Young people learn to walk, talk and hopefully read and pray at home with the help of their guardians, siblings, parents and other friends and family members. A similar progression with swimming can unfold when we teach kids swimming in a team setting.
Buddie swims refer to friendships and a relationship between two people who hold mutual affection for each other.
Years ago, swimming activities featuring kids and adults were delivered to Pittsburgh Public Schools. Sadly, little happened.
Repeat approaches, by-and-large, put some aquatic programs into action. Sports dystopia dives into the struggle and negative views.
Parent Engagement Centers (PEC) were once a push with Pittsburgh Public Schools. They came and went. Footnote, a present-day City Council member, Theresa Kail Smith, was a PPS employee who ran the PEC on the west side of town at Langley.
More recently, Pittsburgh Public Schools launched the concept of “Community Schools.” The elected school board pushed for community schools and passed a pilot program enacted in Dr. Linda Lane’s final year as PPS Superintendent.
When Dr. Anthony Hamlet’s arrival as Pittsburgh Public Schools’ superintendent, five schools were designated and re-branded as “PPS Community Schools.” Three of the five schools have swimming pools: Westinghouse (great pool), Langley (small pool), Arsenal (small pool).
A new central office employee, LouAnn Ross, was hired to lead and manage the PPS Community Schools program. Upon her arrival, and then a year later, offers to construct new community schools swim programs were delivered to her, and even to a couple of the local school booster committees. Nothing was done. Then she departed.
A new search was conducted and a different PPS central-office employee has been hired. New hope comes with Monte Robinson, mrobinson2@. Meeting slated in January 2019.
In 2018, there was a swim team at Arsenal. At the start of 2019, the swim team at Arsenal died. Likewise, there used to be an elementary swim team at Langley, and it didn’t appear at the December 2018 PPS Championship meet. Westinghouse still offers only a middle school swim team and didn’t facilitate any after-school swimming nor diving in the fall of 2018 despite attempts to do so. Outcomes have slid from bad to worse in the recent years.
Everyone knows that student success hinges upon parent and guardian participation in the educational journey of the students. Success at school comes as parents, guardians, grand-parents and other significant adults are engaged with the kids. Mentoring is big. The annual PPS event, Take a Father to School Day, is a shinning star in these efforts.
Swim pools can provide a great place for kids and their guardians to work together — for everyone’s benefit. The public school facilities, including PPS swimming pools, are under utilized in the evenings, nights, weekends, holidays and summers.
Home-schooling is frowned upon by many of the public school system, including teachers.
Parent-teacher meetings and various open house activities happen, but with low-levels of support from the adults at home.
Let’s get parents and guardians invites into the school facilities so that they can enjoy themselves, have fun and be a part of inspiring, socially-rich experiences with the kids. Adults and kids can share in programs together with repeating events so progress can occur and relationships forged. As trust ensues, the interactions can be elevated to other educational topics.
Swim lessons engaging students with adults accompaniment,
Trimuph Try-Outs, are one-shot swim lessons where students and adults participate together. Kids can not sign-up without being matched with an adult. The activities presented are geared to student and adult couples.
These Try-Outs have little to do with the athletes impressing the coaches and program leaders. The coaches are not testing and evaluating the students. Rather, the real try-out is for the participants (the students, parents, mentors, citizens, taxpayers) to try-out an engagement at the swim pool with a learning setting.
People understand “swim lessons.” Swim lessons have always been a valued summer-time activity. Learning to swim is fun as well as a skill that saves lives. Pittsburgh is a city of three rivers and lots of swimming pools. However, few of our kids are competent swimmers. A tremendous need exists in this program category.
Triumph Try-Outs can be held at any time, morning, noon, night. Indoor pools that are out of the sun and without weather disruptions are ideal. Under utilized swim facilities can use the Try-Outs as an ice-breaker so as to migrate additional activities to these swim facilities in the seasons to come. Triumph Try-Outs present a capacity building opportunity for outreach.
Triumph Try-Outs are one-shot events. Participants show up, do the activities, and then they are finished. There is no long-term commitment involved.
In a traditional Try-Out setting, the coaches and program leaders put the want-a-be players on display in a competition. The players strive for a position in the draft or on the team. The Triumph Try-Outs reverse the roles and inject a new realm of priorities. The customer and buyers have roles that are flip-flopped.
