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Team Philosophy

Greater Philadelphia Aquatic Club

Team Philosophy

“There is a large difference between being ‘good’, getting ‘better’, and being the ‘best’.  We want all of our swimmers to strive to be the ‘best’ swimmer they can be.  Most swimmers will get better through minimal effort over the course of the season (with physical growth being the main reason).  But to be the best they can be (and contribute to the club becoming the best it can become) the swimmers and their families must strive to do everything they can to ensure this including:

 

·          Regular practice attendance, especially in the beginning of the season.   All swimmers, in order to be the best, need to attend at least 80% of their groups offered practices.  We can liken it to school: if you miss more than 20% of the school days you won’t even get the chance to attend summer school and will fail that grade. 

 

·          Paying attention to the coaching staff at all times.   Missing the slightest bit of instruction from the coaches can result in mechanical or race strategy flaws which can take years to overcome. 

 

·          Racing and an overall enjoyment of competition.   Somewhere along the line over the last 10 or 15 years the word competition has become a dirty word for the youth in our country.  There is nothing wrong with being competitive and being under competitive is just as bad as being overly competitive.  We encourage racing in a controlled environment on a daily basis in practice.  This is the only way to ensure a strong competitive drive in the swimmers at all meets.

 

·          Teamwork (Swimmers/Coaches/Parents).   The biggest misconception about swimming is that it is not a team sport or there is not a team aspect to USA Swimming.  It’s true that we do not attend meets on a weekly basis in which a score at the end determines the team’s performance.  But saying this is not a team sport is like saying the doctors and nurses in the operating room are not a team, or the marketing group is not a team.  You don’t need a “final score” to compete in a team sport, but you do need goals, a process, and an end result.  Swimmers need to work together in practice on a daily basis: racing, encouraging each other, and supporting each other.  Parents have an equally important role on this team as you are the main role models for your children.  The coaching staff asks that you trust and support what we are doing.  Parents play an important role in the team’s success through financial support as well as being drivers, nutritionists and (most importantly) cheer leaders.  The absolute best way you can support the team (and set a great example for your swimmer) is by cheering for your child’s friends as passionately as you cheer for your child. 

 

·          Self reliance.   This sport is set apart from most others in the amount responsibility the athlete has as it relates to the finished product.  It’s hard to put a number on the amount of input the swimmer has on the finished product, but we could conservatively estimate it at about 80%.  The coaches can discuss goals, let the swimmers know what it will take to reach goals, plan the season, write the workouts, give instruction and encourage the swimmers at practice and meets.  But it is 100% up to the swimmer (and each swimmer on their own) to take what they are given and make it happen in practice on a daily basis and at meets.  The hardest part about being a swim coach is knowing that once a swimmer gets onto the blocks there is nothing you can do to effect the outcome of the race.  Coaches and parents cannot get in the water and swim the practices or races for them and neither can their teammates.

 

Swimming is what we call a “life sport”: the lessons and ideals a swimmer learns at an early age can and should carry over to school, work, and all aspects of their entire life.  Hard work, self reliance, goal setting and understanding the steps necessary to reach the goal(s), and working with a team to accomplish personal and group goals…these are the lessons the coaching staff teaches the swimmers and the philosophical foundation for this team.

 

“With no team scores at meets, how do we measure team success?”

IN MANY WAYS!!!

1)    Meet performance.   The great thing about USS Swimming is that there is not pressure on the athletes to swim best times in every event at every meet or else risk failing the team like in summer league or high school swimming.  Success at meets should always be compared year to year.  For instance, times done at a meet in January should not be compared to a swimmer’s best times (even if the best time was done a month earlier) but to the times they swam under similar conditions in January of years past. 

2)    Team performance at certain meets .  There are some meets where team scores are kept but they are not always a great representation of how good a team is.  This is because the common rule of thumb is that the bigger your team is, the more points you will score.  That being said, this team has consistently placed very high at local, regional and national meets:

·          2004 TYR Cup Holiday Classic – 2nd Place

·          2005 Eastern Zone Sectional Championships – 1st Overall, 1st Place Men, 1st Place Women

·          2005 TYR Cup Holiday Classic – 2nd Place

·          2006 NCSA Junior Nationals – 10th Place

·          2006 Speedo Long Course Junior Nationals – 13th Place

·          2007 NCSA Junior Nationals – 7th Place

·          2007 Speedo Long Course Junior Nationals – 25th Place

·          2007 NJ State Championships – 1st Place Overall, 1st Place Men, 1st Place Women

·          2008 Eastern Zone Sectional Championships – 2nd Place

·          2008 Middle Atlantic Short Course Senior Championships – 2nd Place

Performance is determined by the preparation at least as much as by what happens at the meet itself.  With this sport it is truly about the journey and not necessarily about the destination.  Fast swims, championships, personal and team “bests” are all achieved in workouts starting in September, not when you step onto the blocks in March.

3)    USA Swimming’s IMX Challenge.   A good swimmer can do freestyle and one other stroke well.  A great swimmer is well-rounded and good at all distances and strokes.  The IMX Challenge provides the basis for proficiency in all strokes and distances for each age group.  The more proficient you are in each IMX event the more IMX points you receive, but you do not receive any points unless you compete in all of the IMX events.  To learn more about the IMX program, go to www.usaswimming.org and click on “My USA Swimming” on the left.  Information about the IMX Program will be at the top of the page.

4)    USA Swimming’s Virtual Club Championship.   This program ranks all teams based on their top two swimmers in most events in single age groups starting with 11 year olds through 18 year olds.  Swimmers can only accrue points in five events.  This is not the most accurate assessment of national team rankings, but a good tool for coaches to see where a team’s weaknesses are.  To learn more about the Virtual Club Championship go to www.usaswimming.org, click on the “Swim Clubs” tab at the top and then click on “Virtual Club Championships” on the left.  This team’s highest national ranking was 73rd for the 2005-2006 short course season.


THE “F” WORD: FAILURE

 

Failure is an important aspect of life and very important in swimming.  Unless you are a thoroughbred racehorse, failure is a necessary part of the journey in sports.  Michael Jordan, perhaps the greatest athlete of our generation, once said the greatest thing to ever happen to him was getting cut from his high school basketball team as a freshman.  Jordan could have sulked, cried, blamed the coaches, switched to a different school, quit…but instead he used it as a message that he needed to get better.  Five years later he was a key member of UNC’s National Championship Team and the third pick in the NBA Draft; on his way to the greatest career in professional basketball history.  Jordan has said on many occasions “You have to learn how to lose before you can truly appreciate winning.” 

Swimmers need to accept failure as an opportunity to learn about themselves and their swimming abilities.  Failure is only a bad thing if you continue to make the same mistakes over and over without much effort to correct the problems leading you to failure.  Failure will make you stronger and make accomplishing your goals all that much sweeter.

Parents should always encourage their children, especially when they are at their lowest point.  Parents should never attempt to make suggestions to the swimmers as it regards to stroke technique or racing strategy, this is the sole responsibility of the coaching staff. 

  This philosophy will continue to evolve as our team grows and evolves.