Posts Tagged ‘swampy bouchard’

Johnathan Martines: Learning to Instruct

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

For the past 3 years, I have been spending my summers and the majority of my school breaks training at the WBC. Each time I went down, it was basically the same routine. I would usually ski all day and help out around the ski school with whatever needed to be done. My duties would include simple chores around the house like taking out the trash, vacuuming, and packaging orders.

This year, however, a new part of my journey in barefooting began. I began learning to instruct other skiers. I started out by watching Ben and Ash instruct a number of different students. I paid attention to the way they interacted with the person in the water and how they adjusted their instructing style when the skier was not responding.

Eventually, I began to instruct a select few students with either Ash or Ben in the boat.

For me, this wasn’t very difficult. If I had a question about anything or was unsure of myself, I could ask Ash or Ben and get the answer immediately. I usually instructed skiers who were working on intermediate tricks like back toes, line one foots, and slalom.

After instructing with a more experienced instructor in the boat, the moment of truth came, it was my turn to take out some skiers on my own. For me, this was extremely intimidating. Being that I’m still a teenager, many of the people that I was instructing were older than me. I felt intimidated and unsure of myself. Eventually Swampy sat down and had a talk with me. He had heard from a skier that I seemed unsure of myself. Swampy told me to believe in myself and to be confident and vocal while instructing.

I took this advice and acted on it. I started being more confident in my instructing and acting like a leader while in the boat. I started noticing that the skiers responded much better to the instruction when I was confident in what I was telling them.

Beginning the journey of learning to instruct this summer was awesome. It gave me more self-confidence and forced me to be more responsible. I was no longer responsible for only my own skiing, but I was also responsible for how the skier I was instructing was skiing. Without the help of everyone at the WBC, I would never have had the opportunity to learn to instruct. I am still a beginner when it comes to instructing, and I look forward to becoming a much better instructor over the upcoming years.

Johnathan Martines

World Barefoot Center Featured on Talizma

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

The World Barefoot Center crew is featured on Talizma, “Talent Worth Sharing”:

If You Love Water Sports Then This Video Will Thrill You to Core

More on WBC in the news:

WBC Featured in the News

Jerry Kanawyer: Thank You, Swampy

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

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I will be traveling to Australia three weeks early, prior to the 2014 Barefoot Waterski World Championships. I will be training with Ken Derry,  hoping that some of his slalom skills will rub off on me lol. I met Ken back in 1990 when he trained behind my 1989 Barefoot Nautique, in preparation of the 1990 World championships.

I’m coming off my best year in slalom. I posted a personal best score of 16.6, which put me 2nd in the nation with only the legend Keith St.Onge having a better score. To my surprise the elite team needed a slalom score for the world championships. The event that rarely is ever needed.

As I reflect back two years ago, I remember Swampy telling me to concentrate more on slalom and less on jump.  Swampy, I took your comments to heart and it paid off. I’m going to say it… Yes, Swampy, you were right. Thank you for being a part of making a goal that I set out to achieve 25 years ago.

Jerry Kanawyer (Flipper)

Johnathan Martines: Getting Out of the Comfort Zone

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Many people, especially those who are involved in sports, love staying in their comfort zone and not experimenting with new ideas and techniques. This past summer, one of these people was me. Every day, I would go out and work on multiple turns with the master coach himself, Swampy Bouchard.

“Bend your knees! Turn slowly! Stay on your foot!” were phrases I heard so often from the mouth of Swampy that I’m pretty sure I even began hearing them in my
sleep. No matter how many times I was told to do these seemingly simple tasks, I would still
stick to my old bad habits.

