Developing Fast Age Group Swimmers by Rick Stacy (1998)


Published


Introduction: His teaching background includes the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and St. Mary’s College back in Wisconsin, and then Oberlin College. He is currently the age group coach of Hawkins College and the Lake Erie Silver Dolphins and has been there since 1987. One thing that impressed me when I read his bio is how involved he has been in the LSC (local swim committee). He’s served in four or five official capacities, which means he truly has an appreciation and a love for the sport of swimming, because that’s what more coaches need to do is get involved, like Rick has become involved. So not only does he understand what it takes to be a great coach, he understands what it takes to be a leader in coaching. So we’re going to turn it over to Rick and his thoughts today. He’s going to share with us on “Developing Fast Age Group Swimmers”. Welcome.

 

Stacy: First, let me say what an honor it is to be here. Whatever the practical value of an age group coach in terms of prestige and pay, we’re pretty much at the bottom of the food chain. So I do appreciate the opportunity to speak at this clinic and I hope what I say will be valuable to you—at least to somebody.

 

Second, let me explain the title of the talk. Originally the title given to me was “Making Fast Age Group Swimmers.” I don’t think I would ever give a talk on making fast age group swimmers. We have some age group swimmers who are pretty fast, but that’s not the intent of my program. My aims lie elsewhere. The fact that they’re fast is a byproduct of the system, so I substituted a better title for this talk: “The Development of Age Group Swimmers.”

 

I think I should start with a very brief discussion or description of our team and how we divide ourselves up and then try to define or describe what it is that I mean by an “age group swimmer”. The Lake Erie Silver Dolphins have approximately 250 swimmers. Like everybody else, we divide them by age and ability. We’re pretty flexible on this. If parents have transportation difficulties, have multiple kids on the team, we’ll make accommodations to work with them one way or the other. They don’t always end up on the group where we would most desire to have them to be.

 

We use colors for our divisions. Red and White are the beginning levels. These kids are anywhere from 6 to 11. They typically workout for practice 3 or 4 times a week for about an hour a day. They do stroke drills and a lot of games; not very much more.

 

The next level is Blue and Bronze. Traditionally this has always been one group and it was only in the past year that we were actually large enough to separate into two groups. The kids are 7 to about 12. Most of them are 9 and 10; I get some that are younger. When they’re 11, I move them to up to the next level, but I wait until the conclusion of the season. So if their birthday’s in June,

they don’t move up until the Fall. It just seems like a bad idea to move up in the middle of the year. And these are the kids that I’m going to focus on, so you can assume for age group that I am primarily talking about 9 to 10 year olds.

 

We go from that to Silver, which is 11 to 12. Then we have a Gold group, which is 12 year old girls who have made it and 13-and-overs, and sometimes we divide the Gold into Teenage Gold and then High School and College Swimmers when we have to.

 

The fundamental goal of our age-group program is to develop the best possible senior swimmers that we can have. Thus, what we do looks more to the future than to the present. Although we want our age-groupers to experience success (and frankly, if they don’t have success I don’t think they’re going to stay in the sport—it is vital that they have some type of success), but we look to the future more than the present. We will not sacrifice what’s going to come for the here and now. This philosophy controls both what we do with the kids and what we don’t do.

 

It’s easier to tell you what we don’t do. We don’t sprint. We don’t do much anaerobic work. We don’t do much sprinting. I can’t say that we never do it; I think you have to give age-groupers a touch of everything. I think you have to prepare them for what they’re going to do on the next level. When they’re senior swimmers they will sprint, so we do a little bit. Usually once  a season we go eight 75s on 4 minutes; they go in two groups, they climb out at the other end, and they just think this is the greatest thing since peanut butter. I get frustrated and don’t like it, but they love it.

 

Occasionally we probably go anaerobic for other reasons, not intentional. We might want to go 50s easy-hard to work their turns and breathing. In other words, we never want them to breathe into a turn. When they’re doing endurance work, we let them breathe out of a turn—I don’t want them to die and go belly up on the bottom of the pool, so I say “you can breathe,” but when they sprint in a meet, when they go a 50, a 100, a 200, we don’t want them breathing out. I don’t think you can ask them to do something in a meet that they haven’t done in practice, so we’ll give them an opportunity to sprint some of those 50s and not to breathe or to finish appropriately. We might go 25s on a long send-off. If we want to work the dolphin kick underwater and I’m telling them they have to kick halfway, if I don’t give them a long send-off, again they may go belly up on me. So every now and then they sprint, but my general point is true: we do very little intentional sprinting with our young swimmers. Frankly, a 50 means very much for a 9 and 10. Most of the time their success in the shorter events is due to size and early physical maturity, not to technique, not to training, not to

