Potomac Valley Swimming
Level 1

We use a progressive age group program designed to develop the child physically, mentally and emotionally in a systematic fashion. A well defined, long term approach of gradually increasing degrees of commitment is essential to reach peak performance levels during a swimmer’s physiological prime. The emphasis in the early stages of participation must be placed on developing technical skills and a love for the sport. In the later years, a more demanding physical and psychological challenge must be introduced to the training program. In respect "too much too soon" is more often the cause of failure to achieve maximum potential in senior swimming than in the reverse situation.

In addition to emphasizing long-term rather than short-term results, it is also important that we establish training squads of swimmers who are compatible in respect to abilities, commitment levels and goals. Unfortunately, this is not always the most convenient approach to take, but it is always the most productive.

The BLUE WAVE practice squad criteria have been developed to responsibly train athletes as they grow and mature. Young swimmers are continually going through tremendous changes both physically and emotionally, even within one season. Emphasis on proper technique training, aerobic development, kicking and dryland training make up the foundations of our program’s squads no matter what stages of growth and development a swimmer may be in at any point in time.

At each level, the goals and objectives are specific and directed toward meeting the needs of the swimmer and intended to allow our coaches to work more effectively within their practices, not to isolate or segregate.  The long term-goal of total excellence is always in mind. As each child is different, they will progress at their own rate. The coaching staff recognizes this fact by making team assignments based on a swimmer’s physical, mental and emotional level of development.

Assessments are ongoing throughout the season.  Our coaches always have your child’s best interest and long-term development in mind.  The decision to consider, initiate and approve a move is the responsibility of the coaching staff only.  Because all kids develop at different stages and rates, a cookie cutter method does not work. As a result when coaches move a child from one level to another, they use the 3-legged stool model to help them make their decisions.  Taken into equal consideration are the following:

  •  The emotional readiness of the child
  •  Actual age of the child
  •  Physical abilities of the child (training and meet performances)

If any one of these “legs” is not in place, the coaches believe it is not the best time to move your child.  That being said, when the coaching staff has observed that all 3 legs are in place, they will begin initiating your child’s move to a new and more appropriate squad.  Many misunderstandings happen when swimmers (and parents) focus mainly on the time standards criteria for squad moves. Often, this mindset means that a swimmer's season successes (or failures) are based solely on whether the swimmer moves to a new practice squad. Swimmers want to avoid this mindset in their training and when determining success; much more goes into the coach's decision to move swimmers to a new training squad then just simply achieving "Champ" or "A" times.

Below is a detailed breakout of what the coaches look for in the three-layered approach for squad placement: 

Age of the Swimmer

  • GREEN Breakers & TYPHOONS 1&2: ages 6-9
  • BLUE Breakers & GREEN Crest: ages 9-12
  • BLUE Crest: ages 10-12
  • RIP Curl: ages 13-14
  • MONSOON: HS age
  • GREEN Tide & BLUE Tide: ages 13+
  • RIP Tide: ages 15+

Physical Abilities

  • Practice Training
  • Sustained effort level throughout practices and practice sets  
  • Attends practices regularly
  • Prepared to begin practice on time
  • Completes full practices and practice sets without multiple interruptions and stopping
  • Successfully completes all challenge sets
  • Trains up to ability in practices (example: swimmers who achieve higher time standards at meets, but continually train at the back of the squad in practice, or behind swimmers who may not have achieved higher time standards, are considered not swimming up to their ability level)
  • Consistently training among the leaders of the group and/or lane
  • Goes above and beyond the bare minimum
  • Meet Performance
  • Time Standards 
  • Event repertoire (i.e.: a mix of distances - 50s, 100s, 200s, and the four competitive strokes)

Emotional Readiness

  • Demonstrates “coach-ability" 
  • Listens while the coach is speaking
  • Grasps instructions/concepts quickly
  • Able to receive feedback and apply instructions in training and competition
  • Demonstrates emotional maturity
  • Demonstrates sustained concentration on the task at hand
  • Positive influence among teammates.
  • Acts responsibly in and out of the pool
  • Has an “I can” attitude (especially when things are not going as hoped)
  • Demonstrates resiliency and overcomes adversity 
  • Demonstrates intrinsic motivation

In determining squad placement for the upcoming season, coaches are not hasty in their decision. We observe swimmers' training patterns, collect and analyze data, and collaborate with one another to determine the best fit for each swimmer. The entire process takes a full season to figure out, which starts on the first day of practice. 

When the coaching staff has observed that all three layers are present, they will begin initiating the swimmer’s move to a new and more appropriate level. Swimmers and parents should keep in mind that in the larger scheme of a swimming career, practice squad placement is only temporary and moving to a more rigorous squad lies within the swimmer’s own preparation, attitude and effort. In order to meet increased rigors and intensity in training of the next practice squad, swimmers MUST demonstrate they can swim above and beyond the challenges of their current practice squad. Coaches place swimmers in squads where they will have the best opportunity to reach their full potential, as well as prevent injury and avoid getting overwhelmed and discouraged. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your swimmer's coach.