A Program Designed to Produce Swimming Excellence; What Does It Look Like? by Dennis Pursley (1999)



Program Essentials

  1. Establish philosophy, goals and
  2. Clearly delineate the roles and authority of the Head Coach and the parent group. (The Head Coach must be the final authority in all technical matters related to coaching, training and competition).
  3. Establish clearly defined program policy, structure  and commitment requirements.
  1. Recruit a dedicated and competent staff of Attributes of a good assistant:
    1. Good character (i.e. good role models)
    2. Loyalty to and compatibility with the Head Coach
    3. Enthusiasm and good motivational skills
    4. Technical expertise


Program Philosophy

  1. The primary purpose of the Swim Team is to provide the resources, program structure and environment that will en- able and encourage each of its athletes to attain his or her maximum potential in competitive Accordingly, the program focus is directed toward the highest level of international competition, and the developmental program is designed with this career oriented goal as the basic Impetus.


In striving for perfection, the resulting emphasis on character, discipline, perseverance, desire, discipline, determination and confidence will better prepare our athletes to successfully encounter the challenges presented in elite level swimming, as well as in other aspects of their lives beyond swimming.


It is through the pursuit of excellence that each athlete in the program will be provided with the opportunity to “Be the Best that You Can Be.”


  1. Warm-Up
    1. Warm-ups are always conducted by a member of the coaching staff; parents should never interfere or participate in the warm-up
    2. Warm-up will usually begin one hour prior to the start of competition. All swimmers are expected to be present and ready to begin at that
    3. Team members are required to warm-up with the team unless excused by the
    4. It is important that swimmers and parents understand that a good warm-up is an essential part of a successful performance. Each athlete in the OV program deserves every opportunity available to be successful. Warm-up is one  of those opportunities! 
      1. Obtain a heat sheet and check to see if you are properly entered in your events. If there is a mistake, discuss it with your coach so he can take corrective


      1. At the conclusion of each race, the swimmer should ask for his unofficial time from the timers. Upon receiving this time, the swimmers are asked to come immediately to the coaching staff present at the This gives the coaches an opportunity to discuss the race with the swimmer and add positive comments concerning splits, stroke techniques, race strategy, etc. If a warm-down area is available, swimmers are to warm-down first, then report directly to the coaches.


      With regard to which events a swimmer competes in, the coaching staff shall have the final word. (FTT6am members are never to scratch or late-enter an event without first consulting one of the coaches. In a meet with preliminaries and finals, it is expected that any Phoenician qualifying to swim in the finals shall do so unless excused by the coach.


      As a matter of courtesy to the officials and meet hosts, M prefer that swimmers and parents stay off the deck and competition venue unless competing or serving in an official capacity.


      1. Similarly, as a matter of courtesy, all questions swimmers or parents may have concerning meet results, an officiating call, or the conduct of a meet, should be referred to the coaching They, in turn, will pursue the matter through the proper channels.


      1. All swimmers will be required to attend all sessions of the meet unless excused by the head


      1. Swimmers will be expected to rest and conserve energy between events and remain in the team area while at the pool.


      1. If there is an extended period of time between the pre-meet team warm-up and the swimmer’s first event, the swimmer should briefly warm-up a second time approximately 30 minutes prior to the


      1. In addition to abiding by the Code of Conduct, all swimmers will be required to the following ground rules during away meets:
      2. Coaches must be notified in writing prior to departure of

      any prescription drugs the swimmer will be using,

      1. Males and females may not be in the same room at the same time with the door ,
      2. Unpaid room accounts must be paid in full with a $10.00 surcharge.
      3. The coach will determine appropriate disciplinary action when necessary which includes the possibility of sending the swimmer home at the parent’s


      Meet Selection and Attendance Policies

      1. The coaches will establish the meet schedule for each


      1. Unless excused by the coach, it will be assumed that each swimmer will attend all of the scheduled (Swimmers who miss a meet without permission may be held responsible for entry fees and other associated costs.)


      1. The coaches will establish the qualifying criteria for participation in each


      1. In most situations, swimmers will be required to qualify in at least two events to qualify to participate in an out-of-town meet.