 

attitude, and it’s the latter variables that are most important in the senior swimming. So we just don’t sprint. Frankly, if I had my ‘druthers, for 9 and 10 years olds who have at least an “A” time, they’d be swimming 100s and 200s in stroke, we’d throw in the 400 IM and the 500 Free—it’d be a regular event. And I’d ditch all the 50s for the kids who have reached at least an “A” level. But I’m not king of the forest, so that isn’t going to happen.

 

Well, if we do not sprint, what do we do? We have three interlocked priorities with our age-groupers. The first is stroke technique, the second is aerobic endurance, the third is attitude.

 

Proper stroke technique is our first and most important priority. Technique is the ultimate and final limitation of a swimmer’s development and success, and I constantly work with the swimmers on their technique. However, since I’m supposed to speak about stroke drills and technique at another session, I’ll let this go at this point. But everything that I say after this should be held in the context of stroke technique as first priority. That’s our first concern, we build from that.

 

After stroke technique, the heart of our age-group program at this level is aerobic endurance. This is not simply intended to produce future distance swimmers, although we do have a good number of those at this time. An aerobic base is important in the development of all swimmers in all events. Some of you are probably familiar with Byron Davis. He came about this close to being the first African-American to make the Olympic team. He was one of ours until he ran off to college, and he’s told us numerous times that he did not think he could make his Olympic comeback, or his attempt to make the Olympic team, without the aerobic base that he had developed when he was younger. In past years, we’ve had kids who are juniors and seniors in all events, all distances, and we think their aerobic development early is a crucial part of their senior success.

 

Our age group endurance training takes a variety of forms, which I cannot express in scientific training vocabulary. First because I’m not that smart. My PhD is in Tudor-Stuart English History, not Exercise Physiology. Doesn’t work, you know, just doesn’t work. I don’t get it. Second, I’m not sure that such training categories are relevant to age group swimming. These kids appear to cross lines easily and move up and down the scale too quickly. They’re all over the place. I had a little girl last winter, a 10 year old, who started the year repeating her freestyle, 100s on a 1:25, which is decent. By March, she could repeat three 400’s on a 4:30 send-off. I thought that was terrific. Clearly, her anaerobic threshold had improved a great deal. And in terms of conditioning, as a coach, that’s what I try to do. That’s what I want to happen. I want that anaerobic threshold to get better, one way or the other.

 

In simple terms, we develop a swimmer’s aerobic capacity through three forms of work. One is long steady-state swims, say from a 1650 up to a 5000. I don’t see this as terribly stressful, frankly. It is the swimming equivalent of jogging. They’re just putting in laps. But I try to do this about every seven to ten days, if I can. They’ll do something of this length in practice. If I didn’t mention it, they work out four to five times a week. Incidentally, I always put this in a positive form. The swimmers get to swim a 4000, they get to swim a 1600 IM.  Notice, too, when they’re

young, when they’re 9 and 10, a 50, a 500, a 5000 are all a long way. You might as well pick the longest distance, and kind of condition them psychologically. (Audience laughter.) I’m not trying to be all that funny. They really don’t know the difference, and they come to see this as natural and acceptable, and maybe amazingly to you, many of them come to love this sort of swimming. Kids like Anna Stroh, Diana Munz, would come in to practice almost every day saying, “Can we swim a 3000? Do we get to do a 1600 IM today?” Well that’s pretty neat! If you’ve got them thinking that way, 90% of the battle is done. You can’t wait until they’re 13, 14, 15, 16 to suggest this sort of thing. If you get them when they’re early, you’ve got a chance. If you wait too long, it’s almost impossible.

 

The second form of aerobic training is over distance repeats on a relatively short send-off. Over distance for 10 and under would be a 300 through a 1650, total distance for the set would be about 2000 yards plus or minus 400, but there is the occasional day when they may just go all 1650s and it’s 5000 or 6000 yards.

