View Full Version : Improving our sport

July 11th, 2009, 01:50 AM
Within the last two years there has been a lot going on in the world of swimming, from the Olympics to Worlds. There has been a lot more articles been written about our sport with increasing popularity. We have two large icons in the world, Phelps and Torres, and they seem to be doing a lot for the sport.

The main question is how do we keep improving our sport? Do we try to get more mainstream press our do it through other channels of media? How should we define improvement?

These are the questions that I have been asked many of times from both myself and others. I would like to see what other people's thoughts on it our.

July 11th, 2009, 04:33 PM
The main question is how do we keep improving our sport? Do we try to get more mainstream press our do it through other channels of media? How should we define improvement?

I have some ideas how to improve swimming, at least at an age-group level. Masters Swimming is really quite different from Age-group for the majority of swimmers: Masters seem, for the most part, to be satisfied with standard meets and standard training, as long as they can remain active. Age group athletes perhaps need a bit more stimulation and excitement to avoid bordom, tedium and burn out.

I always felt that the most exciting races in swimming were of the "horse-race" category: two or more swimmers going head to head and competing hard against each other rather than racing the clock. Some of the best races I have ever seen, both for the swimmers and the fans, have been what we call "Eliminators". Eliminators take two forms.

1. Eight racers line up on the blocks and sprint fifty metes. They repeat this "all out" effort every two minutes. After the second round, the slowest swimmer is eliminated. The repetitions continue until you have one winner. Prizes, both gift and cash, are given for the top four, the value of the prize increasing with each round.

2. Eight racers line up for an 800 meter race. Eliminations start after the second 100 meters. Slowest racer at the touch is eliminated. Prizes are awarded, value is based on level of advancement.

These sort of races create that personal conflict feeling that ramps up the emotional involvement in the sport. Instead of having a interminable day of watching swimmers go mindlessly up and down a pool, the specators see a series of exciting horse races.

I thought it would be great to set up a "Sprint Meet" early in the race season to get the kids involved in racing just for the fun of racing while they are still a little rusty from the off season (not that there is much of an off season any more). Keep the races short, have "Eliminators", arrange for head to head challenges between old rivals (we all had "that jerk" that we wanted to beat just once in our day, did'nt we?), have an "Iron Man" prize for the girl and boy who performed best in an average of 50 meter sprints in all four strokes. Maybe you could require all "Iron Man" competitors to sprint 50 meters of each stroke and then the top eight or sixteen would have to compete in a 200 meter IM at the end or the meet.

Just as a "Pie in the Sky" idea I had was to have a "15 to 17" and "Seniors" meet where a good (used?) car is the grand prize for the "Iron Man" competitor. Open the meet up to kids across the nation and call it "Drag Racing for Pink Slips". Just see how many teen-agers turn up to win their first car. Some friends and I actually considered doing this since one of our group had an old jeep in good repair that he was willing to put up.

I played with this idea for years, especially the early season "Sprint Meet": most people loved the idea, but the old boys network that actually runs the age-group meets would not budge off their policy of staying with the standard meet schedule: anything different was considered a complete waste of time. To them swimming is not meant to be fun and exciting: it has to contribute to the national quest for Olympic gold at all times. Little to they realize that to get Olympic gold the swimmers have to remain engaged and excited by swimming long enough to mature into their physical abilities.

July 13th, 2009, 09:36 AM
And in the world of ag swimming so few really make it into the Olympics.
I think it is illegal for amateurs to swim for valuable prizes, otherwise those are asome really cool ideas. You could do something like that and not give a car away. That would be a wild early season meet!