One morning before many of the ski school students came, Swampy took Ben, Ash, and
me out for a tricks set. After being told to bend my knees for the thousandth time and still not
executing, I jumped in the boat. Swampy simply said, “We will have a date at lunchtime.” I
knew this couldn’t be good.
Around lunchtime, Swampy took me out all by myself. For what seemed like forever, I
did turn after turn after turn in the summer heat. After about an hour on the water, breakthroughs
started being made. All of a sudden, I was nailing multiple sequences and trick runs I was never
able to previously do.
For the rest of that summer, I tried to make the changes needed for me to improve and
my skiing started improving rapidly. This simple event showed me how important it is to make
changes in order to improve. I realized that changing, without fearing the consequences, was the
key to improving in the sport, and if I stayed in my comfort zone, I would be a 4000-5000 point
tricker for the rest of my life.

Many people, especially those who are involved in sports, love staying in their comfort
zone and not experimenting with new ideas and techniques. This past summer, one of these
people was me. Every day, I would go out and work on multiple turns with the master coach
himself, Swampy Bouchard. “Bend your knees! Turn slowly! Stay on your foot!” were phrases I
heard so often from the mouth of Swampy that I’m pretty sure I even began hearing them in my
sleep. No matter how many times I was told to do these seemingly simple tasks, I would still
stick to my old bad habits.
One morning before many of the ski school students came, Swampy took Ben, Ash, and
me out for a tricks set. After being told to bend my knees for the thousandth time and still not
executing, I jumped in the boat. Swampy simply said, “We will have a date at lunchtime.” I
knew this couldn’t be good.


Around lunchtime, Swampy took me out all by myself. For what seemed like forever, I
did turn after turn after turn in the summer heat. After about an hour on the water, breakthroughs
started being made. All of a sudden, I was nailing multiple sequences and trick runs I was never
able to previously do.
For the rest of that summer, I tried to make the changes needed for me to improve and
my skiing started improving rapidly. This simple event showed me how important it is to make
changes in order to improve. I realized that changing, without fearing the consequences, was the
key to improving in the sport, and if I stayed in my comfort zone, I would be a 4000-5000 point
tricker for the rest of my life.

By: Johnathan Martines

Getting to Know Ben Groen

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The name, Ben Groen, is starting to get pretty big around the World Barefoot Center. You see his name on all of our video’s, You see him in the boat, coaching and instructing skiers of all ages and abilities. You see him on the phone taking care of customers and all over the school taking care of business.

Ben is 22 years old and he is from New Zealand. The Groen name is famous in the barefooting circles, as his Dad Rob and uncle Fred have been involved in the sport for over 30 years and are still deeply involved to this day.  Ben first came to the school when he was 18 for what was suppose to be a one week stay, which ended up being being a six week stay. In those first six weeks with us at the World Barefoot Center his trick scores went from the mid 2000’s to around 5000 points.  We were so impressed with him as a young man that we decided to sponsor him. He came back to the school a few months later but this time he stayed for three months. To make a long story short, we all continued to be so impressed with this young man that we started working on making him a full time fixture at the school.  We started working on getting him a three-year sports visa, with the support of his parents Rob and Wendy Groen. And as you now see, the rest is history.

On a personal level, I love this kid and am very proud to be like a second father to him with the support of his wonderful parents.

On the water, he has a great attitude and works as hard anyone else who I have ever coached. He loves the sport, and when he is not on the water, you will see him watching his videos and doing his dry land practice. He is a true student of the sport and it has all paid off as he is one of only a handful of skiers who has ever tricked over 10500 points in the history of the sport.  In the last two years, he has been bouncing between being ranked the 3rd and 4th best overall skier in the world–with only the two greatest skiers ever, David Small and Keith St. Onge, being ahead of him.

In the boat, he has also become one of the most respected coaches and instructors in the sport. The feedback from all of our students at the ski school from first timers to top competitors is just amazing–everyone just loves skiing with Ben and they all learn so much from him. He has truly become one of the worlds best instructors.

Ben is a very unique and gifted person, big hearted, and very friendly.  He has some of the best people skills that I have ever seen. He is very unselfish and always goes out of his way to take care of people and our furry family members around the school. (Yes, he is a big animal lover.)

