A PLEA FOR THE PERFECT MASTERS SWIMMING COACH (Reflections from Leslie Sauber)
After last Thursday's TMSC meeting, I had some thoughts about the group's view of coaching. Every adult swimmer has different goals and I sincerely think that the right coach can help each swimmer meet those goals. Here's my pitch for hiring the perfect Masters Swimming Coach:
1) Goal: To improve technique. Certainly beginning swimmers seek a coach for work on stroke mechanics. However, for seasoned (and let's get real--I mean for aging) swimmers, improvement of technique may be the only way to keep swimming on the same level. We need someone who can teach old dogs new tricks.
2) Goal: To swim for fitness. Yes, we all want to be fit but it's so much easier to sit on the couch than to swim. When my alarm goes off in the morning, I mechanically get up and go through the pre-swimming-household duties such as feeding the dogs, making the coffee... Sometimes I'm not even sure why I'm rushing around so--but in the back of my mind, I know that if I get to the pool on schedule there will be work-out buddies and a coach to help motivate me. A coach is the best way to make a team cohesive.
3) Goal: To compete at the top of your game. I don't think that we ever grow out of that phase of "Watch me swim, mommy!" Knowing that the coach is watching the swimmers and clock definitely makes me swim harder--especially on those days when I'm really tired and would rather slog through the yardage. The right coach can really encourage and motivate his/her swimmers and can challenge each swimmer to perform at his/her best.
4) Goal: To get out of the house and be more social. Where else would you be in a group of 20 - 80+ year olds, men, women, professionals, students, laborers, retirees, stay-at-home parents, nuns, floozies, gadflies--all of whom are active, vital people? In non-coached work-outs, swimmers of a feather flock together ending up with "slow, medium, and fast" lanes and little mixing of the team. But with the right coach, even the fastest swimmers can be challenged by swimming against the slowest swimmers. A good coach can pair up a fast breaststroker with an average freestyler or have all lanes swimming on the same intervals but doing various distances. The right coach will have a pace clock embedded in his/her brain (at least metaphorically) so that the workout runs smoothly with no one having to wait for the slower swimmers.
And finally my personal favorite:
5) Goal: To have fun!!!!!! One day at the end of morning workout at Hutcherson YMCA, the coach was having us do 50s where we were to kick underwater with fins (no breath) for 25M, do a flip turn and sprint back with as few breaths as possible. (Needless to say, I could only kick underwater for 12M before gasping to the surface). After doing 2-3 of these, an unnamed swimmer (okay, it was Larry Krutka) asked our coach Lucas "What is the purpose of this set?" His reply was "To have fun." Larry then querried "But will this make us any faster?" Lucas looked puzzled. I suspect that for him, the main goal of swimming is to have fun--also my favorite reason. My more complete answer is that "Anything that makes swimming fun will keep us coming back for more. More swimming more fitness, faster swims, more technic work, meet more swimmers, have more fun." in a never-ending loop of fitness and fun (with a little pain thrown in).
I suggest that when the time comes for Jenks to hire a coach for a Masters program that we have a committee to help them review resumes and participate in interviews. We may even find that one coach is strong on technic while another is strong on training. Why not have more than one coach and have each emphasize their speciality on a selected day of the week? I would volunteer to be on such a committee.
Is everyone now convinced that we need THE PERFECT MASTES SWIMMING COACH? If so--great! get involved with the selection process. If not--I can be counted on to come up with more reasons for having a coach! :)
Way Past-President of TMSC
PS And for those of you who asked me: Yes, I can honestly say that the TMSC meeting Thursday night was definitely better than a poke in the eye. :)