Senior (9th - 12th)

Bolles Swimming Senior Practice Group Structure

Our primary objective in the Bolles senior program is create an experience for each swimmer that produces personal and athletic growth. A key component to achieving that objective is providing excellent coaching to each swimmer in the program. We spend time as a staff developing models of excellent coaching and working on specific coaching skills such as connecting with athletes, communication, and long-term athlete development.

Our afternoon and Saturday morning practices will be divided into the following groups: a Senior National Group, a National Prep Group, and a Championship Group. Initial group placement for each student-athlete will be based on meet performances through December 2019 championships. Student-Athletes will be considered for a different group in March, August, and January (based on championship meet results). It is our goal to provide a practice group structure that meets the following objectives:

  • To be inclusive in nature – we want each student-athletes to be welcome to the appropriate place in our program.  We want each student-athlete to experience commitment to their growth according to their goals.
  • For each student-athlete to have a lead coach and to experience coaching with a beneficial student-athlete to coach ratio.
  • For each student-athlete to have a progression through our program that results in long term growth.
  • To have groups of student-athletes prepared as a team to compete at Championship meets.

Bolles Student-Athletes

Senior National Group (Bolles)

To be considered for this group Student-Athletes need to be in grades 10-12 and have achieved a 2019 Futures time standard.  Student-athletes are expected to commit to goals including competition at a National/International level (US Olympic Trials, The Olympic Games, USA Swimming Nationals, and Junior Nationals).  Coach Peter will lead this group assisted by Coach Claire Mills.

3:50-6:00PM Monday-Friday & 7-10AM Saturday

Expected at morning practices based on grade level.


National Prep Group (Bolles)

To be considered for this group Student-Athletes need to be in grades 9-12 and have achieved a Spring Sectional Time Standard.  Student-Athletes are expected to commit to goals of competing at a State, Sectional, Futures, and Junior National level (as well as internationally).  Coach Jeff Pishko will lead this group.

3:50-6:00PM Monday-Friday & 7-10AM Saturday

Expected at morning practices based on grade level.


Championship or "Champs" Group (Bolles)

This group is for Bolles Student-Athletes in grades 9-12 with goals to compete at a State and Sectional level or to grow as a competitive swimmer. Coaches will develop lanes and practices appropriate to the swimmer?s goals within the group.  Coach Melissa Steele will lead this group assisted by Coach Cameron Bendetsen.

3:30-5:30PM Monday-Friday & 7-10AM Saturday

Invited to morning practices based on grade level.



Late Night Student-Athletes


Late Night National /National Prep Group:

This group is for Student-Athletes who have achieved a Spring Sectional Championship Time Standards. Student-Athletes are expected to commit to goals of competing at a State up to Olympic Trials level competition.  When all Bolles senior programs are combined, swimmers with Futures standards will join the Senior National group, swimmers with Spring sectional times will join the National Prep Group.  The late-night National/National Prep group will be led by Coach Mike Kuzma.

5:00-7:45PM Monday-Friday & 7-10AM Saturday

Expected at morning practices.


Late Night Championship or "Champs" Group:

This group is for Student-Athletes with goals to grow as a competitive swimmer.  This group will have athletes that range from State/Senior Championship level qualifiers to athletes focused on learning and fitness.  The Late-Night champs? group will be led by Coach Cameron Bendetsen.

5:00-7:45PM Monday-Friday & 7-10AM Saturday

Invited to morning practices









Group Placements and Progression

The content of practices in each group (volume, intensity, complexity, consistency, and skill acquisition / teaching) will be designed to fit the goals and challenge the abilities of the athletes in each group. Following Championship meets within the swimming year coaches will evaluate and place student-athletes in the appropriate groups ? this will occur at the end of December, end of March, and the end of July. Coaches reserve the right to place athletes in the appropriate group based on their ability to handle the volume, intensity, complexity, consistency, and teaching separate of their performance.

Athletes joining Bolles either as rising 9th grade students or new students to the school will be evaluated based on performances and their ability to manage the appropriate content of the group. We want to be sure each athlete is placed in an environment to be challenged (not overmatched) as they begin in the Bolles senior programs.

Only times from Olympic events will be considered for group placement (50s of stroke will not be considered).