He is so mature for his age that I always tell people that he is 22 going on 40. Off the water he is involved in every aspect of the business and I would trust this kid with anything. A hard worker and a quick learner and with people skills second to none and then throw in loyalty and a true love for what he does you then have someone who is worth a ton to the business, a person that can not be replaced with ease. So we at the world barefoot center realizing this have made Ben a partner in the business and Ben has now applied for a green card to be a long term part of this great business that we are building.
So there you have it.

Ben Groen is from a great family with great parents
Is one of the top skiers and instructors in the world
Is one of the friendliest and caring persons that you’ll ever meet
And at 22 is also a part owner of the largest barefoot water sking schools in the world
We are so lucky to have him and I am so proud to be coaching and to be involved in the life of one of the finest young men that you’ll ever meet.
Swampy Bouchard

Reflections of Women’s Barefoot Week 2013

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

The 4th Annual Women’s Barefoot Week has come and gone but the memories will remain forever.   This year we had near-perfect, hot, sunny weather almost every day and of course, the World Barefoot Center crew always finds calm water.   David Small, Ben Groen, Ashleigh Stebbeings, Keith St. Onge, and Swampy Bouchard provided some awesome coaching and instruction. Every single gal experienced success on the water that week!

The guys gamely donned pink Tommie Copper shirts in honor of the gals and the Breast Cancer Campaign at Tommie Copper.  Yes, it takes real men to pull off pink so well!

A special thank you goes out to our sponsors who donated some awesome products for our gals:  Badger Balm, Tommie Copper, Vibram Five Fingers, Barefoot Wine, Hpnotiq, and Crispers.

And anytime you can get a guy to cook, it’s always a good thing.  In the case of Chris Mcwatters, it’s a GREAT thing. Chris put together a wonderful Mexican dinner for all of us.  One thing to note: what Chris labels “mild” is actually HOT.

Judy Myers did a great job once again of organizing and executing Women’s Barefoot Week.  If you’d like to be on the email list for next year’s event, email Judy at oldbarefooter@me.com.  Sorry, guys, it’s for gals only.  Donning a pink shirt will not get you admission to that week.

USA Water Ski Newsletter featuring Women’s Week

By: Karen Putz

Brody Meskers: My 120 Turn Challenge

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

When I went to the World Barefoot Center this summer, Swampy presented me with the 120 turn challenge. The 120 turn challenge consists of 120 turns with no more than 2 falls. That afternoon in the boat was one of the most nerve-racking times barefooting (even more so than skiing at the World Championships that I competed in the summer before). If I fail, I know that 500 turns await me the next day. I hopped in the water, gave myself a pep talk, and before I knew it I had 60 turns in with only one fall. With a glimmer of hope, I am half way there but my arms felt like they were going to fall off. Not a good way to start the next 60 turns.

A fall at 80 turns really messed with my head. Then reality hit at turn 107–I fell! I was disappointed and mad knowing what was ahead of me. Swampy, well let’s just say… he wasn’t too happy with me either. So, we headed back and I just lay down in my room, dreading 500 turns. After calling home to talk to my dad and feeling a little sorry for myself, I sucked it up and accepted that I had a new challenge ahead– and I wasn’t going to lose this one! The plan was to do 120 turns three times and then finish off with the last 140 turns. I didn’t have to worry about the number of falls this time out, but I couldn’t imagine 500 turns. My entire day consisted of turns and sleep, but I did it!

Needless to say, I am much better at doing turns and my mental strength took a little boost as well.

Brody Meskers

Barefooting: What’s Your Reason?

