Childhood summers are a magical time, and perhaps no other activity evokes summertime quite like swimming in the neighborhood pool. The Ridgetop coaches wish to impart their love of the sport of competitive swimming to team members in a fun and low-stress environment.
More specifically, the goal of the coaches for each and every member of the team is:
- stroke improvement;
- healthy competition at ALL levels from Novice to XX;
- promotion of sportsmanship, teamwork and team spirit; and
- to have FUN while swimming!
How about goals that each swimmer should have for his or herself? Check out the list below.
Perhaps the first measure of mastery in competitive swimming the ability to complete all the events consistently without disqualification. It isn’t an easy task! Swimming is an incredibly technical sport and even swimmers with MANY years of experience will occasionally see the dreaded raised arm of a Stroke and Turn judge, signaling a disqualification.
Your coaches will enter you in a wide variety of events, including all the strokes. We will not enter you in an event unless we believe you have fighting chance of doing the race legally. Go for it and don’t take it for granted: celebrate it each time it happens.
Please check out the team handbook for a list of common stroke infractions under Strokes & Turns Guidelines. In order of difficulty (i.e., ease of receiving a DQ) the strokes are probably: breast, fly, back, free. Once you can do the 100 IM reliably without a DQ, that means you’ve truly arrived as a competitive swimmer! But again: never take it for granted.
Competition is wonderful when it spurs greater effort and achievement, but ultimately progress in swimming is measured by time improvements. The clock doesn’t lie! It is better achievement to get 2nd with a personal best than to win with a poor time.
The coaches encourage Ridgetop swimmers to pay attention to the clock in practice and at meets. Track your progress in each of the six meets. Check out your swims in the My Best Times list, which includes swims from the current and previous two seasons. Your Swim Portal also includes results from the current season (click the “meets” tab at the top). Celebrate each time improvement!!
Achieving Time Standards
Competition occurs in the following speed classifications: Novice, Regular, X and XX. In addition, there are qualification time standards for the JRAC Championship meet, although achieving this standard simply means you are eligible to compete and does not guarantee a spot on the roster because of entry limits for each event.
Time standards can be very motivational. Print out the time standards. Set a difficult but achievable goal and work toward it. Perhaps that goal is to achieve your first “Regular” standard, or perhaps it is to achieve all XX standards. There is something for everyone.
Advancing your speed classification is also a very tangible way in which you can help the team. Basically, the more R, X and XX swimmers we have, the more competitive we will be.
Racing Against Others
All of the above are excellent ways to measure your improvement against the clock, but there is no denying that placing well in a race is satisfying all by itself. As long as you are careful not to define your successes and failures too strongly in terms of your competition, racing is very healthy. Avoid “swimming down” to level of your competitors and don’t feel too upset to lose to a superior opponent. Use race results as a goad for harder work and future improvement.
After every meet there will be a recap that announces the triple and quadruple winners for the meet. For some people this recognition occurs regularly while for others it may happen just once in a swimming career, if at all. Congratulate those who achieve this success and be happy if it happens to you.
At Ridgetop we also track the team records and the all-time top 10 swims. For the very best swimmers, achieving these times might be a good way to stay motivated to work hard for continued improvement.
Sportsmanship and Team
Great athletes derive inspiration from the achievements of the entire team, and are gracious in both winning and losing. Throughout the season the coaches will be emphasizing team-building and the concepts of good sportsmanship:
- be aware of your teammates goals and achievements, encourage them in their efforts and praise them when they achieve a significant milestone;
- celebrate your achievements but also congratulate your rivals on their efforts;
- above all else, remember that summer swimming is fun! We are outside in lovely weather, and pursuing a healthy activity with current and future friends. What’s not to love?