July 31, 2017
Swim Ohana Swim Team Informational Session
The following is a paraphrasing of the Swim Ohana Swim Team Informational Session. Not a verbatim retelling of the meeting, but a summation of most of the information presented. Some of the summary will be done in exposition and some will be summed up in a Question and Answer format. Unfortunately, we cannot capture all the stories and anecdotes at the meeting. Most of all, this cannot do justice to the sheer enthusiasm and passion that the Coaches have for coaching. We can only try to convey the information presented.
-your admin team
“Ohana” is Hawaiian for family. At swim Ohana, we plan on being the swim team that is family. The family of a warm embrace. It’s all about the kids.
Coach Kam believes giving a swimmer a positive, nurturing environment makes all the difference in the world in making swim a positive experience. That will ignite the internal spark that will let the swimmer achieve their goals and dreams. A negative environment can quash even the greatest talent. The plan is to grow the dreams of the swimmer. They won’t even have all the same dreams. We won’t try to make them what we want them to be; it can’t be done. We will help them achieve their dreams. He believes in engaging the interest of the swimmers.
Too many times swimmers get lost in the process of swimming and lose their individuality in the pool. Swim Ohana is all about the individuality of the swimmer.
Coach Kam is well-known for cheering for the swimmers he used to coach. He has had other swim coaches tell him they didn’t like him cheering for their (the other coaches) swimmers. Coach Kam had a board member from his former team tell him that cheering for other teams’ swimmers is unprofessional. Coach Kam is completely unapologetic about it. Once you swim for Coach Kam you are always one of his swimmers. He is still proud of you and he will continue to show his enthusiasm and pride for his swimmers.
Coach Liz wears a bracelet that one of her students gave her. On it is inscribed: Dream. Believe. Achieve. The swimmer gave it to her since it embodied all that Coach Liz taught. Michael Phelps is quoted as saying that mental training was one of the most important parts of his training.
Coach Liz believes it is very important for kids to have balance. She wants them to have a childhood. She wants them to still enjoy swimming and that it should not be a chore. She wants them to be able to have a break and neither burn out nor get injured.
Coach Liz understands that swimming is hard on the family. All the practices and the meets. She understands that as coaches they will be spending a lot of time with your children. She is not there just to make them fast for the team. She is not there just to prepare them for college swimming. She is there to help them grow as people, to teach them to dream, believe and achieve. To learn life skills.
They both want to do many innovative training techniques. Together they have talked about how they would put a team together and what they would do differently than all the other swim teams they have seen. Finally, all the pieces are coming together for them to put this swim team together and they are very excited. They are excited to be working together because they complement each other so well. Having an extra set of eyes on the swimmers is invaluable. They can see things the other has missed, and they are not afraid to admit to each other and show each other. Coach Kam interrupted a training session that Coach Liz was doing with her daughter to show her something she had missed, and she is grateful for it. They are both students of the art of coaching.
The timing for the coaches has been fortuitous. Coach Kam has had many generous offers after leaving Team FINS, including offers of twice what he used to make. Many offers came after only 36 hours after leaving Team FINS. However, he has a financial backer and that is giving him an opportunity to take a risk and start a team of his own the right way. When Coach Kam told the people who had given him such generous offers about his opportunity, they had to agree: he would be a fool to not try and form his own team. They even offered to rent space in their own pool to help him start his team.
It was even asked at the meeting what is his goal? What is the plan? Where does he see the team in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years. (The parent has seen new teams try and form before.) So, “pie in the sky dreaming”, in five years: Coach Kam has a backer who wishes to build their own Natatorium. Complete with full 50 meters long and wide enough to run 25-yard practices as well. The Natatorium would include a dry land area, a gym area for parents, a diving program (not coached by them), and even areas for physical rehab and water therapies, and a smoothie bar. Would be running the full swim program of lessons, swim team, masters, and doing national meets. Etc. Of course, that is all pie in the sky dreaming. Many swim teams talk about doing this, but this has some real promise. Only one swim team controls their water (Fleet) and it’s a big difference. Swim teams ordinarily can’t build a natatorium. It’s just too expensive and swim teams don’t have the money.
Swim Ohana would encourage guest coaches. Again, trying new things, new techniques is good for the swimmers. Most swim coaches are afraid to say they don’t know everything, or, they think that the do know everything. We would embrace other coaches and viewpoints if it will help the swimmer and usually it does.