      1. Swimmers may be required to travel and room with the team on a shared expense basis for out-of-town



      Qualifying swimmers who are willing to abide by the Code of Conduct and training requirements will be placed in the appropriate training group based on tryout performances and/or training capabilities. All swimmers satisfying the prerequisites and achieving the automatic performance standard for a particular group will be invited to join that group on a permanent basis. In the event that there are fewer than the optimum number of swimmers achieving the automatic standards for a particular group, those swimmers who achieve the consideration standards and who come closest to the automatic standards up to the optimum number, will be invited to join that group for one season only. These swimmers will have to re-quality for the following season. Prerequisites for group advancement include: a positive attitude, a desire to be promoted, and a willingness to upgrade commitment levels as required in respect to workload and attendance (additional prerequisites specific to each group are listed below). The following information is subject to revision as deemed appropriate by the coaching staff.



      Gold Team Optimum Number = 24

      1. Prerequisites
      1. Minimum age: Girls 13, Boys 14
      2. Attendance requirements: 10 or 11 sessions per week (additional sessions may be required during peak training periods)
        1. Performance Standards
      1. Automatic
        1. Senior National Championships qualifying time
        2. Four-star training standard
      2. Consideration
        1. Senior National qualifying time plus three sec./100 for freestyle events or four sec./100 for all other events
        2. Three-star training standard


      Silver Team Optimum Number = 36

      1. Prerequisites
      1. Minimum age: 14
      2. Attendance expectation: Eight or nine sessions per week
        1. Performance Standards
      3. Automatic
        1. Senior National qualifying time plus three sec./100 for freestyle events or four sec./100 for all other events
        2. Three-star training standard
      4. Consideration
        1. 15-16 “B” National Age Group Time Standard
        2. Two-star training standard


      Bronze Team Optimum Number = 24

      1. Prerequisites
      1. Minimum age: 14
      2. Attendance recommendation: Five sessions per week
        1. Performance Standards
      3. Automatic
        1. 15-16 “B” National Age Group Time Standard
        2. Two-star training standard
      4. Consideration
        1. Ability to swim 1,200 meters of a competitive stroke



      Blue Team Optimum Number = 36

      1. Prerequisites
      1. Age restrictions: Girls 11-13, Boys 11-14
      2. Attendance Expectation:

      11 -year old girls, and 11 and 12-year old boys: Six sessions per week during the school year, and participation In the holiday training camps 12-and 13-year old girls, and 13 and 14-year old boys: Eight sessions per week during the school year and participation in the holiday training camps

      1. Performance Standards
      1. Automatic
        1. “AAA’ National Age Group Time Standard
        2. Three-star training standard
      2. Consideration
        1. “A” National Age Group Time Standard
        2. Two-star training standard


      Red Team Optimum Number = 36

      1. Prerequisites
      1. Age restrictions: 8-13 years old
      2. Attendance Expectation:

      10 -years old and under: Five sessions per week 11 -years old and over: Six sessions per week

      1. Performance Standards
      1. Automatic
        1. “A” National Age Group Time Standard
        2. Two-star training standard
      2. Consideration
        1. “B” National Age Group Time Standard
        2. One-star training standard


      White Team Optimum Number = 24

      1. Prerequisites A.Maximum age: 13

      B.Attendance recommendation:

      First year 10-years old and under: Three sessions per week 11 -years old and over: Four sessions per week

      Second Year

      10-years old and under: Five sessions per week 11 -years old and over: Five sessions per week

      1. Performance Standards
      1. Automatic
        1. “B” National Age Group Time Standard
        2. One-star training standard
      2. Consideration
        1. Ability to swim a legal 100 Individual medley


      1. Prerequisites
      1. Maximum age: 13
      2. Attendance recommendation

      10-years old and under: Two sessions per week 11-years old and over: Three sessions per week

      1. Performance Standards
      1. 11-years old and over must demonstrate an ability to swim 25 meters of three competitive strokes
      2. 10-years old and under must demonstrate an ability to swim 25 meters of two competitive strokes



      Four-Star Standard

      1. Anyone of the following drills (long course):

      Men                    Women

      1. 24 x 100 Freestyle on 1:08 1:12
      2. 24 x 100 Butterfly on 1:15 1:20
      3. 24 x 100 Backstroke on 1:15 1:20
      4. 24 x 100 Breaststroke on 1:25 1:30
      5. Each of the following drills (long course): 1. 4 x 400 I.M. on 6:00
      6. 12 x 100 kick on 1:50


