October 4, 2016
Increased practice times. More frequent and intense dryland. Pulleys. Morning workouts. What if our family feels this is all too much for our child right now?
We have made some massive changes to the scope of the program here at Blue Wave. Many of the swimmers and families have embraced the changes and are “all in”. My experience tells me that there will be others who look at all of this and wonder if it is just too much. I want to address that issue in this post because it is important to me that we all understand the rationale and direction of our club.
It would be a disservice to our swimmers not provide them with the opportunity to reach their full potential. Too many times, clubs “restrict” swimmers, based on age or time in the sport, to limited practice times; all in a fallacious argument not to “burn out” young athletes. Life would be so much easier if we lived in generalities. Truth is, different swimmers need different things at different points in their career.
Some need, and are physically and emotionally prepared for, more at a younger age than others. All too often, swimmers who are not challenged get bored, compete at a lower level than they want and eventually lose interest in the program or, even worse, the sport as a whole. I call this, “reverse burn out”; as it usually occurs when coaches are avoiding burning swimmers out.
But the converse is also true.
A challenge that is perceived to be out of reach will affect the swimmer just as bad as one that is considered too low. The “art” of coaching, and competitive swim program design as a whole, is striking the right balance for each swimmer. That balance should consider each swimmer’s place on the developmental timeline as well as their goals in the sport.
Right now, we are putting in place the structures needed to support the upper end of the competitive spectrum. From a parent’s perspective, it could be perceived that our future focus will only be on high level competitive swimming. Nothing could be further from the truth...hence this post.
When I start any project, I begin with the end in mind. My experience has taught me that if you build a swim team without addressing the increased needs of those totally committed to the sport from the beginning, you are setting up your team up for long term failure.
Growth is important to the success of any organization. Unregulated growth can be a disaster. In swimming terms, a team that simply adds more and more members by cutting practice times, putting as many people in a lane as possible and “squeezes” every possible penny per hour per lane may have some short term in water and financial success. Unfortunately, they have also set up a scenario where they can not provide the proper environment for their swimmers as they progress.
As the swimmers needs increase, they can not provide the pool time and additional support the rising competitive athlete needs. Those swimmers either stay and perform at a lower level or leave to seek a better competitive environment. Either way, it is not a good situation for the swimmer, their family or the team as a whole.
At Blue Wave, we want to grow. We also want long term individual and team success. Our top end age group and senior level programming options are becoming clearly defined. We are finalizing the structure to support true long term success. Once complete, we will begin the process of adjusting our other developmental, novice and age group programs.
Those programs will be designed to give each child multiple pathways in the sport. Some will choose swimming as their main focus. If so, great. We will have the tools, in water time and programming dedicated for them to reach as high as their goals, drive and talents allow. Others will see swimming as an enjoyable after school activity; one designed to keep them fit, make friends and have fun. The great thing about our sport is that their is no “right” path.
A lot has been done in a few short weeks. There is still so much more to be done. I am so thankful for all of the support I have received to date. Know it is appreciated. Working together, we will make Blue Wave an amazing place for swimmers of all abilities and goals.
Hey...have you seen the progress on the new pool? Incredible, right! It is certainly a great time to be a part of the Blue Wave family.
See you at the pool - Rich