The Age Group to Olympic Development of Brittany Reimer by Cory Beatt (2004)


Published


Cory Beatt:  Head Coach, Surrey Knights Swim Club.  Cory is proud to be celebrating his 20th year of coaching this season. During his career he has worked with all ages and levels of athletes including entry level to Olympic for both able bodied and disabled athletes. Cory’s swimmers have broken Provincial and Canadian records and have qualified to represent Canada in the Paralympics, Deaflympics, Australian Youth Olympic Festival and Olympic Games. Cory’s coaching philosophy is to contribute equally to the positive growth and development of each individual and to encourage a healthy self image through the promotion of pride, fair play, and team work. 

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First, I would like to thank the American Swim Coaches Association for inviting me to speak today. I am an age group coach. I coach a small age group team just outside of Vancouver, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia – the Surrey Knights Swim Club. The goal of our team is not to ever win national championships or anything of that scope, but to develop great young people and great young swimmers. I am going to start actually right off with a little video, and it will just take me one second to get this queued up.

 

My athlete, Brittany Reimer, is 16 years old right now. She went to the Olympics this summer, and she went to World Championships the year before that. I will introduce her more a little bit later, but this clip is actually from the World Championships – not from the Olympics. At the Olympics her best result was 17th place. I will talk about her a little bit more later. I will just start this. It starts with an interview.

 

Okay, so that is the World Championships. This will give you an idea of a little bit about Brittany’s personality. (Video Clip). So that was her first international meet. That was the interview after her 400 freestyle. I am just going to let it play through so that you can see the end of the 800 freestyle, as well. (More Video). As you can see, Brittany Reimer, 15 years old there, improved very quickly. Actually her improvement was fairly gradual, but all of a sudden she was in the spotlight and had a lot of attention drawn to her. In Canada we don’t have a lot of swimming heroes and all of a sudden they were looking to her for some great results. As I started off by saying, I am an age group coach, so what I am going to do is talk about the age group development – the development of an athlete, an age grouper, beginner to Olympian. So I have a few objectives here. First I am going to introduce a basic athlete and development model, and I am going to provide you from that model an example of how I have integrated the model into my club. In the process I will refer you to Brittany Reimer, my athlete, and how she has developed through this model in the swim club. In this little disclaimer here, there is some reading and research that I have done for this and some of it is scientifically based, but a lot of it is just from my own observations as well.

 

I just want to sort of quickly talk about myself, the Surrey Knights Swim Club, and Brittany Reimer, as the three reference points. This is my 21st season of coaching. As I said before, I am an age group coach. I was an assistant coach at Sun Country Swim Club in Alberta and then the squad coach with the University of Calgary Swim Club. The reason I wanted to put this up is just to express that some of my experiences have been very lucky. I had mentorship with Coach Derek Snelling when I was coaching in Calgary, and then I coached with the Vancouver Pacific Swim Club as part of the Dolphin Program in Vancouver, British Columbia. Again, I had mentorship with Tom Johnson, and I have had many coaches mentor me in my years, in theory as well, including Jim Faulley who is with the Pacific Sport National Training Center in Victoria. I have also had the chance to work on a few national teams. In 2000 I was at the Paralympic Games, and then over the last few years I have been on a few other teams as well.

 

The Surrey Knights Swim Club is the club that I am the head coach of. Our vision is creating excellence in swimming. Again, we are a small club. We have 110 members. Of that 110, 50 of them are pre-competitive in our introductory program and 60 are in our competitive level. We have three facilities – the North Surrey indoor pool that is a 6-lane 25-meter pool built in the early 70’s. It is old, and it is dark. There is nothing fancy about it. In September 1999 they opened up the Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex, an 8-lane 50-meter pool. It is a beautiful pool, but we are a very fast growing city, and it is used primarily for recreation. We have about a million people a year that go through the facility. Then we have a variety of outdoor pools, but outdoor pools in Vancouver and in Canada cannot be used most of the year.

 

We don’t have a lot of coaches on the team. Myself, then I have Dmitriy Konanenko, the Head Regional Coach who we will talk about in a little bit, the Head Introductory Coach, Kevin Reynolds, and then, as we need them, we have two to three other junior coaches. But essentially the three coaches you see there – myself, Dmitriy and Kevin – run the whole program for the 110 swimmers.

