Swimming consistency is a success cornerstone. Consistency in swimming counts in training and plays a huge part in how swimmers race.
Swimming is a lifestyle. Not just a sport, and in our case, not just a way of making Monica’s lungs stronger to prevent asthma, but a true and honest part of her daily routine.
Success at swim meets does not come without commitment and routine. Every morning at 10:00 am Monica packs her bag, puts on her swimsuit and dad coach drives her to the pool for training. No complaints, no question about the program. Just happy to do what she loves the most.
We love our swimmer for this commitment and it shows in her results.
At the beginning of every season, we set goals. In May this year, we set goals differently than before. At age 6-9, Monica set goals to work hard, please her coaches, make new friends and so on and so forth. (We always keep her goals age appropriate and measure the results towards the end of the season.)
May 2017 beginning of the new season: “Mom, I understand that we all swim for medals. This coming year I do not want to swim for medals, I want to focus and swim for my times.”
What a proud moment. Our swimmer is growing up. She now wants to set her own target times and see how close she can get to swimming that time at each event.
Therefore, we set times as her goals for the 2017-2018 season. I always break goals down into short, medium and long-term goals, which we did in May this year.
At the first Age-group swim meet, Monica already achieved some of her goals and by July we are already adjusting the goal card.
Swimming consistency and progression:
Swimmers like Nathan Adrian is extremely consistent and talks about it often. What makes these swimmers so different from others? Why is consistency so important?
Swimmers progress through level swimming step-by-step as they swim the next required qualifying time. Swimming’s long-term development program depicts that young swimmers should not specialize in a particular stroke at an early age. The 200 IM, as a result, is one of the qualifying times age group swimmers need to achieve before leveling up.
In order to achieve the qualifying times, we need positive, motivated swimmers. A positive experience in training combined with solid and consistent support from family, friends, coaches and the swimming fraternity creates positive swimmers.
Swimming consistency in training, daily routines, and positive attitudes create motivated swimmers that do their best in training and at swim meets. Motivated swimmers progress through the swimming ranks easily as they meet the qualifying standards.
Swimming consistency builds muscle memory.
Stroke correction at a young age is so important. We always believe that our approach to swim correctly rather than fast contributes to Monica’s consistency. Listen to coach, concentrate and do what you need to do the right way. If you swim correctly, it becomes easier. I personally think that butterfly stroke is an issue with young swimmers. Many of them are reluctant to try swimming it as it is traditionally perceived to be a tough stroke (and it is but please do not tell them that).
Having said that, we just spent more than 12 months working on correcting Monica’s butterfly stroke.
Monica experienced a breathing problem in February 2016 during the 100 fly at Level 1 Provincial Champs. She developed a fear to swim butterfly as she could not breathe. We did not pressure her to swim this event, rather took time out and worked on fixing the problem.
The results speak for itself. We achieved this goal by swimming butterfly every day. One length, two lengths building it up to 4 lengths (100-meter) at a time.
We consistently work towards making her physically stronger, work on breathing and build her muscle memory to a stage where it is now easy and natural to swim butterfly.
Swimming consistency as a measure of progress and muscle memory.
2016 was a very frustrating season. Reason being that we know how much Monica trains, how committed she is to swimming and her consistency shows in the training log book.
Racing, however, is another story. Swimmers around us took anything between 5 – 20 seconds off their racing times, yet, there we were – flat-lined.
At the time we did not understand why Monica work so hard and does not improve her times.
I believe in a visual approach. Therefore, I plotted her times to produce these 3 race time graphs to see what is actually happening. The graphs represent her meet times over 2 seasons: March 2015 to May 2016 and then May 2016, to March 2017.
Let’s take a look at the 3 graphs. Looking at July – December 2015, it looks as if the graphs basically flat-lined. From May or the first swim meet the next season, the graphs slowly drop.
With slowly I literally mean – s-l-o-w-l-y. Hundredths of seconds. At first glance, it just looks as if nothing is happening but towards the end of 2016 the times are coming down.
Swimming consistency, therefore means even though we perceive the meet times not to drop, it does come down just slower and over a longer period of time. What is impressive here is the consistency maintained across all 4 strokes. This might very well be a good example of the aim of the Long-term development program where swimmers do not specialize in a particular stroke at a young age.
There is a method to the madness after all.
Monica is so consistent in training and in racing that we now are able to predict her meet times. We are having a bit of fun with it to see who is able to make the best prediction – Dad coach or Mama coach?
In conclusion, a message to the swim parents speaking so often to us about Monica’s times. We understand your frustration when you know your swimmer works hard and improvement is slow.
Do not despair, there is a point in time when it all comes together and the swimming times drop sufficiently to move the swimmer to the next level. In some cases, it takes longer for some age group swimmers to improve times than others but it does happen.
Improving times does not happen at every meet and parents should not put the added pressure on swimmers to feel that there is an expectation to swim faster every single time. We pick our battles and carefully select meets where we set clear goals backed by a reward system.
What happens if the goals are not achieved? Not much. We head back to training with a clear vision of where we are at this point in time, where we would like to be and then consistently and systematically work towards our goal.
Be supportive, keep your swimmer positive and do not let negativity slip through the cracks.