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Swimming & Diving/time/yards for swim practice

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Hello!

A few years ago I started coaching the swim team I used to swim on. I coached with another ex-swimmer of the team who was a few years ahead of me. Neither of us had any coaching experience, but we had both swam for the majority of our youth. I was considered an assistant coach and the other coach was the head coach. The head coach worked with the 'advanced swimmers' and I worked with the new and inexperienced swimmers. The head coach also provided me with very vague workouts for me to follow. Since then the head coach is no longer working with the team and I have moved up to the main coach position. I am very excited to be in this position and I want to be as prepared as possible.

My question is how long of a practice/ how many yards should 10 and under be doing? I've read that we should be swimming 1000 yards every 20/30 minutes. This seems pretty out of reach from what we have done in the past. The way we have the program set up is Monday- Thursday for 90 minutes. There is no requirement for the amount of days you have to come although I recommend swimmers come as many days as they can. I prerequisites to be on the team is to swim a 25 of both freestyle and backstroke. The swimmers have to set up a time with me to show me they can make it across the pool. I haven't worried too much about technique, mainly if they are making full strokes and have a decent body position I let them join. I don't want to discourage kids from joining the team because of their technique. In my opinion if they have to desire to be on the team they should be there. The rest will come from being in practice and learning as they go.

The youngest on our team is 5 year old. I have worked with him privately and he is able to swim a 25 of freestyle and backstroke, just not fast at all. He has a very basic knowledge of freestyle and backstroke. I told his mom he could be on the team and I think he will learn so much and be an entirely different swimmer by the end of the season.

So with this in mind how long do you recommend 10 and under should practice and how many yards? I have considered letting parents make the decision. If they want their child to practice for 90 minutes they will stay the entire time. If they think their child can only handle 60 minutes they can choose to pick them up earlier. If we do this I want it to be the parent's decision, not the child's.

Thank you in advance for your advice!

Answer
Hi Alyssa--
First of all,the length of the practice needs to be your decision, as head coach you need to be in charge. Your job is to run practice for the betterment of your athletes.
To start you should have your 8 and unders go about an hour a day, that's a good amount of time to get about 500 to 1000yds in while concentrating on techniques and working on starts and turns.They can do 4 days a week unless you are stretched for space, then I would go Mon.,Tues, Thurs. They don't need much more than that since they typically compete lengths from 25 to 50 yds and maybe 100IM, unless they are doing exceptionally and swimming with the 10/unders.
Your 10 and unders should be able to handle the entire time(90min.)for four days a week, again don't be too concerned about yardage at that age, fixing technique and starts and turns should remain the priority. Having good stroke technique and doing repetitions at close to race pace is more beneficial than plowing through a ton of yards at slower paces with bad technique. I don't remember if 10 year olds compete in lengths longer than 200yds, but an occasional set of longer freestyle reps wouldn't be out of the question one day a week or every other week, even sets of 4x50s with short rest would work to build endurance.

Does your team have any athletes older than 10? Just curious.
I hope this helps. Remember as head coach, this is your team, take care of your athletes in the best way possible to make them better swimmers and great people.
If you have any other questions let me know.
George

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George Weber

Expertise

I am a swimming and diving coach and ex-competitor with over 25 years of experience. I consider myself a technique expert and can offer suggestions on swimming and diving mechanics. I can also answer questions on the mental aspect of competing.

Experience

I was an NCAA div II national qualifier in 5 events from 100 freestyle and butterfly as well as in the 1650yd. freestyle. I was also a springboard diver at this same level. I have coached all levels of athletes in both sports from beginner to Olympic caliber.

Awards and Honors
NCAA div. II All American and National record holder in 100 butterfly.

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