TNT Swimmers Experience the Ripple Effect

TNT swimmers participated in a competitive swimming technique clinic presented by Shelly Ripple – Johnston, a recently retired 24 time NCAA All – American and record holder. The clinic was held Saturday, June 18th at the Bounds Family YMCA and focused on the main points of all four competitive strokes.  

“Shelly is an awesome coach,” said TNT coach Jan Mittemeyer.  “She had a great rapport with the swimmers, gave an excellent presentation, and made a real impression about the value of proper swimming technique.”  

During her career, Ripple, a native of Baton Rouge, LA, was a finalist at the U.S. National Championships more than 20 times. Earning a full scholarship for swimming at Stanford University, she trained side by side with Olympian and All – American teammates under four time Olympic coach Richard Quick. There she earned NCAA All – American honors 24 times, the maximum number possible for an individual to achieve.

A member of the USA 2002 World Championship Swimming Team, Ripple spent the afternoon sharing a wealth of knowledge and experience with the young TNT swimmers.  “When Shelly talked about the importance of a certain technique, she would often make her point by using her training experience and interaction with her Stanford teammates like Jenny Thompson, the most highly decorated Olympic athlete in any sport,” said Mittemeyer.  “For example, when she emphasized the importance of a steady kick during the crawl stroke, Shelly said that Jenny once told her that she kicked all the time, even when warming down, because she wanted to have the best kick in the world. That was very motivating for the kids to hear.”

After two hours of training in the pool, Ripple and TNT swimmers took time out to relax and refuel poolside with fresh fruit and cold water. The swimmers presented Ripple, who is expecting a baby boy in August, with a baby gift. Ripple and the swimmers then found a shady spot outdoors where they exchanged questions and answers about competitive swimming.

“Sitting and just talking with Shelly was fun and interesting,” said Mittemeyer. The participants asked Ripple questions about many different topics, both personal and swimming related. Mittemeyer asked Ripple what her training was like as a young swimmer and how often she thought swimmers age 10 and younger should train per week.

“Shelly told us that up until the age of 12 she did gymnastics, competitive diving, softball and swimming.   She said that she thought swimmers age 10 and younger should train 3, maybe 4 times per week, which is what she did at that age,” said Mittemeyer.  “I was glad to hear that because that is how our age group program is structured.”
“I liked what Shelly said about what makes a really good team,” said Nickie Hodde, a swimming coach at Rock Creek Club and mother of TNT swimmers Dana and Ben.  “She told the kids to watch and help each other by offering their teammates advice on technique. She said that by helping each other, not only would their teammates improve, but they themselves would become better swimmers in the process.”

“The clinic was really fun,” said TNT swimmer Jordan Doucet, age 10 of Lake Forest.  “I learned some new things, especially on fly and backstroke.”  Will Anderson, age 10 from Fairhope agreed.  “It was pretty cool how she knew everything about all the strokes. I learned some new things about breastroke from her.”

Jefferson Hudson, age 16 of Fairhope also thought the clinic was a good experience.  “It was exciting learning from a really fast swimmer like Shelly.  She reinforced a lot of what we have already been taught and I also picked up some new information.”

TNT coach Jan Mittemeyer was especially enthusiastic about having Ripple give the clinic to his swimmers.  “One of the methods we use at TNT to teach and to reinforce stroke technique is by watching Olympic caliber swimmers on video tape. The main video tape series that our swimmers have been watching during the past year is produced by Stanford coach Richard Quick, and features, among others, Shelly Ripple. So, when I heard that Shelly was available to give a clinic to our kids, it was a no-brainer. It really couldn’t have worked out any better.”

TNT competes in Ripple’s home town of Baton Rouge next weekend, June 24 – 26 at the Bengal Tiger Aquatic Club Summer Classic. TNT Swimming provides year round instruction, coaching, and competitive swimming opportunities to children and youth of all ability levels at the Bounds Family YMCA and Point Clear Tennis Club.  For more information, please call 251-599-1019 or log on at