Swim Ohana is very focused on the swimmers. It’s about letting them enjoy swimming and doing what they want in the pool. If that swimmer wants to be a sprinter, then, we will train them to be a sprinter. If they want to be a long distance or middle-distance swimmer, then we will train them for that. We will not force them to swim the same as everyone else. We are all about individualizing it for the swimmer. Not all swimmers want to swim in college. That is fine too. If they enjoy swimming and just want to have fun and exercise in the water, we are fine with that.
Swim Ohana wants to be different in that our training will be doing it differently from everyone else. If you just want to do a lot of yardage and train like everyone else, this is not the team for you. Good form needs to be taught on dry land and practiced in the water. To that end, we plan on using TRX – type suspension trainers to help swimmers learn their form out of the water. The suspension trainer can help the swimmer mimic the swim movements against a variable resistance that is appropriate for the swimmer and allow the coach to show them what they should and shouldn’t be doing.
If you watch and ask those swimmers who are standing out from their respective swim teams, you will find they are doing things differently from their usual swim team. Olympians are using the suspension trainers; we plan on using them too.
Q: What is your philosophy regarding technique? Do you do it during practice or do you need private lessons? What about teaching starts, turns, break outs etc.?
A: Absolutely during practice. In fact, many sets are purposefully done in short stretches so that corrections (and compliments) can be made right away. You don’t want swimmers practicing bad form for long periods of time. Conversely, it is important to point out to swimmers right away that they got it right, so they can keep doing it. Immediate feedback is important to development. Of course, not everything is corrected at once; you don’t want to overwhelm your swimmer. Corrections are made level appropriate.
Training must involve all aspects of swimming including doing starts, turns, break-outs etc. from an early stage and continuously afterwards. Of course, you will still have to do your yardage at practice, but technique is extremely important and taught from early on. The swimmer needs to practice good technique in order improve; you don’t want to reinforce bad form.
We also believe in incorporating race based training into practice frequently. We don’t believe in telling swimmers that you will only learn racing and drop times twice a year and all the other times of the year, you won’t like your times. That is demoralizing to the swimmer and not a practical way to train. If you want to be racing faster, you need to practice racing faster, not just swimming tons of yards just to tire yourself out.
Questions and Answers:
Q: Where will Swim Ohana be practicing?
A: Swim Ohana hasn’t officially decided on a pool. We have practice space available at Spring Creek Forest and at Fleet. We are looking for the right water, not just any water. We are looking for a pool that has a good size and able to accommodate our needs. Additionally, we are very cognizant of the logistical needs of parents: it needs to be in a good, central location as well. We are still looking at, and meeting with many other facilities. Some of these include: Raveneaux Country Club, Huntwick, Spring Creek Forest, Greenwood Forest, and several others. Parents are encouraged to contact Coach Greg if they have any ideas or contacts about a swim location. He is open to any help. For instance, Augusta Pines (although may be a little far North) and Northpoint were mentioned.
Q: What are the hurdles to getting a pool?
A: We need to find a pool not already in use. Additionally, many HOA’s are concerned about the extra maintenance costs, lifeguard costs etc. Also, one of the biggest issues is what to do with the heater? Once you put it in, who owns it? Some are concerned about the extra cost of the heater if we leave; of course, one can always just turn off the heater.
Q: What is the time frame for Swim Ohana?
A: We are planning to open registration August 1st. There will be no fees to register then; fees will not occur until September first. We plan on beginning practice in September. Coach Liz feels that swimmers need a break in August as well.
Q: What will the pricing be?
A: We can’t give exact pricing yet. We plan on being in range of the other area teams, but it will be on the high side. Coach Kam feels a great deal of responsibility to make sure that the team is financially viable and able to last; he doesn’t want to make a team that will go out of business in a year and leave all the swimmers and families looking for a new team again.
Q: Will there be a price discount for multiple swimmers?
A: Yes, there will be a discount for multiple swimmers enrolled with Swim Ohana from the same family.
Q: How many coaches will there be? Who are the coaches?
A: Presently, Coach Kam and Coach Liz are our two main coaches. We do have another coach committed, but we cannot say who at this time.
Q: What about Practice groups? How many? How will that be handled?
A: Since we don’t know how many swimmers we will have, nor what levels they swim, we will start by separating into age groups. We feel the worst thing to do is to try to have 9 year-olds swimming with 14 year-olds. Thus, groups will be broadly broken up by age groups: elementary school aged, middle school aged, high school aged. After that, the coaches will assess the swimmers individually into subgroups from there.