The consumer, taxpayer, students get to Try-Out the coaches, activities, facilities, and to a large extent, the sincerity of the districts’ emphasis on “parental and community involvement.” The Triumph Try-Outs give a proving ground for the establishment of different priorities and can foster new relationship experimentation.
Parent involvement is a growing concern and focus for the overall health of the educational process. District wide elements for parent advisory actions are skeptical to the citizens. School board members are elected from fractions of the voters. Parents generally get concerned about the schools where their kids attend.
A relationship priority is present as students and adults try-out one another. The bond between mentor and mentee can be challenged in different settings. Going to the pool can present a two-hour Outward-Bound-like gateway for the matched participants. The swimming is a escape and presents some bonding time. The foundation and the approach to the challenges can transcend beyond the swim pool setting.
Many different mentor programs exist in Pittsburgh. These Try-Outs can be an on-going way to get meaningful interactions among the volunteer mentors and the students.
The overall aquatics program at Pittsburgh Public Schools can evolve and be a source of great benefits to individuals and community if there is a sense of self-discovery, safe learning, supportive involvement. But finding a drop of political among decision makers has been an on-going challenge for decades.
Various public institutions in southwestern Pennsylvania have swimming pools with available times. Some pools are in high schools. Other pools are in middle schools. Pools are at all the corners of the district including colleges, libraries and recreational sites. Getting two-hour blocks of time for the use of the pools is an easy task. However, getting citizens from one area to visit others facilities around town, or else even in their own neighborhood is a challenge. The swim pools and these Try-Outs can be good motivators to get the community engaged at different pools.
District schedules can be established for Triumph Try-Outs. If a family is busy on a Friday night when a Try-Out is slated for that student’s school, that couple could take in a session slated for Saturday at another school. The schools and pools can be open and friendly places for the citizens.
The success and long-term impact of PPS Community Schools hinges on the draw of the activities to the parents, guardians and citizens. And, a great way to get the participation is to offer a meaningful recreational activity with dynamic coaching leadership.
To accompany is to go or be together. Accompaniment is to perform together. Accompaniment occurs for a richer effect. The accompanist is the person who plays the accompaniment.
The accompaniment concept enriches the lesson plan with the Triumph Try-Outs. Our students and children need to understand and appreciate that they can set out on life with background helpers at home, accompaniment. It takes a village. Triumphs do not happen in isolation. Support networks need to be visited, tested, understood, and explored.
Adult accompaniment can be from a parent. But, any adult can come to these sessions. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors, big brothers, and mentors are welcomed. Perhaps the high school students and varsity athletes could accompany middle-school and elementary school students. We might have a list of adults who want to join and accompany. Some adults could manage two or three children so that each student has guidance and a potential partner.
The Triumph Try-Outs offer participants repeat-worthy periods. Repeat attendance is welcomed as the lesson-plans flow from an open-ended structure. Each Try-Out lesson has different activities, new games, different skills.
A couple could sign-up and participate in ten Try-Outs in the course of the summer and have great experiences multiple times. Enjoy on-going results.
Detailed lesson plans are posted in advance of the sessions. Advanced understanding of the themes of the practice helps to prepare the students and attract more participation. For example, a class on flip-turns is going to be an attraction for some. People will go out of their way to attend a Try-Out if they have a peek at the agenda. Advance postings of lesson agendas insure participants that activities are not the same-old same old.
Efforts and structures are needed to migrate the participants to various levels at various ages throughout this lifelong learning process.
The children within Pittsburgh can have a much richer experience with the activities with the creation of buddies that are nearby as well as buddies that are farther away. Our program in Pittsburgh can become a buddie with the programs around the region and nation.
A healthy and vibrant network of buddies should have nodes that are close and other notes that are remote. These concepts take a proactive stance on forming connections in our web of life and aquatics with friends at all levels.
Students spend time at the school, hopeful in a library near computers. Then the students walk to a local pool.
