Heritage Oaks Torpedoes


Come swim with the best! Heritage Oaks Torpedoes, one of Cobb Summer Swim League's GOLD teams has a long history of excellence, sportsmanship and technique, believing that swimming is a skill for life. We strive to educate young minds and bodies, giving children an opportunity to learn, experience a healthy approach to living and most importantly, have fun!


Years ago during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games there was a commercial. I think it was for laundry soap (I will look it up and post a link to it at the bottom). The commercial showed various athletes; gymnasts, soccer players, swimmers going to practice day after day after day. But what the commercial really focused on was the mothers of these young athletes. Early mornings thick with blackness highlighted these mothers waking early - earlier than their athlete children - cooking, cleaning and yes, washing. Nasty, soaking wet towels, sweaty socks, work out gear and oh right, the rest of the family's clothes as well. The scenes spanned the lives of these young athletes and with the companionship and encouragement of their mothers, going to practice, training for hours, coming home, eating, doing their homework on the bus, the train, in the car, whenever there was a a scant 15 minute window to get the calculus problem done or ten pages of that AP Lit novel read. Being Olympic season, it of course culminated with the moms and dads (but highlighted the moms) watching proudly from the stands as the athlete stuck the landing or touched out the competition by a fingernail. 


This my friends, is dedication. But not just of the athletes, of the moms too. Both sides have different goals but are no less dedicated to those goals. 


No matter how hard we try, most of us will not end up in the Olympic Games. It's a fact. But this cold hard reality check in no way means that we shouldn't strive for dedication in all that we do. Yes, sometimes this means doing what my family and all the other families on our year round team do, waking every morning during the summer at 5am for practice. Or committing to the doubles, or the drive to the pool three times a day. Sometimes it means prioritizing your family and eschewing sports or other activities for the good of the unit. Sometimes it simply means setting a small goal (or even a large one that will take years) and slowly chipping away at it, hour by hour, day by day. 


Dedication comes in all forms. Research papers. Research in general. Family. Your faith. A perfect flip turn, bucket turn or spin turn. A non-stop 50 fly. 100 fly. 200 fly. The point is, pick a goal or three and be dedicated. Work at it every day. Think about it, assess and reassess. Set your bar high and refuse those who tempt you to lower it because of their own insecurities. Recognize the nay-Sayers as people who are so insecure with themselves and their fear of failure that they try to drag others down so that everyone is like them. Do not back down. Grab your goal with two hands and hang on. 


True greatness ... whatever your personal definition ... comes only with dedication. 



Torpedoes Bring IT

Off the Blocks 

Feb. 9, 2015

Summer swim is gearing up, but for those of us who have been swimming since last summer, it has been an exciting season both in USA Swimming and High School. Everything culminated this past weekend in the Olympic pool at Georgia Tech with the GHSA State meet. Many of your friends and coaches have been working hard and seeing some real results from their dedication to the sport. Mere fractions of time separated first place from 30th in many of the events; there was some seriously FAST swimming! 


This is just a taste of what our team is capable of … 


Caitlin Oh, representing the Magnet program of Kennesaw Mountain Mustangs dropped 2.02” to finish 45th in the 200IM with a time of 2:19.90, and dropped .84 in the 100 breast, finishing 32nd with a time of 1:11.38. 


Hillgrove’s Hydro Hawks sent 17 swimmers to High School State this past weekend including many from our very own team. Abby Robertson, Lucas Bauer, Brady Fields, Cullen Fields and Jamison Muzzey REPRESENTED, swimming their way into individual events and A Relays. 


Cullen, Brady and Lucas all swam on the Men’s 200 Yard Free Relay, dropping 1.84” to earn 9th in the STATE of Georgia. Our same trio finished 10th in the 200 Medley Relay with a finish time of 1:40.20.


Lucas Bauer, senior dropped .41 seconds in the 50 free to finish 28th with a time of 22.89. 


