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All Star Camps, Recognition Programs, Big Goals
Our Mission at BlueFin is to accompany and support all of our swimmers on their competitive swimming journey, regardless of their current time in the 50 free. For many of our swimmers, competing as a relevant member of your High School team is a major accomplishment. For those who would like to achieve more in the sport than participating, there are a variety of Recognition programs, All Star Teams, and camps designed to encourage, promote and support those who strive to be the best. The NISCA organization recognizes the national top 130 HS athletes each year in each event and relays as High School All Americans, and also tracks swimming Academic High School All Americans, and publishes both list annually.
USA Swimming publishes a list of the Top 20 swimmers by age in each event, and updates it weekly. It takes a great swim to end the season on one of these lists, typically in the 850 point range. USA Swimming has developed a point system to rate each swim, so that a 12 year old boys swim can be compared to a 16 year old girls swim. While it is not a perfect system, I find it to be quite accurate in understanding where a swimmer stands, given their comparative size and training background. The best swimmers in the world can score 1,000 points on their best swims, and a rookie jumping into the pool for the first time might score a 11, regardless of their age. USA Swimming uses this point system to compare swimmers and teams, and recognizes those teams whose swimmers score the most points over a season. They provide financial support to those teams that do a better job of improving their swimmer's scores, on a year over year basis. Specifically, USA Swimming has a Club Excellence, Virtual Club Championship, and Club Recognition program to measure and compare swim teams nationally. In addition, it uses swimmer's times and IMX/Power Point scores to select participants for Diversity Camps, Zone Select Camps, National Select Camps, International Team trips, up to and including the Olympics. The USA Swimming All Star Camp most relevant to the typical BlueFin swimmer is the Zone Select Camp, the criteria for which you can read about on the USA Swimming website. Several of our current swimmers have attended this camp in the past, and I hope that many get the opportunity to attend in the future.
Southern California Swimming has their own recognition programs that reach out to more swimmers, to give them the opportunity to be recognized within our region. SCS hosts a swim festival and Pacific Coast All Star team trip in the winter, and the North American Challenge Cup and Age Group Zone trip in the summer. In addition, SCS puts together All Star Teams from time to time for other Senior and Age Group competitions. They also hold a banquet annually for the highest achieving swimmers in SCS. The best way to qualify for these teams is to come to practice, learn what your scores and times are relevant to your competitors, and then try to improve them. Understand that your competition is doing the same thing. So it comes down to who can be more consistent about working over a period of time, who can actually make a change and improve, and who can make gains outside the pool in terms of diet, size and strength, mental toughness etc. If you age up right before the qualifying period for a all-star camp, then obviously your chances for being selected go down. But understand that these camps happen year round, so that someone who has a bad birthday for one, is going to have a good birthday for another one 6 months later so it evens out. Some of the camps have a cost to the swimmer associated with them and all of them are optional, but many are free, include lots of giveaways, and are tremendous learning experiences. The reality is that the competition level in Nevada for swimming is not that high compared to other states due to our relatively low population numbers, so it is beneficial to look outside of our local area, and compete regional or nationally on paper, to better understand where you stand, or to have a better idea of what is possible for a swimmer of your age, size and background. If you hope to swim competitively after High School, or are thinking about swimming scholarships, you definitely need to be aware of what your peers in other parts of the country are capable of.
I am aware of where you stand, and which camps may or may not be available to you. You need to know your times and power point scores for your best events, and try to qualify for and participate, and excel in, meets like Spring and Summer JO's. I believe that goal setting is important, but coming to practice consistently and learning how to improve is most important. If we can do that, the rest will take care of itself.