How do we measure improvement at meets?
Do we measure improvement by what the score board says? Do the swimmers have to go a best time for us to say they improved in their swim? Or do we measure improvement by seeing if they swam the race better than last time, if they did what we have been working on in practice or if they were better prepared this time? If they are prepared and have learned from the last meet, then we should see a better race each time they swim. Does that mean a best time? No it does not. If it is not a best time, does that mean it was a bad swim and/or should we be disappointed? No it does not.
Improvement does not always mean a best time; improvement is seeing what they have done from the last meet to the next meet that allows them to put together a better race. That might lead to a best time, it might not. Maybe they are doing something different that the coaches have been working on which is causing their focus to be on something specific within that race versus just swimming fast. If they do, then they are learning how to put together a better race for their future.
To be able to go best times the swimmers have to continue to learn what they can do better, to become faster. It is not just going to practice and working hard. Hard work will only get them so far in this sport; they have to learn how to be better prepared for the next meet or next race. If they do not learn anything from their races how can they be expected to be better prepared for the future? How will they continue to develop, if they are not learning anything and only focused on their time?
The way we should measure improvement is by seeing if they are better prepared for the next meet or the next race. Did they learn something and work on improving it in between meets? If they did, we should see better races each time, maybe not best times but definitely better races. Because when it comes down to it any best time, any 1st place, any victory has to come from whoever does the best race. If you do not learn how to swim a better race then it becomes harder to swim that best time.
So parents at our future meets please do not take splits; that is the coach's job. Why is it important for you to know what they did each 25 or 50? Do not worry about writing the times down to see if they improved by comparing previous times. If they didn't, was it a worthless swim? Do not worry about looking at the time standards; the coaches will let the kids know. Enjoy each meet for what it is, an opportunity to watch your child compete, and having a good time.