What Levels of Training Result in National Team Level Performance?

This information is from American Swimming Magazine Vol. 2016, Issue 4. 

What Levels of Survey TRAINING Result in National Team Level PERFORMANCE?

One of the vital pieces of data that coaches need to know is a simple one. How much work is required to excel….specifically to the level of being a successful NATIONAL TEAM ATHLETE for the USA? 

We put two simple measures of that to our National Team Coaches. 41 Coaches Responded. We asked for the number of hours per week required and then the number of weeks per year. So, what does this MEAN? Good question. The NCAA limit is 20 hours per week. Clearly, OUR COACHES think that this is at least 5 hours per week short of a load. Clear conflict here. Now, an athlete can “train more” but it has to be “on their own”. Anecdotally, computer students who want to be Great, and Musicians who want to be Great, and Thespians who want to be Great, HAVE NO LIMITS imposed by their universities on how much they can practice. In fact, it appears that ONLY IN SPORTS, does the University system (NCAA) feel the need to act “In Loco Parentis” and reduce the adult athletes to children by putting limits on them. IF this had been the case in an earlier era, I doubt anyone would have accepted such paternalism. You’re old enough to attend college, pay a ridiculous amount for an education, but not old enough to make your own decisions on your time expenditure? But you can do all the video games you want all night if you want to? Or play your violin till your fingers bleed?

But not swim? Really?

Some athletes of course, want to know the MINIMUM requirements to be a part of their college team….these athletes will also be the ones with MINIMUM results, because that’s what they will accept. For those who want to Excel (in any field of endeavour) should they not be allowed to do as much as they want? (as they would be in any activity OTHER than athletics?)

For the high school age athlete who aspires to the National Team, there are your targets. 25 hours and 49 weeks per year. Doing more will probably give you the ability to perform even better. No one ever got better by doing LESS than they did previously….in some way, you have to do MORE and BETTER. Hard truth of LIFE, not swimming.

Of course, if you’re at 15 hours and 45 weeks, you don’t jump to 25/49. You build up to it, as you would in any physical or mental discipline. 15 becomes 17. A few months later, it becomes 18, then 19, then 20, etc.

No one knows better or has a more informed opinion of what it takes than the men and women who currently put athletes on our National Team. Thanks to those coaches for sharing this valuable information. Thanks to National Team Director Frank Busch and staff for assisting in our request for information.

All the Best, John Leonard