What Kind of Program Are We?

What Kind of Program Are We?

By: Mark Bernett

I want to take a couple of minutes and talk about my philosophy of our program and "why we do what we do".  When I started here in Bend 35 year ago, I went to a Coaches Clinic in Ft Lauderdale and listened to a US National and Olympic team coach talk about their training program and what he said really stuck with me.  I brought that back to Bend with me and implemented that into our program. 

We want everyone to be a good freestyler, a good IM'er, and have a good secondary stroke (back, breast, fly).  Why?  There are more freestyle events than any of the other strokes.  With a good IM based program, we are giving your kids the chance to not get stuck in a particular stroke.  Some of the best kids I've ever coached were good backstrokers when they were 10 and by the time they graduated from high school...they were National level butterflyers.  There are many programs around the country that would be characterized as "distance" programs and there are many programs that would be considered "sprint" programs.  We are smack dab in the middle.  We have kids in our senior group that excel in the 50 free and some kids are exceptional in the 1650 / 1500 free.  We have kids that are good 400 IMers and some that are good 100 breastrokers.  It is this middle distance training philosophy that allows us to do this. Every swimmer is our program will get endurance work and sprint work. 

My senior group trains about 5500-6000m per practice....eight practices a week in a big week....45-50K per week.  There are many programs out there that are swimming in excess of 70K per week and many out there that are swimming 35K per week.  Like I said...smack dab in the middle.  But I've never been a big believer in it being about how much you did...but rather it being about what you did.  From top to bottom....we try to add a little more each group.  There are many programs out there that have their 10 year olds swimming 5-6 days per week.  Ours swim 3.  I want our kids to do their best swimming in high school and college (if they choose to go that route). 

The best thing as a parent you can do is to try and make sure you expose your kids to every event offered in their age group, keeping in mind that every 9 year old isn't ready to swim the 200 free or 100 fly and every 13 yr old isn't ready to swim the 400 IM or 200 fly.  Your coaches will know when the time is right.