Q: I coach a diverse group of adults in my Masters program. At most practices, I have swimmers of all ability levels with different reasons for swimming. Not everyone is motivated to compete or even get faster. What are some safe challenges I can give my swimmers?
A: Understanding your swimmer’s goals and the factors that motivate them to swim is the first step of incorporating safe, new, and exciting challenges to your program. If you haven’t asked each of your swimmers what those goals and motivations are, take the time to do so. Next, ask each swimmer, “What would you like to change about your swimming?” Some may say they want to get faster, feel more comfortable in the water, improve stroke technique, or even fit into smaller clothes or impress their physician with improved physical metrics during their next appointment. If your program is as diverse as you say it is, you will get a wide spectrum of responses. These responses will help you integrate new and exciting challenges because they match the needs of your swimmers.
Whether you’re a competitive swimmer or not, challenges help keep us engaged with the process of being in the pool. Let’s not confuse competition with challenge. To many, conquering the challenge builds confidence, is more important than measuring time and distance, and is more important than comparing results to others.
The list of safe challenges is endless, but I’ve collected some ideas below:
Set attendance goals. Some swimmers may want to be challenged to attend a certain number of swim practices during a week, month, or yearLearn a new stroke. This could include learning the new stroke, swimming the new stroke in practice, and swimming the stroke in a meet.Reduce stroke count. Counting the number of strokes to swim each length of the pool often results in more focus on better technique and less wasted energy.Improve streamlines. All swimmers benefit from a better streamline off the blocks and walls. Even open water swimmers can practice streamlining.Incorporate underwater dolphin kicks. Many swimmers with a strong small amplitude kick will benefit from adding this to their freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly starts and turns.Speed up the turns. The purpose of the turn is to change direction. An optimal turn accomplishes this faster while using less energy.Learn to dive. Many new and seasoned swimmers have difficulty diving. It’s something that should be taught and practiced in a supervised safe setting. Once they’ve mastered this skill, swimmers may be more willing to participate in a swim meet.Practice bilateral breathing. If your swimmers don’t naturally breathe to both sides, teach them the proper breathing technique and have them practice breathing bilaterally.Use ePostal challenges. A USMS ePostal event and the training leading up to the swim can benefit all swimmers in your program. Encourage your swimmers to pick the 1-hour swim or a long distance swim based on their ability and desire.Try a swim meet. Find a swim meet, or host one yourself, that is welcoming to the novice swimmer or swimmers returning to competition after a long time away.Go open water swimming. Introduce the freedom of open water (OW) swimming by organizing group swims—with proper supervision and safety—for swimmers new to the open water environment. Begin by teaching the skills necessary to swim open water in the pool.Use test sets. Regularly scheduled test sets can help you measure your swimmers’ improvement. And rather than just having them swim a 500 for time, get creative and mix up the distances.Encourage less reliance on equipment. Weaning swimmers off pull-buoys, paddles, kickboards, and fins might be more of a coaching challenge. Encourage the swimmers to use equipment only when the workout specifies its use.
USMS promotes the Check-off Challenge, an ePostal event designed to motivate swimmers to complete 18 pool events and an open water swim during the calendar year. The pool events may be swum in a meet or practice in any combination of SCY, SCM or LCM.
Some LMSCs promote challenges like the Florida LMSC Leather Lung Award. This award is given to swimmers who complete all 18 pool events in SCY or SCM, all 17 pool events in LCM, and/or all five USMS ePostal championships during a single season.
As a Masters coach, you should celebrate the accomplishments of your swimmers. This celebration can take place during practice, on a website, in a newsletter, or at a team gathering. There’s a good chance that once swimmers have mastered the demands of one challenge, they will gain the confidence to take on another, thereby staying engaged with your program and swimming for a lifetime.
Updated June 17th, 2016 at 01:07 PM by Editor
Q: Do you supply the Spark?
A: I always look forward to the fireworks display on the Fourth of July. The brilliant explosion of colors and the sounds that follow ignite my memories of displays I've enjoyed with family and friends in the past. While the public displays with their lengthy and large bursts of colorful lights are fascinating, it's the fireworks my friends and family detonated ourselves that make me smile the most. Maybe it's because you strike the match, you light the fuse, and you anticipate the outcome of your actions.
Sometimes I get the same feeling when I light a spark in one of the Masters swimmers I coach. The shouts and smiles of success and accomplishment renew my passion for our profession.
Ask yourself: Do you deliver a spark to each of your swimmers every day? Do you teach them a new skill, create a new challenge, or help them establish a new goal? Do you display a passion for coaching by not just writing a good workout, but by delivering it with a smile and burst of energy?
Disney and hundreds of other theme parks conclude each day with a magnificent fireworks display as they send us out their gates smiling happily, albeit tired, looking forward to our next visit. Well, I think we all know a few Masters swimmers who are really just grown-up kids loving the energy and excitement of the fireworks a Masters coach brings to every practice and leave yearning for more.