Huddle time: 8:30 am
Early Lesson: 8:40 am
Walk, stretch, exercise: 9:15
Late Lesson: 11:40
optional library time: after lunch
A one-page written test of three questions was given to the audience at the outset of a presentation at a coaches clinic. Question one and two was for name and email. The the third question, fill in the blank, was the title of your favorite game that you played with your swimmers. The various answers obtained are posted below.
The full presentation with an audio file is posted on another page.
Comments welcome at the end of the page.
Coach’s name, the name of the game
Meghan McCarthy, KING OF THE HILL
Nicholas Loporio, Relays with off pulling and kicking (i.e. fly pull with breast kicking)
Amber Toland, Solitare
Liza Saunders, Funtimes
Doug Djang, Swimming (BR)
Jud Shutts, Quick ly FAST
Anne Vargas, Guess and Go
Marcia Benjamin, Trivia contests
Stefanie Gernert, What time is it Mr. Shark?
Andria Moitoza, Rabbits, Rats, Racoons
Ricky Hegner, Big Ball
Cody Kelly, Sharks and Minnows
Julie Hardt, Ultimate Frisbee
Erik Wood, Jungle Ball
Brian Shepherd, Shark & Minnows
Kim Corgait, Catch the Rabbit
Matt Moon, Rat, Robbit, Racoon
Eli Hamm, Chariots of Fire
Jonathan Riley, Dice Roll
E. Ito, Swimming is Awesome
Tom Dowky, Bean
Charles Sommer, ?
Suzie Dods, Roll the Dice
Matt Crawford, Murder Ball
Andy Maryatt, Crazy 8s
Andrew Savine, Rat, Rabbit, Racoon
Allison Hoppe, What time is it Mr. Shark?
Elizabeth Rodgers, Snow
Lucas Salles-Cunha, ?
Anthony Koo, 4 corners
Buffy Patterson, Fin Game
Jenny Nowatzke, Jump or Dive
Cesar Valera, Freeze Tag
Laura Lee, Maze
Janet Gutierrez, Dryland + 500 “In” & “Out”
Ryan Garcia, Sharks and Minnows
Spencer Pollard, Shark & Minnows
David Majekawa, Caterpillar
Melissa West, Who’s Feeling Lucky (a 3 dice game to determine next set)
Kevin Chester, Bob for Apples Relays
Genna Roan, Finianapolis
Noa Kregler Allen, Musical kickboards
Kelsey Bonzell, Goggle Toss
Lehla Irwin, Steal the Kickboard (or noodle, bouy, dive rings, etc.)
Bonus game: Equipment massacre
The slide deck above with associated videos were part of a presentation at the end of the Pacific Swim Coaches Clinic in Napa, California, in January 2018.
Participants had a hands on opportunity with a set of watches, operated the scoreboard / pace clock, heard the audio from the wireless speakers and played briefly with the wearable device, the AutoCoach One.
A Finis sales representative was present along with coaches of various types of swim teams, including masters squads.
Coach Mark Rauterkus shared his experiences with the products and interactions from his years of knowing and using the timing system and recent trends for the company as it charts its way to a more robust sales and marketing efforts in the North American marketplace. The inventors are from Melbourne, Australia, and many more customers are aware of and using the tools there, rather than in the USA.
Tracking swimmers’ performances and improvements is advantageous for aiding long-term success for individuals and teams. A challenge for coaches is to isolate and track key elements beyond the ubiquitous times from the eventual race results.
Many of the tracking challenges can be handled with a system-wide approach by coaches in ways similar to how business executives consider economics. With the help of new technology tools, the data and evidence is more attainable too. Today’s coaching business is shifting its best practices toward data-driven decisions that impact both motivation and technique improvements for the swimmers.
A four-step, systematic series used for gaining knowledge for continual improvement that was developed in business, the Deming Wheel, applies to swimming. This concept was introduced to Dr. Deming and Walter Shewhart of the Bell Laboratories. See the illustration.
Summary for swimming: First, coaches and program leaders establish seasonal plans. Second, they deliver and do practices as designed within the plan. Third, outcomes are monitored to test the validity of the plan, its progress and associated problems with focused study. Fourth, the final step, the action – the act of swimming as fast as possible. This four-step cycle (plan, do, study, act) is called the PDSA Cycle.
