Collegiate Pool Logo

It’s not all about the swim session program

30 June 2023

Throughout my extensive coaching experience, I have observed that swimmers, parents, and coaches often place excessive importance on the swimming programs themselves as the key to improvement. However, based on my own experience, I believe that the session program serves as a mere guide, and that a swimmer's ability to make progress stems from the way information is delivered, real-time feedback from the coach, and the careful breakdown of details within the written program.

For instance, a session may outline a warmup covering a specific distance, but it is crucial to break down the purpose and discipline behind this warmup in order to enhance the swimmers' skills or pace, which can then be applied to the main set. The coach must be willing to adapt and modify the planned program if the swimmers are not achieving the desired results. Additionally, the coach should be able to recognise and address any external factors that may be impacting the swimmers during the session. It should always be acceptable for the coach to actively work on each session and make adjustments to the program details in order to achieve better outcomes for the swimmers.

The program's structure should prioritise improvement. If the desired skill or pace is not being met, the session needs to be adjusted. For instance, if the main focus is on maintaining proper body position off the wall, but the swimmers are unable to achieve the desired distance or repeat time while maintaining that body position, it may be necessary to scale back either the distance swum or the repeat time in order to preserve the improvements made by the swimmer.

To enhance swimmers' motivation, it is beneficial to track measurable improvements. This can be done by recording stroke counts, distances, or times for each repeat. Repeat the same sets for a 3-week cycle to allow swimmers to see progress over time. During loading periods, you can increase the number of sets or decrease the repeat time. However, it is important to teach swimmers how to swim the set efficiently from the beginning.

Swimmers who feel engaged and included in the development process tend to exhibit higher levels of focus and are more likely to stay involved in the sport for an extended period of time.

Rachel Brennemo 
HC Swim Club Head Coach

© The Collegiate Pool 2024 - All Rights Reserved