The Role of a Lead Coach

The primary role for each Lead Coach of a practice group is to be a champion for each athlete in the group. This coach is primarily invested in knowing the athletes in the group, identifying their goals, constructing practices, and organizing their competitions (meet entries, schedules, warm ups, etc). Lead coaches for each group will be the primary point of contact for the student-athlete and family with the program. Lead coaches will send a weekly email update with all important information for the athletes in the group. Questions about schedules, meets, events, progress in practice, goals, concerns for the athlete should be directed to the lead coach via email or phone call. The coaches meet regularly to discuss logistical information as well as coaching specific development. Each coach is equipped with the knowledge, skills, and experience to lead their assigned group of athletes.


Scheduled Practice and Meet Expectations

Practices for each group are scheduled for the year (Starting in August /ending in July, with separate school-year and summer schedules). Student-athletes should expect to attend the practices of their group only, unless they have permission from the coaching staff to attend a different session in advance. Coaches will work on solutions to keep an athlete?s training consistent with the content of that practice group.

Each year coaches will publish a competition schedule with competitions specified for each practice group. Some competitions will include student-athletes from multiple practice groups and some competitions may be selected for specific practice groups. Athletes and families are expected to participate in the competitions specified for their groups.

Athletes who are not meeting the expected practice commitment within the group may not be entered in competitions at the Lead coach?s discretion.

Additional Information:

Dryland and Weightlifting:

All senior groups include a consistent focus on land-based strength & conditioning. Student-Athletes are offered a minimum of 3 and up to 5 specific dryland sessions per week, included in the practice times posted for the group schedule. Bolles School Student-athletes focus their on-land training in the mornings based on the availability of space and equipment. Late night student-athletes include dryland prior to afternoon sessions each day starting 5:00PM. Weightlifting programs are an option for Junior and Senior student-athletes and based on consistent attendance and experience with resistance training.


Morning practices will be offered as combined practices for all senior student-athletes. This means any athlete who attends a morning practice will be offered the same practice and practices will be designed to include and challenge all student-athletes.




Morning Practices (Late Night):

Offered Monday & Wednesday at 4:45-6AM OR 5:45-7AM (Swimming Only).

*Freshman National/National Prep athletes are expected consistently at one morning practice per week.

Morning Practices (Bolles Student-Athletes):

9th - 12th Grade:

Monday 5:30-7:30 Dryland (Dryland Room) and Swimming

Wednesday 6-8AM Dryland (Dryland Room/outside) and Swimming

11th-12th Grade Weightlifting Option:

Monday 5:30-7:30 Lifting (Weight Room) and Swimming

Wednesday 6-8AM Dryland (Dryland Room/outside) and Swimming

Friday 6:00-7:15AM Lifting (Weight Room) Only

*Student-athletes who miss more than 3 weight room sessions in a 10 week training cycle will be asked to attend dryland until the beginning of the next 10 week training cycle. This is for the safety of the student-athlete.




Distance Breakouts:

For student-athletes who either focus on longer races or who need additional training volume there will be a distance breakout group on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for appropriate swimmers from all practice groups. Late Night programming will include these breakouts within training throughout the week.




Frequently Asked Questions

What groups prepare student-athletes for college swimming?
All of them!  Each student-athlete is unique in their ability and where they are in their development.  Practice groups and training lanes are designed to give athletes an appropriate experience and help any student-athlete towards their long-term goals.  Swimming at a ‘faster’ college is a function of an athlete working hard at each step of their development.     


What if a swimmer’s best friends are in another group?
This is a common frustration in a practice group structure – many swimmers enjoy the sport for the social aspects of training and growing alongside their peers.  As coaches we work to foster a positive atmosphere within each practice group and across all groups.  Dryland training, morning practices, and other scheduled practices will still combine different groups together and offer an opportunity to swim with other swimmers and coaches.  Coaches understand the importance of a positive social experience in the pool but will need to prioritize the development of each athlete.


How can a swimmer move to another group?

Performances from championship meets will be the primary factor to consider placing an athlete in another training group.  Times from non-championship meets will not be considered.  Athletes should also demonstrate the commitment to practices and competitions that is expected of the group they wish to train in.  coaches reserve the right to place athletes not just based on performance, but on the athletes ability to thrive with the volume, intensity, complexity, consistency, and teaching of the group.

