Originally Posted by alexau
I am about to coach my first swim team, and would like some suggestions on how to create a good training plan for my swimmers. I swam for 8 years, and have had two years of coaching experience in a different sport rowing. I have fifteen swimmers total grades 8-12, boys and girls. Our practices will be 90 long. How can I make sure to get a balance between dryland, distance and sprint, as well as spending time on individual stroke development?
Thank you for any suggestions
If you're going to be coaching a swim team (as opposed to a triathlon team), then the "Swimming in Triathlon" section of this forum is not the best place to post your question, since many of the people who frequent this section may have never done competitive swimming, while many of the people who do competitive swimming may not frequent this section..
The first thing I'd suggest you do is to find out where the kids are coming from in terms of their swimming. If you are taking over an existing team, you should find out what they've been used to in their practices, and the same is true if this is a new team but some of the kids have done competitive swimming in the past. I'd suggesting talking both to the kids and to their parents, since you may not get exactly the same story from both. You should also observe and, ideally, record their various strokes so that you know what you're starting with.
The more you are going to be deviating from the regimen the kids have been used to, the more explanation you should be prepared to give for why you're doing what you're doing. Be aware, too, that if not much attention has been given to stroke technique in the past, the kids may think their technique is good even though it's not.
A good resource I'd recommend getting is Art Angst's book Long Strokes in a Short Seasons
, which is available through this site:
Art is a coach who transitioned the team he was coaching from yardage-based practices to technique-based practices. Keep in mind that 8-12-year-olds are not likely to be doing all that much distance in competition, so any distance you have them do in practice should be planned as an opportunity for them to practice technique.
The general plan I'd suggest you adopt is to spend most of the practice time having them practice technique at relatively slow paces, and to mix in times when they practice maintaining that good technique at faster stroke rates.
There are a number of dryland drills we do in Total Immersion that are designed to help swimmers develop and perfect good technique in the water, and those can be particularly useful if you are limited to 90 minutes in the water per practice but have some time with the kids on deck before they go in.