Dolphins - Basic Skill Development
The first phase of the FINS program is the introductory level of
competitive swimming. In order to begin this first level of our
program, swimmers must be able to swim a minimum of 25 yards
freestyle and 25 backstroke. Dolphins are offered six
practices a week, but we highly recommend swimmers only practice 3
times per week. Practice is for 1 hour.
1) The focus is almost entirely on teaching fundamentals and
developing basic motor learning skills, balance, and coordination
in the water.
2) We believe young athletes should begin swimming on a regular
basis no later than age 9 or 10; ideally at age 7 or 8. How far
they swim is not as important as the fact that they are in the
water on a regular basis developing their feel for the water.
3) It is vitally important to make swimming fun and enjoyable. We
believe the most significant responsibility for coaches is teaching
our young swimmers to love the water and to love the sport.
Games, relays, cheers, and occasional waterslide is a
must. We want to make it fun.
4) It is critical for coaches to emphasize correct fundamentals
and to have the willingness to sacrifice speed for efficiency. This
concept can sometimes work against a swimmer's short-term success
at this age, but benefits them in later years. At this level, we
believe there is great merit in competition based on skill
development. We put a lot of emphasis on stream line
5) The majority of yardage in the early years needs to be low
intensity and technique-oriented. This is not necessarily as
exciting or fun for swimmer or coach and even the parent watching,
as is swimming fast. We also add short sprints (8 second
sprints) both in kicking and swimming. Learning how to hold
ones breath for a 25 sprint is also important at this time in
development. We also use of slide pool for developmental practices,
as it is exactly 15 meters wide. In the summer of 2011, we bought
two lane-ropes to separate it into 3 lanes.
6) As it is an essential part of swimming and our program here
at FINS, we put an emphasis on learning all 4 strokes. However,
swimmers are not allowed to specialize in certain strokes until
they are in the National group, as body type and stroke preferences
change with age.
7) We place a very heavy emphasis on kicking. Coaches are required
to make kicking a high percentage of the conditioning work done at
the novice levels. Kickboards and fins should be the only training
equipment used on a regular basis.
8) Swimmers are readily encouraged to participate in other
activities and sports. We believe physical activity and the
experience of other sports increases the number of learned movement
patterns and general athletic development of the child. Sports such
as gymnastics and soccer have excellent carryover value. The better
the athlete, the better the swimmer.
9) At every level, but particularly the novice level, we take a
long-term approach to swimmer development. Once swimmers begin in
our program, we want to give them the preparation and tools they
will need to make swimming a lifetime activity.
10) Swimmers will compete in USA swim meets and have the
opportunity to participate in developmental meets.
Group II Silver ( around ages 9-10) Basic Training
When ready, swimmers move into the second level of our age group
program. Swimmers who move into these practice levels are
able to swim all four strokes and maintain good technique on low
intensity interval work. This phase is a transitional level where
the emphasis begins to change from primarily teaching to a
relatively equal balance of technique work and physiological
development. Swimmers must be able to swim 5 x 100 freestyle
on 2 minutes. Practice is for 1.5 hours.
1) The focus is still centered on teaching fundamentals and
developing a strong foundation in all strokes.
2) The number of practices per week offered at this team level
stays at 6 per week and swimmers are encouraged to attend as many
practices as possible, but no fewer than 3 per week.
3) Low intensity aerobic conditioning is emphasized and athletes
begin to do more mileage on a weekly basis. It is important that
the fundamental skills developed in Dolphins not be compromised as
swimmers begin to swim farther in practice.
4) At this level, the training program focuses on preparation for
the 200 IM and 200/500 freestyle events and 100 of each stroke.
Even if swimmers show promise in specific events, we do very little
specialty work. USA Swimming has developed the IMX program to
promote interest and participation in the IM and in all stroke
events including the distance freestyle events.
5) A high priority continues to be placed on kicking all four
strokes. Beginning at this level, coaches are encouraged to do
40-50% of their kick training without boards.
6) Swimmers are still encouraged to participate in other
activities and sports. However, we are hopeful that participation
in other activities allows them to meet the minimum attendance
expectations for swimming. In a perfect program, the swim team
would provide opportunities for crossover training and exposure to
7) Stretching and limited calisthenics are incorporated into the
overall program during this phase.
8) Although the overall level of training expected of swimmers
increases during this phase of the program, coaches are charged
with being creative and making the experience fun and enjoyable.
