For most families, Christmas is time off and relaxation. For swimming families (and coaches families) its one of the busiest times of the year... In fact, any time there is no school, typically its a busy time because coaches can flood the swimmers schedule with training time. Ideally, its nice to get away during this time frame to some place warm and leave your regular life behind. Since I do not feel that we're quite there yet, I decided to try to keep it as interesting at home as possible. Similar to last year, I was able to get the Elite group out of GHIP and travel to a few other teams across Ontario (Brantford, Brock & ROW) to expose them to different training partners, different coaches and some long course meters. The changes this year included Elite, Platinum and Regional Development adding a bit of Yoga inspired flexibility and core training. Gold, Silver and Bronze were lucky enough to experience some dryland training/team building with Swim Ontario's Steve Topham as well as a guest speaking and skills session with former National team member (and great coach) Kristy Lyon.
Christmas Training has been really successful for most! Speaking about Regional Development, Platinum and Elite, specifically, I think that this season's domestic training was hugely successful and will prove to have been effective for those who made good use of it. Major success of note: attendance was up about 100%. Last season we would average about 17 people showing up for workouts. On Monday January 3rd, we had 35. It doesn't get much better than that for attendance. The swimmers that were able to participate, were run through some gruelling workouts which served to better a lot of habits and demanded focus and attention to the tasks. I believe that we have a lot of better swimmers as a result of the past 4 weeks of training. One thing that drastically needs improvement is season long attendance. Some swimmers were really struggling to complete the sets because they're attendance previous to the mini-camp was lower than it should have been and they were not in the shape that they were expected to be in. Even those swimmers. however, got major gains from attending and are now far superior than they were only weeks ago.
Gold Silver and Bronze all got to work with Steve Topham (Swim Ontario's strength and conditioning consultant) and had lots of fun doing it! Watching the session was a lot of fun for me as well. Not only is Steve extremely knowledgeable of human strength and kinetics, he is also masterful at bringing together kids for team building. Those athletes had a ton of fun there. We were also able to procure Kristie Lyon (former head coach of the Sarnia Rapids Swim Club) to work with these groups on dives turns and strokes. Elite, Regional Development and Platinum got to work with a former team mate of mine, Sara Havekes, doing some Yoga inspired strength and flexibility training.
The objective was to make sure that we were training effectively as well as having fun. Had we been away on a training camp, we would not have just done 1 or 2 practices per day: we would have had a day planned out. I wanted to make this as much like a training camp as possible; when you're away at a camp, the day doesn't stop at a couple of practices. I wanted to help the team do as many activities as possible to assist in team bonding and betterment in our key areas (a surprising 16 people showed up to toboggan and have fun in -20 degree weather). I am pleased with what we were able to put together and am sure that we're going to see some great things for 2012.