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The Anatomy of Success. Introducing Coach Matt Kredich

Matt Kredich, Head Coach at University of Tennessee, does not need any special introductions. He is well known in coaching community and if some are not familiar with Matt’s accomplishments, I can just mention that he is a personal coach of Christine Magnuson, two-time Olympic Silver medalist in Beijing. Yet another major accomplishment may not be that obvious: in 7 years Matt took University of Tennessee women’s swimming from obscure 14th place in the nation to a third place in the country, something hardly imaginable in the elite collegiate swimming dominated by few “super powers” such as Georgia, California, Arizona, Auburn and Florida.

When Matt accepted UT’s invitation in 2005 to head their Lady Vols swim program, his challenge was clear: bring UT women’s swimming into one of the top 10 programs in the nation. While the task was certainly ambitious on UT’s part, I had no doubt that Matt was prepared to take on this challenge and triumph in it.

One of the first difficulties he faced centered about changing the team’s spirit and vision. Preparing Olympians and dominating the NCAA’s looked as far-fetched then as a trip to the moon. So the first thing Matt had to tackle was converting doubters into believers who shared his vision, a task that required true leadership skills.

And in the first 7 short years Matt was able to accomplish exactly that. He built a program that turned his team into a strong national contender. The question now remains, “How did he do it?”

When coaches look at Matt’s success at UT, they often miss a component discussed only behind closed doors… team development strategy. Leadership, discipline and dedication apart, Matt needed something else to succeed. This “hidden” element was a team building strategy based on an individually optimized approach to the training process, a concept Matt picked up from us in early 2002. Let me be clear here. I’m not trying to say that 3S turned Matt into an extraordinary coach. On the contrary, if he hadn’t have been such an extraordinarily skilled coach already, he never would have been able to wield the tools and strategies we gave him to such great effect.

The knowledge and training approach we offered came in handy when he joined UT. He knew that he would need to change the way swimmers were coached, as well as their attitude to training and racing. He also knew that unlike his competitors, who were in a privileged position when it came to recruiting, he would need to maximize his talent “in hand” and do it one by one in order to maximize their natural ability. There simply wasn’t any other way to challenge the traditional powerhouses in his conference (Georgia, Florida and Auburn at that time). To achieve these goals Matt needed to build not only a new team environment, but also find new approaches to the training process.


Historically, 3S’s training philosophy was viewed as a challenge to mainstream, nationally recognized training patterns and ideology. For reasons we’ve never really been able to understand, national coaches considered 3S a threat, not an ally. So instead of learning our ideas and incorporating the best of them into their training, 3S suggestions were in general rejected, mislabeled, and pigeon-holed as being too complicated and “scientific”.

At the same time a few bold coaches (including Richard Quick, Bob Bowman, Jim Richardson, and of course Matt Kredich) did approach me in the early 2000’s, curious about the training regimen 3S was introducing. And we didn’t fail a single one of them, starting with Bob Bowman in 2003… But developing a super talent like Michael Phelps is actually an easier task than leading a “regular” talent to the level of national competition.

It’s an unfortunate fact of life, but in general collegiate programs are only as good as the swimmers they can recruit. And once you secure top talent, you have it for four years. So unless you really make some major coach blunders, top talent is likely to get better.

That was not an option for Kredich who knew that his recruiting capabilities could never match Florida, Georgia or Auburn for obvious reasons. Tennessee, as good name as it is, could hardly be viewed as swimming Mecca at that time. The alternative, whether it was recognized or not, was also obvious. He had to develop his existing talent to the best of their ability, and he chose to do that by using an individualized approach to training. The 3S system, with its core philosophy of individual training optimization, looked like a perfect tool for this job.

Combining our approach with Matt’s innate skills and character made perfect sense, and looked like the ultimate solution to the challenge at hand. Eventually other elite coaches understood this, and turned to us in their efforts to identify and develop their local talent, and even to mitigate the risks of taking on the development of “super” talents on their own.

Over the course of Matt’s career we can see how he “tested” different training philosophies. We saw him move from the conventional and typical, high volume/high intensity approach (which did allow some of the best athletes to reach their peak, but crushed everybody else on the team), to 3S’s contemporary philosophy, which was based on the optimization of individual training parameters that developed every athlete’s ability to its maximum. But choosing this path is impossible without the tools 3S provided to navigate and control the training process. Matt staked his career on this approach, and we can see the results today. It was a very good roll of the dice.

In any technology outdated views block progress and lead to stagnation in the field. By clinging to old fashioned training strategies coaches perpetuated the prevailing “top talent will out” way of collegiate sports. Teams with the best talent were “safe”. Nobody could beat them, because there was no mechanism that could turn 2nd rate talent into championship material. That’s why top teams stayed at the top of the food chain. And it was inconceivable in 2005 for an outsider like UT to break into that inner circle.

In this discussion it’s important to understand that no one expected Matt to be able to pull off the hat trick he did this year, especially since he was handed the extra responsibility of coaching both the men’s and women’s teams. Logically, this should have prevented Matt from spending the time he needed on each athlete to develop his true potential. And that was exactly the opinion that University of Florida Head Coach Gregg Troy had when we met last fall. He didn’t consider UT a threat and believed Matt had overextended himself, especially since his leading athletes had graduated, leaving him with an inexperienced team and no athletes of national distinction.

Well, more duties did not translate into a lack of attention to details for Matt. And his new class, under the new training they embraced, didn’t disappoint either. So once again, we tend to believe that our philosophy and tools have helped Coach Kredich stay on course and achieve the results he wanted, even though he had raw recruits and additional duties and responsibilities.

The same holds true of the army of coaches who are currently using 3S. Just look at what they’ve been able to accomplish… numerous “Coach of the Year” awards, conference wins, hundreds of broken records, NCAA qualifiers, and thousands of happy, smiling, and healthy swimmers. Isn’t that by itself worth a little extra effort? I can’t think of a coach who wouldn’t agree!

In closing we would like to send our heartiest congratulations to all 3S coaches who have just finished their short course season, and also want to thank you for your continued support and trust in our ability to serve your needs!

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Simply follow the link, subscribe for a free trial and contact us via email or phone: (804) 519-1201

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