      Three-Star Standard

      1. Anyone of the following drills (long course):
        1. 24 x 100 Freestyle on 1:20
        2. 100 Butterfly on 1:30
        3. 24 x 100 Backstroke on 1:30
        4. 24 x Breaststroke on 1:40
      2. Each of the following drills (long course): 1. 4 x 400 I.M. on 6:40
      3. 12 x 100 kick on 2:00

      Two-Star Standard

      1. Anyone of the following drills (long or short course meters):
        1. 20 x 100 Freestyle on 1:30
        2. 20 x 100 Butterfly on 1:40
        3. 20 x 100 Backstroke on 1:40
        4. 20 x 100 Breaststroke on 1:50
      2. Each of the following drills (long or short course meters):
      3. 6 x 200 I.M. on 3:40
      4. 8 x 100 kick on 2:10


      One-Star Standard

      1. Anyone of the following drills (long or short course meters):

      13 & Over

      16 x 100 Free on 1:35

      12 x 100 Fly on 2:00

      16 x 100 Back on 1:50

      16 x 100 Brst on 2:00


      11 & 12

      16 x 100 Free on 1:45

      12 x 75 Fly on 1:30

      16 x 100 Back on 2:00

      16 x 100 Brst on 2:10


      10 & Under

      12 x 100 Free on 2:00

      12 x 50 Fly on 1:10

      12 x 100 Back on 2:10

      • x 100 Brst on 2:20


      1. Each of the following drills (long or short course meters):
      • & Over

      6 x 200 I.M. on 4:00

      8 x 100 kick on 2:20


      11 & 12

      4 x 200 I.M. on 4:10

      7 x 100 kick on 2:20


      10 & Under

      6 x 100 I.M. on 2:10

      6 x 100 kick on 2:20


      Note: Swimmers in each group should be compatible in respect to age, training ability, goals and commitment level.



      In order to establish a distraction-free training environment that will encourage the development of a tradition of excellence, all swimmers will be expected to:

      1. Abide by the Team Pledge and Code of Conduct
      2. Perform each exercise exactly as recommended in  the

      weight room.

      • Be on deck ready for stretching 10 minutes prior to the scheduled starting time for each
      1. Conform to the following workout parameters:
      2. STREAMLINES legal turns
      3. Low resistance grab starts
      4. Legal butterfly from wall to wall
      5. Backstroke turn with either arm
      6. Streamlined, locked hand position on backstroke kick (from wall to wall)
      7. Consistency and honesty with hypoxic breathing
      8. Underwater pull and kick and every breaststroke start and turn
      9. Begin each repeat precisely on time and finish at the wall

      (feet off of the bottom)

      1. Perform all drills exactly as
      2. No switching strokes on kick drills
      3. No hanging on lane lines
      4. No talking during drill instructions!



      1. The proportion of each training session devoted to a specific type of conditioning work depends on both the phase of the season and the particular event being prepared Although the emphasis changes from phase to phase and event to event, all types of conditioning are included to one degree or another for each swimmer throughout the training season 2. The types of conditioning work are alternated or cycled within each weekly training plan so that swimmers can recover from one form of stress while applying themselves to another.
      1. For maximum results, each swimmer must train eleven months of the Eight to eleven pool sessions per week (depends on phase of the season and specialty event) should be supplemented with additional gym sessions for strength development. In general, each pool session should range from 4,000 to 10,000 meters in length depending again on the phase of the season and the specialty event.
      2. In order to benefit from the training session, the swimmers must maintain a lifestyle that permits adequate rest and a proper diet. For obtaining maximum results, the intensity and degree to which the athletes apply themselves are even more important than the program



      1. Lactate Tolerance
        1. Test set: 8 x 200 on 4:40
        2. Intervals: 50’s 1:20, 75’s 2:00, 100’s 2:30, 125’s 3:00,