 

The third form, then, would be long sets of shorter distance repeats, on the shortest possible send-off, 25s through 200s. And again, about the same distance. My aim through the season is  to lower their send-off. Any way I can. That’s what I try to do. That’s my job. I’m going to get their sendoff down by the end of the year. I think if you’re a 10 and under and you’re swimming freestyle for 100, if you can hold 10 to 15 100s on a 1:20, you’re doing a good job. If they can hold it on a 1:15, they’re doing a very good job. If they can hold 1:10s, that’s great, that’s terrific. And like I said, I had the little girl this year that was going sub 1:10. That’s kind of raised my expectations. Now I’m thinking maybe I can get one down to 1:05—but we’ll see.

 

You have to be creative when you bring the send-off down. You’re dealing with kids that have funny minds, at times. If they can hold a 1:15 and they can’t make a 1:10, then we’ll go 200s on a 2:25. Then we’ll go to 300’s on a 3:35. If they’ve got it in their head that they flat out can’t go a 1:10…”I can do a 1:15, but I just can’t do a 1:10”…that’s when you have to prove that you’re smarter than they are. We go 150’s on a 1:45 and they say, “Gee, how fast is that?” I say, “It’s no problem. You can do this. This is easy.” And they do it. And on then up. No big deal.  And  then you go back and tell them what they’ve done, and they look at you kind of surprised and you show it to them on the clock, and they go, “Oh yeah. I can do that.” It’s great to coach 9 and 10’s— I mean you really are smarter than they are. Most of the time.  Most of the time.

 

Curiously, and maybe you can explain this to me, the boys have never expressed any opinion on it, but the girls have always told me, year in and year out, that the jump from 1:15 to 1:10 is the hardest. 1:20 to 1:15, 1:10 to 1:05, later, is not nearly as difficult as going 1:15 to 1:10. I don’t know if it’s growth, the age, or what. But the girls have been pretty universal about this, so you may have to be a little more creative there.

 

Our kids do this kind of work in all strokes and individual medley. I put my work stats on a computer last year and was sort of flabbergasted to discover that we were doing about 40% to 45% freestyle.  If you’d asked me off the cuff, I’d have said we only

 

did 25% freestyle. So either I’m going to have to change things or I’m going to have to live with this, but, I guess scientifically, quantitatively, we do about 40% free, 60% stroke and IM. I think it is important that you do all of this in stroke and IM, for the obvious reasons. First of all, I don’t know what their best events are going to be when they age up. They may end up being a breaststroker or a backstroker or, God forbid, a sprinter. I just don’t know, and I have to prepare for those things.

 

I think, by spreading the training out into different strokes and including IM, you add variety to practice and make it more interesting. You probably reduce the risk of overuse injury because you’re not using the same muscle and the same joint in exactly the same way. Because they swim and train in all the strokes, it also virtually guarantees at least one successful swim in every meet. I mean, they don’t just think of themselves as a breaststroker and “I go to the meet and I’m not faster in breaststrokes, so I’m a bad person and a lousy swimmer and I want to quit.” They have good fly or they have good back and they always come out of the meet with a more positive feeling. The IM sets can easily be done as distance workouts, and you want to go a 1600 IM, you don’t think they can go a 400 fly, so you go sixteen 100 consecutive without a break, or eight 200s, or four 400’s.  It’s easy to work around it.

 

The stroke work for fly and breast, I think, is a little more tricky and a little more cautious. I would not want to be responsible for injuring a swimmer at a young age. We tend to do a lot of the fly, if it’s a long distance or a very long set, with fins, or we may incorporate some kicking into it, where maybe they’re going a 1650 fly but it’s going to be a 50 fly, 50 streamline dolphin on the back. If they’re going breaststroke, it might be a 50 breaststroke flutter kick, 50 breaststroke dolphin kick, 100 breaststroke, and go through that eight times. On the other hand, I think as you get to know them, as they progress through the program, you have to challenge them a little more. And they need to swim some of this as purely endurance stroke. I think one of the best sets any of the kids ever did for me was little Anna Stroh. When she was 10 she went eight 300’s fine with 4:30. She never went over 4:15. They can do some pretty good things. She could be a pretty good flyer. She just happens to be a pretty good distance freestyler now.  But later she may end up as a flyer.

 

I think there are numerous benefits and advantages that result from endurance training for age-groupers of this sort. Physically, and particularly for the girls, there seems to be a window of opportunity here before puberty in which to develop a swimmer’s full aerobic potential, or even increase it, that is lost if you wait too long. If you’re waiting until they’re 15 or 16 I think you’re in trouble. You’re going to lose something. It’s not going to be there.

