Sunday, June 20, 2010

What We Learned This Week

In no particular order we amassed a significant amount of new knowledge while simultaneously reconnecting with bits and pieces we already knew but had lost contact with from the past. And isn't that just like most darned near every week? That's what gets us excited each and every day. What follows is a sampler of our last 7 days.

Monday we had Day One at the Dominican University Summer Swim Camp. Since this was the first week the University had ever had a Swim Camp none of us knew exactly what to expect. We had several kids who are competitive swimmers and about twice that number who could barely side breathe. What we learned: Have plenty of staff, be patient, teach only the basics and most of all make it fun. They will tell others and all kids and parents with kids talk to each other. By Friday everyone was swimming better.

Tuesday was our first conversion day at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, CA. They built a new 40 meter by 25 yard pool (the district didn't want any summer long course competitions held) and we have morning access. This is our long course water for the summer. It works great for our team. It is a trick to turn 16 lanes short course into 8 long course. What we learned: Give everyone assignments, help them realize the value of "teamwork", time them (they are competitive swimmers after all - Tuesday = 15:48, by Saturday we got down to 10:12) and make certain all the various workout groups finish together so everyone is still in the pool and willing to turn the pool back to short course.

Wednesdays we take the afternoons off for recovery purposes. It was a good thing because even after two mornings of long course the kids were showing the signs of long course training fatigue. What we learned: long course fit plus short course speed makes a very dangerous long course (we suppose even open water as well) swimmer.

Thursday was our third consecutive long course morning workout. The team is getting used to more open water. We took our foot off the gas a little and got more out of them. Then in the short course afternoon workout we went more for power than speed using parachutes. What we learned: Give swimmers (any athlete) a judicious mix of work and rest and they respond very well indeed.

Friday we have no morning water due to pool cleaning. It was Day Five at Dominican Swim Camp. We weren't as prepared as we wanted to be. The next four weeks will be easier having gone through a week. What we learned: We will spend time refreshing our skills and then testing them. They can see and feel their progress. Making certain kids feel successful is the singular most important ingredient in their continued participation in any activity...swimming is no different in that regard. We also had great results from giving them a simple Certificate of Completion plus a ribbon. This isn't a fancy swim camp like those run at bigger institutions. This is a fun and learning experience. We all - staff and campers alike - did both this week.

Saturday we had our final workout of the week. We went long course. We had some swimmers at meets and some doing things for Father's Day so attendance was lighter than usual. We had some individual sets that addressed specific needs. It was a great week and we set ourselves up for next week's aspirations. What we learned: Have a good mix of long course swims building up momentum one lap at a time with faster short course swims blending speed and power; always do kicking sets since legs make the whole stroke go and the swimmer's ability to finish races...this all builds the most important muscle in the body - confidence.

Sunday was the final day of the 43rd Annual Santa Clara International Swim Meet. Four years ago we had one swimmer at this meet. This year we had 11 entered individually plus 2 others as relay swimmers. We had a swimmer who qualified for finals and four free relays, one of which finished fourth and one ninth. What we learned: Starts are critical even in long course as a poor start puts you behind the proverbial 8 ball with the first wall half a football field away. Keep at your craft pursuing excellence whenever possible. That one swimmer four years ago made finals this year. Our team is growing up and able to compete at this level. We have college swimmers coming back to us this summer for the 2nd year. It makes a difference. It is important to build loyalty to our program since those college swimmers help define the path and light that path for the high schoolers behind them. Finally, some swimmers need to stay with their college program in the summers for a variety of reasons. We know that we are in the development game, always working in the best interests of our young people, giving them the skills they need to succeed in the pool and life.

It was a fine week, not perfect by any means but rather one to be proud of and to build from beginning tomorrow morning. Hope yours was also and goes well too. Let us know how we can help!

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