      150’s 3:40, 200’s 4:40, 300’s 6:50, 400’s 7:40

      1. Taper: substitute easy/max
      2. Drill length: 800 -1,600
        1. Short Rest Specialty (Anaerobic Threshold)
          1. Test set: Brst. & Fly 9 x 400, Back 10 x 400, Free 9 x 500
          2. Drill length: Brst. & Fly 1800 3600, Back 2000 4000,

      Free 2400 4500 (50 120 min. optimum)

      1. Short Rest Freestyle

      Seasonal pyramid to 10,000 (20 x 500)

      1. Overdistance

      Seasonal pyramid to 9,000 free or 6,000 form (pyramid peak at end of endurance phase, maintain pace going up, descend pace coming down)

      Take it to the Limit

      (from “Climb to the Top” by Dennis Pursley)


      Certain conditioning benefits (mental and/or physical) can be derived from a specific type of training to a greater extent than from any other type of training. For example, a straight 3,000 meter swim at anaerobic threshold intensity will produce a slightly different conditioning response (in some respects more effective and in other respects less effective) than will a set of 30 x 100 meters on a short rest interval. For this reason, it is important to include all types of conditioning work in any effective training program.


      Although the bulk of the swimmers’ workloads should be race specific in nature, it is my opinion that world class athletes should occasionally be challenged to their extreme limits. It is generally accepted that athletes have not yet approached the limit of human capability in competitive performance and that they are restricted by psychological barriers. I believe that this can be said of training performances as well. Many physiologists may argue that beyond a certain point there is no physiological benefit (with respect to race performance) in training extremes. Whether this is true or not, there is certainly a great deal of psychological benefit to be gained. A swimmer who completes a set of 20 x 500 meter butterfly repeats on a challenging short rest interval will develop a greater degree of mental toughness than an opponent who is never tested to the extreme. The greater the challenge that is successfully encountered in training, the greater the degree of confidence athletes will have at their disposal when confronted by a competitive challenge – even though it may be a challenge of a different type.


      Training extremes such as those described above can also be helpful in eliminating psychological barriers at race specific distances. For example, a coach may not feel that it is necessary to swim more than 30 x 100 meters in order to develop optimal aerobic adaptation for a given event. However, if 30 x 100 meters is the maximum distance ever attempted by an athlete, a 3,000 meter drill will always present an intimidating challenge to that swimmer. Furthermore, if a 1:20 interval is the most intensive performance level that an athlete can sustain over this distance, the progression to a 1:15 interval may be an extremely difficult, if not impossible, step to take. However, a swimmer can more easily sustain the 1:20 interval over a gradually increased distance. Rather than attempting to progress from 30 x 100 on 1:15, the swimmer should maintain the 1:20 interval but extend the number of repeats one step at a time, from 30 to 40 and continuing up to an extreme number of 100 or more. After completing 100 x 100 on a 1:20 interval, the task of holding a 1:15 interval on a 30 x 100 set should prove to be much less intimidating.
      It must be emphasized that too much training to extremes can be more detrimental than beneficial. The art of determining “how much,” “how often,” and “when” for optimal benefit must be mastered by all good coaches. In general, training extremes with respect to distance should be discontinued several weeks or even months prior to peak performance competition. During the weeks or months leading up to major competitive events, training to opposite extremes should be emphasized. A set of 4 x 100 on a 20 minute interval with active rest between efforts would be more appropriate during this phase of training. Naturally, a minimum amount of aerobic work for maintenance purposes must be included  in the program until the final few days of rest at the end of the taper.


      In order to prevent injury, it is important to build up to extreme degrees of stress or workload on a gradually increasing basis over a long period of time. It may also be necessary to eliminate one form of stress while another is being emphasized. For example, during a high mileage period of training it would be appropriate to avoid the use of hand paddles and/ or high repetition work in the weight room. Hand paddles and high repetition dryland work could then be reintroduced to the program when the mileage is reduced during the specialty phase of training. Through a gradual build-up, most swimmers can be conditioned to handle any form of stress without risking injury.



      Several months (or even years) of training are required to attain peak performance conditioning. At the elite senior level, each swimmer must progress through the four distinct training phases described below in the seasonal program structure.


      1. Preparation Phase 3 to 6 weeks

      The early emphasis is on technique and it gradually changes to conditioning build-up in preparation for the upcoming heavy workload. All types of conditioning work are introduced with equal emphasis during this period.