 

For Brittany – that is a picture of Brittany and me from a training camp before the Athens Olympics. She was on a few national teams. She was on the Australian Youth Olympic Festival team in Sydney, Australia in 2003, and that was on her 15th birthday. Then she went to the 2003 World Aquatic Championships, which I showed the video from. In 2004 we went for six weeks to Australia and did a tour of different programs in Australia. We did a little bit of work with the National Team, the Canadian National Team. I also went to the Miami Swim Club, and we were there for a week with coach Dennis Cottrell and Grant Hackett. We went to AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) for two weeks as well.  We also did —– Norstrom tour, all four stops, and then the Olympic Games.

 

Brittany holds a number of Canadian records – 13-14 400- and 800-meter freestyle (short course) and 15-17 200-, 400-, 800- and 1500-meter freestyle (short and long course). The 400, 800, and 1500 are also the Senior Canadian Records. So again, I am just going to present the development model and development through the club.

 

I just want to go back. The Surrey Knights Swim Club – I started there in 1997, and we had 48 swimmers the day I started. I will tell you a little story about my first day. I probably made a mistake. I went out to the pool and I was there early. I didn’t really know the kids and it was a small team – like I said only 48 swimmers registered with the team – and a girl came by. She looked fit, and she had her stuff with her. She put it down and started stretching. Then another girl came by, and she went and she started stretching. I thought, “Good. They are pretty self-dependent.” They have been going through some of this work on their own, and there was another girl, and another girl, and then I started thinking, “You know, it’s strange. These are all girls for one thing.” Then finally this guy comes up to me – the first guy that I saw. His shirt was half tucked in. He was eating a chocolate bar at the time, and he walks over and he goes, “Hey coach, where do we go?” I looked at him, and I looked at the girls, and I realized suddenly that that wasn’t my team – that was the synchronized swimmers. So my first swimmer was there about five minutes late and not ready to swim. When the rest of them showed up, I put them on the bleachers and talked for a little bit. I introduced myself, had a short talk, and then I said, “Let’s get ready to swim.” For me, “let’s get ready to swim” means get your cap and goggles, get all your equipment ready, and meet me behind the pool. To them it meant something else. They, at that moment, ran off the bleachers, stripping their clothes, throwing them in the air as they are going, cannonballs into the pool, and they are all over the place. That was my first day so it takes a while to change that.

 

General philosophies. First, to understand and appreciate the differences – differences in individual athletes and differences in their stages of developments. Again, that is what I am going to talk about mainly today. Second, to demonstrate respect to the athletes and to build relationships. So those are general philosophies that I have, and I would like to think of it as being underlying within this presentation. Building relationships. My philosophy is that by yourself you are nothing. You need to have people, and you need to have relationships. You can be the greatest coach in the world, but if you don’t have an athlete you are not going to have results. So when I look at building relationships, I think of not burning bridges and being able to work with the media, facilities, and the board of directors – the whole support network. I will talk about that a little bit as the presentation is going on as well.

The athlete development model I am going to present here is one that consists of five different levels – fundamental, and you notice the bold fun, training to train, training to compete, training to win, and I am not really going to talk about this as much, but retirement and retaining. So I am going to skip that fifth stage, but I just wanted to present that as well. With the Surrey Knights Swim Club, here’s the way I have structured the club. For fundamentals we have three Introductory levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold. We have three Regional levels, in which we focus on training to train – Development, Plus, and Elite. For the training to compete level, we have Provincial Development, Provincial Plus, and Provincial Elite groups. Finally, at the training to win level, we have National Development and International Development groups. You may notice that regional, provincial, and national is a scope that goes out from the center – from where we are. So Introductory is more in-house, Regional is the regional area, Provincial is the province of British Columbia, and National and International.

 

Brittany Reimer is the other reference point. Fundamental – she started swimming when she was six years old. She stayed at that level through age 10. When she was 10 years old her time for the 100-meter freestyle, this is long course meters, was 1:14.  From ages 10-13 she was in the regional level. When she was 13 years old her 400 freestyle was a 4:32 – this is all long course meters – and her 800 freestyle 9:16. From 13-16 she’s at the provincial level. When she was 16 – the results you saw there from the World Championships in Barcelona in 2003 – she was 4:09 for the 400 freestyle, 8:28 for the 800, and she was just entering the training to win level. The results? We still need to wait and see.

