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Practice Groups
We are a developmental program – from top to bottom. We have no interest in creating the fastest 12-year-old swimmer.  10 year olds are developmental swimmers - 13 year olds are developmental – high school seniors are developmental. It is in that belief that our training philosophies are born. Our program is based on the long-term benefit to the athletes. Keep in mind that a fast 10-year-old does not equate to a happy and fast 18-year-old. The record books are full of fast little kids that didn’t stay in the sport to their teen-age years.
While we strive to do our best at all times, swim meet times are not the only way we judge our progression.  It is more important to us that we teach kids to be coachable, fundamentally-sound athletes with the potential for continued long-term growth.
We will not specialize in strokes or distances. All swimmers going through the program are swimmers – not backstrokers, butterflyers, or sprinters. We will train swimmers to be able to compete in the 400 IM, 200 of stroke and the distance freestyles. Once an athlete conquers those events – everything else is more easily conquered. We will also not wear technical racing suits until the coaching staff sees fit – which is usually at the USA Sectional level or 15 years old.
The following is a brief overview of the group structure. The guidelines are general descriptions, as group makeup changes on a yearly basis. Like all swimming related decisions, the coaching staff makes group placement decisions. Placement decisions are made in the best interest of the individual swimmer and his/her long-term development. Please note that there are both minimum requirements that need to be met to guarantee a spot to continue on the team, and attendance that is recommended to track towards our higher groups.
When it comes to practice, striving for the minimum is just that – striving for the minimum.
Pre-competitive Groups
These groups are designed to help the beginning competitive swimmer who is not yet ready to train with the team. These groups are excellent for the 10 & under that wants to try out the sport. Practices will be held twice weekly for approximately 17 weeks. The basics of the competitive strokes are taught in these groups in the hopes that the swimmer will be ready to move up to the main team. These are not swimming lessons, and participants must be interested in learning the 4 competitive strokes, flip turns and racing starts. USA SWIMMING membership is included in the fee. The opportunity to swim in a meet will be available toward the end of the session, and swimmers who are ready will be offered an option to transition to the team.
Group 1:
Group 1 is usually the starting point for new swimmers who join our team. Swimmers must already have the ability to swim the competitive strokes. (See Pre-competitive for a program that prepares children for group 1.)
It is recommended that swimmers in this group attend 3-4 practices per week in order to be able to build on learned skills. To meet pre-registration requirements, 2 practices per week are required – and swimmers must attend the meets scheduled for that group. Spring/Summer sessions are optional.
The four competitive strokes and basic start and turn techniques are taught. Elementary stroke drills are introduced at this level. We teach that technique comes first. Speed comes later. The ability to swim correctly will pay big dividends in the athlete’s competitive future.
It is never too early to learn that teammates are teammates – not yet competitors.
Group 2:
Group 2 swimmers have demonstrated an ability to do all four competitive strokes legally, can maintain their stroke for 50 -100 yards,and have listening and learning skills necessary for a more structured environment.
It is in Group 2 that swimmers will begin to compete in longer events. All Group 2 swimmers will
compete in 100 of all strokes and freestyle events up to 500 yards. 11-over swimmers will compete in 200 of strokes. These swimmers are ready to learn slightly more advanced stroke drills. More swimming is done in practice than in Group 1, though the emphasis is still technique first, speed later.
It is recommended that swimmers in this group attend 3-4 practices per week in order to be able to build on learned skills. To meet pre-registration requirements, 2 practices per week are required – and swimmers must attend the meets scheduled for that group. Spring/Summer sessions are optional.
Group 3:
Group 3 swimmers have begun work on endurance and basic interval training. They are ready, willing, and able to spend more time at the pool than Group 2. Group 3 swimmers learn most of the stroke drills that are taught to our top swimmers. The emphasis in group 3 begins to lean toward aerobic conditioning. Group 3 swimmers will begin to compete in the 400 IM and the distance frees. We do start thinking about working on speed and endurance, but not at the expense of stroke technique.
