Data can help athletes of all levels achieve their goals. Geneseo’s award-winning swimming and diving coach gets us started.

By Tim Volkmann

If you take a look at Geneseo swimming and diving Head Coach Paul Dotterweich’s resumé since taking over the program in 2000, a couple of numbers jump off the page: 

32: The number of SUNYAC Championships his teams have won. 

18: The times he has been voted SUNYAC Coach of the Year. 

What is the secret to his sustained success? Some of it can be attributed to using data that anyone can collect and use to attain their own success. 

“There are obviously several factors that affect your health and fitness, but being able to take a look at the data surrounding your efforts has a huge impact on what you can achieve,” said Dotterweich, who recently added the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence to his list of honors. “Whether you are an 18-year-old college student trying to drop 2 seconds off your 200-meter freestyle time, or a 46-year-old guy, like me, training for a half marathon, keeping a daily account of what you are doing and analyzing trends, both positive and negative, can help determine what the next step is toward reaching your goal.” 

Tracking data can be a full-time job, but you don’t need a degree in analytics to collect simple information that will help you achieve results. With the myriad of technology out there, it can be as easy as putting on a watch. 

“You’d be surprised how much you can learn from some of the free apps you can download, or from smartwatches,” said Dotterweich. “From tracking simple things like steps or calories to analyzing your VO2 max (a numerical measurement of your body’s ability to consume oxygen) and threshold numbers, collecting data allows you to make effective adjustments.” 

Dotterweich talks with his swimmers and divers about the “triangle” of training, nutrition and rest. “If we don’t pay enough attention to what we eat and our sleep, the quality and consistency of our training in the pool suffers,” he said. “We encourage everyone to keep a daily log of all three.” 


1. Set a goal 

Are you trying to lose 10 pounds or run a 5K? Your goal is the basis for all your efforts, so know what you want to achieve and be as specific as possible. 

2. Form a plan with benchmarks 

Consider what you’re willing to do and set a timeframe for succeeding. Establish your starting point, or benchmark, and set realistic milestones. Be realistic. Your efforts should be sustainable to attain your goal. 

3. Collect data 

Keep a log of your workouts with an app, smartwatch or pen and paper — and not just mileage or minutes. Note things like weather and time of day. The more data you have, the better you’ll be able to spot trends. 

4. Analyze your progress 

Evaluate how much you have improved at regular intervals and consider what has and hasn’t worked. Adjust your efforts accordingly. 

5. Track your sleep 

We encourage an average of at least eight hours of sleep. Rest is when recovery happens, so if you don’t sleep enough, your body won’t be ready to train. 

6. Keep a nutrition log 

Are you burning more calories than you are consuming? Are you getting enough protein? Are you eating enough or too much fat? (For our program, we strive for 60 percent carbs, 25 percent fat and 15 percent protein.) 

7. Stay motivated 

Discipline is key! You have to be willing to put in the work to say no to things, like eating junk food. Be patient and pace yourself. 

8. Listen to your body 

If you’re in pain, take a day off. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.