      1. Endurance Phase 3 to 4 weeks

      In terms of quantity, this is the most demanding training phase of the season. The emphasis is on short rest drills (anaerobic threshold training) and over-distance swims in order to develop the endurance base needed to one degree or another for every competitive swimming event, with the possible exception of the 50 meter sprint.


      1. Specialty Phase 6 to 12 weeks

      Different training programs are designed for the 1500, 800, 400, 200, 100, and 50 meter specialists. (See the following section on “Specialization “.) The emphasis for each group is proportional to the type of conditioning needed most   for the particular event. For most groups, this means more quality (long rest, fast swimming) and less quantity than the

      previous phase.


      1. Taper Phase 3 to 6 weeks

      In general, the shorter the event, the longer the taper. During this phase, all stresses are gradually reduced to a point of complete rest for the last few days prior to peak performance.



      A much greater degree of specialization is required at the elite senior level of training than at any of the previous levels. During the specialty phase of training, the elite senior program should be divided into the following groups.


      1. Sprint (50 and 100 meter specialists)

      Although anaerobic glycolysis work is the backbone of the sprint group program, alactic explosion drills should be equally emphasized. Due to the highly intense nature of the anaerobic glycolysis work, relatively low volumes integrated with a great deal of low intensity recovery work are the most effective. Therefore, maximum intensity anaerobic peak and/or lactate tolerance drills should be repeated no more than every 48 hours (two to three times per week). Alactic (ATP CP) work is a -highly specialized form of training best suited to the advanced senior sprinter. The exceptionally short periods of exertion (12 1/2 and 25 meters) followed by exceptionally long periods of rest (1 1/2 to 2 minutes) make it the least demanding of the three types of anaerobic work. Consequently, alactic work may be included in the recovery sessions. A maximum intensity effort and a high degree of concentration are required however, if this work is to be effective in developing speed. A minimum amount of anaerobic threshold (short rest interval) work is also essential for the complete development of the sprinter. As with the other specialty phase programs, the sprint program is most productive when preceded by an endurance phase of training.


      1. Middle Distance (200 and 400 meter specialists)

      Both aerobic and anaerobic forms of training should be strongly emphasized for this group. The 200 meter specialists should emphasize the anaerobic work to a slightly greater degree than the aerobic and the reverse is true for the 400 meter specialists. Lactate tolerance and anaerobic threshold drills should receive the greatest emphasis in both of these programs, while sprint drills and, to a lesser extent, alactic drills are important supplements -especially for the 200 meter specialists.


      1. Distance (800 and 1,500 meter specialists)

      Distance programs must consist primarily of aerobic work, with anaerobic threshold drills constituting the heart of the training plan. A minimum amount of time and energy must also be devoted to lactate tolerance and sprint work, if a distance swimmer is to develop the ability to “move” on an opponent or to sprint “home” at the end of a race.







      Winter season performances are often disappointing by comparison to summer results. One of the contributing factors to this problem is the regression in physical conditioning that occurs during the August-September break. After eleven months of hard work, swimmers are entitled to a week or so of R & R (rest and relaxation) after the championship meet. But, if they are inactive during the entire break, it could take several months of training during the winter season just to get back to where they were at the end of the summer. To prevent this from happening, it is important that they take steps to maintain: (1) the desired percentage of body fat, (2) current strength levels, and (3) at least a minimum amount of endurance. We realize there are probably other ways they’d prefer to spend their time during the break, but it’s much easier than struggling for several months just to get back to where they were! The following recommendations will enable them to accomplish these three objectives.


      Desired Percentage of Body Fat

      An athlete’s appetite is determined by habit, not by their actual nutritional needs. Even though they will be burning far fewer calories per day during the break, they will still desire the same quantities of food that they usually consume. Obviously, if they continue to eat the same amount, they will get fat! There is no magic solution to this problem. They have to exercise some self-discipline to change their eating habits. This will be uncomfortable at first because they will continue to “crave” the amount of food they are used to eating. But if they stick with it, their bodies will adjust to the reduced amounts after a few days, and they will lose their desire for more. Refer to your nutritional recommendations for more information.


      Maintaining Strength Levels

      A weight and/or calisthenics routine to be completed two or three times per week will be recommended by their coach.