Business summary: The cycle begins with the Plan step. This involves identifying a goal or purpose, formulating a theory, defining success metrics and putting a plan into action. These activities are followed by the Do step, in which the components of the plan are implemented, such as making a product. Next comes the Study step, where outcomes are monitored to test the validity of the plan for signs of progress and success, or problems and areas for improvement. The Act step closes the cycle, integrating the learning generated by the entire process, which can be used to adjust the goal, change methods or even reformulate a theory altogether. These four steps are repeated over and over as part of a never-ending cycle of continual improvement.
An astute development plan for swimmers can flourish within the same cycle. Determined coaches and athletes can agree upon, document and record their efforts. And in the final acts, perform better.
Consider these perspectives in a seasonal scenario with coaches and swim teams. At the outset, in the pre-season as swimmers arrive at their clubs, a baseline of capabilities and performances are measured. The baseline measurements are obtained as the season commences.
Goals then come into focus. Reasonably consider what the coaches and athletes are striving to accomplish. Where are we trying to get to? When?
Consider how the appropriate plan and programme manifests itself regarding the necessary workload and commitment. What specifics are required? Progress checkpoints and monitoring outcomes serve as details for accountability. Goals expand past where and when targets to include how and when as well.
Once the training programme is under way, progress needs to be tracked and compared regularly to the baseline. As the programme progresses, the view and focus should transition towards a greater visibility of, and comparison with, the goal, rather than the baseline.
Representing progress and tracking those hoped for gains along the pathway to the goals becomes paramount for coaches and swimmers. Without the necessary details and specific tracking insights, athletes might remain clueless throughout the season. Athletes need more than a grasp of hope to accomplish peak performances in the season’s final steps.
Programs, coaches and swimmers that understand and use the proper measurements to represent progress can cycle ahead in their development. The progress and recurring development is the leverage that beats the completion.
Race times give obvious answers. But surely, final times in race results have contributing aspects that can be measured, assessed, addressed, and improved. Consider this paraphrased micro of the PDSA cycle with different terms: MAAI (measure, asses, address, improve).
Ten objective measures:
* SWOLF is an abbreviation for “Swim Golf.” A SWOLF score is obtained by adding together strokes per length and the time for the length. Swim 20 strokes in 30 seconds gives a SWOLF score of 50.
The obtaining, displaying and recording of the objective measurements of fitness and strength are topics for later discussions. All ten measurements are components and modes within the tech tools provided within the AutoCoach systems. The details, data and its discovery contain a bulk of the challenge that the proper technology tools can bring to these missions.
Clear representation of the ten objective measures over time provides more detailed pictures of what the swimmers and coaches have achieved.
Accompanying the objective measures, coaches make subjective assessments and recommendations such as with technique, stroke development and posture. Clearly, coaching expertise based on knowledge, experience and observations made by skilled and learned professionals accelerates improvements. The ten objective measures are largely the OUTCOME of the subjective bits.
Surely clear pictures of baselines, goals and progress motivates the swimmers. At times of review, swimmers can see clearly what they have achieved by concentrating and working on the different facets. These facets have been nominated, understood and agreed upon. When appropriate, goals and plans can be revised. Specific measures help greatly.
In reality, the tracking of only the objective measurements is insufficient without the appropriate subjective references from the professional coaches. Data and the objective bits provide key inputs to the plans. The data should be referenced clearly, perhaps with video evidence, to illustrate what improvement opportunities were identified, and then how they were and are addressed.
Other objective and subjective measures can be particular in developing swimmers that fall beyond the list presented here. Consider ability, age, height, and a host of other factors that surely fail to record themselves on stop watches. Most coaches lend appropriate focus upon the additional factors such as personal achievement, fulfillment, applied work ethic, and compliance with squad requirements.
Progressive coaches can witness their own performance, efficiency and achievements too. They are well represented via the same improvement cycles and tracking tools.
Finally, presenting clear, positive and professional information to the parents and guardians of the swimmers is often priceless. Effective client management fosters a positive mindset and good work ethic on the part of the swimmers, and support from the parents. Those are key intangibles that influence success of teams, businesses and careers.
Demonstrable success is not just about medals. Demonstrable success should be a component within any business model.
The waiting should end already. Slide deck updated on 2/5/18.