March 2, 2020
It's Championship Season...What Does That Really Mean?
There is a culminating event for all sports. The Super Bowl, the World Series and the Stanley Cup are three of the best known. In swimming, we have a wide variety of season ending events based on the level of the swimmers. This has its pluses and minuses. Let me take a moment and explain what I mean and how that affects our meet selection.
Earlier today, Coach Mark completed the Florida Age Group Championship Meet entry (FLAGS). We will send a dozen (12) swimmers to Orlando later this week to participate in that event. Many of these swimmers will also compete in the NCSA 14 & Under National meet later this month as well. In addition to these events, we will send another twenty (20) or so to the Florida Senior Championships and eight (8) or so to the NCSA Junior National meet later this month as well.
That’s a lot of championship meets. But what about the vast number of swimmers who do not have qualifying times? Well, Florida Swimming set up the Area meets as season ending events for those swimmers. If you have ever been to an “Area” meet, you’ll know why I am not a major fan. It’s not just the fact that those are marathon events that test the patience of even those who truly love the sport, it’s the timing of the Area meets that concerns me.
The way the meets are timed means that large sections of our program will end at different weekends in March. The group most affected by this reality? The swimmers without cuts for the state and national meets. While it’s great that we are increasing the numbers of people we send to these meets each season, we have to provide the best environment for ALL of our swimmers, not just the top end. If we don't serve our developing athletes, how are they going to, well, develop?
The other thing about this setup that I don’t care for is the lack of a teamwide season ending event; one where all of our swimmers can compete as a team for a team goal. This is exactly why we put the National AAU Junior Olympics (JOs) on our meet schedule for the long course. If you have been to a JO meet, you know how intense and exciting they are from both an individual and team aspect. For the short course season, we put the GTSA Spring Championship on the schedule for this same reason.
The Spring Championship meet is all ages, all levels and local. There are prelims and finals for the older swimmers. The size of the meet makes it competitive, yet more likely that our swimmers will get second swims in the evenings. Teams for the northeast travel down to meet so our kids are not swimming against the same old competition. It’s a fun meet where we can try to secure a team victory.
I feel it is important for our newer and developing swimmers to see our faster athletes in action. It helps to provide intra-team role modeling and bonding. It also shows them what is possible if you work hard and follow the seasonal plan. Besides, it’s just fun to compete with ALL of your teammates.
There is another great advantage to this approach rather than the traditional one. Our team can take a break at the same time and start our long course season together. Think about it. If your championship meet ended on the 3rd of March and the last championship ending at the end of March, you would be in a holding pattern for about five (5) weeks. Worse, if every group took a week off after their championship meet, it would be a hot mess start to the next season. Having a team target alleviates many of these issues.
Thanks for taking a few minutes of your day to read this post. I just want to ensure that we are all on the same page. The athletes and staff have worked hard this season. We are expecting some breakout swims. As the championships approach, we will be adjusting our schedules. Watch out for those emails and updates please. Lastly, I encourage ALL of our swimmers to attend the GTSA Spring Championships. It will be fun to end the season with the entire swamily together.
See you at the pool - Rich