Competitive USS Swimming from Novice to Swimmings Highest Level!
This is not an attempt to coerce you into training with NJRC this summer as the title page may indicate. It is, however, an attempt to help you understand the differences between Long Course Meters (LCM) and Short Course Yards (SCY).
As I have said before long course and short course, for all intents and purposes, are two totally different sports. There are many differences between the two that make this so. A quick conversion of 50 meters reveals it is equivalent to 54.68 yards or 164.04 feet. This difference is only really significant in the United States since pretty much the rest of the world swims short course in a 25 meter pool (just like outdoor summer leagues and some high schools in our area) when we swim in a 25 yard pool in the U.S. The second major difference between LCM and SCY is the number of turns one has to complete during the race. Turns are important to a swimmer's overall time because they inject an element of speed into the race. The fastest your body moves in the water during a race is when you immediately hit the water from the start. The next fastest you are moving in the water is when you push off of the wall after a turn. When we cut the number of turns done in a race, you cut the number of opportunities you have to gain momentum off of the walls. These two factors, the extra distance and the diminished number of turns, are key in understanding the difference between LCM race times and SCY race times.
For the purposes of our team, times done in similar races in each course (LCM or SCY) should NOT be compared. There are plenty of tools online at different website that allow you to plug in a time done in one course, click a button, and get a comparable time for the other course. However these times are never completely accurate as the conversion going from LCM to SCY often gives a much faster SCY time than it actually is. Converting times and comparing them to times done in the actual course can become very confusing and extremely frustrating to the swimmer. This being said, the NJRC coaching staff asks all swimmers and parents to follow these guidelines:
The final point I want to touch on is stroke technique. A swimmer in a short course yards event may be able to overcome technique deficiencies through size, power, and good turns. But in long course meters the amount of straight swimming time (swimming time between turns) is more than doubled. Swimmers are taking significantly more strokes per laps as well. For these reasons, long course meter swimming really makes stroke deficiencies more obvious. The need for perfect technique in all strokes is essential to optimal performance in long course meters events. Luckily, what may work against you in a long course meter race can work for you in practice. The increased straight swimming time (uninterrupted by turns) each lap allows you to concentrate on necessary stroke corrections. Taking more strokes per lap also means you have more opportunities per lap to fine tune your stroke technique.
The bottom line is that times swum in long course meter events should never be compared to times swum in short course yards events. Compare those long course times to previous times swum in long course meters events. The more you swim long course meters meets, the greater the sample size you will have to compare your results and get an accurate gauge of your overall progress.
Summer long course training is the key to continued development in this sport. Some people may say "We do train in the summer, with our summer club." I have always been an advocate of summer swimming. It is where most swimmers get their start with this sport as well as most of the coaches on our staff got started coaching. But summer swimming should lead you to year round swimming with a USA Swimming Club. This is where the interest that began with the summer club is cultivated. As much of a proponent of summer swimming I have been, there are some things that you just cannot get out of summer swimming alone. The first is continual training under the same overall philosophy. Our team has many different coaches and none of us coach the same. However we are all working under the same general philosophy. Consistency in the training of any athlete, let alone a swimmer, is so important. There is no better consistency than training with our team 11 months a year.
Far too often (and I was guilty of this as a summer coach) swimmers are told they are breaststrokers or backstrokers and that is all they work on in practice in addition to freestyle. Over the course of the summer what they learned from the other strokes is practically lost and has to be re-taught in September. There is very little chance for advancement when this happens. But we still take the approach to training at any age of "You can specialize when you get to college". I would love nothing better than a team full of great IMers. In order for that to happen stroke technique and training needs to happen in all four strokes as much as possible. You just don't get that with a summer club.
I am not saying a swimmer should not participate in summer club swimming. At different levels on this team there are different amounts of expectations in terms of a swimmer's commitment to themselves, commitment to the program and an overall commitment to excellence. There are swimmers in the senior group who still are members of summer league teams. However they have communicated with their team's coaching staff their goals and, most importantly, their schedule for the summer and beyond. This is because being in the Senior or Jr. Elite represents a commitment to excellence in this sport and a strong dedication to swimming and training with this team. Swimmers in Senior or Jr. Elite should be using our summer program as their main source of training in the summer.
We value the experience and the fun a swimmer gets out of summer league swimming. However it is wrong to think a swimmer will "burn out" because they swim with us in the summer. It bothers me this “burning out” idea. Most swimmers who are "burned out" get their because of one of three reasons:
The smoking gun in these examples really is point #2. I have seen this happen many, many times and it is unfortunate. But in most instances if the parent just backed off of the child the swimmer would be able to find enjoyment in the sport, regardless of the results. #3 definitely happens, and is more likely to happen if someone doesn't summer swim with a USA Swimming program. More and more swimmers are training with their club team throughout the summer long course season at an earlier age. If you are a swimmer who has made it to JOs you need to expect, these days, that swimmers you are equal with or better than now are training in the summer. These swimmers could, in fact, pass you by because of this. Then you stand a chance to become #3 above.
I also take offense to the idea that training with NJRC in the summer is going to cause a swimmer to again “burn out” and not have any fun. Pish posh, as my grandmother would say! We want to work with children of all ages who are interested in becoming better swimmers. Why put a limit on what age that can be? If a swimmer truly enjoys the sport, wants to improve, and wants to swim with us what is the worry? Now, if the swimmer has to be prodded out the door on a regular basis we first need to remind them of their goals. If it continues to happen we need to reevaluate what we are trying to accomplish and the best way to get there. But to simply say "you shouldn't start training long course until you are X years old" is a mistake with no true factual evidence to back it up other than hearsay.
Finally, I take issue with the idea that only a certain caliber swimmer (someone who has been identified as "talented" or reached a certain level) should swim long course in the summer. People who think this way should really read Summer Sanders' book "Champions are Raised, Not Born". It is true that athletes have varying levels of talent. However talent means nothing unless it is properly cultivated. This comes from consistent hard work and astute attention to detail. That is what you get with our team. We have a summer program to help all swimmers reach that next level and, most importantly, reach their goals in this sport. We are not just here for the elite athlete. Swimmers get out of training with NJRC what they put into it.
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