Monday, May 27, 2013

Better vs. Faster

We have always been amused at how the English (and we suppose all) language is used. We are especially intrigued when it comes to which words are chosen to describe various activities as they relate to swimming and coaching since these are topics near and dear to our heart.

Often we find coaches, swimmers and parents using the words “better” and “faster” synonymously. We find this amusing and or confusing. It seems to us that often the “better” swimmers aren’t actually faster and the “faster” swimmers are not actually better.

So we looked up the words in the dictionary and this is what we found.

Under “better” we found this:

Comparative of good
(1): Greater than half better part of an hour
(2): improved in health or mental attitude better
(4): More advantageous or effective better solution
(5): improved in accuracy or performance better engine

Under “faster” we found this:

A: characterized by quick motion, operation, or effect: 
(1): moving or able to move rapidly: swift 
(2): taking a comparatively short time 
(3): imparting quickness of motion fast bowler
(4): accomplished quickly
(5): agile of mind; especially: quick to learn fast students

B: conducive to rapidity of play or action

When we consider our swimmers we are always asking ourselves: Is the swimmer getting better – more advantageous or effective; improved in accuracy or performance?

If this is happening then we are certain that the swimmer is usually (though not always) getting faster – moving or able to move rapidly.

In competitive swimming we are concerned about the “fast” element. To get faster we need to teach/coach/swim “better.”

In our minds the transitions goes like this. The better you get the faster you go. The faster you go the more your flaws are revealed. This then gives you another round of things to work on so that you can get better and then faster. When this happens additional flaws are exposed which gives you more goals to work on so you can become better, and faster and establish new goals based upon the flaws that get revealed due to your new speed.

It is in fact a never ending cycle, which is actually a good thing in that there is never an “end of game” moment where one stops improving. The ultimate goal is to keep getting “better” not necessarily “faster”. Don’t believe us? Ask any Masters swimmer…

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