Abby Robertson, freshman dropped 3.56 seconds in her 500 Free, moving up 8 spots to finish 35th with a time of 5:34.64, and swam in all three girls relays (200 Medley (breast, 34.97), 200 free and 4 x 100 free), finishing 30th, 26th and 31st respectively. 


Brady Fields, freshman dropped .50 seconds in the 50 Free to finish 13th, and 1.75 seconds to finish 15th with times of 21.64 and 47.92, respectively. 


Cullen Fields, sophomore earned an automatic All-American and a Winter NATIONAL cut dropping 1.57 seconds in the 100 Fly with a finish time of 49.36 and finished 7th in the 100 back with a finish time of 52.06. 


High school swim is over, but the USA meets continue with Divisionals in March and the beginning of long course in April. Watch the website for updates on some of our favorite swimmers and remember, with hard work and dedication, YOU TOO can make a HUGE difference in the pool. 

Muscle Memory

Off the Blocks

June 18, 2014


Wow, does time fly!


Only one more meet, and then our team will dissemble for another year, only to pick back up next March, another year older and wiser. 


This past Monday was fun. I am lucky enough to be good friends with a lot of people on that team, and for me, it was like a small reunion. But I am exceptionally proud of our swimmers. All of the coaches were old friends with the other team’s coaches, swimming with and against each other practically their whole lives. It was a fun and congenial atmosphere. 


Laid back and relaxed. 


Exactly what summer league should be. Full of awesome competition, fun and exciting … well done, team!


So, again I ask, what did we learn? 


Swimming, while team based is very individual. This sets it apart from almost every other sport. Cross-country or track is just about the only other sport that is similar in that you represent a team, and the points you earn help that team, but ultimately, you are trying to make yourself better by improving your own times. The only way we can really understand how and if we are doing better is to challenge ourselves at meets, pushing beyond the limits for the 30 seconds or minute that we are in the water. 


It is always a lot to think about … how should my fingers enter the water … what kind of kick am I doing … where is my head (both literally and figuratively)? 


There is such a thing called muscle memory. 


Muscle memory can be your best friend, and can be your worst enemy. If you’ve worked hard at practice, forcing yourself to do the little things every time, every wall, every stroke, your body will remember what to do. The opposite is also true, however. If you’ve not taken practice seriously, or listened to your coaches, or made yourself do the things you know you should, guess what happens when you get to a meet? 


There is a little term that I’ve always used with my swimmers … you play like you practice. 


What are the little things? 



  1. keep the head still
  2. roll the hips to extend the arm
  3. kick
  4. straight arm pull, not bending the elbow until the stroke is finished
  5. no breath off the wall
  6. streamline dolphin kicks off the wall 
  7. breathe every three strokes



  1. keep head still AND back
  2. rolling the hips so the fingertip entry is correct
  3. deep pull
  4. kick
  5. dolphin kick/streamlines underwater



  1. pullout
  2. high elbows and fast hands
  3. strong, strong kick
  4. head down
  5. 2 hand touch



  1. straight arms
  2. breathe every other stroke at the catch
  3. head down
  4. kick at the top of the stroke and the bottom
  5. 2 hand touch


These are all extremely important and, done consistently and perfectly, make you stronger and faster. The muscle memory will be there, and meets will be a chance to shine. But they take discipline. If you allow yourself to slide, say to yourself, “Its just warmup, I don’t need to do a flip turn,” or “I’ll do the bottom-arm pullout (not breathing off the wall) next time,” or “It’s a 50 fly! I NEED to breathe every stroke!” you will do it in a meet. 


Every. Time. 


I’ve seen it happen with every single swimmer that isn’t disciplined in practice. Most of the time, they don’t even realize it. The muscle memory is there and it is done automatically. 


I challenge you all … take this last week and commit yourself. Do the little things. 


Every practice. Every length. Every wall.

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Off the Blocks

June 10, 2014


Remember how I promised a nail biter? A heart breaker? Well, we got it. 