 

I think aerobic work also appears to smooth out strokes and makes them more flexible and adaptable as swimmer’s mature and grow. And what I mean by that, as the swimmer’s get older their bodies change. They have to make changes in their strokes. It is relatively easy to change our swimmer’s strokes, it is relatively easy to change the strokes of swimmers who come to us from endurance based programs. But I have noticed that kids that come to us from what I would call “sprint programs” have very brittle strokes. They’re very inflexible, they’re very difficult to change.

They don’t grow into new strokes very well or very easily. It has also been suggested that swimming when tired makes swimmers more efficient and improves their feel for the water. No little consideration. Endurance training certainly makes swimming easier. The more you do of it, the easier it is. The easier it is, the more fun it is. It can’t be much fun to swim a 25 when you’re drowning all the way down the pool. But if you’ve mastered the mechanics, if you have the endurance to do it relatively easy, you start thinking it’s fun. It’s like playing tennis. If you can’t maintain a ball and you’re just hitting the ball off the court and playing track tennis, you don’t like tennis. If you can keep the ball in play, it’s a lot more fun.

 

I think endurance training offers swimmers reasonable and surmountable challenges which provide a sense of accomplishment and develop genuine self-confidence. Every single day that they go to practice, for me, they come out of it with a sense that they’ve accomplished something. They do something. It doesn’t have  to be that fast. The simple fact that they do it is the accomplishment. If you’ve got a sprinter and every day they come in and they have to break 30 seconds in the 50 free, they’re going to be frustrated a lot of the time. But if the kid comes in and he goes 1000 backstroke or a 1600 IM or a 5000 free, he feels great when he walks out of there. He knows he did something. He’s going to tell his friends he did something. He’s going to tell his parents he did something. He’s going to be very proud of it, and he wants to come back the next day and meet another challenge. These things build on each other.

 

I think endurance work of this sort also allows for more consistent improvement without lengthening plateaus. Our kids don’t hang around a lot at one time. They really don’t. They seem to improve fairly steadily. We just don’t have long, long periods where they’re marking time. They seem to be pretty consistent in this regard. Diana Munz has gotten faster since she was 8 years old almost every single meet that she’s ever gone to. She’s pretty amazing.  She just gets faster.  She always did.

 

Perhaps an underrated or an overlooked benefit is that an endurance program provides the less talented but the more dedicated swimmer with an avenue to success. I don’t think swimming necessarily markets itself very well. We’re an egalitarian sport. Almost anyone can have success in this sport. You don’t have to be seven feet tall, you don’t have to weigh 300 pounds. If you have the right attitude, you can make yourself into a pretty good swimmer. If you get at them when they’re early. If you can impact their minds and attitudes, which is what aerobic training seems to do.

 

I think endurance work develops good work habits, and it breeds mental toughness that makes the swimmers more coachable. They can be better than they otherwise would be. We have a little girl now that I am sure, if you could have seen her when she was 8, you would not have predicted success for. She bounced badly on her freestyle and backstroke. Actually, we thought she was drowning on backstroke. She was one of those kids that couldn’t breathe in the right spot at butterfly. It’s sort of like dragging your finger on a chalkboard, you just hate to watch it. The only thing she could do halfway well was breaststroke, and that was only because she could muscle through it.  There   was

 

no technique. But she’s very intelligent, she’s very coachable, she’s very hard-working. She’s a world champion now. And frankly, I don’t think in any other program in our NSC she would have developed anything approaching that level. There are a lot of programs out there that can develop their talented kids. You live off the law of averages. If a kid jumps in their pool and he’s talented, you make him into a good swimmer. The advantage  of an endurance program is that you increase your talent pool. You don’t necessarily have to have all that talent if you have the attitude and the will to work and you’re coachable, you can go a long way. I don’t know if you can be an Olympic champion, but you can certainly get very close.