 

The stages of development. I am going to talk briefly about these different stages – physical development, cognitive development, and social and emotional development. We have a Canadian athlete development model that was developed in the late 80’s, and I think it was published in 1990. It outlines a lot of these and some of that information was borrowed from the Canadian athlete development model. I am just going to show a little graph here before I get too far into this because I think this is an important part of athlete development. Looking at the rate of growth, a baby grows very quickly at first, so that shows a very high rate of growth. But there is a period of time when the rate of growth is steady. That doesn’t mean they are not growing because there is a decline there, but it means that there is just a steady rate of growth before they go through a growth spurt. Then toward adulthood, there is a drop off in growth obviously. Girls and boys have about a two year separation, sometimes referred to as peak height velocity.  Interesting thing here is that stage when they are six to when they start their growth spurt, maintaining a steady rate of growth. Actually, with Brittany Reimer, she had a very steady rate of growth. She is quite tall now, but she grew not in spurts, but at a very steady rate. The thing is that swimmers can learn some great technical skills during that point, before they go all awkward, have difficulty, and their performances are unreliable. Through that stage where they have that steady rate of growth they can learn a lot of skills and it is a great time to try and perfect skills with them.

 

I am going to talk at first about Fundamentals – the 6-10 year range, pre-adolescence. I am going to go through some of this stuff fairly quickly. The physical is the steady rate of growth I just spoke about. They grow about 5-8 centimeters per year and 2-3 kilograms per year. Also, the great thing about having swimmers at this stage is these next two items – there is a great strength to weight ratio and great body awareness in the water. They are very strong for their weight and a great awareness or the ability to teach that awareness. It is a great time to teach the ABC’S of sport – agility, balance, coordination and speed.

 

Cognitive  development. The reasoning skills change throughout this stage. At 6-7 years they understand what they can see – monkey see, monkey do. At 8-9 years old they want to know cause and effect – if I do this, what happens? At 10-11 they can learn a little bit more abstract thought. They find delayed gratification difficult. They enjoy repetition. They enjoy the patterns. You may notice if you do something a number of times with the young children of this age and then you change your routine on them they say, “Oh no, we don’t do it like that. No we like to do it this way.” They like the routine. They like the repetition, and obviously, as I said before they have a short attention span.

 

Social and emotional development. They like to be the center of attention. There is not a lot of awareness for other people. They require a lot of positive feedback. They associate good actions with things that are rewarded and the opposite – bad actions with things that are punished – and they see the need for rules. In fact, if you watch children playing without adults around on the playgrounds, they tend to make rules for themselves. They will come up with creative games and make their own rules or rules to regulate their own behavior.

 

Surrey Knights Swim Club. So now I am just going to make reference to the club and what I have done to accommodate this model within our program. The introductory Bronze, Silver and Gold levels. We run it in sessions. We run through the year three 12-week sessions, and then through the summer we run a miniature version of that as well. They swim 2-3 practices per week, and the structure of this allows the swimmers to come in and out for 12 weeks at a time. They can do a 12-week session, and then the next session they can go and play soccer or baseball or do different activities. So we encourage them to participate in different activities and become well-balanced and good athletes. We run skill-oriented swim meets. I am going to talk about those in a moment. We have a parent education model and actually spend quite a bit of time educating the parents. In fact, I do Power Point presentations for the parents. At the beginning of the season we do an orientation – everyone has to go through the orientation before the child can enter the water. We spend a lot of time with the parents educating them about our Swim Club, the region, or about anything that I can think of that I would like them to know about.

 

We also like to have the children race in practice frequently – at least once per week. And when I say race, I mean timed swims. We have a series of swims that we do with these groups – typically 50 meters of kicking, fly, back, breast, free, 50 meters of swimming, 100 IM, 200 IM, 500, 800, 1000 freestyle, a different IM and a freestyle. We have a star award program. Every practice we award stars and we keep track of those stars and we give out awards for those stars. The swimmers that can accumulate the most stars then get prizes and those prizes are given out through the 12-week session. Then at the end of the 12 weeks they get a little paperweight. It has a little base with a spring on the top, and there is a little star on it. You look around, and the kids love it. We put a little plaque on it with their name on it. We also recognize them at our in-house swim meet. We call those round table tournaments. If you don’t get the joke on that – Knight – Knights of the Round Table – that is how we do that.

