The Importance of Continuity of Training

Dave Anderson

Wisconsin is a great place.  Our club athletes grow up through Schroeder’s excellent system that accounts for each athlete’s long term development.  If a child enters the Schroeder program as a Super Star, the goal is to graduate that athlete into a college program that fits their athleticism, academic interest, size, expense and geographic location most appropriately.  Preparing youth for college and beyond is integral to Schroeder’s mission.


Back to Wisconsin.  Living in the upper midwest means that high school sport is viewed differently than in all of the other regions of the country.  Here it is common for student athletes to leave their club programs and train and compete with their school programs exclusively.  Elsewhere in the US, club athletes continue to train with their clubs and also compete for their school programs.


I served as the Central Zone Coach Director from 2010 to 2014 and was also a member of USA swimming’s Board of Directors.   In my role during that time I learned just how far behind the Central Zone was in performance when compared to the other three Zones in the US - the Eastern, Southern and Western Zones.  While the population of swimming athletes in each Zone was nearly identical, The Central Zone lagged far behind the other three zones after age 13 and that gap grew as athletes aged and further widened in events that were longer and further still in LCM compared to SCY.


My coach peers in the Central Zone universally pointed to the way high school sport is organized in the upper midwest as the single biggest reason for the Central Zone’s relatively lesser performance when compared to the other three Zones.  We must realize that Schroeder athletes are competing for spots in colleges not just among others in WI or the upper midwest or the country but they are in fact competing against the rest of the world in some cases.


Schroeder’s Junior, National and Trials participants have historically come from athletes who have not fully participated in their school programs.  It is not a coincidence.


I swam high school, loved it and owe my whole life to that experience and to my coach, Jim Schulte.  I went on to swim in college and the rest is now history…  However, my high school coach was also my club coach.  In Pennsylvania, this is very common.  Continuity of programming and philosophy.


By the time your child is beginning to think about school participation parents will have considered which way to lean or influence.  Most common for parents is their thinking about their child’s positive socialization amongst school peers.  Most common for athletes is the pressure they get from peers to participate in school team sport because they will add much to the school’s performance.


Schroeder coaches encourage high school swim participation especially with programs where athletes can continue to train with their club teams.  For athletes for whom swim performance is a lever to either gain admission to a school that they would normally not be able to be admitted, to gain a “spot” on a power five conference team or for those athletes where athletic scholarship is potentially part of the mix participation with the school team is only recommended if the athlete is able to fully train with the club.


Schroeder’s fastest athletes will be asked to commit to a university sometime in the fall of their Junior year.  Participation is not recommended until their Junior and or Senior year.  For athletes striving to use swimming as a lever to gain admission to top D3 and highly selective universities, participation with their school team is not recommended until their Senior year.


If you / your swimmer is at the Zone level as a 12 & under swimming is likely to be a factor in college decision making where swim performance is a powerful lever.

The big thing to know is that this guidance comes from a place of concern for getting Schroeder athletes the most opportunities in the college selection process.  Schroeder coaches invite families to talk about this whole scenario anytime.


Dave Anderson