      Maintaining a Minimum Amount of Endurance

      It will be to their advantage to participate in an aerobic activity for a minimum of one hour three times per week. This is an excellent opportunity to enjoy other sports, i.e., biking, hiking, etc.



      1. Goals are merely guesses to be used as achievement incentives. They do not determine success or failure. When the achievement of a goal is considered to be necessary for success, this can create unnecessary pressure or “fear of

      failure” and can become a negative influence.

      1. Goals must be compatible with self-
      2. Goals must be compatible with the level of commitment (on a long term basis).
      3. Goals must be pursued on a daily basis and progress must be evaluated
      4. Goals must be specific (visualization, )
      5. Goals must be facilitated through communication with the



      1. Desire

      How important is it to you?

      1. Determination

      To what extent are you willing to make a total commitment and persevere through challenges, obstacles, disappointments and plateaus?

      1. Confidence

      To what extent do you really believe you can accomplish your goals?




      \10 POINTS

      World Record Olympic Gold

      World Championship Gold


      6 POINTS

      1st Place World Ranking


      5 POINTS

      American Record Olympic Silver

      World Championship Silver


      4 POINTS

      2nd Place World Ranking Olympic Bronze

      World Championship Bronze National Championship Gold


      3 POINTS

      3rd Place World Ranking


      2 POINTS

      National Championship Silver


      1 POINT

      National Championship Bronze


      Credit is earned only for performances achieved while training in the program or in the winter season immediately following participation in the program. Relays are not considered.


      Only end-of-the-year long course world rankings are considered. A single performance may not earn credit in for more
      than one category. Credit record performances may be earned only once per season per event.



      Excerpt from CLIMB TO THE TOP by Dennis Pursley


      The first step toward being successful is recognizing an opportunity when it is presented. Each championship meet represents an opportunity to achieve a higher degree of excellence and to experience the rewarding satisfaction that accompanies this achievement. An “everything to gain and nothing to lose” attitude will make it much easier for a swimmer to reach a state of optimal arousal prior to competition. A personal best performance cannot get worse as a result of championship competition; it can only improve! The swimmers going into the Olympic trials have not qualified for the Olympic team, so none of them will be in a worse position at the conclusion of the trials – but they could achieve their goals!


      To recognize the importance of a competitive opportunity, an athlete must understand that it is not participation that  is significant, it is performance. This is not to say that a swimmer must win the race or break the record to be satisfied. Success should be determined by the extent to which the athletes perform to the best of their abilities. Too often, swimmers become so obsessed with qualifying for a championship meet, they forget to focus on and mentally prepare for the championship meet itself. In this situation, achieving the qualifying standard becomes the goal, and participation in the championship meet becomes the reward for accomplishing the goal. Under these circumstances, swimmers tend to become preoccupied with sightseeing, souvenir hunting, and autograph collecting. Focus on championship performance is neglected, and consequently it suffers.


      The second step toward being successful is knowing how to take advantage of an opportunity once it has been presented. An athlete’s ability to perform is determined by the level of talent, mechanical skills, and physical conditioning at his or her disposal. Physical conditioning and mechanical skills, of course, must have been previously developed through a persevering, self-disciplined commitment to those objectives. When confronted with an immediate competitive challenge, swimmers have no control over any of these predetermined characteristics and should not be concerned with them. Instead, the focus of attention should be centered on the following aspects of performance, which determine the degree to which the swimmers will perform to their abilities:

      1. Stroke efficiency
      2. Pace control
      3. Mental toughness


      If swimmers fail to perform to the best of their abilities, the problem can always be traced back to one of these aspects of performance (assuming that starts and turns have    been

      executed properly and breathing patterns have been adhered to).


      Talent is an essential element of goal attainment, but only to a certain point. Failure to achieve performance goals is rarely due to a lack of talent. “Overachievers” with a minimum amount of talent, but with superior confidence, desire, and mental toughness will usually outperform athletes with superior talent who are lacking in the other attributes.