 

We give them progress reports. Actually I just talked about the recognition at the round table, so at the end of the 12 week session we award them a bronze, silver or gold medal if they have achieved the standards to enter the following level. So, swimmers that enter our program must do 50 meters over arm front crawl. If they can make the next level, which would be being able to do a dive and swim a legal 100 IM – at the end of that 12 week session we do this round table tournament which includes all of our 110 swimmers – they get pulled up to the front and given a bronze, silver or gold medal. So they actually receive a medal in front of the parents and all the swimmers.

 

There are very clear skill objectives and very clear standards to move up to the next group. A typical practice for these swimmers would be something like this. They come onto the pool deck, and the first 15 minutes is introduction – a bit of deck activity, stretching, and then we put them in the water for one hour. 15 minutes of a continuous warm-up. Typically we only put one or two skills in, and it is just a repeating warm-up. For example, a 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke kick, and it is typically related to the practice that they have done before. They just repeat that until we say stop. So about 15 minutes, and then we go through 15 minutes of technique or skill development. Then we do a little set where they practice repeating that skill – 25’s or 50’s. Then at the end we do our timed swims or racing or some kind of activity – a flip turn game or something like that, plus a swim down.  There is a lot of structure around the introductory program. As we go through into the regional groups and provincial groups there is not quite as much structure because we have to be a little bit more flexible.

 

Introductory bronze, as I said, is the entry level. They must be able to do 50 meters over arm front crawl. We actually have a long wait list for people trying to get into our club. We don’t want to take just anyone. We want to have them swim very proficiently as they enter the club. We just have the round table tournament for competitions for that first group. The introductory silver – they then enter what we call PASS meets, which stands for Progressive Assessment and Skill Sessions. The first level is a dive plus a 100 IM. That is a legal 100IM. Once they can do the 100 IM under two minutes and 15 seconds, then they move to the next level, which opens up so they can swim a 200 IM and a 200 freestyle. 200IM under 4:30 and the 200 freestyle under 4 minutes and they move up to the next level. It is also based off these standards that we award the bronze, silver and gold medals. When they can go a 200 IM under 4 minutes and a 300-meter freestyle under 5:40, then we move them up into the regional groups. They receive their gold medal at the end of that 12-week session, and they begin to compete in the regional levels.

 

So I have taken an athlete development model that we developed in our region three years ago and basically developed our Swim Club around that model. So the competitive program and our club program at that level are completely mirrored. The swimmers, parents, and coaches understand and get really excited about these standards. In fact, at these little PASS meets – they are just 4 hour sessions – the kids line up along the side of the pool doing the IM and freestyle events and yell and scream and cheer, and when the swimmer is done everyone rushes down to the end of the pool to find out whether or not they made their 2:15 for the 100 IM or their four minutes in the 200 IM or whatever it may be. They get really excited. It is almost like they qualified for the Olympics. It is really quite exciting. These PASS meets are emphasized around kicking, so they have kicking events, rhythm endurance events, freestyle and IM events, body positioning events, streamline kicking events, and also some stroke efficiency events – stroke counts plus time. It is based on free and IM, and all the girls and boys swim together.

 

Okay – Brittany Reimer – she participated in a lot of different sports through the ages of 6-10. As I said, she did start swimming at the age of 6. She started in a summer club, which swims outdoors. They go from May to August, and through that period they compete almost every weekend. So she raced a lot, and that was a really good part of her development because she has a huge heart. She loves to race. That is the great thing about Brittany is she really wants to get to the wall before anyone else. She loves to race, and I think a lot of that desire she learned through her experience with her summer league. For that reason I also include a lot of racing in the practices for these introductory level swimmers. She had really good coaching. There was a former national finalist that was coaching the summer club that she was in, and, as I said before, she was racing most of the weekends. So Brittany’s development was a little bit different than what I just outlined with our introductory programs because she came to us from outside. Our introductory programs have just evolved over the last few years.  The interesting thing with the Surrey Knights Swim Club is that I had to make sure that the club was able to develop the speed that Brittany Reimer was developing through it. I have this great young swimmer that came into the program. She showed a lot of promise, and I had to make sure that things were in place for her all the way through her development.

