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Vacation In June: The Coach Was Not Happy

Written By: Pam Swander

Going on vacation in June- the coach was not happy. Here’s why:

Given the opportunity, kids pick up basic swimming skills quickly. They can also develop bad habits just as quickly if left on their own. Water is very forgiving and there are many ways to move in the water, but some of those ways are simply more efficient than others. Learning these techniques to swim efficiently will set kids up for a lifelong success and enjoyment in the sport.

Good age group coaches offer skills and drills, using a vocabulary that encourages the systematic application of these efficient technical skills. My most simple list of basic skills and drills for the developmental swimmer has 80 separate concepts. For example, in my mind’s eye I have a gold medal preferred freestyle that I have deconstructed down to the simplest of skills and drills to teach beginner swimmers: position 11 kick, laser beam eyes, eye-spy breathing, pirate breath, rainbow arms, fingertips to the bottom, you get the idea.

The biggest challenge for me and other coaches is that we teach these skills and drills while kids are holding their breath, horizontal, working against the resistance of the water to move, all in an unnatural environment. Consistently reviewing, correctly repeating the desired movements in the water builds a sturdy foundation for future success. The development of swimmers’ foundational skills matter in the long run and repetition is KEY to building the foundation!

Let’s consider the impact of the 1-week vacation in June. Generally, spring break through June is the key time to prepare for the July team championships. Most coaches plan the season in cycles.1st cycle to build skills, 2nd cycle is peak training and last cycle fine tunes. June falls during the peak training of cycle 2. Missing this cycle of training, even the best swimmers struggle to deliver desired results at the team championships.

For those who want to continue to improve and achieve the fact is, timing is everything. Spring break and August vacations are ideal. Taking advantage of long holiday weekends like Memorial and July 4th can be acceptable. If you must go in June, go early, find a team at your destination, and ask if you can practice with them. Your coach may be able to assist you with finding a team.

To keep pace with a specific training group most teams have recommended meets to attend and number of practices to attend each week. Following those recommendations gives your swimmer the best opportunity for a successful season.

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.

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