 

The end result of an age group program is the swimmer given the tools for future success. But I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. I don’t want you to think that we have no interest in their present performance as age-groupers. We do. Frankly, we live in a society that demands immediate gratification. If these kids don’t have success, and they don’t have it fairly quickly, they’re not going to stay in swimming. They’re very rare if they do. Fortunately, with this sort of a program they can be successful. They may not be as fast as they could have been if we sprinted the heck out of them, but they can be very, very fast. If you look at our little distance swimmers, Diana Munz, Erica Rose, Anna Stroh, Shelly Klaus, all four of those girls were NAG top 16 when they were 10 and unders. They were top 16 for several years and in many, many events. Diana had a second in the fly, Erica was third in the IM (incidentally, if any of you know Erica, you might be amazed to learn she was ranked in the 50 free—she can sprint today), Anna was second in the 100 free, Shelly was first in the 200 free and the 100 fly, Anna and Shelly were part of a relay that set a national record, and all four girls went 27 plus doing endurance work. I think this success was important to them. In fact, I know it was. They had to have some type of success. Maybe not this great, it doesn’t have to be top 16. But they have to have measurable success. They have to get faster. Many of them have to have some kind of success via a via their peers.  They have to see themselves getting better.

 

Side note: I know there’s a lot of discussion of the role of top 16. My opinion is it’s a valuable tool. It’s motivational and it gives your kids wider horizons. I’d be very upset if I lost it because other people couldn’t use it or didn’t know how to use it. I think you can use it to your advantage if you use it properly.

 

On the other hand, I don’t think that anything that these girls accomplished, these 10 and unders in top 16, necessarily predicted their future success. Maybe the 200 free, maybe the 200 IM. Those are probably the best events for 10 and unders in terms of looking at the future. But I knew these girls were going to  be very good. I was quite confident going to Jerry when they were 8, 9, and 10 and saying, “Look, these are fast track girls, they’re going to be a juniors and seniors when they’re 12 and 13.” And we’ve had some other girls that were easy to pick out, and boys. They weren’t necessarily distance swimmers, but you can tell. You can tell from their practice habits, from their practice performance, and in my case, usually from their performance in non-traditional events. Wherever and whenever I can, I swim the 10 and unders in non-traditional events in meets. If I can get them in, if it’s appropriate, I put them in.  They swim their 200s

in stroke, their 400 IMs, etc.

 

We’re very fortunate in Lake Erie. We have a mile meet in the Fall where they swim nothing but 1650s. It’s like 30 heats—it goes on all day. If you’re a sprint coach I know you’d love it, just sitting there watching them. But I think it’s the greatest meet of the year. I really do like it. When Diana and Erica were 10, they went 1-2. Di went what was then the record time of 20 minutes and 11 seconds. Two years later, Shelly and Anna went 1-2. Shelly went 19:10. I think that’s a heck of a time for a 10 and under in the mile. Shelly also set national records in the 1000 as a 9 and 10 year old. This year, the little girl that I mentioned earlier went 19:50 in the mile meet, which I think is very good, but she came back, developed, broke Shelly’s record in the 1000, went 11:09. I think she could have broken 11 minutes, but she got out there in front and just sort of coasted the last 500. With kids like this, it’s easy to say, “They’re going to be successful.” If you’ve got a 10 and under who has the aerobic capacity, the stroke technique, and the work habits to go 19 minutes in the mile, unless they get hit by a truck, they’re going somewhere. They’re going to be successful. Now, 50 free, I can’t tell.  They could  go 0:26 flat as a 10 and under, and it wouldn’t necessarily mean anything. They could just be big for their age. But a 10 year old that can swim a mile in 19 minutes is going to do something for you. A 10 and under who will try to swim a mile in 19 minutes is going to go something for you, we had a little girl at seniors in the fly this year who can’t sprint. Or, excuse me, can’t do endurance, she’s a sprinter. She could never win a mile meet. But she tried. She would work at it, she had great work habits, she was very coachable, and it was easy to say with her, “She’s going to be successful. She’s going somewhere. She isn’t going to get there as quickly as Diana because she’s not going to be a distance swimmer. That’s the easy path any more. But she’s going to get there.”   And she did.

 

To summarize, what we offer is an endurance program for age groupers that we think best provides for their physical and mental development into accomplished senior swimmers. There is doubtless more than one way to skin a cat. There’s more than one way to get there. But we believe that this sort of program works. It certainly best serves the potential needs of the widest range of our swimmers and gives them a good chance at future success.

 

Thank you for your patience. Are there any questions? (Audience applause.)

 

Q:  You said you had three priorities:  stroke technique, aerobic

endurance, and I didn’t get the third one.

Rick: The third is attitude. Work habits, coachability, responsiveness to what you want them to do.

 

Q: What other types of clubs or the quantity of clubs do you have in driving proximity to your club and how do you handle the situation of the age-group parent that doesn’t particularly want a 10 and under training anything over a half an hour sprint practices? How do you handle that to retain them on your club?