I challenge you to be the spark!
Updated July 6th, 2015 at 10:43 AM by Bill Brenner
taken from http://john-badassrides.blogspot.com...from-here.html
Today was not exactly what I would call a banner day on the road less traveled. That would be the road to being a superhero (or at least the one toward being forever out of load-pile-land). In fact from where I sat at two I would have said "you can't get there from here."
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So the past two to three weeks I've been seriously in a funk, out of the loop, whatever you want to call it.
We've pushed up to 4 practices a week in the pool. I'm really thankful for it. I love swimming so much that another day is very welcomed! My times are dropping little by little and my endurance is building up pretty quickly. I'm doing my best to beat everyone around me. I have some serious competition though. Brian's been keeping pretty much even with me in everything. Anne and Laura have been kicking my butt unless its in pull mostly because I rock pull something fierce.
As a result of me gaining strength in swimming: I can afford to go on less sleep (significantly less sleep). When I don't sleep well, I don't eat well. When I don't eat well, I don't feel as good. When I don't feel good, I don't lift. If I don't lift, I don't sleep as well.... its a vicious cycle. I've also been drinking more than enough. I've also been eating a TON. I've been more hungry these past couple weeks than I was all summer long.
So - time to reset. I'm a little hungover this morning so I didn't go in to work.
Goal 1) Lift at least 5 times by next Saturday.
I have swimming Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
I have basketball on Wednesday.
So I should be able to lift today, Saturday, Sunday and maybe Monday.
I'll take Tuesday and Wednesday off to make sure I can play basketball (its the semi finals for our basketball league) and swim immediately following.
Then I should be able to lift Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
This is great! I should be able to get back on my 3 days on, 1 days off pattern as recommended by my trainer
Goal 2) Get my diet reorganized.
I'm going to focus back on intelligent eating. I need turkey, chicken, a loaf of bread, tons of veggies, bananas, berries, and a gallon of milk.
Goal 3) Get my rest. (~8 hours a night)
Before I started swimming I could pretty much function pretty efficiently on 3-4 hours of sleep a day. Once I started - I had to start getting more like 8-9 hours of sleep. Now that I'm finally starting to get stronger in my swimming, I'm starting to drift back down to about 6-7 hours of sleep and my body is letting me know that that's not cool.
Alright - that's my trinity of goals. There's absolutely no reason why I should not be able to make those goals with the exception of me holding myself back.
Okay. Time to eat breakfast finally and make these goals a reality!
So I'm going to be swimming in the Park Ridge 1500 on June 26th. It will be my first time ever doing a solid mile. Ever.
The very next day, I'm going to swimming in the 50 back/50 free/100 free up in Appleton for the Badger State Games.
Now - I'm not exactly nervous. I've swam 2-3 miles in a single practice before. That's really no big deal.... This time its different though. This time they're in an LCM pool (and I'm used to the SCM pool I practice in right now) and this time they're in front of people who aren't just swimming next to me.
Now for those of you who've never read this, or really don't know me here's the twenty second background: I have recently discovered "athleticism" in the past 2 years. Before that I was in a lot of activities, but never very athletic or competitive. So this new drive to be good, if not great at something and to not lose, and to push myself to my furthest horizons is very fresh and very powerful in my heart right now.
So right now I'm going to put out my goals for this meet and talk about how I plan to achieve them.
My goals for the 1500:
1) Maintain a consistent pace with no more than a 3-4 second deviation between any two laps.
2) Keep my *average* split time under 1:50.
3) Finish the race strong, even with nothing left in my body.
4) Dolphin kick off the wall at least 80% of the time.
My goals for the Badger State Games Meet:
1) Under 35 in the 50 Free (its LCM, a whole new beast for me)
2) Under 1:30 for the 100 Free
3) Under 45 for the 50 Back
4) Dolphin kick off the wall for my ONE turn.
5) Dolphin kick after my glad for the back.
6) Don't screw up my Back start.
So in the 1500:
I'm going to keep my eye on the clock if possible. I swim about a 2 minute 100 (SCM) in practice when I'm totally fatigued. I've never swam a straight 1500 before. I don't think I've ever done more than 600 straight. In any case, I think coming in really fresh should give me the ability to do at least the first 20 laps around or under 1:50. I'm also going to finish the last lap or two all out. There's no excuse to have anything left in the tank after that.
Nutritionally - I'm going to make sure I have enough long burning carbs in the body. This is probably going to be (minimum) a 25 minute swim for me. So some complex carbs (shredded wheat) with my usual protein in the morning!
In the BSG Meet:
I'm going to push myself pretty much to absolute limit on each race. I want to make sure that I give 100% in all 3 races. By this time, since its the day after the 1500, I should be pretty used to the idea of an LCM pool. I'm planning on showing up an hour early for warm ups and make sure I get *at least* 4-5 laps (preferably about 10) in so I can get a feel for the pool. I have 1 turn in this meet, I do NOT want to screw it up.