Great age group coaches have the special ability to make hard work
Group II Gold (around ages 11-12) Progressive
The quantity and intensity of the training program increases.
For the first time, the program structure calls for more time to be
devoted to physiological conditioning than to teaching
fundamentals. Swimmers on this level must attend five
training days per week, with one of those practices being on
Saturday. Of course we do allow swimmers in this group to
participate in other sports and activities. We will be happy
to make arrangements with the swimmer so that we can understand
their schedule of practices. Swimmers must Swim 10 x 100 on
1:40 or better. Practice is 1.5 hours Monday, Wednesday, and
Friday; Practice is 2 hours on Saturday. On Saturday’s
swimmers will train with Group I. On other occasions swimmers
will be called over to swim with Group 1.
NOTE: 9-10 year olds that have 3 or more AAA times will be
allowed to swim with the Gold.
1) Beginning with this phase a high priority is also placed on
maximizing the number of training weeks per year. Peak performance
efforts are put off until the latest point possible in each season.
Likewise, the importance of swimming through the year is
emphasized. This training philosophy carries through to the higher
levels of the program.
2) In this phase, the mileage completed each week begins to be an
important consideration. We want to take advantage of the
pre-pubescent window of opportunity to more fully develop aerobic
capacity and anaerobic capabilities.
3) Although low intensity aerobic conditioning is still the
highest priority, we have athletes begin to do more anaerobic
threshold work. It is critical that technique is not compromised as
swimmers swim faster in practice a greater percentage of the
4) At this level, the training program focuses on preparation for
the 400 IM and middle distance freestyle events and 200s of the
strokes. Even if swimmers show promise in specific events, we do
very little specialty work. IMX program is a prominent focus within
these practice groups.
5) We believe that to be as successful in long course swimming as
one is in short course swimming requires approximately 10-15%
better conditioning. The training program in this level is designed
to emphasize and promote long course swimming throughout the
year. During the summer this group must attend our long
course practices at UNO.
6) Swimmers are encouraged to attend as many practices each week
as possible. 5 minimum.
7) Beginning in this phase, careful attention is given to
maintaining aerobic fitness levels from one season to the next.
Breaks between seasons are limited to avoid significant
deterioration of aerobic fitness.
8) Specialized stroke instruction can be arranged with one
of the FINS coaching staff members. All lessons must be
approved with the GOLDs group’s coach.
Group 1 SENIOR TEAM and NATIONAL TEAM Advanced
Swimmers with the appropriate dedication, desire, experience, and
talent move to the advanced training level of our program around
the age of 13. Age is important but not the determining
factor for swimmers to be moved up. Swimmers must be able to
commit to 5 days per week (with one practice being on Saturday)
Swimmers must be able to swim 20 x 100 on 1:30 or better. The
training program is very demanding with a heavy emphasis on
distance based physiological training.
NOTE: 11 and 12 female swimmers with 3 or more AAA times will be
allowed to practice in GROUP 1.
1) Success over the long-term remains a high priority. Although we
could train high school age swimmers in such a way that they could
swim faster in the shorter events during their teenage years, we
believe it is our responsibility to provide an aerobic-based
training foundation that will allow them to achieve ultimate
success in their college years.
2) Work within various energy systems becomes an important
component of the overall training program. Emphasis is still
heavily aerobic, but specificity of training for stroke and
distance becomes part of the regimen.
3) While mileage completed is an important consideration,
attention to detail and improvement in stroke technique is very
highly valued. Coaches continually stress efficiency and technical
precision as key components to success at the elite levels.
4) Swimmers are still encouraged to train and compete in a wide
variety of events. We believe there are many instances in this
country where 14-17 year-old swimmers begin to specialize too early
in their careers.
5) The commitment level required at these levels of the program is
5 practices per week (with one of those practices being on
6) Sports Performance is a standard part of the training program
for swimmers 15 and over. Optional for 13 and 14 year
NATIONAL TEAM REQUIREMENTS:
- Must have a sectional qualification time (or the desire to swim
on a national level.)
- Must attend 5 general practices per week ( school year: 2
mornings per week / summer: 3 afternoon)
- Must attend Sports Performance (unless 14 or under)
- Must hold 1:15 for 20 x 100 free
- Must be able to get along with their peers
- Must be a good role model for the rest of the team