Athletes in Group 3 are recommended to attend 4-6 practices a week to continue to track to the higher groups. To meet pre-registration requirements 3 practices per week are required. The requirement for any teenager in this – or any group - is at least 4 per week. They must attend meets on the Group 3 schedule. Spring/Summer sessions are recommended but optional.
Bronze group (Pre-senior):
Primarily, the Bronze Group prepares younger swimmers for eventual advancement into the SSC senior groups. These swimmers are ready to make a greater commitment and face a heavier practice load, and will ultimately become our senior group. In order to continue to track toward the higher groups, it is recommended that these swimmers try to make all available practices. The coaches can distinguish the Bronze members who are tracking towards the senior groups by their dedication to the sport – and their commitment to the team.
The Bronze group is also the group for older swimmers who are not interested in or able to make the necessary commitment to the Senior groups.
Bronze group swimmers will compete in all events – with emphasis on the distance events, 400 IM and 200s of stroke.
To meet pre-registration requirements, bronze group swimmers are required to attend 4 practices a week. They must attend meets on the Bronze meet schedule and must swim in either the spring or summer.
Senior Group:
Each member of the Senior Group will recognize his/her position as a role model for the entire Shark program. A positive attitude toward training and competing is vital. Swimmers will be on the deck for practice AT LEAST 10 to 15 minutes early every day to prepare for workout. Members of this group will prepare themselves to train at the highest level on a daily basis. There will be room in the Bronze group for those who initially enter the senior team but cannot live up to the training level or role model position.
Senior athletes who swim for their high school teams recognize that the varsity season falls within the USA SWIMMING season. Swimmers will be at SSC practice any time the HS team is given a practice off – and will swim every Saturday practice that does not interfere with meets.
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This group is generally made up of 14 and over athletes who have chosen swimming as their primary sport. This group will represent SSSC at local and regional meets - often competing without regard to age-group.
These swimmers follow a seasonal practice plan that allows for only 100% attendance. Senior athletes practice from 14- 20 hours per week. In advance of any conflicts with a scheduled practice, the swimmer will make arrangements to make up that practice.  Scholastic achievement is obviously priority, but Senior group swimmers are expected to be able to handle their scholastic responsibilities while living up to their athletic commitment.  If unable to handle both academic responsibilities AND the group expectations, our Senior group is not for that swimmer.
Senior group athletes will attend all meets assigned to the group. These athletes have agreed to make a greater commitment to the sport. They serve as student-athlete role models to the rest of the team. They will attend all meets assigned to the Senior groups.
Only swimmers in the Senior group, and consistently making all requirements of the Senior group will be invited to compete at higher level (Sectional-level and beyond) Sr Championship Meets. Swimmers not in the Senior group - even if they have qualifying times - will not compete beyond Age Group Zones.  Senior swimmers who do not swim in the Spring season may not be eligible for Sectional-level Summer meets.
Senior swimmers will swim the summer season – and must swim at least 7 practices per week, though more may be mandated for those aspiring to Sectional and National level meets. Spring season is also highly recommended - and may be mandated for those aspiring to Sectional and National level meets..
Though the sport is fully the athlete's at this point, and all communication about the swimmer's sport will be between coach and athlete, the commitment level necessary for the Senior group is obviously a family commitment.  Swimmers who cannot make all the requirements for the Senior group will not be moved to - or stay in - the Senior group.
Athletes who have already graduated from high school, but live locally and continue to swim for the Sharks, will make individual plans with Jerry to compete in the senior group. Requirements for those swimmers may differ from the younger swimmers. Fees for those swimmers will be determined on an individual basis.
Collegiate swimmers must have a current USA Swimming Membership and are welcome to swim with the club when home during the year on breaks at no charge. They must register and pay Summer session fees before beginning summer training.  Collegiate swimmers may only train with the club in the Spring/Summer as competing members of the club - competing in our Summer Championship meet(s).  For those who fail to compete, it will be their last summer with the club.