We could jab fingers all over the place, we could scream about the DQ’s, the Relays, but we won’t because we are the sum of all our numbers. We win as a team, we lose as a team. But I will say, I’ve never seen a ref as fond of Scissor Kicking DQ’s as I have last night. Every ref has their favorite infraction after all … ask me about Abby’s meet last weekend at Dynamo. 


But, over all? We. Were. Awesome. The swimming was great, the attitudes even better. One thing though with regard to sportsmanship, and I had this very discussion in my house last night when we got home. All swimmers should remain in the pool until everyone is done. Touch the wall and wait. Say, “Great swim!” “Well done!” “Good job!” or don’t say anything, but stay in the water until everyone finishes. Then, and only then, get out. No one wants to finish last to an empty pool. 


But there are things we need to learn. Well, not learn perhaps because our coaches have done a great job … perfect. That’s the word I’m looking for. 


From a technical perspective looking at the DQ slips last night as I did, the first 20 (I exaggerate … well, maybe I exaggerate, there were a lot after all!) were for scissor kicking in the breast stroke, both the medley relay and the individual events. Scissor kicking happens when, especially in breast stroke, the hips are not level, even. We talk a lot to you about how both your hands need to touch the wall at the same time, on a level, even plane. One hand cannot be higher than the other. Hips and shoulders are very similar. If one hip has dropped down or forward, your whip kick (picture a frog kick here, knees bent, feet flexed) will not be even. One leg is lower than the other and therefore not on the same level plane. The legs come together on top of one another resulting in a SCISSOR action. 


DQ. Automatic, illegal kick. 


Ask me anytime what the most difficult stroke is, I will answer … Breaststroke. So many moving parts. Nothing happens concurrent, everything happens in sequence. Sort of like riding a bike, and just like riding a bike, once you get it, you get it, but you have to practice the little things. Head and eyes down. Hips square and level. Reach and glide. Kick into your glide. Fast hands. Good catch. Knees and ankles touching. Its a lot to think about, and that’s what makes it so hard. Buy into the glide concept and life will be much easier, I promise. Keep your head down and still with no bobble head and you’ve conserved your energy considerably. Ask anyone who swims the 200 breast. It’s seriously hard, but these concepts and practices will be your rock. 


Fly, although requiring a lot of strength and a strong kick, is relatively simple. One kick, one pull. Kick at the top of the pull, and kick at the bottom. Arms, move together, legs move together. Straightforward and uncomplicated. Is it hard to do? Of course, because it requires strength from the core. Full-out, muscle strength that comes from constant practice. 

It takes hard work. Strong discipline. Willingness to do the little, little things over and over. Loyalty to the sport. Loyalty to yourself and the belief that you can push through the pain and the frustration. Remember when I said that a good swimmer is a smart swimmer? A good swimmer is also a swimmer who can put aside everything for the forty-five minutes, the hour, the two hours they have to spend in the water to focus on nothing but themselves and the little things, leaving everything else behind at the gate.  


No one ever said swimming was easy, after all.

A Good Swimmer

Off the Blocks    

June 3, 2014




Our first loss. No worries, there are bound to be more, nestled amongst the wins and the nail biters. Besides, just because the numbers added up meant a loss, doesn't mean the night was a total loss. There were some incredible swims, people coming from behind, close wall touches, screams and cheers. It was a rush!


I was very proud of our team last night. I sat under the glow of the incandescent, lightning bugs, a few mosquitoes, and these tiny little green grasshopper-looking things that liked to crawl up the screen, transferring times into the computer (author’s note - sorry if I screwed your ribbon up), because two of our teammates lost their grandfather Sunday night. Brave girls, they still swam and did awesome, but their father had to leave to help his family. I was so proud of them, both relatively new to the sport of swimming, they carried on representing their new team with dignity and joy. 


