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View Full Version : What to expect a USMS Stroke Clinic



MSK
January 10th, 2018, 09:03 PM
So I'm signed up for my first Masters stroke clinic scheduled next month. I've swam with a coached Master's group for about 2 years now but was never previously on a swim team. (I learned to swim through a 197Os style Red Cross program.) I've competed in one very small swim meet and 8 open water events. In my two years with masters I've learned how to do flip turns, butterfly, streamlines, relearned breast the modern way, and improved my form with free and back. I've had four different coaches giving me sometimes contradictory advice on form. 2 of the coaches focus on form a decent amount the but the other two are conditioning oriented. I've signed up for the stroke clinic in hopes of getting more useful help on form since I'm not getting enough at my home pool.

So my question is what should I expect and is there anything I should do to prepare? I'm a little nervous about whether I am fit enough to last all morning. My typical workouts are 75 minutes rather than half day and 2200-2500 yards - occasionally up to 3000.

Any advice would be much appreciated

__steve__
January 10th, 2018, 11:01 PM
As a stroke clinic, I would expect the class not to involve as much conditioning as in a workout. Definitely eat plenty beforehand, sometimes snacks are included. You may also be spending a great deal of time in the water listening to instruction, and if your body looses heat quickly, just in case, it might be a good idea to have your wetsuit on deck if you got one. No need to be nervous about level of conditioning.

Gary P
January 11th, 2018, 01:17 PM
I just did a USMS stroke clinic in November. 4 hours sounds like a long day, but it's not a physically demanding course at all. If you can do a 75 minute, +/-2500y workout, you have more than enough stamina for the clinic. Other than the initial warmup, you will only be swimming 25's, with plenty of rest, and mostly with fins. The format goes more or less like this:

-Drill demonstration
-Swim a 25 doing the drill
-Plenty of rest while the on-deck instructors (1 per lane) dole out individual feedback
-Swim another 25 doing the drill
-More individual feedback
-If the primary instructor thinks the majority of the people understand the drill, he/she will move on to demonstrating the next drill in the progression. If not, he/she will have the group do another pair of 25's to cement the current drill.

The majority of the clinic will be focused on freestyle, although all 4 strokes will be addressed.


I would consider myself an advanced swimmer. I competed seriously as teen in the 80's, and came back to competitive swimming through USMS about 3 1/2 years ago. I saw great improvements in the first year, culminating in an 11th place AG finish in the 400M free at the 2015 Summer Nats. After that, though, my performance plateaued, and I went 2 years without any breakthroughs in my core events. I recognized that the only remaining opportunity to get faster was through technique improvements, as I'd hit the limit of time I could devote to conditioning. My Masters Team coach is a great leader, team builder, encourager, and is good at helping beginner swimmers improve. She's been unable, however, to give me the feedback I've needed to fine-tune my stroke. I was seeing minimal gains trying to self-diagnose and self-coach technique, so I signed up for the clinic.

I enjoyed a near immediate ~2 second/100y improvement in my long distance freestyle pace. The clinic only just touched on butterfly, but the "butterfly specialist" coach accommodated my request for some quick one-on-one feedback at the end of the clinic. My butterfly sprint speed hasn't really improved, but, using the feedback I received, and the drills presented, I have retooled my fly stroke to enable much greater endurance. I continue to use parts of the freestyle or butterfly drill progressions in my warm up ahead of any race-pace training sets.

I would HIGHLY recommend the clinic to just about anyone of any skill level above outright "beginner."

flystorms
January 11th, 2018, 02:30 PM
I echo a lot of what Gary P says. The good thing about having different coaches is getting a little different perspective from each one. Sometimes a coach will tell you something, but you're not ready to hear it and so another coach will hit it a different way that will resonate. It goes true with both technique and endurance. You learn from each one.

And the clinics that I've been involved with are back and forth with on deck teaching/discussion to learning in the water. You'll be surprised at how quickly the four hours will go by and how much you'll learn. Another thing is if you get an opportunity to do an immersion clinic - one that runs a couple of days (like the Gary Hall clinics or whatever), you get some intensive training. I saw major changes in my stroke/times after that and have been able to hold these changes.

Bottom line, don't be nervous. There are people of all skill levels who will be there with different needs/perspectives. You'll get a lot out of it and the best part is meeting some new peeps along the way.

aztimm
January 19th, 2018, 03:06 PM
There's one of these USMS clinics coming to the Austin area in a few weeks. Along with the clinic, they're also doing USMS and ALTS coaching clinics. They've sent several emails about it; roughly every week or 2. Not sure if that's what they do for locals, or if they are trying to fill the spots.