 

Training to train. So, for girls ages 10-13 and boys ages 10-14 –early adolescence – growth is rapid.  Peak height velocity is approximately 12 years for girls and 14 years for boys. Muscles first grow in size, then strength, and then fine motor coordination. Primary and secondary sex changes occur – the differences between girls and boys become more obvious. They are eager to perfect skills. Humor becomes more sophisticated. Their attention span increases. Egocentric thought develops – the thought around self-identity. And they can also start to distinguish between effort and ability. Major motivators are fun, fitness, skill improvement, team and challenge. They need friendship. They need to feel control of their destiny and to accept themselves as they think others perceive them. There is a little expression I will share with you. I will say it once, and then I will repeat it again because it is hard to catch the first time. Sorry, I will just think about this for a second and make sure I get it right. “I am as I think you think I am.” Again, “I am as I think you think I am.” And it is very true of children of this age. They think of themselves what they think other people think of them, whether or not it is true. That is kind of what they think of themselves.

 

At the regional level programs, the training goes from four to six sessions per week, depending on the program. They compete primarily in the regionals, but also invitational level competitions. They begin a basic two-time a week dry land program. We also introduce one weekday morning, and that actually happens to be a long course practice. All of the other practices are done in a 25-meter pool. We also introduce test sets. I said in the introductory program that we do timed swims that are just a straight 50, and then that’s it – you are done. But we start to introduce actual test sets where we write up three 200’s or five whatever – whatever the coach chooses to do with that group. Dmitriy is the coach for that group, and he introduces the test sets. He writes it on the white board, so the swimmers can look at it. It is not very sophisticated at that point, but it is an introduction to that. He also begins to do some goal setting. Again, they have access to look at the results, and Dmitriy does a really good job of writing down all the results from all of those sets they do. He carries it around with him, and then the swimmers can refer to that at any time. So we begin to do some basic goal setting, and, also a very important part, we provide social events outside of swimming.

 

Now in Dmitriy’s program he does a lot of kicking, an incredible amount of kicking, with the swimmers and also a lot of swimming with fins on. When I say a lot, probably as much as 40-50% of the swimming that that group does is with fins. We actually introduce the fins at the Introductory Gold level. They do a little bit of fin work, and then when they get into this level they are doing incredible amounts to emphasize the legs. Also, we do a lot of work with stroke length and stroke efficiency. We try to also teach these swimmers the importance of the dream. We try to teach them an enjoyment for training and also keeping the dream alive, but letting them know that they are good and they can be good.

 

There is a picture of Brittany. Through this period she increased her training. She also began swimming long course. The program is kept freestyle and IM based, and I still believe for her that she needs to swim a lot of IM. I think butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke – although at times it could be pretty ugly, especially the breaststroke – are an important part of her development – to train it and also to race in the different events. Also, swimming focused on rhythm and increasing capacity. We do a lot of work on rhythm. It is a very important part of the program. During that phase she showed very rapid improvement and also the potential to swim in distance events.

 

Training to compete. Here the girls are 13-17, and the boys are 14-18 and reaching late adolescence. Circulatory and respiratory systems approach and reach maturity, heart rate drops, skeletal growth continues but slows. Organization and function of the muscular system stabilizes. Strength, speed and endurance increase, and cognitive skills increase – the brain has reached full size but continues to mature. Swimmers can understand strategies and tactics. They are capable of learning complex motor movements and capable of working independently to improve skills. They are looking for stability and balanced self-image, social activity, and relationships are strong influences. They are vulnerable to negative criticism. They can learn from previous mistakes, and they become aware of moral issues. Within the Surrey Knights Swim Club, this is now the Provincial level program. They are swimming from six to eight sessions per week. They compete at international, provincial, youth and senior national levels. The training becomes more distinct, so more distinct cycles – cycles that I use still. We go through a week or a phase – two weeks depending where we are in the season. We are working very basic skill development and buildup. Just as it states, they are built up. The phases are general endurance, freestyle and IM specific endurance, and then into the taper. Also, with this group I try to instill the qualities of willingness, faith, and trust, and I talk about these three words quite a bit. I explain to the athletes that willingness is the willingness to change. Improvement is changing, and they have to be willing to make changes and be willing to be shaped and molded by the coach. If they are not willing to change – if you say, “instead of putting your hands in this way, I would like you to do it this way” – if they are not willing to make that change, they are not willing to make that improvement. So they have to be first willing. Faith is the faith in their own abilities – in their own skills. And trust – trusting the coach and trusting the program. Again, I refer to these three words quite a bit.

