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Does More distance = Faster swimming or When can my child move up?

Does More distance = Faster swimming or When can my child move up?

Knowing what to expect and being able to support your child through the phases of training as they progress through the sport is an important responsibility for any swim parent.   From ages 6-14 (Age Group years) athletes are in what we call the generalized phase. Coaches are trying to build base fitness and endurance while focusing on proper technical development of the strokes, starts and turns. This pre-pubescent and pubescent stage of growth and development is the aerobic and technical foundation for more intense and specialized work in the next phase.   During the generalized phase, especially for the younger age-groups (6-10 years, Garnett & Bronze) structured play, games, establishment of rules, structure of practices and more experience at swim meets should be some of the major focuses.  From age (11-14, Silver & Gold) your swimmers may be going through puberty and where peak height velocity or their growth spurt can take place.  This is when their bodies change and where they’re learning how to maneuver in their new skin.  Some athletes may seem sudden performance gains while others may plateau or even see a decline.  It’s especially important in this phase of training that athletes focus on technical development, off-events.  Athletes learn more about race strategy.

The second phase of training is Specialization (Senior Groups).  Athletes have gone through or may be on the tail end of puberty and have entered adolescence.  In this phase, if athletes can have had a solid base, they can start to work at higher intensities and put in higher quality workouts.  Athletes really begin to refine race strategy and take more responsibility for their own training.  Because their bodies are more physically developed some athletes are ready to begin a structured dryland program.  This is also where athletes start to focus on just one sport and put in more time at the pool. The final phase of training will hopefully take them to a very successful and satisfying end of career and where the athletes fully mature physically and emotionally within the sport.  Athletes in this phase are really ready to put on more muscle mass, training at top end speeds, and also realize the importance of other training factors such as sleep, nutrition and psychology. Athletes in this phase are usually highly motivated and with the right program and guidance can really reach their full potential. 

Although these phases are generalizations you can often see characteristics overlap into different phases.  Depending on the growth and development of your athlete, some characteristics described may be seen either or earlier or later. What’s important is the base knowledge of the progression that usually occurs and to be able to apply it to your athlete.  

In summary increasing distance and frequency too soon in a swimmers development can potentially cause injury and or burn out.  Swimmers that follow the progressions above will have a greater chance of success as they rise thought the program.  By keeping the standards firm for “move-ups”, coaches can maintain the competition and integrity of all the groups, making the swimmers in all groups faster.  This pattern has been tested and it works.  More importantly, it’s what is safest and best for both the swimmer and the team.  

The current move up situation has been defined for the fall starting 15 August.  Attached are the group definitions and minimum criteria for moving up to the next group.   There may be situations where swimmers may be moved back down to group that they were in before this summer.  We as a staff felt that re-leveling of the groups needed to take place so that we match the team phase philosophy stated above.  You will find if there is a clear path for the swimmer to follow for move-ups, then the competition will rise as will the swimmers desire to reach the defined goals.  There will still be at least 2 distinct intervals in most of the groups so there will be opportunities to move-up with in the groups, and the “A” swimmers won’t be waiting around for “B” interval swimmers to finish a set.   What we don’t want to have happen is hard working 11 year old moving up to soon and starts to sacrifice technique for making an interval that is too fast, or conversely having a swimmer wait for a swimmer who can’t make the interval and losing their aerobic base.  The goal is to have a happy, healthy swimmer that is motivated to move on to the next group.  
 

Coaches will not make move-up decisions in a vacuum, there will be discussions about attendance, maturity, work ethic, age, and meet results.  Rest assured that we will be making our decisions on what is the best move for the swimmer.  

Also, there will be only 3 times per year when “move-ups” will take place;
1. August (the start of SC season),
2. December (the start of winter training),
3. April (the start of LC season).

