Bryant '92 Olympics, '94 World and Commonwealth and '95 Pan Pacs; Christina Thorpe '95 Pan Pacs; Brooke Townsend '97 Pan Pacs, Ian Thorpe '97 Pan Pacs and '98 World; Simon Cowley '98 World.

After all those years of coaching at the top level, Frost discovered Ian Thorpe in his own club. Also very skilfull in cricket and football, Thorpe was selected for the New South Wales school team and from there joined the Padstow development squad under Frost's guidance. At 12, he made waves at the junior nationals. In 1996, he was one of the stars of the championships winning nine gold medals and posting some impressive times. It was a natural step from there to the Pan Pac team.

Frost's computer-planned annual program was gradual and included the following training sessions and mileage.

Ian THORPE, AUS - Oct 13, 1982
9 years 2 sessions per week 2-3 km
10 years 2 sessions per week 3-4 km
11 years 3 sessions per week 4-6 km
12 years 5 sessions per week 15-18 km
13 years 5-7 sessions per week 20-30 km
From this stage the cycles were:
3 aerobic, 1 adaptation, 3 endurance,
1 adaptation, 3 quality, 2-3 taper
14 years 7-9 sessions per week 40-50 km
15 years 10 sessions per week 40-70 km
14 years 7-9 sessions per week 40-50 km
Two best long course sets done by Ian are:
30 x 50 on 1.00 - All under 26.5 secs
4 x 4 x100 - Last four under 57.0 secs
Best one 55.2 secs

In 1998 Frost will be preparing his protege for the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In the long term he believes that Thorpe's best events will be in the freestyle, from 400 down to 100.

Already a world champion in the 400 free and a member of the Australian 4x200 gold medal free relay team, Thorpe has achieved some of the goals set by his coach. With an impressive 51.35 in the New South Wales championships a week after the world championships in Perth, he will be a strong candidate for the freestyle sprint and middle distance medals in international competition.

When asked to rate Ian alongside the current top Australian distance swimmers, namely Kieren Perkins, Daniel Kowalski, and Grant Hackett, Frost said, "I have the greatest respect for all of Ian's competitors, including his Australian teammates. This is why the standard is so high in this country."

"Ian has great stroke technique and with his fantastic work ethic should be a force in this arena for many years."

Commenting on the future of swimming in Australia, Frost remarked that, "With the assistance now available for coaching in Australia it is becoming more financially rewarding, but there is still the age-old problem of lack of pool space for training."

And on the future of the sport world-wide, this top coach said, "I am hoping that FINA can keep our sport DRUG FREE!"

Long Course personal bests per age / year
13 years 25.75 55.83 1:58.80 4:10.66
14 years 24.48 52.49 1:52.83 3:53.40
15 years - 51.35 1:50.07 3:46.29
Individual Medley--200400
13 years - - 2:14.93 -
14 years - - 2:08.22 4:26.42
15 years - - 2:06.26 -

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