A Perfect Storm and Heretical Meet Choices

perfect storm 2

This has certainly been a challenging year for us, and it’s resulted in some surprising decisions and even more surprising results.

One of our main pools became unavailable at the end of January when a roof leak resulted in ceiling insulation falling into the pool. The pool was immediately closed, and as of mid-June we still don’t know if it’ll be available for next season. The biggest impact was the loss of 7 hours a week at that facility, and we were only able to gain back 2 late evening hours hours at another pool, and one hour in a gym. Not an ideal situation.

Then, just to make things more interesting, our other main pool was closed for the second half of June for maintenance – right at the lead up to regional and provincial championship meets. Regular readers may remember my serious problems with big meets -see We Need a Saner Approach to Swim Meets, and A Really Big Problem With a Really Big Meet).

The result was a perfect storm: significantly reduced training from February onwards, virtually no training from mid-June onwards, and a growing displeasure with the big meets in late June/early July.

So we re-designed our season in a somewhat heretical fashion. No championship meets. Go farther afield to try new (smaller) meets and new pools. Taper the whole team for a wonderful ‘no-qualifying-time’ meet in late May that focuses on small teams. And then finish off the year with a relaxed meet in mid-June.

The results so far have been amazing. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed going to new pools. We’ve generally been happier avoiding the massive meets with too many swimmers and too long sessions. And our taper meet was our best meet ever, with 28 team records, and more finals swims than we’ve ever had before. The best part was that this was a meet the whole team attended, and not just our top swimmers.

Our relaxed meet to finish the season doesn’t happen until next weekend, but the rest of our heretical season has been fantastic. I have a strong feeling we’ll continue our heretical path next year, even if we don’t have a perfect storm of problems.

 

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3 comments

  1. Dan Smith · · Reply

    Continue to pick meets that challenge your swimmers. Open Water (with training). Postal Service meets, and anything else that is challenging, and heaven forbid, fun. The meets I recall as an age-grouper were tough due to pool or weather conditions: 1) mid winter relay meet in a 20 yd, four lane pool; two meets near Canadian border that drew tough competition; 2) a summer meet where we spent time “surfing” the river next tot he pool (same town as relay meet!; 3) another meet where, the heats went past dark, and it seemed there was only ONE light bulb providing any illumination; 4) finally a meet where it snowed (in August) during the finals, and the open one-mile race. So, not having the best/top facilities, competition, odd events and fun will make it memorable for the swimmers. And, as coaches said to all of us, “The conditions are the same for everyone.” I remember those more than the old JO’s, and championships.

    1. Hi Dan, I think you hit on something key here. The present situation with massive meets is that the meet is overwhelmingly boring. There’s nothing interesting to remember. It’s just sitting on your butt for so many hours. Swimmers hate it, parents hate it. Coaches live with it. It’s these meets that are helping to kill the sport for so many. Smaller, focussed, swimmer-friendly meets are so much better.

  2. Dan Smith · · Reply

    i agree wholeheartedly. Sat through 16 OTrials start to finish, and CWS final game. Could not understand the reasons most swimmers even went, as they same worse times at Trials. Not fun: a zoo for warm-ups, and regimented for competitions. Saw some smiling faces, but not many. The stars made out, got some autographs and photo ops, but generally it was for the audience. Pick some fun meets and have fun. test yourself? Sure, but an entire team? Tens of thousands spent. I can say I have swum in pools of every official distance(years back), 20yd, 25 yd, 55yd, 25M, 50M LCM. Even swam 331/3 yard in competition. More fun, and challenging. Kids and coaches should pick he challenge and enjoy. not many of us will be swimming at UTEx, the perfect facility. The swimmers are better the more challenges they face—training and competition. I did meet interesting people: the technician that certified the Omaha pool at Century Link center; rowdy, Dara Torres, and Gold Medal Mel…and the retired T&F coach at Coastal Carolina, who was there to watch Coastal Carolina in CWS..

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