 

Rick: In other words, do we have “dumbing down” in the area. Q: Yeah.

 

Rick: Yeah. There are about 35 clubs in Lake Erie, Cleveland, Northeastern Ohio, so there are a lot of clubs within driving distance. Just about every other club is within driving distance. We have kids that come from all over. Some of them travel an hour and a half to get here, but they do it.  It isn’t a problem.

 

We educate our parents. We have a new parents meeting at the beginning of the year. I have a parents meeting the first day of practice with my group. We have done a good job of selling them on the merits of the program. Obviously it’s much easier when you can point to Nat Lewis or Sean Justice or Diana Munz or Erica Rose and say, “Look, this is where you can go,” for some of our shorter distance swimmers. But Jerry’s been there forever, I’ve been there a fairly long time now, and we just don’t have that problem. We don’t lose many kids to other programs. We do a good job of educating them and they appear to buy into what we’re saying. Yes?

 

Q: How many days a week do these 9 and 10 year olds come? Rick: We offer our 9 and 10 year olds four to five practices a week. If there’s a meet that we’re going to there isn’t a practice that weekend. Practices run, generally, an hour and a half. I also have a lot of kids that come in to work with me on Sunday to do stroke drills. About 30 to 40 come in every week, and I’d say 20 of those are age-groupers and 20 of those are Erica and Diana types. And the best swimmers are the kids who come the most often. We don’t set a minimum or maximum, how often you have to come. I encourage the kids to come as often as they can. I encourage them to come when they do not have another obligation. If they’re playing basketball I’ll make fun of it, if they have piano I’ll kid them about it, but when they’re 9 and 10, fine, do other things. But when you don’t have another obligation, come swim. And I would say 80% of the kids are consistent. They will come four to five days a week. The other 20% are not, they tend to be the seasonal high school swimmers when they mature. The habits don’t change very much. If they’re erratic when they’re 9 and 10, then there’s a 99% chance that they’re going to be erratic when they’re 17 and 18, so you might as well get used to it. Yeah?

 

Q: How much kicking and pulling do you do?

Rick: About the only pulling we do is breaststroke. I think it helps a lot to pull breaststroke. I make them pull with the head up so they can see the hands and it speeds up the hands and they’ll go maybe 1000 to 1500 yards a week of pulling breaststroke. Kicking, we do a lot of stroke drills, and kicking puts a great deal of stress on the legs, so what we do with the board is probably not indicative of how much they kick.  But, again, when I worked  it out on the computer, it was around 15%, which understates  it. A lot of that is streamlined dolphin kick on the back. I think not only is it good for their dolphin, I think it’s good for their stomach muscles, I think it’s good for their quads, to protect their knees. I’m very cautious about that, so we do a lot of it in that regard. Yeah.

 

Q: You mentioned Sundays about stroking. Do you charge extra

for those Sundays?

Rick: Yes. This is how I afford my car and my literary tastes and

everything else.

 

Q: That’s when you do videotaping, I gather?

Rick: I seldom videotape. What I’ve discovered is that while you’re videotaping they look great, and as soon as you turn the camera off they go back to doing what they were doing. So I’d rather just talk to them and talk them through it. It seems to work okay. I have a videotape, but there again I have it here for the other presentation, but that’s rare.  I don’t do it much.

 

Q: I’m curious as to your development of the season. You start out, you’re teaching and training ratios…how do you develop that through a season?

Rick: Well, it depends on the kids. I mean, everybody on Bronze isn’t at the same level. So everyone isn’t doing the same thing. Some of these kids at the lowest level may be doing 90% drills for the course of the season, and their long swim is a 500. But they see the big dogs going the 5000. That’s what I call the fastest lane. They know they’re in the big dog lane. Every year I get a T-shirt from one of them, you know, the “big dog” things. They take a lot of pride in that, and they look up to the kids in front of them. I think I’ve been very fortunate with the type of kids that I’ve coached. They’ve been outstanding, and they’re great role models, even at 10 years old and 11 years old, they know that they’re role models to the younger kids and at 15 and 16 it’s carried on, but they demonstrate good training habits to the younger swimmers and we build off of that and then in that sense it’s just my judgment to challenge them each day but not to make the challenge insurmountable. So at the lowest level it’s 90% drill, maybe the occasional 500 and we work from there. With the other kids, we start out with about 1500 yards of drill, and then it drops down to about 1000 and the training component increases as it goes on.  Any other questions?

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