 

Also, I promote participation rather than just strictly attendance. I would love to be able to stand here and say that all my swimmers attend all the practices all the time, from start to finish, but it is not true. So one of the things that I started doing a number of years ago was, instead of just marking attendance – yes/no – whether or not they are attending the practice, I started actually logging down the volume that they swam. Now it is a self-reporting process. After they finish a practice the swimmers have to report to me how far they swam – how many meters they swam in that practice. One thing it does is it makes them reflect on the practice. They actually have to think through the practice. I encourage them to write it all down in a logbook as well, although I don’t take the log books in. Some do and some don’t, but at the end of every month I am able to then graph the numbers. I put it into a spreadsheet. I have a graph that comes up, and I post the graph, which shows the level of participation. It shows how many practices they attended and how far they swam. If you have a swimmer that is always coming in 15 minutes late 7 practices a week, then that could be 7,000 meters less than the group average.

 

During this phase I also do very little specialization. It is the same free and IM base. I believe in a fairly high volume program, aerobic, but also balanced with speed. I think speed is an incredible component. I think going to competitions and racing is very, very important. I like the swimmers to compete often and try to get them to compete in everything, so I don’t like specialization. Also, the training at this level becomes more skill focused. I shouldn’t say more skill focused. It is always skill focused, but my model is around training skills. I never assign a training set without a skill attached to it, and there are basically four different components that I usually look at – kicking, breathing, stroke length or stroke rhythm, and stroke rate. Okay? So those are the four. So every time I write up a set or explain a set it is somehow related to the development of those skills.

 

During the phase when they increase their training from six to eight sessions per week we introduce training equipment. Before this she hadn’t in particular used pulling equipment. She had not really used any paddles, very little work with pull buoy. Of course the kick board she would use and equipment like that, but just very basic equipment. I started to introduce her to the equipment through this phase, so she started to do some pull with a pull buoy, some paddles and then we started to pull with sponges. You have seen the sponges on the rope that you tie to your waist and things like that. I just introduced some of those to her. Also, I now know her school counselor by name and can go into the school any time and speak with her school counselor. We had to start adjusting her schedule a little bit. Her school starts at 8:00 in the morning. Our morning practices end at 7:30. She wasn’t able to get out of the pool, get changed and get to school on time. One of the adjustments we made first of all was lenience for her to be able to get to school late, so she is able to finish the practice until 7:30, get out and change, and get to the school and not suffer any consequences for being about 10 minutes late. They are also able to create some spares and do some things to allow Brittany to travel.

 

This was interesting. We developed a list of people to beat. When Brittany went to Youth Nationals – well, when she first went to her first Provincial Championship – her results were actually really bad. The same thing happened when she went to her first Youth Nationals. She was near the bottom of the pack. She was overwhelmed. She was afraid of the other competitors, and to get over that what we started to do was write a list of people that she wanted to beat that she had never beaten before. It was quite interesting looking at this list. It first started with just regional-level swimmers, people in our area, and we have some very good teams around us and some great competitors that she was able to race against. As she would go to a meet and beat someone – it didn’t matter if it was in preliminaries or finals, it didn’t matter if it was an 800 freestyle or a 200 backstroke, it really didn’t matter what the event was or where the competition was – but if she had beaten them in a head to head race we took them off the list. The list got shorter, and it was first like I said, just a regional area, then it moved to the provincial list, and then to a national list. There are very few women in Canada that she has now not beaten.

 

I want to talk a little bit about her school and her family. She lives in this area called Cloverdale outside of Vancouver, but Cloverdale is a very distinct little area. The thing that people in Cloverdale are most proud of is a rodeo. So they are kind of rural, and there is just this little pocket within their city, and they are very, very proud people in Cloverdale. So Brittany resides in Cloverdale, and she is very proud of her community and her school. In fact, last year we knew that she had pre-qualified for the Olympics, and when she was going to go to the Olympics her mom and dad actually had sacrificed a lot to be able to get her to go to the larger competitions. Then training is quite expensive. They had re-mortgaged their house and made a lot of sacrifices for Brittany, so what the community did was they put together a fundraiser in January of 2004 to raise funds in Cloverdale to be able to send Brittany’s mom and dad to Athens to watch the Olympics. It was actually the MLA in the area got involved in it, and when we got to the event it was quite interesting how many politicians actually showed up. The Premier of British Columbia was there, the Mayor, the Parks Board People, and the School Board People. Everyone was there, and it was an incredible thing. It was actually hosted in the area of her school – kind of a multi area that there are different tiers to. There was an open area downstairs, but they made a very big deal out of it and made a huge presentation. Anyway, they ended up raising $24,000, so obviously they were able to pay for her parents. They were also able to buy a laptop computer for Brittany to do her schoolwork on while she was away, and they ended up with some extra money so the community is now setting that money aside for other scholarships for athletes in that part of our city. But family and community are very, very important to Brittany.

