October 16, 2017
We’ve been on the topic of defining swimming success and we have our first meet of the season coming up. While personal bests are always nice, it is not the main focus of an early season meet. We are here to assess where the swimmers are in their training. We are also looking for technical and tactical gains made from our early season work. We are also looking to see if they retained the gains made in those areas from this past summer.
The Lockport meet is this coming up. This meet is the first meet of our short course season. The first meet of the season is always much anticipated. This one is no different. We want to let everyone know the expectations for the swimmers before we step foot on deck.
I have written extensively in the past about placing too much emphasis on best times, especially early season. We believe in as mastery vs outcome approach. Our experience has been that this mindset works best for sustained, long term positive development. With that in mind, here is what we are looking for this weekend.
We have spent time working on all four strokes. We have focused on some of the most basic, yet important, aspects of each. As the season progresses, we will build on these gains and “fine tune” strokes. The emphasis for the early portion of the season has been to reduce drag and swim more efficiently in the water. We are looking to see how well the swimmers can transfer that work at practice into a race situation. It is important that they learn to not just make changes at workouts, but at the meets as well.
The older swimmers have also spent a lot of time working on aerobic capacity. This concentration on aerobic development should allow our athletes to have good “back half” swims; providing they do not sprint or hold their breath too soon in their races. We will reinforce the proper race strategies with each of the swimmers so everyone understands the goals prior to their swims.
The combination of efficient swimming and aerobic development is an effective way to begin a season. Once those two aspects are bettered, we can increase our in water power and the swimmers will be ready to make significant gains; but we are looking at more than just how they perform in the pool.
We are also looking to see how the swimmers “behave” at a meet. This is more than just manners.
- Is the swimmer warming up properly?
- Are they stretching?
- Does every swimmer do the prescribed warm down in a timely manner? (If there is a warm down pool available)
- What types of foods are they choosing and when are they eating?
- Do they have the ability to focus pre-race?
- Are they staying warm and hydrated?
- Can they react positively from both good and bad swims?
- Can they take feedback in a positive way and make adjustments?
- Are they being a good teammate?
These are just some of the things we look for at the first meet of the season. It allows us to see what we need to focus on moving forward and adjust our expectations for meet two. Just looking at a scoreboard and saying, “Great job dropping time in that race” is simplistic and will not give them the skills and behaviors they need to perform at higher levels in the sport as they progress. They need more; and the first meet of the season allows us to get a better picture of their needs so we can provide them the right support as the season, and their career, progresses.
Parents. Your willingness to support this approach is crucial to its effectiveness. If the swimmer gets one message from the coach and another from the parent they will be less likely to buy into this mindset. We all want the children to succeed and break their times. It is why we do what we do on a daily basis.
Think of your child’s swimming career as a marathon and not a sprint. It is our duty to help them acquire all the skills, tools, knowledge and behaviors they need to fulfill their true potential. We are partners in this; as we know each of you want the same thing. We would like to thank you in advance for your support for this approach.
One last thing... There are other factors we can control prior to the meet. As this first meet approaches, let’s make sure that all school work or projects are ahead of schedule, we are eating properly and getting as much sleep as possible. There are so many elements to performing our best. A true champion controls everything he or she can.
There is so much more to a meet than just getting a personal best. We hope you can see the importance of this approach and are ready to celebrate an even split 500 or a 50 with amazing underwater work. Here’s to a great first meet and beyond.
See you at the pool,