Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Last post for a few weeks...

Hi everyone. Due to a million and one things that I have to focus on in the next month, this will be the last post for a while. Until March, big meet performances will be linked from here to www.haltonhillsbluefins.com... and we have some BIG performances coming:

Ontario Cup - January 21st-23rd
Central Region Championships - February 3rd-6th
Eastern Canadian Championships - February 17th-20th
Provincials - February 24th-27th

AND it looks like I'll be joining Team Ontario to the US Grand Prix in Indianapolis, IN from March 1st - March 6th. Thanks to all of our big performers and performances this season for allowing that to happen!

I was looking at the recently amended record board and noticed that we have broken 32 records since September (not including the records that were broken more than once). To date (still a meet left this weekend), we have 19 people qualified to go to Central Regions and 6 people over qualified. We have 9 provincial qualifiers, 5 AGN qualifiers and several other HUGE achievements this season... and its ONLY JANUARY!

A quick peak in the mailbag and then I've gotta go.

Q. Do you think its fair that some 11 or 12 year olds are much bigger than others but they all compete in the same category.

A. No, puberty is a performance enhancing drug. Sadly its the kids that grow first that typically dominate the age category and there isn't much that we can do about that. The only reassurance that I can offer is that it all comes out in the wash... meaning that big kids only keep that advantage until everyone else catches up... then the field is leveled. Just because you're smaller than your competition now doesn't mean that you're out of it. Jeffery Swanston from the Newmarket Stingrays is still a small guy compared to his competition (while on top of the podium after winning 200BK at a recent international meet, the bronze medalist on the step below him was still taller) but is still able to dominate races (1:57 for 200BK).

Q. How are meet events selected?

A. There are many answers to this question because there are many different meets. Very generally, the coaches use a complex database which keeps as much info as you will feed it with. For younger swimmers, this is mostly times. For the swimmers in the Elite group, this can include, heart rate, stroke count, stroke rate, time, etc for the races I have that info for. This program reminds me the ages of these athletes, which meets they qualify for, how close they are to other meets, when they age up, etc. Given that anyone that wants to qualify for a Provincial level meet must meet distance FR and IM prerequisites, we must train these athletes to swim every stroke and train them to be able to swim every race.

Depending on the time of year, Ian may want to test his athletes and have them swim all 4 100s at a meet to see what is improving the most. If an athlete is struggling, Chris may want to put them in an event that has a higher potential for a best time. I usually keep my athletes swimming distance events to keep them in touch with distance swimming and like to throw tougher events at them (200FLY, 400IM) when there are no important meets around and they're been training hard... because I'm mean like that.

Its a very tough question to answer for coaches as a whole because its a big picture question, but I'll do my best to summarize it by breaking it up this way:

Intro/Intro-Comp: Beginners need to have a general feel for the basic races like 25/50FR and 25/50BK before they can get more complex. At the beginning of the season, we start them with those races and slowly build through the season.

Bronze/Silver/Gold: These swimmers need to learn to swim everything technically well because this age is when they learn to do it best. These groups work on a lot of skills and meets can be a great asset when trying to practice these skills under stress (when they're tired, excited, scared, etc). You can practice something at our pool until you're blue in the face (which actually happens) but there is no better place to practice kick outs and not breathing off of walls than in Etobicoke while you're swimming next to someone who wants to beat you. When they're ready to move through the club and go to higher level meets, these skills will be huge assets to them.

Regional Development: Usually these athletes will swim their best events in order to allow them to score a Central Region qualification, but occasionally they will swim off events to keep their confidence up and to expose them to different skill sets. It sometimes happens that while working on a certain skill in practice, an off stroke suddenly becomes one of your better events (Taylr Cawte's sprint Freestyle comes to mind).

Platinum: Due to the success of Ian and Chris's groups there are two type of platinum groups. A. swimmers that swam with me last season and B. swimmers that flourished in the skills model. Athletes that worked with me last season need less off event work because they have swam basically every event at this point. I will still swim them in off events because the program has changed since last year so I need to check out every stroke and every event to see where major gains can be made. New athletes to the group are still missing a lot of events because they are young (not all events are offered at all ages) and had been sticking to the skills model. Both types of athletes need time to develop their best events (and related events) to qualify and peak at Central Regions.

Elite: These athletes have not really specialized yet, but definitely have best events. What I found this season from the training we have been doing is that very few of them have a worst event. These athletes are all around provincial level so IM training is a must, and part of that is RACING all 4 strokes in as many different ways as possible. It is not a stretch for many of them to do tougher events and accept that challenge with excitement. I will usually swim them best events early in the season to get qualifying times, then switch to off events for training, then go back to best events just before championship season in order to qualify, or better their seeding.

As I said before, it is a very difficult question to answer. If you have a question as to why your coach has put you in an event, ask. I'm sure that they will be very open about that specific case.


Thats it for me, I've gotta go. Check back from time to time. I cannot post video on HHBF's website so I will be posting that kind of thing here (Races, people I see/meet, etc) so keep checking the blog. At worst, it will just refer you to the HHBF website.

Enjoy February and SWIM FAST!