"Swimming is what we DO!"
Below you will find a basic explanation of the MCA training program. One must consider the required commitment for each program. This includes the training regimen, the coaches, your friends, and your family’s ability to support the requirements of each program. Coaches, swimmers and parents all play a role in determining which program and group is most appropriate for each child. An important first step for determining the best training program is for swimmers and parents to consider the athlete’s individual objectives, and how those objectives align with the programs described below. As you’ll see, MCA has a place for any skill level and commitment desired.
Overview of Training Programs:
Program Goal: Provide an environment that helps each athlete reach his or her potential in the sport of swimming in a manner that is aligned with his or her personal goals.
The following is the general process for group placement. Group selection depends on the following three factors:
- Age: Chronologic age is important for group placement. However, one must also consider if a child is emotionally, physically and psychologically prepared to swim and train in a particular group. Even if a swimmer is fast, he or she may not be prepared for the workload of a particular group. Social considerations must also take place so that a child does not feel out of place and/or does not experience difficulty in making friends.
- Background: A child’s swimming/athletic background must also be considered in order to swim in a particular group even if a child has fast times in certain events. It may be difficult for them to swim in a group where the volume (i.e., yardage) is more than they’ve ever experienced.
- Skill: Having the proper swimming skills is necessary to swim within a given group. If a child has not mastered the general skills necessary to move up into the next group it is more difficult to progress through the next set of skills. These include general technique, drills, pacing, race strategy, etc. MCA Training Groups:
MCA training groups are designed to focus primarily on a swimmer’s competitive objectives. This progression is outlined briefly as follows. It is important to remember that anything introduced in a previous group will be carried forward and expanded upon at the next level.
White Group: (Age guideline – 8 years old and under)
In the White training group, swimmers will learn to enjoy the water and belong to a team. This is the beginning level for those getting started in the sport and those who enjoy the sport and desire to get more involved in competitive swimming. The swimmers will learn each of the four competitive strokes, starts and turns. Technique will be highly emphasized so that these young swimmers build the necessary foundation for competitive swimming in a non-competitive and positive environment that will serve them well throughout their swim careers should they choose to focus on swimming as they develop into young-adults.
Prerequisite: Swimmers must be able to swim a 25 yard freestyle (face in the water) and a 25 yard backstroke at a minimum to be ready for the white group.
Commitment: In the White training group the swimmers may start off with two sessions per week (one is allowable but two is recommended) and then advance to three or four sessions as they progress. Swim meet attendance is an option that some of the more advanced White group swimmers will pursue.
Red Group: (Age guideline – 8 to 11 years old)
In the Red training group, athletes are preparing to compete in the District and Junior Olympic level meets. Much of the focus of the Red training group will be on learning proper stroke technique for all four strokes, starts and turns, and development of a basic level of endurance.
Prerequisite: Swimmers must be able to swim a 50 yard freestyle, a 25 yard backstroke, and either a legal 25 breaststroke or a 25 yard butterfly at a minimum to be ready for the red group.
Commitment: In the Red training group, athletes may start off with two or three practices per week and then progress to three or four practices per week. Also, meet attendance is highly encouraged and becomes an expectation for this group.
Blue Group: (Age guideline – 10 to 13 years old)
In the Blue training group, athletes are preparing to compete at the District, Junior Olympic, and State level meets. Swimming technique is expanded. Athletes are expected to have learned all four racing strokes, and will focus on both technique and training with a higher level of endurance. Age appropriate Dry-Land Training is also introduced into this group.
This group is designed to be flexible and it works well for athletes who are dedicated to the sport of swimming but also involved in other activities and interests that prevent them from maintaining weekly minimum practice requirements or a year-round swimming focus provided that individual goals are practically aligned with actual attendance.
Prerequisite: The minimum age for consideration in the Blue group is 9-years of age. All swimmers must be able to swim a 100 yard freestyle, a 50 yard backstroke, 100 yard individual medley, and either a 50 yard breaststroke or a 50 yard butterfly to be ready for the blue group.
Commitment: As the athlete progresses they should be practicing three to five times per week depending on the goals of the individual athlete and other commitments. Athletes also should attend team meets as designated by the head coach, and swim a variety of events at those meets with guidance from the coaches.
Senior Conditioning Group: (Age guideline – 13 years and up*)
In the Senior Conditioning training group, athletes will focus on both technique and endurance training. Dry-Land Training is also incorporated into the Senior Conditioning training plan.
This group is designed to be flexible and works well for athletes who are involved in other activities and interests. This flexibility will allow the grouping of Senior Conditioning athletes with athletes in other groups who are at the same or similar training level or who share the same or similar level of commitment in order to provide a cohesive training atmosphere.
Commitment: Attendance is not mandatory, but the athletes in this group should understand the correlation of practice attendance and individual progress as an athlete.
Senior Group: (13 years and up*)
In the Senior training group, athletes are preparing to compete at the State, Zone, Sectional, and National level. Additional training is expected of Senior athletes with an emphasis on endurance and further refinement of racing and stroke technique. Increased emphasis is placed on Individual goal-sheets and parent/coach/athlete conferences are included in this program. Dry-Land Training is expanded.
This group is designed to be flexible and it works well for swimmers who are dedicated to the sport of swimming but also involved in other activities and interests that prevent them from maintaining weekly minimum practice requirements or a year-round commitment to swimming provided that individual goals are practically aligned with actual attendance. MCA is a high-school compatible swim program and this group is designed to work with swimmers who also participate in their high-school program.
Commitment: Attendance is not mandatory, however athletes in the Senior training group should commit to a minimum of five practices per week depending on the goals of the individual athlete and other commitments. Athletes should also attend team meets as designated by the head coach, and swim a variety of events at those meets with guidance from the coaches.
National Development Group: (13 years and up*)
In the National Development training group, athletes are preparing to compete at and/or are competing at the State, Zone, Sectional, Junior National, Senior National, and International level. A key requirement to participation in this training group is commitment. Commitment, defined as a combination of factors including attendance, attitude, desire and team building, is considered an end onto itself and not just a means to an end called “performance” (although that will be a by-product of commitment).
Commitment: National Development athletes will be required to attend a minimum of 90% of all practices and 100% of all key-practices outlined by the coach. Excused absences below the minimum weekly requirements are acceptable provided they are pre-approved by the head coach or head group coach. If an athlete is participating in Sectional, National, and or International meets, then 100% attendance is required (as defined by the coach’s weekly training program) including Dry-Land Training.
Practice requirements at certain times in the season will include “doubles” on mornings and evenings when school is in session in addition to the weekends and time periods when the athlete is not in school (holidays and summer vacation). These requirements allow the grouping of athletes with others who share the same level of commitment in order to provide a competitive, positive, and synergetic training atmosphere to assist the athletes in reaching their individual potential and highest level in the sport.
The National Development training group requires a year round commitment, including spring and summer sessions. Attendance requirements can be satisfied through participation in an approved high-school program and unlimited MCA practice participation is encouraged and welcomed during an athlete’s high-school season if practical. National Development athletes are required to participate as assistant “in-water” coaches at swim technique clinics for the younger MCA practice groups. Athletes are also expected to attend team meets as designated by the head coach or head group coach, and swim a variety of events at meets as determined by the coaches.
*Age guidelines for Senior Conditioning, Senior and National Development group are typically based on the age of the swimmer at the subsequent short-course state-championship meet in March.