April 1, 2018
This information is more immediately applicable to Silver and Gold swimmers than it is for Dolphin and Bronze swimmers but is worthwhile for all.
Being a successful older swimmer requires significant time, commitment, and intensity. While young swimmers (elementary school) can put in the time and commitment that the older ones do, and some are capable of the intensity of the older ones there isn’t evidence of a direct correlation between this time, commitment and intensity and long-term success. In fact, some argue that the correlation is a negative one. As swimmers reach middle school the positive correlation between time, commitment and intensity and long-term success becomes more significant. As swimmers get older and more serious it is more important to adapt schedules to preparation and opportunity cycles.
CAKE - Long Course Season
(One) Saturday, October 21 we had morning practice before an evening meet.
(Two) December 30th we had two practices, AM and PM on a Saturday.
(Three) March 16-18 we absolutely lit it up at YMCA State.
There were complaints about One and Two, not about Three. Doing that which others are unwilling to do is a key to success. It isn’t easy, which is why many don’t do it and why there are complaints, but it is how you achieve significant success in the pool, in the class room, and at work.
We have a lot of swimmers going in the right direction. Future success is dependent on keeping them going in the right direction. If we want to have a successful long course season / summer season preparation must meet opportunity.
Preparation is like baking a cake. If the recipe says bake for 20 minutes at 325 degrees, that is what you have to do. You can’t double the temp and halve the time (650 degrees for 10 minutes) and expect it to come out the same. It “may” still be edible but most definitely not nearly as good. Over the course of a season there will be anomalies in preparation, but if you want a well baked cake you can’t put it in for 5 minutes, take it out for 5 minutes, put it in for 5 minutes,… and expect it to turn out well. Success at a young age can be about “trying harder” at a meet, but success as you get older is about consistency of effort in preparation (training) and then doing what has become “normal” when the opportunity (meets) arrives.
We have had a very successful winter / short course season with YMCA Nationals and Midwest Regionals still to come.Preparation and opportunity converged this season. We had excellent practice attendance this winter; better and more consistent than in recent years. That is the preparation part. We had better meet attendance than ever before (the Swim Series has a huge impact on meet attendance). That is the opportunity part.
As we turn towards the summer / long course season we should be better long course then short course. Historically this has been the case. The primary reason for this is that most of our swimmers have less demands on their time in the summer than in the winter because school is not in session. To have a successful summer season preparation and opportunity must converge like they did in the winter.
There are only 4 months from our last short course meet to on last long course meet, not nearly the preparation time as the 7 months between September and March that resulted in the amazing performances that we had this season. The 1st key to a successful long course season starts with NOT GIVINGIT BACK. IT being the physical and mental fitness that we earned over the last 7 months. We sent this out last year at about this time.
Time away from training affects different aged swimmers differently. A general rule of thumb for a swimmer the age of the Gold group swimmers is that if you take a week off it takes 3 weeks to get back to the fitness level that you were at before you took the break. If you take two weeks off it takes you six weeks to get back to the same level you were at before your break and so on. For Silver group swimmers, it doesn’t take quite as long to get back to the level you were at before the break. For Bronze swimmers, it doesn’t take quite as long as Silver swimmers and so on.
We have a lot of swimmers that are super fit mentally and physically right now. We just don’t want to GIVE IT BACK. The next few weeks will be a little lighter than usually, but enough to stay “swimming fit”. Our goal for mid-April is to be in about the same place as we are right now, a lot of super fit swimmers.
If we manage the preparation part well then, we still have to take advantage of our opportunities. We have less meets in the summer and meets are packed into a shorter period of time. Some of the long course meets are “normal” meets predominately about gaining (or regaining) experience swimming and racing in a 50-meter pool. These meets are important. Long course racing is different than short course racing. Others are “big” meets, the ones where we do our best swimming at like Y Finalist, KMSC Pro-Am, A+, Everyone Counts/Last Chance, Y State, Y Nationals and Midwest Regionals are in the short course season. The meets are theopportunities.
If you are a State level or aspiring State level or above swimmer your normal meets are SSTY Distance / Sprint, Fond du Lac SOS, FCY Summer Classic, and Eau Claire Fairfax. Your “big” meets are WGLO, OSHY v SSTY dual, 12+Under State, 13+ Over State, Y Nationals, and/or Central Zones
If you are not at the State level yet your normal meets are Fond du Lac SOS, FCY Summer Classic, Eau Claire Fairfax, and Fond du Lac v Sun Prairie v OSHY tri-meet. Your “big” meets are OSHY v SSTY dual, and Fond du Lac Invite.
We are a team and to a large degree we bake our cake together. If you want to eat your cake weeks before everyone else, it isn’t going to be as good. (You can’t force an early season meet to be a “big” meet because the preparation cycle doesn’t match up with the time of the meet.) We bake together, we eat together. Preparation and opportunity must converge. You can’t rush it, you can’t force it. It takes time and it takes consistency.
Earlier mental fitness is mentioned. I am absolutely convinced at the upper levels (our Silver and Gold groups) getting out of shape mentally is as detrimental as getting out of shape physically. There are different aspects to mental fitness, but the one that I am referring to is simply getting mentally adjusted to the workload. When you work really hard consistently you get used to it and hence being prepared to work day in and day out becomes a non-issue. It is normal because you have adapted to it mentally. People complain all the time about Mondays. The reason is that they have gotten away from the work and readjusting to it hard. I believe that many places productivity goes way down on Fridays and specifically Friday afternoons because people are looking forward to not working on the weekends. They are mentally checking out. (I would imagine that medical school requires significant mental fitness, you have to get used to the workload. I also imagine that the type of mental fitness required to get through medical school prepares one for the mental challenges of being a doctor.) Don’t underestimate mental fitness and what is required to develop it.