      Mental toughness is an attribute that can be (and should be) a reward in itself. Swimmers cannot always swim fast, but they can always swim tough! A determined competitive spirit, not talent, is the most respected of all athletic attributes. It is not dependent upon talent or skill level, and it should be established as a separate goal for every swimmer to strive for in each race. Successful athletes will take a great deal  of pride in this aspect of their competitive efforts. Mentally tough swimmers will respond positively to pressure and adrenaline and will use this positive response to enhance performance. Regardless of the outcome, they will come back “fighting,” race after race, and will give 100% until the last stroke of the last event is completed. They will not always win, but they will always give their best effort and will never look for excuses.


      Two kinds of desire motivate athletes. One is a positive desire to experience the thrill of competition and the satisfaction of goal attainment. The other is a negative desire to avoid the pain and disappointment associated with failure. A swimmer motivated by positive reasons will be able to confront a competitive challenge aggressively and with enthusiasm and will be less likely to become intimidated in a “high pressure” situation. There are many rewards and benefits to be gained from goal achievement. Successful athletes will recognize and appreciate these benefits and will choose to focus their attention in this positive direction.


      Confident athletes will accept responsibility for their own performances. These swimmers recognize that success or failure is in their hands. They will succeed in spite of the circumstances (cold water, lack of sleep, illness, injury, etc.) or because of them – but they will succeed! Swimmers can approach a race with a greater degree of confidence if the primary goal is to perform up to the best of their abilities, whatever these may be. This is always an achievable goal. It is also helpful for them to approach a race with a number of goals in mind (i.e. personal best time, championship time standard, gold medal, meet record, stroke improvement, pace adjustment, etc.), any one of which would offer a rewarding experience. To allow a single goal to determine success or failure can create a very intimidating situation, especially if the outcome is controlled partially by the other competitors in the race (i.e. winning the gold) or by a time standard unrelated to the swimmer’s ability. Any athlete can compose a list of reasons “why I can” and “why I cannot” – successful athletes will simply choose to focus on the positive list.
      Negative thoughts will occur from time to time, however, but they must be recognized for what they are – thoughts, not reality! If an athlete does not believe in the negative and maintains a focus on the positive, negative thoughts should not interfere with performance.


      Race control, with respect to pace and stroke efficiency, can be accomplished through proper focus and concentration. The mental focus should be directed toward stroke-by-stroke performance, rather than race outcome or other distractions. The use of repetitive “cue” words, such as “smooth,” “powerful,” or “relaxed,” can be helpful in the effort to avoid tactical errors such as the tendency to shorten the stroke, lose the “hold” on the water, tighten muscles which are not needed for forward propulsion, or expend too much energy too early in the race. (Some young distance swimmers can take the first 100 of a 400-meter freestyle out in their best time and hold the pace throughout the race. If a senior sprinter tried that approach, the medics would have to pull the body from the bottom of the pool!) Again, the simple choice of whether to focus on the positive (cue words) or the negative (pain, failure, opponent’s position, etc.) will have a great deal of influence on the outcome of the race.


      It has already been mentioned that to properly concentrate, focus, and control a race, a swimmer must attain a state of optimum arousal prior to competition. Before this can be achieved, each swimmer must first determine which state of arousal is optimum. Some athletes perform best when they are “psyched up” with adrenaline and should be advised to make an effort to get “caught up” in themselves that “it’s just another race…,” in an attempt to calm and relax their emotions. Once the optimum level of arousal is determined, the swimmers (with the help of the coach) must take the responsibility to psych themselves “up” or “down” if the meet atmosphere is not compatible with the individual optimum arousal levels.


      The third step toward being successful is acquiring the ability to learn from failure and to respond with heightened enthusiasm and determination. Although successful people will seldom settle for less than a 100% effort from themselves, they cannot escape failure. High achievers, however, recognize that failure is a part of the learning process necessary for ultimate achievement and, consequently, it will contribute to their success in the future. They will not accept failure as an end result and will not allow their efforts to go unrewarded. On the other hand, unsuccessful people allow future performances. A negative reaction of this type can also be devastating to a team effort. In championship competition, all swimmers have an obligation, not only to themselves, but also to their teammates, to make the positive choice.