 

Training to win. At this level the girls are 17 and over, and the guys are 18 and over. Essentially, they are into young adulthood, so physically they reach full adult height. Muscle strength and power continue to increase. Physical strength or limitations are fully recognized. They are able to accept responsibility. They can make greater commitments to training. There is a transformation that goes from dependence to independence, and that is kind of where Brittany is right now. As I said, community and her family are very important to her, but she is also – a little part of her wants to kind of break away from that – just like any child when they grow up and they are ready to go off to the University and break away from their family. She is in that stage a little bit as well. They need to be responsible for making their own effective decisions and to become accountable for these decisions. Also, leadership skills are developing. With the Surrey Knights Swim Club, as I started off by saying, we are an age group program, so we don’t have a lot of swimmers that are at this stage – very few.

 

They train nine sessions a week or more. In Surrey we have got very little pool time, and actually the pool time we have is very expensive. I would say we have about a million people a year that go through our Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex – a 50 meter pool – and it is mostly recreational. We get very little pieces of pool time. We pay for a long course lane – $25 per hour – so it adds up very quickly. It is very, very expensive for us, but the facilities are incredibly supportive of the program. I make sure I go in and talk to the facility manager and let them know where we are going and what we are doing – goals and objectives of our club, the results of different athletes, etc. I am at a point right now where I can actually go in with swimmers like Brittany and say I am here to take her for a swim, and I can drop in any time and use the pool outside of the booked school time. The same thing applies with the weight room and some of the other facilities there. We have more events at that facility – repeat invitational, national and international competitions, etc. We increase the dry land training sessions at times during a season, and again I have access to quite a bit within our facility. It is a beautiful facility, fairly new. We have a huge weight room. We have got all the equipment, and we have very good access to that. We are also able to include sport science. When they built our new facility, they first built the 50-meter pool and the leisure pool. Then they built hockey arenas, and they never build a facility in Canada without hockey arenas – they are everywhere. The third phase of our facility was initially going to be just retail. Maybe just couple of shops or something, and what ended up going in there was a company called IMS. Mainly they deal with people that were in car accidents or have been injured in the work place. They have 33 shops there – chiropractic, physiotherapy, massage therapy. You name it, and they have all of that in there. They have a doctor of sports medicine. Last year I rented office space from them, and I actually put my office right in there. So we are positioned right in the facility. We run our dry land program there. They have got a very large area where we do circuit work, and we have access to all of their equipment as well. So I have been able to develop a very good relationship with the facility there. They have been very, very supportive of the program, and they have given me excellent access to all the sports science.

 

At this point the primary relationship becomes with the athlete, not so much with the parent. I sit down and talk with the athlete at this level one-on-one quite frequently, and I talk about how they are doing, goal setting, whatever they want to talk about. I spend quite a bit of time with them one-on-one, and I also try to provide leadership and help to guide them into making effective decisions. I talked earlier about at this level going from dependence to independence, and they have to be able to make decisions and be accountable for those decisions. I try to help guide them if I can be of assistance in doing that. That one I just spoke about. Brittany is just currently adjusting to this stage. She is nearing the end of her physical growth. She does have some issues with posture and muscle imbalance. This year she slouches a lot. She sits a lot in front of a computer and probably on the couch watching TV, so those are some of the issues we have. Also she is tired a lot more. When she was younger she was a bundle of energy. She could just run around all the time and never seem to get tired, but now she fatigues in a number of ways. She gets muscle fatigue. Before, I could throw any practice at her, and she could come back for the next practice and be ready to go again. She is not like that now. She will do a practice and she is more like an adult. She will feel the muscles get sore. She will need to recover from that. She also demonstrates an ability to learn and grow from her experiences, and she is starting to take more ownership of her swimming. So she is not swimming any more for her parents, for me, or for the community, but she is swimming now for herself.

