Thursday, December 2, 2010

Q&A Time

Here are some questions from the mailbag. Hopefully they answer the question for more than one person, as I know that people have questions that they don't always ask.

Q. Hi Mike. Just wondering where I would look for swim clinics for my athlete. I keep hearing different swimmers from our club are going to them but I'm not sure who offers them as I would like to sign him up.

A. HHBF has only been included in 2 camps/clinics away from our pool this season. The first one (swim Ontario learn to train camp) in October was a selection camp. Our swimmers were selected based on best times from last season. The one this weekend is a submission camp. The criteria for enrollment was 2 "b" standards maximum of 3 swimmers per club.

The Gold group had Jen Noddle come in for a breaststroke clinic in October and Jen Button come in to do a fly clinic with the older athletes in October as well. I am always on the lookout for new opportunities for our swimmers of all abilities. A problem this season is that clubs and regions are finding that these clinics and camps are not economically viable so there are not as many. We will continue to find as many opportunities as possible for our athletes going forward. I'm not sure that there is much you can do as a parent shy of doing the Swim 2 Win camps during March break. Those can be found on the swim Ontario website.

Q. How does my child move up in the new HHBF structure? Please explain the structure to me…

A. This season, HHBF has adopted a structure that is performance driven. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it makes things easier on your fees. HHBF will not have to rent hours of pool time for ¼ or ½ groups that have not qualified for a meet and have to stay back at the pool to practice; everyone in the group has the general standards to all go to a common meet which means that no one should be left behind (elite is slightly different and may end up in this situation when certain individuals qualify for SNC National meets).

Secondly, our new group structure conforms better to Swim Canada’s Long Term athlete development plan. The groups toward the top of the club are driven by time standards which shift with age (ie: 11&U, 12, 13, 14, etc). In order to gain entrance into the Platinum group, for example, one must have at least 1 Central Region (or “B”) standard. These standards change with age, so the training intent here is to steadily develop over time (not to peak at age 12) and not only consistently obtain these standards, but to exceed and obtain higher standards. The standard to move into the Elite group is currently 2 “A” standards, although most athletes in that group have Provincial and National level time standards.

The Regional Development group was developed to assist athletes who have difficulty qualifying for Central Region Championships. This group is dedicated to training athletic abilities that will assist in obtaining these standards, such as agility, coordination, aerobic capacity (especially with kick), etc. I am very involved in this group, although I am not the main coach for it. This group has been remarkably successful this season in bringing the mean average standards achieved up to a “D” standard. This is a significant achievement for Coach Chris Henderson, since many of his athletes have gotten their first charted standard this season. I am very proud of the results of this group. This month, 2 athletes from this group have moved into the Platinum group by achieving B standards.

The Gold group is a training group which focuses on getting athletes ready to make the jump to the groups ahead (which have much more pool time and dryland training). Dryland training is introduced in the Gold group as a teaching tool. This group spends a lot of time working on quick, controlled movements to improve agility coordination and flexibility (range of motion) and learning how to do exercises and training sets properly so that they are not lost when they move forward in the club. Athletes from this group will move in 1 of 2 ways. 1.) If they achieve a “B” standard, they are eligible to move to the Platinum group directly. 2.) If they are 13 or older and have not obtained a “B” standard, they will move into the Regional Development group to hone their skills with more pool time and dryland time.

Bronze and Silver are both training level groups where athletes are all learning the fundamentals of the sport and learning how to train under coach Ian Cunningham. The standards for moving into or between these 2 groups are training ability based. Ian will evaluate: “Can this swimmer keep up with the athletes in the group above?”, “Does this athlete understand enough about the basics to move ahead and not get in the way of the group above”, “what has this athlete’s attendance been like”, etc. Ian and Chris make a group decision on athletes moving between and beyond these groups to make sure that the athletes are best prepared for moving forward.

Intro-Comp blew me away last year. Shannan Andrews did such a great job with them that we had them going to meets late in the season and they were quite competitive at those meets. I loved where it was going, so I gave this group an extra hour/week. We kept them training 3 consecutive days for the purpose of learning. We found that younger athletes were able to practice and remember skills better when their practices were closer together (rather than 3 days apart). This group specializes in stroke, turn, dive and fundamental teaching and Shannan is doing a great job of it. Athletes that are selected to move are selected usually by their ability to do more swimming. Athletes that are able to execute proper skills, attend meets, perform strokes turns and dives legally and have a high attendance rate are usually best suited for the Bronze group. Minifins and Intro Non-Comp moves are done usually by age and ability.

For administration reasons, moves will happen only happen on the first of the month, but may not happen every month. Moves depend on the availability of qualified athletes and space in the above groups.

Our club has gotten fantastic results so far this season with this training structure, and I believe that we will continue to. I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve in this small 11 ½ week time span.