      The primary goal of performing to the best of one’s ability should not only be adopted by each individual athlete entering into championship competition, it should be established as the primary team goal as well. If this objective is to    be

      accomplished, all athletes on the team must accept the responsibility to:

      1. Support their teammates
      2. Approach each event as if it were their only event with respect to pre-race preparation and competitive effort
      3. Respond positively to disappointing performances


      In other words, all athletes to derive from competition (or from almost anything), than to perform to the best of their abilities after having made a total commitment to that objective. At the same time, there is no greater disappointment for athletes than to fail, knowing they could have done better. Any obstacle that stands between a swimmer and success has been overcome in the past by an athlete (or team) tough enough to conquer it. It can be done! Everyone is given a choice. Why not take advantage of every opportunity? Why not focus on the positive? Why not join that special group of successful people who know what it means to “Be the Best that You Can Be?”


      Many athletes and coaches seem to be discouraged by the belief that the most successful swimmers in the world are blessed with supernatural talent or that the most accomplished coaches possess secret technical knowledge or insight that gives them an unconquerable edge over their opponents. This is simply not true! Many of the “grass roots” coaches are as knowledgeable as the “experts” and all of the superstar swimmers have had to contend with the same frustrations, disappointments, and failures as the local level swimmers. There is no shortcut to the top. If there is a secret, it is found in confidence, enthusiasm, and good, old-fashioned, hard work.


      Although luxurious facilities, scientific monitoring, and million dollar budgets are all enviable assets, it is reassuring to know that many of the world’s greatest swimmers have nothing more in their favor than superior DESIRE, DISCIPLINE, DETERMINATION and confidence. With these attributes, almost any obstacle can be overcome and any goal can be achieved. In the absence of any one of these, failure is likely. In this regard, the coach’s effectiveness as a motivator will be a greater influence on the performance of his athletes than all of the technical knowledge that science has to offer. The climb to the top is not an easy task, but elite level success is accessible to any team willing to pay the price – no magic required!





      In accepting a position on the Swim Team, I agree to:

      1. Commit to the team goals, team pledge, and program requirements and


      1. Attend and conscientiously apply myself to all required workouts, swim meets and meetings unless excused by the coach.


      1. Display proper respect, honesty and sportsmanship toward coaches, officials, administrators, parents and fellow competitors.


      1. Refrain from any immoral, inappropriate or unacceptable behavior such as:
        1. Smoking
        2. Drinking any alcoholic beverages during team travel or prior to competition’(or at any other time for “underaged” swimmers)
        3. Excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages at any time
        4. Use of any drugs unless medically prescribed
        5. Violation of curfews established by the coach
        6. Any illegal activity
        7. Any activity which would detract from a positive image of the Phoenician Resort Swim Team


      1. Maintain a lifestyle that will allow proper sleep, rest and nutrition for maximum


      1. Maintain the desired percentage of body


      1. Display a positive and supportive attitude toward the program, coaches and (Failure to abide by these commitments may result in dismissal from the team.)



      I will commit myself from this day forward to attend 100% of the practices, no matter how hectic my days may be, and including days when I am tired from previous workouts or activities.


      I will hide my pains and worries under a pleasant smile.


      I will reach new levels of mental control when my body talks louder than my brain.


      I will patiently do my work, knowing that I will be respected and rewarded.


      I will treat every member of the team as a person of Importance.


      I realize that any negative comment, Including jokes, may hurt someone when I least expect.


      I understand that I am a vital person to this team, not only in athletic ability but In moral support.


      It is these little things that I will practice daily to keep faith in myself and to earn the trust of others.

      “By Brent Rutemiller” SENIOR TEAM PLEDGE

      Abide by the code of conduct and training requirements.


      Conscientiously apply ourselves with desire, determination, discipline, confidence and mental focus to an effort to develop our potential to the best of our ability.


      Understand that the pursuit of excellence in swimming requires the greatest degree of sacrifice, long-range commitment and persevering dedication that we are capable of giving.


      Acknowledge the fact that we may fail before we can learn and progress toward ultimate success.


      Accept the hardships, disappointments and obstacles that must be encountered and overcome.


      Realize that the greater the challenge, the greater the reward.


      Believe that confidence, determination and enthusiasm can

      turn defeat into victory.


      Be willing to work harder than our opposition and to  strengthen our weaknesses.


      Contribute enthusiastically to team support and a positive attitude.


      Unconditionally commit ourselves to the team goals in order to create an atmosphere which breeds suc

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