Swim Nova Scotia and the Crusaders swim program adhere to the Long Term Development framework for athletes.  Details about the framework are available on the Sport For Life web site

A range of resources are available, including ones for parents:

The Crusaders' version of ACTIVE START is offered through the CRUSADER PLAYGROUND program.  The key concepts of development at this stage are crucial to future skill development and enjoyment in the sport.  Among them: Active play... at this stage... builds important connections within the brain, and between the brain and children’s muscles; children feel competent and comfortable participating in a variety of fun and challenging activities and non-competitive games.  Crusader Playground is a foundation for discovering the joy of movement in water. Generally swimmers are 5 to 7 years of age.

The activity and preparation in our competitive squads - Blue Novatech, Blue Age Group, Gold, Junior, and Senior - form a framework for progression from Fundamentals to Train to Compete stages.  Placement within the squads will depend mainly on the swimmer's skill and performance level.

BLUE NOVATECH - the aim in this squad is to develop the FUNDAMENTAL building blocks of athleticism including the ABCs (Agility, Balance, Coordination and speed) and of swimming specific skills (each of the strokes, turns, starts etc.)  It is where the team building bond begins.  The season program meets the needs of  less experienced swimmers who are new to the sport.  Generally we find children ages 8-10 years in this squad but older ones with limited swimming experience may also get their start here.

BLUE AGE GROUP - the aim of this squad is to LEARN TO TRAIN, to refine motor control in the ABCs and in swimming specific skills.  Attention is given to encouraging the swimmers to see their own improvement.  Skill and racing experiences are broad based, learning to swim a wide range of race events, gaining repetitive experience, and to find the fun in the trials and errors of learning the sport. Generally swimmers are 9-11 years in this squad

GOLD - in this squad key components of LEARN TO TRAIN remain paramount as the swimmers begin to increase their training exposure in the sport.  Time in swimming specific activity may increase but continued activity in a variety of sport and physical activity endeavors is encouraged.  It is too soon to specialize. Generally swimmers are 10-12 years in this squad. 

JUNIOR - in this squad swimmers enter the TRAIN TO TRAIN stage. Proficiency in performance components (physical, technical & tactical, mental & emotional) are evident. A progression from local level development meets to Provincial qualifying level competition may begin for some swimmers in the Gold squad but more so it is seen as swimmers progress through the Junior squad.  Toward the end of this stage swimmers prepare to advance to the Senior squad they will begin to make commitments to one sport. Generally swimmers are 12-14 years in this squad.

SENIOR - this is the TRAIN TO COMPETE stage.  The Long Term Development framework for athletes defines key components which fit well with the aims of this squad.

  • 'Swimmers' enter this stage based on individual commitment, volume and intensity of training, and performance results as well as having achieved all the objectives of the Train to Train stage.
  • 'Are ready to' participate in year-round, high-intensity, individual- event- and position-specific training within a high quality training environment.
  • Specialize in one sport or at most two complementary sports (e.g. triathlon or paddling), though discipline/event specialization may not occur until late in the stage.
  • Learn to perform skills under a variety of competitive conditions.
  • 'Work toward' competing at a national level 
  • Optimize recovery and regeneration with scheduled (periodized) time for regular recovery and developing mental fitness.
  • In the Team atmosphere these athletes are prepared to be leaders among their peers and younger team mates, to contribute to building a sense of belonging, to leave a positive legacy.