We could all take a lesson from that. Not eleven and seven years old, and they had the grace to cheer on their teammates, putting aside their sadness. We faced adversity last night. The toughest team in the league, we held our own through the individual events, but as sometimes happens the relays got us. What knocks us down only makes us stronger though, and I think there were some amazing moments.


So what did we learn? 


What do we take away from a loss? 


On the technical side, kicking is huge


The kick, done properly originates from the hip. Whether dolphin (knees and ankles glued together) which actually originates from the shoulders, flutter (toes pointed, knees locked), or whip, also known as breast-stroke (feet flexed, knees out in synchronicity that kicks into the glide, not concurrently with the pull, but in succession), is a FULL TWO-THIRDS of your body. More in the case of dolphin kick. 


To ignore or to do only half a kick, is to ignore more than half of you body. 


I ask you swimmers this, what if you took an exam at school and ignored two-thirds of the questions. Would you pass? 


Uh. No. 


In fact, it would be a spectacular fail. 


Swimming is a little different, because there is upper body work too, but still, wouldn’t we all like to get across the pool with less swimming? Kicking is your friend. It’s also good for your heart … just saying. 


Emotionally and intellectually, what did we learn? 


Swimming is fun. 


Swimming is amazing. 


I bet most of the parents out there can’t do what you kids can do. Even me and I swim! I might be able to beat my Bennett, but Lizzie I’m not so sure about and you can forget about Mollie. You should take pride in your ability to do what you can do. Practice it every day, respecting your coaches.  


Listen to your coaches. They have skills, they have knowledge. They’ve been in the trenches of state meets and county meets, out of town meets and sectional meets. They understand the pressure, the nerves. They’ve had coaches in their faces, making them do pushups, swim the 1650 free for time during practice or do so many abs, they would for sure fall out! Utilize their strategies.  


Watch them and learn. Every one of them started out like you, just a kid on the Torpedoes, but they took the time to learn, they took the time to respect their coaches’ decisions and rules and know that what hurts today won’t be so bad two days from now. 


Ask questions. If you don’t understand why Coach Jess wants you to flick your thigh during freestyle, if that seems silly to you, ask why. You would be surprised by the answer, but maybe not because it's quite logical, finishing your stroke gives you 6-10 more inches with each pull. All adds up to less swimming. If Coach Cullen wants you to swim your fly with no breath and you just can’t possibly … ask him why. See if keeping your head in a neutral position makes a difference to your fly. 


A good swimmer … is a smart swimmer. 


You’ve got the world at your fingertips. Grab it!

Sportsmanship. The Ultimate Goal.

Off the Blocks

May 29, 2014





Just looking at that date is crazy to me. It’s probably been five years since I’ve written an Off the Blocks for our team. Back in the day, I would write one once a week or so. We would cover everything from team cheers to sportsmanship to nutrition for your swimmers. Techniques and attitudes, the way to behave and how not to behave. Since those days, my life has taken many twists and turns. Two more children, a USA Swimming Coaching position, a child in college, a child still in preschool. I’ve been all over the place. I think its safe to say change has been the number one prevailing theme in my life. 




What does that mean exactly? 


Most of you reading this are “new” to our team. By new, I mean within the last 2-3 years. Some of you are veterans and remember how it used to be, but most of you were blessed to move into the neighborhood with a GOLD level swim team already in place and running - thanks to the volunteers - like a well-oiled machine. Lucky you. We have had and do have awesome coaches, we have had and do have awesome swimmers, but the most important thing we have on our team is legacy and tradition. Consistent ideals and values. You newbies haven’t really had to deal with change at all … you’ve been extremely fortunate to step right in to greatness. 


Ten years ago, our beloved Heritage Oaks Torpedoes were on the bottom of the bottom. It was fun for sure, coaches would run the five/sixes around the pool for relays because we didn’t have enough kids. To watch Belle and Sam and Mady and Jess and Lucy swim was the highlight of the night …  because they won their races! We won maybe one or two meets a season and were in the platinum level. Platinum in CCSL is not like platinum in real life in case you didn’t know, but we had fun and we were content. Thankfully, we live in West Cobb. If we lived in East Cobb, I think we would have been around the aluminum or tin foil level. 


