Creating the Pathway to Success

Creating the Pathway to Success

Competitive 1 and Competitive 2

If you have reached this stage then your swimmer is likely to enjoy swimming and has a desire to compete.

We try to create the right environment for such swimmers to flourish


We do this by:

Giving them the pool time they need, providing appropriately qualified coaches, creating the right atmosphere for long term success. As they get older we provide the necessary experience and training , and if relevant, help them choose the Programme they will wish to attend after they leave us for University or work.

In line with the ASA Club Strategy, we at Hoddesdon are fully integrated into our Region, with swimmers working  within the Luton Inspire Network, at the Beacon Programme at the London Aquatic Centre with  Lisa Bates, and  on a more Local level, we have a Borough session on a Sunday morning at John Warner where Cheshunt and Hoddesdon Train together.

LTAD and management of expectations

Much research done in the last 10 years or so was focused on addressing the catastrophic fall out of talent between the ages of 12 and 16. The conclusions drawn were that the primary cause was “too much too soon”.

Swimmers were put under too much pressure to compete at an early age and had burnt out before they got anywhere near their peak.  There are several parents of swimmers who will vouch for this!

As a result we very much adhere to the British Swimming model which has now been reflected in the County, Regional and National Championships on all levels..

9 year olds are no longer able to compete at County Level, and with a dual age band of 10/11 and some very challenging  entry times it is clear that the emphasis  is no longer on early qualification. Training, acquiring a good set of skills and good technique should dominate early years of training, with a few well chosen open meets along the way, and some Team Galas for enjoyment.

Given this relaxed attitude to competition, but focused attention to  training, swimmers will generally go on to achieve their full potential at the right time – whatever that potential may be. For boys this may well not happen until their mid 20’s, depending what events they choose to specialize in, and the age for girls is also extending. 20 years ago Shane Gould was 15/16 when she won Gold for Australia and held the world record for 200 IM. She burned out and left the sport at 18. Fran Halsall (25) currently world champion in mixed 200 Freestyle Relay and Hannah Miley , Gold medal in the 400 IM Commonwealth games 2014 is  26. Rowdy Gaines 3 time Olympic gold medalist, did not take up swimming until he was 13 and was still making the cut for the US Team aged 35!

Swimming is a “long journey” and there is no “one size fits all” about it.

Swimmers mature and acquire skills at a rate which is individual to them. Please try as parents not to compare your swimmer with others – they each have their own unique journey, and on countless occasions we have seen swimmers who appear to be doing very little for a couple of years suddenly change and become very fast indeed.

One young man in my top squad spent many years getting by, acquiring skills slowly, making lots of mistakes in competition and generally being so laid back he was virtually horizontal, and suddenly, aged 15 started to take swimming much more seriously and Qualified for Regionals for the first time this year, has already qualified for Winter regionals  in multiple events and is likely to qualify for Nationals in the summer. More than likely, he will still be in the sport to make the most of his increased strength in his 20’s. Watch this space!

Parents, I am very well aware that you are all supportive parents – you would not be involved in swimming if you were not! In addition, I know you are more aware than anyone how much your swimmers wish to please you  - even though it might not always feel like that. It is therefore essential that you separate “success” from your “approval” as I have seen so many instances of swimmers being devastated by mistakes or a mediocre swim, not because of the swimming so much as the fact they are worried they have disappointed you, their parents as you are their world when they are young, as you well know.

Try to remain detatched from the concept of “good” or “bad” swims, leave the tactics and corrections to the coaches, who may well wait until they get back to the training pool before they make any corrections. Some swimmers hate making mistakes or being corrected and we have to choose the right moment.

Parents should parent, coaches should coach – our instruction is not emotionally charged. The best swimming parents will show interest, find something to praise, and finish with a ‘well done” or “I love watching you swim”

No further analysis is necessary or advisable. I speak from experience – oh and Never Coach Your Own Children!

This is our advice, based on many years of coaching and also being the parents of swimmers too. It is, of course, up to you whether you choose to take it but if you do we have a much better change of a good outcome for everyone.

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