Nutritionally - Since the meet doesn't start until about 1 PM, I'm going to eat a very solid breakfast (I do every day, but I'm going to make sure I have it properly balanced to give my body what it needs). Then I will be snacking on some faster acting carbs with protein right before my first event and between each of my events.
For Both Meets:
I'm going to step it up another day and get a 4th practice in per week at another pool as a guest. It will actually be the same pool as the Park Ridge 1500, so I will be getting familiarity with the pool as well as giving myself another opportunity to swim. Besides, mixing up the LCM and the SCM might do me some good!
So even if I don't win (which - logically speaking I probably won't win anything). I will at the very least have beaten my goals. Which is what this counts for! Some day I may be competitive with the rest of the world, but for now, I'm just going to have to keep racing myself.
That being said - does anyone have any suggestions for where I could improve further upon my goals? Any ideas for things that will give a novice swimmer a last minute boost?
I went to noon AGUA workout today and just did some easy swimming. I’m still feeling a little lightheaded from Wednesday, but things are definitely getting better.
The workout involved various different pacing and effort levels, but I ended up swimming it all easy except for some fast turns and breakouts and an occasional 3-5 stroke cycles at race speed. I worked on some technique keys (BR head position, BK elbow bend, FR head position) that I hope to do well in my races in Atlanta.
Here’s the workout I did:
6 x 150 @ :20 rest
5 x 100 @ 2:20 [I moved down a couple of lanes for this set and the next, since the fast lane had 7 swimmers and I was just taking it easy.]
12 x 50 choice: 3 @ 1:10, 3 @ 1:05, 3 @ 1:00, 3 @ 55
2 backstroke starts [Coach Craig’s tip: head further back when in start position]
I felt good in the water by the middle of the workout, and enjoyed just taking it easy. I was glad to get in a bit of work on my BK starts, but only did 2 because starting on the bulkhead really chews up the skin on my toes. Maybe I’ll ask if they can put in a touchpad Monday morning to do some more BK start work—I think the pool has some (I don’t think they’re the high touchpads like will be in Atlanta—but any surface would be better than the bulkhead).
I’ve been a bit of a slacker about writing down my goals and keys for each race in Atlanta. That’s partly because I really am not sure what to expect. I decided to attend this meet somewhat late in the season, and my reasons—I thought it would be fun to go to a major meet with a big team, I could combine it with a trip to Alabama to see my mom, and I wanted a distraction from other goings-on this spring—didn’t really have that much to do with achieving individual swim goals. My overarching aim at the meet is to enjoy a fun few days of swimming, and to feel like I’ve gotten the best that my body could do out of each swim.
But I do also like to have numbers to shoot for, and I was feeling at a bit of a loss there. It’s been years since I’ve tapered for a scy meet, so I don’t have a set of recent yards tapered times to aim for. Most of my best yards times are from my early 30s, and many of them seem so far out of reach as to seem daunting. But yesterday I remembered the swim rating calculator. I decided to comb through my old times, determine my best swim rating in each of the events I’m doing, and see what sort of time it would take to beat that rating at my current age (44). It turns out that those times yield a nice set of challenging yet achievable goal times. Hurray for swim ratings!
So here’s the pertinent info for my first day of swimming at nats (Friday):
Masters/Lifetime PR: 5:13.51 (1999) (1:12.9, 1:22.8, 1:26.1, 1:11.7) (84.4 swim rating)
40-44 PR: 5:20.62 (4/2006) (1:17.8, 1:20.2, 1:31.6, 1:10.9) (SR=85.3)
2010 best: 5:33.43 (January) (1:17.3, 1:24.6, 1:36.4, 1:15.1) (SR=84.1)
Time needed to beat best swim rating: 5:28.47=85.4
Other goals: a well-paced race
Keys: relaxed FL, establish rhythm on BK, head down on BR, exuberant FR, accelerate into walls on all strokes.
Masters/lifetime PR: 34.08 (2000) (87.1 swim rating)
40-44 PR: 34.83 (3/2006) (SR=87.0)
2010 best: 35.52 (3/21) (SR=86.8)
Time needed to beat best swim rating: 35.38
Other goals: <35?, good turn
Keys: build into fast turnover on first few strokes; head down; coherent, powerful turn
Masters/lifetime PR (and coolest-ever splits): 2:26.52 (2002) (35.10, 37.14, 37.14, 37.14) (SR=83.4)
Best swim rating: 2:31.30 in 2009 (SR=84.7)
40-44 PR: 2:30.07 (2007) (SR=84.2)
2010 best: NT
Time needed to beat best swim rating: 2:32.34
Goals: <2:30, a well-paced swim
Keys: still head; think rotation on 1st 3 strokes off each wall, then push turnover; accelerate into walls