I've been swimming with masters groups for about 20 years. I had limited swimming experience before that (I knew how, did a few triathlons, etc.). Over the 20 years, I've swum with some great teams, with fantastic coaches (some have been USMS, "Coach of the year"), and have received an enormous amount of feedback.
On average I might swim in 1-2 meets per year and about the same number of open water events (some years more, some years less). I've never considered myself a, "fast swimmer," by any stretch of the imagination, but when I do compete do it more for fun, and to gauge any progress, or lack thereof. At my age, I doubt I'll ever get any faster than I am today.

The coaches scheduled for this clinic are Mel Goldstein and Bill Brenner. Has anyone swum with either of them and have feedback to share? If you'd rather not post publicly, feel free to PM me. I think I've heard of Mel, perhaps from these forums, but have never heard of Bill. There are some bios on the event announcement (https://www.clubassistant.com/club/clinics/reserve.cfm?c=1758&cid=76740), but personal feedback would definitely be appreciated.

I'm just wondering if a clinic would be worth anything to me. The cost is $50. It is half of a day on a Sunday. It is way on the other end of town, nearly an hour drive each direction. I guess I'm just trying to rationalize what benefits I may get out of this for the money, time, and effort I'd need to put in just to get there.

Allen Stark
January 20th, 2018, 10:58 AM
There's one of these USMS clinics coming to the Austin area in a few weeks. Along with the clinic, they're also doing USMS and ALTS coaching clinics. They've sent several emails about it; roughly every week or 2. Not sure if that's what they do for locals, or if they are trying to fill the spots.

I've been swimming with masters groups for about 20 years. I had limited swimming experience before that (I knew how, did a few triathlons, etc.). Over the 20 years, I've swum with some great teams, with fantastic coaches (some have been USMS, "Coach of the year"), and have received an enormous amount of feedback.
On average I might swim in 1-2 meets per year and about the same number of open water events (some years more, some years less). I've never considered myself a, "fast swimmer," by any stretch of the imagination, but when I do compete do it more for fun, and to gauge any progress, or lack thereof. At my age, I doubt I'll ever get any faster than I am today.

The coaches scheduled for this clinic are Mel Goldstein and Bill Brenner. Has anyone swum with either of them and have feedback to share? If you'd rather not post publicly, feel free to PM me. I think I've heard of Mel, perhaps from these forums, but have never heard of Bill. There are some bios on the event announcement (https://www.clubassistant.com/club/clinics/reserve.cfm?c=1758&cid=76740), but personal feedback would definitely be appreciated.

I'm just wondering if a clinic would be worth anything to me. The cost is $50. It is half of a day on a Sunday. It is way on the other end of town, nearly an hour drive each direction. I guess I'm just trying to rationalize what benefits I may get out of this for the money, time, and effort I'd need to put in just to get there.

I was at a clinic they gave and it was well worth it. Mel is a coaching legend and very knowledgeable. Bill was great , very knowledgeable also. I was especially interested in his knowledge of breaststroke and had fun picking his brain about it. The clinic was great.

flystorms
January 20th, 2018, 02:04 PM
Tim, definitely go. Bill is a good coach with tons of experience. I think itd be worth having a new set of eyes on you

JPEnge
January 22nd, 2018, 09:34 AM
Want to do one of these sometime... maybe I can swing the one in Chicago in August or Indy in October.

Really I want to apply for the High Performance Camp but I can't quite justify $2k and a week of vacation days this year :P

Swimspire
January 24th, 2018, 12:01 PM
While I can't comment on the USMS stroke clinics specifically, I do feel that the more knowledge you have, the better off you are as a swimmer, which is why clinics can be very helpful. Even if you feel comfortable with your level, there are always improvements to be made, which is what keeps swimming fun and challenging.


Clinics can vary in terms of effectiveness - each clinic is going to take a different approach. I would suggest seeking out clinics that will be limited to smaller groups - or that have good coach-swimmer ratios. The more individualized the clinic is, the more you will get out of it.


Also look at the amount of pool time vs classroom time. Unless you're more interested in theory than in practice, the more time you spend practicing the stroke technique in the pool within the allotted clinic time, the more benefit you will derive from the session.


Finally, look into whether video analysis is offered. This is so important to be able to see yourself, have someone point out your areas of weakness, and figure out how to eliminate those weaknesses. This in turn can help improve upon areas of your stroke that might be prone to injuries, thus helping avoid present or future complications.