No joke. 


Some of the seniors that are now on our team were mere babies … and by babies, I mean babies. Four (because back in the day, four year olds could swim), five, six maybe seven years old. Maybe. Some of the swimmers that carry their age groups now were in diapers and pacifiers. Or not even born. There are stories I could tell you about these kids … but, as what happens, they grow up. They change. They work hard and they improve. We introduced them to the amazing sport of swimming with the intent to give them a life skill and a place to go in the mornings, a reason to wake up, a purpose while school was out. That was always the goal. If we won, that was awesome because of course its fun to win, but the GOAL, the PURPOSE was to introduce them, teach them how to survive in the water, teach them friendly competition, and to keep them busy. 


Along with the kids, we strove to educate the parents. 


As I said, we were in the platinum level, crazy times. Hand written ribbons and pinks and blues. Finally we got stickers for the ribbons and the pinks and blues. No beautiful pavillion, we had a tent that we set up in the mulch with folding chairs from the clubhouse. When it rained, it was a mud pit. The computer was inside and Todd Sieland never got to see his kids swim. Then we started winning and moved to the Bronze level, then the Silver. We hovered in the Silver level for a few years. At that point, my kids were swimming year round and I met so many more people. I learned, I changed, I began to understand what the sport was really all about. We were wary of moving up to Gold because I’d heard stories … stories of parents and kids who lose focus. Stories of parents and kids who no longer understood the big picture, the goal. Stories of nasty competition and no sportsmanship. 


We didn’t want our team to be like that. 


But, success being what it is brought us to the Gold level anyway. Because we are awesome. 


Wary as we were, it was still something to be proud of, something to protect. We vowed to continue our way, a beacon in the sometimes muddied sports environment littered with egos, not enough education about swimming, and off-kilter ideals. Sportsmanship, team values, friendship and support. This is what made us what we are today and I challenge each and every one of you to protect it. To cherish it and hold it close to your family. Every one of you represents the collective whole that is the great team of the Torpedoes.


To whom much is given, much is expected. 


That’s one of my family mottos, and something I repeat weekly to my children. Countless children have grown up on this team. They’ve moved on, finished college, gotten married, had babies. Our coaches have grown up on this team. Literally. Has anyone taken a second to read the bios on the website? Change is hard and change is formidable.


I challenge each and every one of you to be the role model for all of our children. Give encouragement and time to cultivate skills in the midst of the change we as a team are experiencing once again. Understand what we have standing in front of us. Understand where we came from and where we’ve been, do not rely on merely the one narrow view you’ve been presented since being on the team.  


The great oak tree is beautiful, gold and red and orange in the autumn, but one cannot ignore the deep, deep roots that made it so. 


Our team demands sportsmanship. It has been that way since its inception. Sportsmanship is more than the athlete shaking hands at the end of a race. Its more than clapping for the child who finally makes it to the wall after three minutes of hanging on the lane lines. It’s more than the Rookie meets and the shaving cream parties during practice. 


Sportsmanship begins and ends as most things do, with the parents setting good examples. Cleaning up after meets. Encouraging everyone, even the other team. Being accommodating. Helpful. Kind. 


And most of all remembering, if there is nothing nice to say … say nothing at all. 


There are proper situations and channels to air grievances. All issues must be brought directly to the coordinators and those in charge. We may agree, we may agree to disagree, but we may not erode the team values with juvenile, middle school behavior. We are all volunteers with your child’s best interests at heart and snark has no place.  


Sportsmanship, above everything else, must prevail. 


But with that, remember that this is summer league. Not the Olympics. There are venues for that if you choose to go that route, and I’d be happy to help you navigate. If you aren’t willing to do that, remember to be happy for the opportunity that you have in front of you, and most of all, let your kids know how good they have it. 



Warm regards, 


Kit Robertson