Our season consists of three months of relatively intense practice focused on participation in seven meets and an end-of-year Championship Meet. Every meet features a range of events based on the age of the swimmer. Here is the progression of the strokes by age:
As swimmers get older, they are able to swim more strokes and longer races. However, in terms of swim meets generally, these are all short-distance races, many of which are not even recognized by USA Swimming as “real” events (the shortest recognized distance is 50 yards). We swim short races because we are an instructional, recreational league. We can teach almost any swimmer to complete these races.
Within this construct, the best way for swimmers to improve is to come to practice. At its most basic level, practice causes improvement. Parents looking to help their swimmer improve should help them attend as many practices as possible. This also helps because some practices focus on specific strokes. If your swimmer consistently misses Tuesdays, and Tuesdays focus on backstroke, then your swimmer is missing backstroke instruction and drills.
Improvements will also occur as swimmers naturally develop from kindergartners to high school students because their ability to master the strokes will increase. Lastly, swimmers who enjoy coming to practice are often self-motivated by a virtuous cycle of fun-with-friends leading to improvement leading to more fun and more improvement.
Why do more?
For swimmers interested in additional resources, Park Terrace also offers swim lessons. Swim lessons are available from individual coaches during defined lesson times outside of normal practice. Swimmers are encouraged to work with a particular coach who is a good match for their personality and who can help with the particular stroke or race element (start, turn, finish). It usually helps to have a particular element in mind when approaching coaches. “We are looking for help with dives.” “Jimmy Cannonball would like additional help with his breaststroke kick.” “What would it take to get Suzy under 30 in her race?” The coaches are all very knowledgeable in the events and know the elements that are required to swim fast in all of them.
Additionally, Park Terrace has a designated stroke technician, Robert Gutto, who can assist with more technical aspects of swimming. Robert can assist with issues relating to arm angles, stroke rate, and body rotation. He also offers underwater video analysis of strokes, which can be used for dryland analysis. Robert typically works with older swimmers who have mastered the strokes, starts, turns, and finishes associated with the various events.
Regardless of the person giving the lesson, any time a swimmer’s stroke is reconfigured (particularly when working on technical aspects of a stroke), a swimmer may actually slow down before improvements are realized. Make sure to talk to your coach about what you hope to achieve through lessons.
"Extra Season" Workouts
Park Terrace also provides spring stroke clinics and a “fall swim team”. These are extra practices for swimmers looking to get a workout or otherwise stay active during the offseason. Our league restricts the number of hours swimmers may receive instruction during the “quiet period” between February 15 and the start of the season. Swimmers may receive no more than 12 hours of in-water, coached training time. The spring clinic is typically 12 hours.