What about the Distance Group during the Bolles School practices?

This breakout session will be recommended and, in some cases, assigned by the coaches in each group for the season.  The training in these sessions will add to swimmers ability to prepare for events 400 yards and longer.  Coaches may recommend this group for athletes who will respond well to the practices designed even if they won’t compete in a ‘distance’ event.

What are the primary differences between groups?
Practices and preparation plans for each group of athletes include the variables of: volume of training, intensity of training, complexity of the training, consistency of practice patterns, and rate of skill acquisition for the athletes.  Much like a classroom setting, each group is designed to give the athletes in the group the appropriate experience for their ability.  Based on the factors above athletes should experience some failure or challenge and some success within their training group.


What do I do if I feel my swimmer is not in the appropriate group (asked by a parent)?
We are happy to have that discussion with you as an athlete or a parent.  We ask that you please consider approaching this conversation by asking your swimmers coach to discuss your swimmer in terms of the factors mentioned above: championship meet performance, training volume, intensity, complexity, consistency, and teaching.  When working with a family we focus only on the specific athlete – not in comparison to others.  There will often be factors about other student-athletes that are not apparent to those who are not coaching them and it is in each student-athlete’s best interest for us to focus these conversations to your swimmer.  We ask that you keep an open mind and learn to work with the coaches to encourage an athlete when needed.


How will I know what group a swimmer should be in?
Each August every swimmer or family will receive a welcome email to their assigned practice group.  You should be able to gauge the group placement based on the swimmer’s times and if there is any further discussion the coaching staff will reach out to you in advance.  In the case a swimmer will be placed in a different group following a championship meet you (swimmer and family) will receive a welcome email to that practice group.


How is having separate practice groups helpful for creating a TEAM environment?
The concept of separating athletes within the program may seem counter-intuitive to creating a wholistic team environment.  The key to a team’s success in a championship competition is for each athlete to do their job – which is to give their best effort (in preparation, in races, and as a teammate).  Each athlete needs to be prepared differently to do their job and a group practice structure allows coaches to best accomplish that.


How can I be sure my swimmer is going to spend time with the Head Coach?
(Coach Peter Answering) As the head coach my first and foremost duty is to develop, support, and empower the whole coaching staff to be the best coaches possible for each swimmer.  I take time to work with each coach to be sure the technical X’s and O’s of practices and meets are consistently excellent for all groups. At the same time I work to balance the time I have on deck and at meets to connect, get to know, and support as many student-athletes as possible.  In your time at Bolles my hope is that each athlete experiences many amazing coaches and each student-athlete learns something unique and powerful from each coach.  I know I cannot be the best coach for every student-athlete, but I am here to be the biggest advocate for every student-athlete by putting them with excellent coaching on deck.


How does a swimmers’ Character effect the group they are placed in?
Character (think the 5 P’s: Posture, Polite, Prompt, Prepared, Purposeful) are a foundation for ALL group and ALL student-athletes.  While each student-athlete may be on a different development level in these areas, we strive to impart great character I all groups.  Practices groups should not be a reward for great character (or even simply hard work – although that certainly plays a factor), because in contrast a different (not “lesser”) group would then be a punishment.  Practice groups are designed to be appropriate for each student-athlete as a swimmer.  EVERY student-athlete is expected to develop great character no matter what group they are in.


Does practice attendance change in each group?
Coaches in each group will track (and post) practice attendance.  This is helpful from administrative perspective (if there are any billing questions) and safety standpoint.  There are not attendance requirements to be placed in a group.  We want each athlete to set a goal and learn that there is no limit to the amount of work one can do to achieve that goal.  As an athlete progresses in actual times/results the amount of work and the quality of work they do become critical factors in success.  A wise coach once said:
> If you want a chance to improve – come to practice every day.
> If you want a good chance to improve - come to practice every day AND work really hard.
> If you want to be sure to improve – come to practice every day AND work really hard AND find way to improve away from the pool (sleep, nutrition, stretching, mindset).

every athlete should work to give their coach their goals – then listen to the coach for what they will need to do in terms of attendance to achieve them.  Thanks to all our parents who make practice attendance possible!!