SCSC is implementing a Long-Term Development Swimming Program Model. Here’s the idea behind it: Ultimately, we want to recognize the needs of young athletes. In doing so, we want to make sure they all stay active and healthy. Specifically, we want our swimmers to learn competitive swimming skills that will promote lifelong enjoyment and provide a pathway to excellence in the sport of swimming. Notice we are “promoting enjoyment” and “providing a pathway.” We want to shape your young athletes into healthy, excellent young adults who are also excellent swimmers… maybe even some of the best swimmers one day.
Here are the specifics on this model: We provide a foundational level (level 3), a construction level (level 2), and an achievement level (level 1) throughout the five divisions (age groups). The 8 & Under group, or Bronze division, is an exception, as it only has level 1 and level 2.
How do SCSC coaches assign practice groups?
Group placements and transitions are based on many factors, including a fair bit of coaching instinct. But SCSC coaches are guided by a team-wide philosophy that drives our decisions, and we hope that communicating these ideas will allow for a better understanding of group placement decision-making. SCSC coaches will work together toward a common goal: continuity through developmental progression. They will make sure our swimmers are challenged, but not over-challenged.
Each season, coaches will evaluate swimmers for the best placement within the divisions and levels, and will reassign them to different groups as they age and/or progress. Swimmers may move to a different level within their division (i.e. from Bronze 2 to Bronze 1) or transition to another division (i.e. Silver 2 to Gold 3), which is generally driven by age. Divisional advancements often require a change in level as well, since those swimmers will be among the youngest and least experienced in their new division. As an example, a Bronze 1 swimmer who just turned 9 may very well be moved to Silver 3 the following season. In order to foster healthy, excellent bodies and attitudes, this progression must be gradual and age-appropriate. Team wide evaluations for group moves to happen the end of summer for September. There are what we call “soft” moves in December and April. Coaches consider who is aging out of the division and those who demonstrate tremendous improvement in those short windows of time.
Some of the most important factors driving group placement are a swimmer’s training ability, (ability to hold technique while training on intervals), maturity and prioritizing the sport. Maturity can be difficult to understand, because we must take into consideration a number of “types” of maturity: chronological age, physiological age, and emotional development. In the upper divisions, commitment (practice attendance, meet participation, prioritization of the sport) becomes a factor in group placement. Racing times are not a primary factor, although they will be taken into consideration because times translate to meet qualification and training needs.
Group size is another huge factor that our coaches will consider when placing swimmers. We realize that the pool is a learning environment just like a classroom in a school. And in order to be effective teachers, we must treat it as such. Therefore, groups will be kept small, intimate, and effective.
Finding the appropriate group for each swimmer is the goal, and our top priority is to place every swimmer in a group that will allow them to develop and shine while remaining healthy and continuing to progress at SCSC. The coaches want swimmers to focus on the process of what they are doing every day in practice and to be immersed in an environment that will help them succeed in all areas of their swimming.