 

AmberJax Group Definitions

 

The Garnett Group: This group is for those swimmers who are either 10 and younger or brand new to year-round swimming.  It’s an ideal starting point for those swimmers that are very young or timid of the water. This is great for swimmers that are interested in getting their feet wet in the world of competitive swimming.  This level also focuses on water comfort, having fun in the water, and prepares the child to advance to the learning stages of competitive swimming. This group will concentrate almost entirely on stroke mechanics and technique.  Practice is offered 5 times a week for 1 hour, with an attendance goal of 2 to 3 practices a week. 
Minimum requirements for the Garnet Group:  Swimmers entering this group must be able to swim 2 strokes legally for 25 yards.

The Bronze Group is a developmental, "entry level" swimming group for young athletes who are new to USA swimming. Swimmers in this group are placed in an environment that encourages and allows them to enhance their abilities and learn the mechanics of all four strokes. Focus is on the technique of all four strokes, as well as dives and turns. Practice is offered 6 times a week for 1 hour 15 minutes, with an attendance goal of 3 or 4 practices a week. 
Minimum requirements for the Bronze Group:  All swimmers need to show their commitment to the group in training and competition. Ages for this group are typically 9-10 years old.  There will be a few 11-12 athletes who are new to the sport and that need more technique work, and who have not yet met the requirements for the Silver Group.  7-8 year old swimmers may be in this group if they have competed legally in all 4 strokes and 100 IM, and have a recommendation by their Garnett Coach for advancement.  

The Silver Group: This group’s purpose is to promote physical fitness, encourage team involvement, and foster self-discipline and confidence through a competitive swimming experience. Silver group coaches focus on self-improvement. Swimmers in this group will continue to develop their stroke technique and competitive skills while demonstrating a consistent positive attitude and training habits. Focus is on the technique of all four strokes, as well as dives and turns. Practice is offered 6 times a week for 1 hour 30 minutes, with an attendance goal of 4 to 5 practices a week  
Minimum requirements for the Silver Group:  All swimmers need to show their commitment to the group in training and competition. Ages for this group are typically 11-12 years old.  There will be a few 13-14 athletes who are new to the sport and that need more technique work, and who have not yet met the requirements for the Gold Group.  9-10 year old swimmers may be in this group if they have achieved 2 Florida Age Group cuts for their age group, and have a recommendation by their Bronze Coach for advancement.

The Gold Group: This group will focus on the development of a complete competitive swimmer both mentally and physically. Swimmers in this group practice in a competitive group based environment. This group emphasizes endurance training, while still focusing on the importance of technique. Goals and the commitment to goals provide swimmers with the opportunity and environment to reach mental and physical excellence. Practice is offered 6 times a week for 2 hours, with an attendance goal of 5 or 6 practices a week.
Minimum requirements for the Gold Group:  All swimmers need to show their commitment to the group in training and competition. Ages for this group are typically 13 & 14 years old.  There will be a few 15-16 athletes who are new to the sport and that need more technique work, and who have not yet met the requirements for the Senior Groups.  11-12 year old swimmers may also be in this group if they have achieved 2 Florida Age Group cuts for their age group, and have a recommendation by their Silver Coach for advancement.  The Gold group will have 2 distinct interval groups, and moving to the “A” interval will be an earned privilege and moving from the “B” interval will take place on the 1st of every month.  Though you can be moved to the “B” interval at any time based on injury and or effort.

The Senior Group: consists of swimmers who are interested in persuing swimming as there only High School Sport.  They are making the commitment to swimming for the team and have swimming in college as a goal. This group will focus on building an aerobic base and set goals for Senior Championships.  There will be a dryland and weight program. Swimmers in this group will have the intent of maintaining 100% practice attendance. They are expected to participate in most of the meets that are on the schedule.  They are expected to participate in most of the meets that are on the schedule.  The Group will train together for most of each swim season but as we rest for championships the Groups will be split into divisions i.e. sprint, distance and stroke.
Long range goals and an uninterrupted commitment to reaching both individual and team goals are required.  Practices are offered 9 times a week for 2 hours and 15 minutes, with an attendance goal of 7 to 8 practices a week.  
Minimum requirements for the Senior Group:  All swimmers need to show their commitment to the group in training and competition. Ages for this group are typically 15 to 16 years old. They must have a recommendation by the Gold coach for advancement.