Q: Will we be capping the number of swimmers who join the team?
A: That is a good question. We can’t say since it totally depends on the number of swimmers who join and what groups they will be in. We don’t see needing to cap the number of entrants at this time. However, we will not be cramming as many kids as possible into each lane and overwhelming the coach. That goes against everything we believe at Swim Ohana. Neither the coach nor the swimmer benefits from overcrowded lanes. If we did have to cap enrollment it would be on a case by case basis, based on how full the group is, not the team total.
Q: Related to groups, what will the swim times be? Will there be an overlap of swim times for various levels? (Logistics for parents will multiple children of different ages/levels)
A: There will be a natural overlap of swim times among the groups especially with the way we are incorporating dry lands. The times will be dictated mostly by when swimmers are dismissed from school: high schoolers will start first, followed by elementary.
Q: Will there be a Masters Program?
A: Absolutely!!! When we have the available space in the morning, we will have it up and running.
Q: What are your feelings on open water swims, like the Rice Open Water Swim?
A: Coach Kam likes open water swims and competes in triathlons.
Q: Will there be off campus PE (Physical Education) credits? Will there be a problem with switching teams for it?
A: Absolutely, there will be. In fact, there is a someone working on it already. There will not be a problem with changing teams; the school district does not care for whom you swim, only that the paperwork is filled out. We will take care of the paperwork and ensure that it is acceptable to them.
Q: Will our swimmers have to swim unattached?
A: Possibly. When you transfer to a new team you have 120-day period between the last time you swam at a sanctioned open meet with the old team before you can swim attached to the new team at a new sanctioned open meet; you can swim unattached with them of course. So, if you swam in June, you might have to swim unattached in October. However, for those of you whose last meet was in May or earlier, you shouldn’t have to swim unattached.
Q: Have you applied to be a USA Swim Team?
A: Yes, we have our paperwork in already. Awaiting approval. We should be approved in time for fall swimming.
Q: How far in advance do you need to register for meets?
A: We will be free to enter meets once our application to USA Swimming is approved. The schedule of meets is already available on the Gulf Swimming site. Each meet has different deadlines. The first meet in in October; we should have enough time to register for it, if the coaches want to enter that meet.
The coaches will keep all the parents updated on what meets we will be attending and the deadlines, as well as the process and what to expect for meets.
Q: What are the team colors?
A: We are still working on the team colors and logo. However, it will be Hawaiian themed and will probably incorporate red and blue. Coach Liz, who works at swim shops, will be helping ensure that the colors and logo will be easy to find vendors that can match our colors and that will show up nicely on swim suits.
Q: Who are the board members?
A: Can’t say; can’t recruit since everyone is on a swim team.
Q: What are your coaching backgrounds?
A: While the coaches talked at length about their coaching experiences and background, I’m afraid this Q and A will have to refer you to the coaches’ bio section of the website.
Q: Will swimmers be able to swim at Summer League?
A: Yes, of course! Both coaches have backgrounds in Summer League. Moreover, Summer League is fun for the swimmer, so we encourage them to do summer league. It allows them to reconnect with the fun in swimming and put the smile back on their face. Summer league participation will be up to each swimmer. It’s also a great chance to act as an ambassador and example to the less experienced swimmers who may not know about club swimming.
Q: What if our children like to do multiple sports? Can we join later in the year after they’ve done their fall sport, like in November?
A: Yes. We encourage multi-sports (Coach Kam Varsity lettered in basketball, baseball, and swimming). It’s about the swimmer: it’s good for them to be well rounded. If that is what they want, that is what they should do. We will never mandate how much time a swimmer must put into the pool. We also do not want you to have to pay for swim team time that you are not using just make a registration deadline.
Q: Will you be getting in the water with the kids?
A: Yes, Coach Kam is known to be one of the few coaches who gets in the water with the swimmers.
Q: What about volunteer hours?
A: Yes, we will of course need volunteer hours. Swim teams operate and survive on the swim parents and their volunteer hours. However, we don’t know how we will be handling it.
Q: New to swim team? What are the expectations of parents?
A: The coaches plan on being very transparent with parents and will help parents with what to expect and prepare for at swim practices and swim meets.
We also believe in a partnership between coaches and parents to help the swimmer achieve their goals and potential. This will include things like nutrition.
We will hold parent meetings with specific things that parents can do to help their kid’s swimmer mental and emotional health.
Q: Next Steps?
A: Keep watching your emails. We will keep everyone apprised by email and will send out weekly updates.