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KKW Levels of Swimming Development


Ketchikan Killer Whales

Swim Club

Athlete Development Progressions


Levels of Development

The progressions for Athlete Development were originally developed by USA Swimming in an attempt to answer the question, “What is the best way to develop an athlete?” The materials were produced based on a great deal of discussion and the input from numerous USA Swimming technical committees, staff personnel, and coaches.  KKW has adopted these levels of development and modified them slightly in order to meet the specific need of swimmers of this region.


The Progressions for Athlete Development comprise eight levels of development, which encompass six critical areas to help guide the journey for each and every athlete. The six areas (with clickable links) are:


When reading through the progressions, there may be some specific questions about the development of particular athletes.  The progressions are meant to be a tool or a yardstick to evaluate the overall development and progress of the swimmers. The “how” of getting athletes to each and every milestone is completely up to the coach.  Helping athletes reach these accomplishments will be the results of balancing the art and science of coaching.


The Progressions are not meant to create clone swimmers.  Will every athlete progress to level 8? No. Will every athlete excel at the same pace? No. Can an athlete make it to the upper levels by virtue of his or her talent and achievements? Yes, but only in the categories of training parameters and competitive performance.  The athlete could be at level 4 in character development for his or her entire life. In other cases, just the opposite is true. There are kids who are head and shoulders above others when it comes to life skills such as making a commitment and having a work ethic, but unfortunately, some of these athletes will never make a Junior National cut.  These athletes may be level 8 in the character development category, but they may never achieve higher than level 4 or 5 in the competitive performance area. We hope that the progressions will help motivate the full development of every Killer Whale swimmer.


It is important to keep in mind that all aspects of development do not occur at an exact rate and at the same time.  We know that physical development occurs in spurts. An athlete may experience a big improvement in the training or the competitive components, but he or she may still lag behind in the psychological area.  Each swimmer’s journey proceeds at an individual pace, with many different levels of success. These progressions can be helpful in creating a career plan for the development of swimmers. Each swimmer’s progression can be reevaluated monthly.


The material is presented in chart form.  Each chart illustrates one area of focus. Swimmers can progress in each area individually and are not constrained to progressing in all areas in order to achieve a higher level.