SPA Meet INFO & Early Season Expectations

Hi All,

I have not had real access to my computer for much of the week. I have received some positive feedback regarding my emails. Fair warning...some of them, and my website posts, can be lengthy. This is one of them. So grab your favorite drink, sit down and read on...

This is my first email to our combined Blue Wave “Swamily”. It has been quite an eventful week on both sides of the bay. Psychologist Bruce Tucker introduced the group development concept of, “forming, storming, norming and performing” in 1965. The concept is still valid even 50 plus years later. Why? Well, people are people. While Blue Wave has a decades old tradition in Brandon and Trident has carefully built it’s culture over the course of the past 2+ years, we are really just in the forming stage of the “new” Blue Wave. I am pleased to be the person charged with making it a success.

Our Pinellas County Branch Head Coach Kyle Trelka and I appreciate all of the offers to pitch in during this phase. Know that we will lean on some of you as we go through this forming process. Please keep in mind that we do this as we keep our eye on the bigger picture. When a seasoned coach puts together a training plan he or she does so with the end in mind. The same is true in organizations. Many of the moves we will make will be a direct result of that mindset. What may appear a tad weird today, might make a whole lot more sense down the road. We want to thank you in advance for understanding and supporting this mindset.

On a personal level, it has been great getting to meet the swimmers and their families at BSAC. While this was a week designed for me to observe, I did feel the need to get into some of the sets and dryland activities we will incorporate in the program. The kids seemed to enjoy the challenges. I know that they will greatly benefit from the increased attention on high level technique and training in their immediate futures. It’s a fun time to be a part of Blue Wave.

Schedule Changes

We will be announcing some important schedule changes program wide. Coach Kyle has tweaked the schedule in Pinellas (email soon) and I will be doing the same in Brandon. I still need some more information before i can make any announcements. Thanks for your patience as we strive to do this right from the start.

SPA Meet - ( Link To Meet Info - / Link For Heat Sheets, etc -  )

I like to address the staff’s expectations prior to going to any competition. I feel that it is important that the swimmer, their family and the coaches are all championing the same agenda. Toward that end, I wrote an article two years ago that I want to share with swimmers and families new to my philosophy. It follows below:

September 17, 2014


The SPA meet is this weekend. 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. I want to let everyone know my 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. I believe in as mastery vs outcome approach (learn more here ). My experience has been that this mindset works best for sustained, long term positive development. With that in mind, here is what I am 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.  I am 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.

We have also spent a lot of time working in zones Ib and Ia. 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. I 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 I am looking at more than just how they perform in the pool.

I am 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 doing our dynamic stretching routine as directed?

  • Does every swimmer do the prescribed warm down in a timely manner?  

  • What types of foods are they choosing and when are they eating?

  • Do they have the ability to focus pre race?

  • Are they staying out of the sun?

  • 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 I look for at the first meet of the season.  It allows me to see what we need to focus on moving forward and adjust my expectation 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 me to get a better picture of their needs so I can provide them the right support as the season, and their career, progresses.

Parents. Your willingness to support this approach is crucial to it’s 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 I know each of you want the same thing. I 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. I 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 - Rich

Two years later and my first meet expectations remain the same.

More Meet Information For The Upcoming SPA Meet

Dates and Times

  • Friday, September 16, 2016 ( 4:00-5:00pm 11 & older ) (5:00pm- 5:20pm 10 & under) warm-up, 5:30 pm start

  • Saturday, September 17, 2016 Morning session (6:30am-7:50am 11 & older warm-up – 8:00am start )(8:00am to 8:20am 10 & under) warm-up, 8:30 am start;

  • Sunday, September 18, 2016 Morning session (6:30am to 7:50am 11 & older warm-up – 8:00am start)(8:00am to 8:20am 10 & under) warm-up, 8:30 am start;

  • Afternoon session, 10 minutes after the conclusion of the morning session.

PLEASE NOTE: The warm up times mentioned above are in the water times, not arrival times.  I do not like forcing families to be at a meet at a specific time. Some swimmers need more time to get settled in while others can do just fine in a few minutes. My goal is to have everyone behind the block “ready to swim” 5 minutes prior to warm up start. We will have a tent set up for you when you arrive (parent volunteers?). Please adjust your schedules to make this successful.

What To Bring

We talk about preparation everyday on deck. Being prepared at the meets is important out of the pool as well. Swimmers should bring healthy snacks (refrain from processed or overly sweetened items), plenty of fluids (no sugary drinks). Extra towels, sunscreen, flip flops, extra cap, suit, goggles, a chair and something warm if the weather turns out to be not so nice. The most important thing to bring is a great attitude.

Meet Focus

Since we only have a few people going from the Brandon branch, this meet will give me a good opportunity to get to know those swimmers and families a little better. Swimmer from the Pinellas side added a strength component to your early season routine. I am looking forward to seeing how that work impacts your early season  swims as well as all the things I mentioned in the article I posted above.

I am also looking to see us begin the “forming” stage between the swimmers and parents of both branches. Our goal is not to be two separate groups with divergent goals who get together in name’s sake only to score more points. The goal for the new Blue Wave is to have all of our families benefit from our shared commitment to excellence and to our children's’ futures in and out of the sport.

Blue Wave Bling

I am sure I will not get to this by this meet, but from the Pumpkin Meet on, I would love for our swimmers and parents to sport some team clothes. Cotton Tees do not cut it, I know. We are working on other more comfortable and “fashionable” options. Look for more info and an order date for those items soon.

Final Thoughts

I started off this long winded post referencing one of the pioneers of organizational development psychology. For those of you new to my coaching family, you will come to realize that I have eclectic interests and hobbies; most of which are tied to trying to sculpt a better environment for the swimmers.

I find the role of Head Coach to be more than that of “trainer of the older kids”. As we continue through the organization growth process, it is important that we manage change effectively; and in such a manner that we move closer to our individual and organizational goals each day.

I know that the “veteran” swimmers and parents on the Pinellas side “get it”. It took a while for everyone to buy in and understand the long term plan. As I look into the eyes of the swimmers and parents in Brandon, I see the same fire and want for themselves and their children in their eyes as well. As i also mentioned in the early part of this post, people are people. We all want what is best for our children and, in a broader concept, our community as well.

Blue Wave has resources at it's disposal. It is beyond the scope of this article to go into them all. The most important resource, in my opinion, is people. Here’s to us all working together to make Blue Wave a place that positively impacts lives through involvement in competitive swimming.

This is going to be fun...let’s buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Well, made it to the end!

See you at the pool - Rich