Monday, July 1st, 2013

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A while ago, Swampy gave me a question to answer. The question was, “Why do you love barefoot waterskiing?”. It seems like it would be such a simple question to answer, until you actually start thinking about it. At first you just think, “Well, heck, it’s just plain fun”. But I knew that wasn’t the answer Swampy would be looking for… since it really wasn’t an answer. So I had to think WHY do I think it’s fun, WHY do I keep on trying to improve? I felt like I should have been able to answer it right then and there, but I actually had to sit down and think about it. It’s hard to say why you love doing something, because you never really HAVE to explain why you love doing it. You just do it. You just get that gut feeling and passion for it. It’s difficult to explain those kinds of things. Honestly, I felt a bit ashamed that I couldn’t answer it right away.

But eventually, I did think of the answer. And it was a true answer that I now understand and feel strongly about. I didn’t want to just come up with some nonsense answer for Swampy just to get out of the spotlight. I wanted to come up with a real answer from the heart so I could truly know WHY I love barefoot waterskiing. I wanted to find the answer for myself.

So, besides the fact that you ski on your bare feet, my answer for why I love barefoot waterskiing:

It’s an individual sport.

I don’t have to worry about anybody else but me. If I fall and fail, well, that’s my fault. I can’t blame my coaches or parents even though they’ve helped me along the way. I’m the one doing the skiing and showing what I have learned through them. If I do well, then I get to celebrate along with my coaches and parents. It’s up to me to show what I can really do on the water.

Also, there’s no one I am competing against except for myself. I am trying to improve and to get better PB’s. I’m not looking to beat my trick scores by thousands of points in one day. But if I improve just the smallest bit, then that means I am getting better. And I’m happy with that!

That’s why I love barefoot waterskiing. What’s your reason?

Collin Barber

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Collin Barber: My Personal Growth at the World Barefoot Center

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

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When I first came to the World Barefoot Center a little over two years ago, I was one shy kid. I was 14 back then, and it actually surprises me now when I look back at it. I was awkward with conversations. I had no idea how to start one. I was always doing my own thing like sitting in my room reading or doing homework or listening to my music or anything else besides talking and interacting very much with others. It’s not that I didn’t LIKE to talk to people, it’s just that I didn’t really think I was GOOD at it. And that probably came from a low self-esteem. I didn’t have much confidence, so like I said, I would always be doing my own little thing. And people, like my mom, would always ask me, “Why don’t you talk more?”. My answer would be, “Well I’m just always thinking”. Which, yeah, I guess was kinda true. But that was probably just an excuse to make me feel better about being quiet.

After I became a sponsored member, I had plenty of pow-wows with none other than Swampy. And he told me the exact same thing my parents had been telling me for the past couple years: “If you don’t talk and be social with people around you, they’ll think you’re stuck up and stand-offish”. This always made me mad, because I didn’t think I was stuck up. That was the last thing I ever wanted anyone to think about me. But I understood what they were saying. And the only way to change it was to be social, and it was difficult for me. To be social, I had to have confidence to be comfortable with myself. I had to change my whole look on myself and life.

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And this is where the WBC mainly comes in. Being at the WBC constantly meant being around new people and making new friends and new conversations. Of course, learning how to be social meant a lot of trial and error… So there was a lot of awkward instances when I tried to talk with people. But being around everyone, like Swampy, at the WBC helped me open up and be comfortable with myself, which in turn made me more sociable. I learned how to loosen up, smile more, come in on group conversations, and help people out. Within the past 2 years, I have changed immensely, and I love the change. I feel happier and better about myself. I actually WANT to talk to people now. Of course, some of this change might have been from basically growing up from age 14 to age 17 and maturing, but still. The WBC and everyone involved it have definitely impacted me the greatest. They’ve helped me as much on the water as they have off the water. I wouldn’t change anything in these past two years.

Keith, Dave, Ben, Ashleigh, AJ, and Swampy, Thanks for everything! =)

– Collin Barber

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Keith St. Onge or David Small, Who Is The Better Barefooter?

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

The one question I get a lot behind the scenes, one-on-one from interested barefooting fans at the World Barefoot Center or at tournaments is this:

Who is actually the better footer, David Small or Keith St. Onge?