Hope this helps!

JPEnge
January 24th, 2018, 12:22 PM
While I can't comment on the USMS stroke clinics specifically, I do feel that the more knowledge you have, the better off you are as a swimmer, which is why clinics can be very helpful. Even if you feel comfortable with your level, there are always improvements to be made, which is what keeps swimming fun and challenging.


Clinics can vary in terms of effectiveness - each clinic is going to take a different approach. I would suggest seeking out clinics that will be limited to smaller groups - or that have good coach-swimmer ratios. The more individualized the clinic is, the more you will get out of it.


Also look at the amount of pool time vs classroom time. Unless you're more interested in theory than in practice, the more time you spend practicing the stroke technique in the pool within the allotted clinic time, the more benefit you will derive from the session.


Finally, look into whether video analysis is offered. This is so important to be able to see yourself, have someone point out your areas of weakness, and figure out how to eliminate those weaknesses. This in turn can help improve upon areas of your stroke that might be prone to injuries, thus helping avoid present or future complications.


Hope this helps!

Julia, would you happen to know if there's a list of some Master's oriented clinics/camps out there anywhere? I see on your Swimspire site you have some in Florida, but as I alluded to that kind of trip would be a bit out of the cards for me at least this year.

I can't imagine the demand is THAT high so I'm guessing the list would be pretty short, but just thought I'd ask.

swimark
January 24th, 2018, 04:43 PM
Julia, would you happen to know if there's a list of some Master's oriented clinics/camps out there anywhere? I see on your Swimspire site you have some in Florida, but as I alluded to that kind of trip would be a bit out of the cards for me at least this year.

I can't imagine the demand is THAT high so I'm guessing the list would be pretty short, but just thought I'd ask.

USMS Stroke Development Clinics;
http://www.usms.org/content/usmsstrokeclinics (http://www.usms.org/content/usmsstrokeclinics)

Swimspire
January 25th, 2018, 10:13 AM
Julia, would you happen to know if there's a list of some Master's oriented clinics/camps out there anywhere? I see on your Swimspire site you have some in Florida, but as I alluded to that kind of trip would be a bit out of the cards for me at least this year.

I can't imagine the demand is THAT high so I'm guessing the list would be pretty short, but just thought I'd ask.

JPenge, beyond the official USMS stroke clinics, I'm not aware of a comprehensive list of Masters-oriented clinics. This is mainly because - unless they are hosted by a nationwide company - they are often locally organized and advertised. Hope you can make it to one of our clinics! Even before I moved to Florida, we loved hosting clinics here, especially during the winter months to escape the cold. Most pools are outdoors which is also a very pleasant experience.

If you can't find a clinic, or if there isn't one nearby that meets your criteria, a video analysis of your stroke technique is also very beneficial. These days it is so easy to upload a video from your phone and send it along for analysis - this way we are able to analyze swimmers' strokes, whether they are in the US or abroad. A video analysis is a great way to not only see your own stroke, but as I mentioned earlier to get a sense of what areas you need to improve and how to improve upon them.

MSK
January 25th, 2018, 12:41 PM
Julia, would you happen to know if there's a list of some Master's oriented clinics/camps out there anywhere? I see on your Swimspire site you have some in Florida, but as I alluded to that kind of trip would be a bit out of the cards for me at least this year.

I can't imagine the demand is THAT high so I'm guessing the list would be pretty short, but just thought I'd ask..

I would love to learn about other stroke clinics as well. USMS only has one clinic in 2018 that is day trip distance from my home. My local YMCA has done a few one hour clinics that technically open to the public but are not advertised beyond our pool. If I knew about similar events at other pools within 1-2 hours of home I would sign up. Maybe we should publicize local events on this forum. Personally by budget and my available vacation time prevent destination clinics as great as they might be

aztimm
October 23rd, 2018, 07:17 PM
My LMSC sent an email a few days ago about an upcoming clinic in the area:
https://www.clubassistant.com/club/clinics/reserve.cfm?c=2482&cid=80142

For this one, I really have no excuse, the pool is about 10 minutes from home, and the cost $35, so I already registered. Not sure who the instructors are (I didn't see it listed), but figure if I can get some work on my free--and especially fly--all the better. I can manage to swim a 25 fly occasionally (and have swum 100 IM at a few meets), but it really needs some help. I used to have a goal to be able to swim (legally, without stopping, and without breaststroke kick) both the 200 fly and 400 IM, perhaps there's hope for me yet.