Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Q and A time....

This question has come up a lot lately so I thought that I would answer it in a larger forum... Hopefully this answers most questions people have

Q. Why is the HHBF schedule changing so much at the beginning of the season?

As the head coach (and a parent of young children), I can understand the importance of routine. I know how inconvenient a fluctuating schedule can be, but trust me, there is a method behind this craziness…

Week 1 – Typically in the past, we have not started Intros or Minifins until the second week of our season. The reason behind this strategy was to make sure that the coaching staff had the senior-most groups under control before adding most of the new comers. This season we kept with the same philosophy, but made some necessary changes…

a.) No morning workouts on week 1. This was in an effort to not kill our athletes the first week and ease into things. There is a similar reason why dryland starts in October… we are trying to ease our athletes into the season. It’s a LOOONG season!
b.) This season I kept the Elite group out for week 1. This season, the Canadian Age Group Championships begins 1 week later than last and will finish on August 1st. Given that most of the athletes in that group will be at Age Groups, I wanted to start their season a week later so to not occupy their entire year with swimming… everyone needs a break.
c.) With no mornings and the Elite group absent during week 1, the Regional Development group, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze were able to monopolize the pool making for more space, more coaching a more convenient schedule for most on the first week.

Fluctuating morning times – HHBF shares the pool with the GDHS Rebels High School team which has practices every morning 6:30-8am from Mid October to March. When we added morning practices, a large concern for parents was the 5:30am start time (which I can assure you is NOT abnormal for a competitive swim team). We were already going to extend our morning practices to 2 hours when the high school practices were not going on (for the higher groups). In an effort to make things easier for as many people as possible, we have decided to run the HHBF mornings from 6:00-8:00am to allow for some sleeping in. We realize that some athletes will need to leave early to get to school and we’re okay with that. Based on how things are going so far, it looks like this plan will be successful, but we can always examine other options if it is not. Chris and I will keep track of the situation and make adjustments only if we feel that they are crucial to the development of our program, not as a direct response to attendance.

Another curve ball that Chris, Ian and I have to work with is considerable limitations in pool time. We share the pool with 2 high school swim teams, a synchro team and town programs. At the end of the week, there are only so many hours that are available to us (short of swimming at midnight). In order to compete with programs that train 22hours/week, we need to get creative and train SMARTER. Chris and I have planned out a season that will benefit from increased and reduced pool times (depending on the season) and have carefully planned our training cycles to correspond so that we are training as smart as we can. I am very proud of our creativity here and am very excited to show that it will work.

HHBF was tremendously successful after the “radical” changes we implemented last season. Make no mistake, this was not an accident; Chris and I worked very hard planning how things would turn out. This season, Ian, Chris and I have worked even harder to come up with ways to top our success and to become a larger, stronger team. We are extremely confident that this season’s changes will create a better team of athletes.

I get so excited when I talk about my season plan… I love my job!

BTW, check out this cool video about the Gold Medal winning American Medley Relay in 2008. This was BY FAR the most exciting race ever in my opinion. You could argue that I am backing the wrong team here, as a Canadian, but come on... this was soooo awesome!

Mike Thompson
Head Coach