I am the guy who coaches and trains both of these great warriors. I get to see them both ski on a consistant basis during training and at tournaments, so I figured that I would tackle this question head on and give you my honest opinion and breakdown of these two great footers.

The first thing that we will look at is accomplishments:

World Championships Gold medals:

Small’z – 11
KSO – 11

World Championships Overall:

Small’z – 4
KSO – 2

World Games:

Small’z – 1
KSO – 2

As you will see in the comparison below, in the last three out of four world championships, the wins could have gone either way:

In Texas 2012, KSO fell on a back to back 360 and all he needed was that and two 180’s to win that one.

In the 2010 Germany tournament KSO won it from the original score sheets coming out of the boat and it took a chief judge intervention and some video to take his toe turn away and to give Small’z the victory.

Only in New Zealand in 2009 when Small’z fell in tricks and did not make the cut in tricks– was it not close.

In Washington 2006, where KSO won that one, he got a needed re-ride on one of his jumps and had some help when the last jumper zeroed out to allow him to sneek one by Small’z.

All of these tournaments were “that close”–and they all could have gone either way.

World Records

Small’z has held the jumping record for years and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, KSO has held the slalom record for years and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. The trick record is currently held by Small’z and is the one that has been going back and forth between these two skiers and they have both set many pending records in the last couple of years that were not approved. I see this record being broken again by one or both of these guys in the next couple of years.

Worlds standing’s list:

Once again these two have been rotating number 1 and 2 for the last several years. Last year Small’z was slightly ahead for number 1 and KSO has overtaken Smallz for number 1 on this years list by just a few overall points. I expect them to continue to rotate around for that number 1 position.

Breakdown by event:

Jumping:

Small’z is the King of jumping, the best that the sport has ever seen. In recent years, KSO has made some big improvements and has closed the gap up in jumping enough to be one of the top jumpers in the world, but not enough to challenge the King. Smallz is so strong and consistent at this event and has such an understanding of what he’s doing that it’s just not fair for the rest of the competitors–they often don’t stand a chance against him.

Slalom:

KSO is King of slalom, the best in the sport. This is Small’z weak event and even though he has made some improvements, he is not in the position to challenge the King. KSO is so strong and consistent for both back and front wake slalom that any score below 20 is a major disappointment for him.

Tricks:

Tricks is the most difficult event and requires the most time and work, and this is where tournaments are normally won or loss between these two great competitors. They both do all the same tricks and have the same trick runs. KSO’s best score is 13,300 and Small’z best is 13,150. They are the only two that have ever tricked over 12,000 points in the history of the sport and they can both do it today with no problem at all. AJ Porreca has tricked 12,000 points on the money twice, but not over.

Let’s break down the tricks:

Multiple turns:
Smallz has better habits and his turns are cleaner with better technique than KSO, He does a great job of trailing his head and shoulders and staying square. KSO is a little more efficient then Smallz and can usually get a little more in time even though he has a few bad habits that sometimes gets him into trouble.KSO is working hard to clean up some of his bad habits and Smallz is working on trying to become a little more efficient.

Toe Turns:
Here it is KSO who is more compact and solid, while Small’z depends more on his natural talent. Small’z does a lot of upweighting and is loose during his toe turns; and because of that, he also loses precious time. KSO has to learn how to square up in the back position and Small’z is working hard on trying to turn a little more compact– with less body movement.

Line Turns:
Here, they are both rock solid and the best in the business.

So who is the better skier? I am not one to shy away from these questions and I will give you an honest answer. After watching these two great warriors train and compete with each other for the last few years, I will break it down like this: betting on one of these guys over the other is like walking into the casino and laying your chips on either red or black. If you had 100 head to head tournaments between these two, they would both be right around 50 wins each.

Keith St. Onge and David Small are two of the best ever barefoot water skiers– and I will continue to appreciate their greatness. And for my health, I will call it a draw!!

By Swampy Bouchard