We take children from 4 years old irrespective of whether they can swim. A child who can’t swim or can for example swim just five metres will start in the teaching pool, learning water skills and developing correct stroke technique in accordance with the National Plan for Teaching Swimming.
How is training structured?
With our younger swimmers the emphasis is firmly on a good grounding in stroke technique. Taller and more physically developed children may do well in short races with an imperfect stroke, but they will struggle as they get older, and a well practised bad technique will get more and more difficult to correct. For older swimmers emphasis is increasingly on building stamina, but stroke correction may be necessary on individuals, and some of this is built into the training in the form of “drills”. Achieving full swimming fitness does entail a lot of time spent swimming length after length of the pool; top swimming coaches are united in their belief that there is no substitute for covering adequate meterage. Training however is more scientific than this and our fully qualified club coaches write session plans for each squad and often for individual lanes for each and every training session. These sessions form part of an overall program, which runs throughout the year – hence the importance of attending as many sessions as possible to derive the full benefit. As with all competitive sports, coaches are guides and teachers. The swimmer must want to learn and should set their own goals and targets using their coaches and parents as guides. The following slides provide some guidelines on goal setting and also some facts about one of the most important “technical” aspects of training, starts and turns. We recommend that every swimmer commits as a first medium to long-term target to an appropriate number of training sessions per week. See guidance below.
Starts and Turns
How many sessions should you attend?
The ASA Long Term Swimmer Development (LTAD) guidelines stress that training volume should steadily increase as the child gets older. The attached slides from the NWSWPC swim summer camp 2012 provide guidance.
These slides should be used as a guide only as children develop at different rates with the childs’ actual age not necessarily the same as their training age. Parents should hence interpret this guidance with care. If the child is doing too much, fatigue will have a negative effect, not enough and the only advance will be due to growth. As an example, for an 11 year old girl at the bottom end of the training times suggested, the 12 hours “could” be allocated through 1.5 hours of athletics per week, 1.5 hour of gymnastics, cycling etc, 2 hour PE at school and 7 hours pool training. That equates to 5 swim sessions per week. For a 9 year old boy at the bottom end it could be 1.5 hours football, 1.5 hours athletics, 1 hour PE at school and 3 hours in the pool. That equates to 3 sessions per week in the earlier slots. For a 14 year old girl or 16 year old boy, an increase to 12-13 hours pool, land and gym training per week would fit the guidelines that would equate to six 1.5 / 2 hour sessions per week.
What must you have on poolside?
Absolutely mandatory is that all swimmers bring a drink with them to training. In a 1 hour session, a swimmer can loose up to 2 litres of fluid. This fluid loss must be replaced by taking a sip of a drink each time a set is completed. A 1 litre bottle of fluid is hence minimum provided that swimmers are properly hydrated on arrival. Swimmers who have not drunk enough prior to a training session will normally not be able to concentrate properly. Water is optimal but a cordial drink is also quite acceptable. Coaches can and will exclude swimmers from a session if they do not have a drink with them. It is also essential that each swimmer in J and T squads have at the minimum a kick float, pull buoy and fins, finger paddles and drag shorts are optional. Without these pieces of equipment swimmers will not be able to participate in all the training and will most likely hold the rest of the group up.
Should you participate in other sports?
The time commitment required to excel in competitive swimming is probably higher than in most sports BUT participation in complementary sports like athletics, cycling and gymnastics is crucial for optimal development. That is because agility, balance, coordination etc. are all essential skills for correct stroke technique, turns and starts. The ASA through their Long Term Athlete Development policies recommend that all swimmers, especially at the younger end participate in several complementary sports on a regular basis.
What about gym work?
Swimmers should not undertake gym training without specialist guidance. Misguided exercises that build up the wrong muscle groups can actually impede swimming performance, and excessive weight training at too young an age (below sixteen years) can be physically damaging. We do not currently have any training of this type. Land Training is very useful for swimming fitness, its principle benefit being improved flexibility and core strength. We currently have a land training session on Wednesday evenings at Salt Ayre for the later session swimmers. Please see Sophie Casson on poolside for more information.
ASA rules relating to Drug Use in competitive swimming
Every swimmer must read the following documents relating to drug use in swimming: Anti-Doping Rules