Children who can successfully get themselves from one side of the pool to the other are welcome to join the swim team. Joining the swim team is different than taking swimming lessons and those who join are expected to have some swimming skills. It is the coach’s discretion to determine if potential swimmers have the necessary skills to be eligible to join the team. Swimmers who do not quite meet the above criteria, may be referred to lessons in order to ready them for next year’s season.
Golden Nuggets: This is our beginner group where swimmers learn to work on all their strokes but mainly focus on free and backstroke. Nuggets are typically between the ages of 4 and 8. This group does not focus on the training aspects of swimming, but instead focuses on good swimming stroke development, along with swimming for enjoyment. Building endurance is important for these swimmers. Practices will involve a lot of kicking sets and there will be many days when they are just encouraged to swim without the coaches working on their stroke. The reason for this is that until they are physically strong enough to swim they cannot make the necessary changes to their strokes and no amount of instruction will benefit them, they just simply must gain enough strength to propel through the water. Although swimmers in this group are encouraged to compete (when a coach notes they are ready), it is not a necessity. Recommendation: 2-3 practices a week
Age Group 1 : This squad is for swimmers with some experience in the water between the ages of 6-12. This group focuses on swimming for the enjoyment of sport, competition, and recreation. Swimmers in this group focus on their basic skills while starting to work on the training aspects of swimming and how to execute all four strokes correctly and legally. Swimmers will become familiar with swimming equipment, learn swimming terms, learn all 4 swimming strokes, turns, racing starts, and basic clock management. Swimmers are encouraged to begin competing in our home meets (2 per season). Recommendation: 2-4 times a week.
Age Group 2: The Age Group II squad is for swimmers that have a few seasons of swimming under their belt and are ages 9-12, however older swimmers may remain in this group if their main focus is cross training. This group knows all of their starts, strokes and turns and will learn to start testing their limits during practice while still focusing on good swimming skills including starts, turns, and drills. Clock management, stroke technique, aerobic conditioning, and pacing during longer swim set and races, in addition to appropriate goal setting is expected. Swimmers in this training squad are encouraged to attend practice on a more regular basis and begin competing at more meets per season (3-4) plus their highest qualified championship meet, in addition to being available for any relays in an attended meet. Recommendation: 3-4 times a week.
Sr. Prep: Senior Prep is for ages 11 –15 who are ready to advance their training or older swimmers just not yet ready to commit to the Sr. group. This group will continue to fine tune stroke technique, turns and starts as well as develop an understanding of basic training principles and racing strategies. Swimmers will begin learning the technical aspects of swimming. This groups works on developing endurance and stroke techniques in addition to goal setting and practice/meet performance evaluation. Swimmers must have an attitude that demonstrates a commitment level necessary to attain higher levels of training. Regular competition is expected (4 + meets a year), plus their highest qualified championship meet, in addition to being available for any relays in an attended meet. Recommendation: 4-5 times a week, working with both age group 2 and sr. swimmers.
Sr. Swimmers: Swimmers in this squad are ages 13-19 and learn to refine their skills and endurance; however, training becomes a large emphasis within this group. Stroke mechanics, challenging aerobic & anaerobic training sets, goal setting, and race strategy emphasized. Swimmers in this group will test the limits of their bodies with sets that focus on a variety of threshold training techniques (both aerobic and anaerobic), sprint training, and meet preparation. Swimmers in this group are also expected to learn how to self-manage and self-regulate during a workout and be self-motivated to complete the workout even without a coach hovering over them. Goal setting and practice/meet evaluation plays a key role in the swimmers advancement. Swimmers are expected to attend 80% of practices (Nov – Feb), and complete all practice requirements including dryland and written journals. They must attend 4 or more meets per season, (and be available for any relays in an attended meet), plus their highest qualified state championship meet while striving towards zones, sectionals and other higher level meets. In addition to swimming, these swimmers are expected to be role models for the rest of the team with a positive attitude, strong work ethic, structured time management, and encouragement and support of the team both in the pool, at school, and in the community. Those swimmers who desire to letter must meet Sr. Swimmers requirements, be in 7th – 12th grade and maintain a GPA of 3.0.
An explanation on Training Groups:
There are several factors to consider when determining a swimmers training level. The first to look at is the level of commitment of the swimmer. Do they make the recommended weekly attendance? When they are at practice do they work hard on a consistent basis? Do they try to excel in the group they are in or are they simply going through the motions? Can they handle all the work at their current training level? Do they need more work on their stroke technique? When the practices get to be challenging are they sitting out, fixing their goggles or going to the restroom to get out of working hard? Everyone’s 100% is different. On our team we do not necessarily focus on specific swim times, what we care about is effort and attitude. Workouts are designed to be challenging, but at no time will swimmers be expected to swim a set that is above their skill and speed level. Adaptations of workouts will be made as necessary. Most sets in a workout are often modified for certain strokes and individuals. Completing an entire set as written is the goal for the fastest swimmers probably swimming freestyle. Target times are adjusted for all swimmers whose best times are not as fast, or for those swimming a choice stroke. But, there is a big difference in completing a modified workout and not trying to complete a full workout. If a swimmer is trying their hardest and improving from their best times, that is all we can ask. Swimmers should be place in the appropriate training groups based on what they can handle not where their friends are. Sometimes when swimmers are in groups different than their friends they become much more focused on working hard, developing their skills, and becoming great leaders. Within each practice group there are also lane assignments. Lane assignments may change frequently depending on the focus of the practice and the swimmers in attendance.
Moving up a group does not always benefit a swimmer if they are not physically or mentally ready, or if they do not have the desire to increase their training. Parents desire for their child to move to another group is not always in the best interest of the swimmer. We would rather have a swimmer stay where they are continuing to improve their strokes and times than to push them into training where they are frustrated and miserable. There is also a safety aspect in group placement. Swimmers with vastly different skills pose a collision risk for those in their lanes and groups.
Generally, swimmers can tell us when they are about ready for a move by thinking about how they practice. It may not seem like it at the time but swimmer that stays in the lower group until THEY are ready to move benefit more than those being pushed by coaches or parents…but, in other cases some swimmers just need a gentle push and encouragement. It really is very individual.
There is no undesired group on our team, coaches are not disappointed or using groups as a punishment or to shame the swimmers. We are a small team and many times different groups practice together. The definitions are simply a way stay organized, safe, and for the swimmers, parents and coaches to be on the same page as to what the expectations and goals are for each swimmer. Our goal is to have our swimmers loving the sport for a lifetime so they should be placed in the group where they feel comfortable and continue to enjoy practices. Ages are a guideline, but every child is an individual with different long term goals for the sport and should advance as they are physically, emotionally, and mentally ready. We do expect a lot from our top training groups. Swimmers need to be committed, mentally tough, have competitive maturity, independent, self-reliant, and be coachable.
If there are any questions about these groups, or swimmers or parents are disappointed in their placement coaches are always available for an explanation and conversation.