 

Now, Brittany at sort of the beginning – the results from 2003. At that point she was still growing. She would just skip along the surface of the water. Her arms would just go. Her legs would just go. She was a bundle of energy. The Olympics happened at the wrong time because she was approaching the end of her growth, which is to say she was becoming more fatigued. Her internal organs are growing to full maturity. She is getting a little bit heavier and becoming an adult. The swimming is a little bit different for her. The other thing is the way she perceives things. When she was younger, she didn’t care about anybody else. She just thought about herself, and she was kind of oblivious to everything else that was going on. Over the last year she has become more aware. She is now more aware of people around her, what people might be thinking of her, and also being a Canadian hero so to speak. She is more aware of pressures and media and expectations. Although we had that great event – we raised $24,000 for her parents to go to Athens to watch her swim – she now feels a responsibility back to her community, so that it doesn’t come without a cost.

 

I will just do a quick summary of the ADM athlete development model. My point here has been to try and help you understand your athletes, where they are, and how to develop a program and a model for your own club that accommodates these athletes. I believe in developing a systematic program and having very clear objectives for the coaches and for the athletes to be able to move through the program. With the Surrey Knights Swim Club, I had to work on trying to change the culture. My first day, the culture was cannonballs in the water and jumping all over the place. I didn’t really mention, but that first year I had one swimmer qualify for Provincial Championships. We went to provincials, and she didn’t make any finals. Out of 55 or 60 teams in the province of British Columbia, we were last. So we had 47 or 48 swimmers, and we placed last at the Provincial Championships with one swimmer that went there. So obviously I had to change the culture. It helps to get a pool – a new 50-meter pool. It also helped very much to get a great athlete, and, like I said earlier, building relationships. You can be a great coach, but if you don’t have great athletes you won’t be successful. So, I had to work on changing the culture. I had to start at the beginning. So I started with the introductory program and then tried to work up. We now have a lot of great young swimmers. We are not a big team, so when we go to Provincial Championships we are still about 7th or 8th, but we were in 6th place at Canadian Nationals because we can do that on just two swimmers. There is a lot of parent, coach and athlete education, and, as I said earlier, trying to develop the program with the athletes. So Brittany’s success tried to get me to accelerate things – to be able to make sure that things were in place like the sports science, like access to weight rooms. Now all these things are in place for her and the other athletes that are coming behind her. I also feel that the head coach needs to always be a coach. You need to be able to coach the board of directors. You need to coach the facilities managers and the parents. You have to coach the media and so on. These are things that I think I have already said.

 

Brittany also really enjoys the process of training. She likes to do well in training, and she also likes to know that she has done well. She will do a set, and it could be a really difficult set for her. Her face gets red, her arms start to get red, her back gets red, she is out of breath, and she will come to the edge of the pool and say, “How was I?” She wants to know. You know, was that acceptable? Was that good enough? So she really enjoys the process of training. She likes the hard work, and she likes to hear that she has done it well. Now it has been a difficult year for Brittany. As I was saying at the beginning, the result at the Olympics was 17th. I think she is going to be great though. I think she has a good future in front of her. She still loves to train. As Peter was saying at the beginning, she is not here right now because she broke her foot, so we had a small setback. This competition, I think, would have been perfect for her, but she is going to develop into a wonderful young lady, and I think she is going to be a fierce competitor. I have a lot of faith in her.

 

I am going to put up her progression. Short course meters from 10-15 years of age. I actually didn’t include last year’s results because she has been 16 only for a half a year. So when she was 10 years old she had never done a 200-meter freestyle, 400, 800 or 1500. She was on a summer club. That is when she came to the Surrey Knights Swim Club, and then you can see the progression through the different events. She’s 54.0 for the 100 freestyle, which is not bad short course meters for a 1500 and 800-meter freestyle swimmer. That was actually done after the World Championships in Barcelona. After she was done at that meet, we did a little training camp in Montreal, and we went to US Nationals where she was actually first in the 200 freestyle. She won the 200 freestyle at 2:06. Then she went to the British Short Course Nationals. Through that phase she did really well at World Championships in the 800 and 1500, pretty good in the 400, but as she went through that series she started to sprint better, and she showed more promise in her shorter faster races. So a 54.9 I was quite impressed with at that point – that was the end of that summer in 2003. Short course and then long course – it is hard to find 1500’s in Canada. We don’t have very many 1500’s for the women. I was trying to get more of them to add to her progression.

 

You are welcome to visit our website at www.surreyswimming.com, or you can also email me at SurreySwimming@shaw.ca

.Thank you very much.

 

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