Written By: Pam Swander
Coach didn’t move your kid up to the next group. It may just be the best thing to happen to your swimmer, and here’s why….
Group moves are not a small change in the lives of swimmers and parents. The change in schedule can potentially affect other activities, friendships, carpools, team dues, coaches, commitment level and expectations. Therefore, if your swimmer didn’t get moved up to the next group with her/his buddies it may be the best thing to happen and here’s why:
Skills Matter! Taking the time to prefect basic competitive skills before taking a big jump into a more challenging training group will serve your swimmer best in the long run. Swimmers must be able to perform certain technical skills consistently in practice and while racing before adding another layer of training. When swimmers are moved to a more challenging group, ideally they will want to be competitive in multiple strokes and distances in that group.
Becoming a Lane Leader! Now is the time to step up and learn to lead the lane. The view changes when you are at the front of the pack. Leading a lane drives their concentration since they must listen to instructions, focus on the training intervals, and learn to keep track of their lengths. Taking the responsibility to lead a group will go a long way in developing a swimmer’s ownership for their own success.
Developing Determination! Demonstrating eagerness when it comes to practice attendance, meet participation, and prioritization of the sport is a learned behavior. It takes resilience and determination to keep a disciplined schedule and stay the course. It takes some swimmers longer than others to master. Therefore, it is important to be realistic about where your swimmer is on The Commitment Continuum. Remaining a season in their current group allows them to focus on skills, leadership and determination, which will move them toward “Compelled” and help them reach their full potential in the sport.
Lastly, trust your team’s group placement philosophies and guidance in teaching your swimmer to take ownership of the sport. This is critical to self-development and success. A major part of ownership is building a relationship with his/her coach through open communication and trust. As parents, you play a critical role in how your swimmer thinks and feels about this process, and I encourage you to practice open communication by setting up a meeting with your coach if you have questions or concerns about group changes.
Pam Swander is a veteran coach who has coached at every level of the sport from summer league to college. NCAA Division I coaching roles include Clemson University, Indiana University and University of South Carolina. Coach Swander has helped her teams and athletes achieve at the highest levels of the sport - Olympic Trials finalists, World and American world record holders, NCAA, SEC and Big10 Individual Champs and Big10 Championship team titles. Over her college coaching career, she has garnered international experience by accompanying many of her athletes to international meets and championships, including the 2008 Short Course World Championships in Manchester, England where Kate Zubkova won a silver medal while representing Ukraine and IU. At the club level while serving as South Carolina Swim Club’s Head Coach (2016-2018) the club achieved Bronze Medal recognition in the USA Swimming Club Excellence Program and won 2016 LCM and 2017 SCY State Championships. For six years as North Regional Manager and Senior 1 coach at SwimMAC Carolina she oversaw eight Junior National Championship team titles. She achieved club management recognition while serving on SwimMAC’s leadership team helping MAC earn Gold Medal top honors in the USA Swimming Club Excellence Program. She collaborated with MAC coaches to develop and implement SwimMAC’s high-performance initiative. The program produced Olympian Kathleen Baker, and eighteen, 18-Under Olympic Trials qualifiers who went on to have outstanding college careers. As a result, CEO & Head Coach of SwimMAC Carolina, David Marsh received 2012 Developmental Coach of the Year award from USA Swimming for having the most 18-Under Olympic Trials qualifiers in the Nation. In addition to her elite-level coaching experience, Swander has developed community swim lesson curricula, coached High School, served as both the Director of USA Swimming’s Select camp, and the Vice Chair of Hospitality on the U.S. Olympic Trials Committee, and represented Indiana Swimming as a Delegate at the USA Swimming National Convention. Pam is married to Jeff Swander and their two children, Laura and Kevin, became top swimmers at Auburn University and Indiana University, respectively.