Category Archives for "Swim"

Performance Tracking Matters

| CLOH concepts

Article published in Australia’s Swim Coaches Journal

by Swim Coaches Mark Rauterkus of USA and Damien Gogoll of Australia

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.

Chart used in business. The cycle goes: Plan, Do, Study, Act.

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:

  1. Start / reaction time
  2. Turn time
  3. Distance per stroke
  4. Stroke rate
  5. Stroke count
  6. Velocity
  7. Stroke index
  8. SWOLF*
  9. Fitness
  10. Strength

* 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.

Jacco Verhaeren, Australia’s National Head Coach in Swimming, giving a keynote presentation at a coaches conference in Melbourne, Australia, on a Saturday in October, 2017. The co-author of this article, Damien, was in attendance, took the photo during the session. The journal containing this article was being mailed to members / subscribers that week.

AM Swim Workouts are important

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Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/aerobic-exercise-workout-body-brain-benefits-gut-microbes-2017-12

Aerobic exercise, or cardio, might be the closest thing we have to a miracle drug.

When we commit to regular workouts that raise our heart rate and get us moving and sweating for a sustained period, magical things happen to our mind and body. We start to think more clearly, feel better about ourselves, and even build buffers against age-related cognitive decline. Our lungs and heart get stronger, too.

(snip)

Aerobic exercise “has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress,” according to an article in the Harvard Medical School blog “Mind and Mood.”

Some benefits of cardio, like a lift in mood, can emerge as soon as a few minutes into a sweaty bike ride. Others, like improved memory, might take several weeks to crop up.

The reason aerobic workouts seem to lift our spirits seems related to its ability to reduce levels of natural stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, a recent study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found. Activities like running and swimming also increase overall blood flow and provide our minds fresh energy and oxygen — another factor that could help us feel better.

NA senior team visits the Saturday Swim School

| Invite

A bunch of swimmer from the north got in the pool at Oliver as part of the efforts of the Saturday Swim School at Oliver.

After practice, we took about 10-minutes to introduce the swimmers to SKWIM and played a quick game, slot-style, to 3-points.

In the future, we’d love to get a cooperative alliance with ANSC, as we have had with Tiger Water Polo, so we can get employees to help as swim instructors, lifeguards, coaches and demonstrators at our events and camps in the city. In the summer of 2017, two of the NA students worked for us as part of the Summer Dreamers Swim & Water Polo Camp on the Northside.

Lesson Time

After the big kids departed, we had some lessons and on guy figured out how to make a monofin from the PDF fin. Two feet into one adult fin works! Your miles may vary. Patent pending.

Other swim coaches posted about the creative monofin solution too:

Entering Obama Academy’s pool

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Background

School web page: http://discoverpps.org/obama

1. Location

Pittsbugh Public Schools’ Obama Academy 6-12 is located at 515 N. Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15216.

Obama is at the corner of Highland Avenue and East Liberty Boulevard at the edge of the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Highland Park and East Liberty.

Landmarks: The school is not too far from the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Obama Academy is across the street from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and a diagonally from The Home Depot.

Go Figure

Obama Academy is where Peabody used to be. In reality, Obama used to be Schenley.  

Map

2. Building and parking

There is a modest sized parking lot at the front of the school that is generally filled to capacity on school days. In the evenings the parking lot most often has spaces for visitors to park.

Parking lot at Obama Academy at corner of Highland Ave and East Liberty Blvd.

Street parking around the school happens on East Liberty Blvd and along Highland Avenue. Avoid parking in areas needed for school buses at the end of the school days. School dismissal times extend from 2:30 to about 5:30 pm.

Visiting teams should park along Highland Ave, on the street, heading to East Liberty Blvd. If necessary, drive around the block to face in that direction for curb-side drop-offs. The school parking lot is  suited for bus traffic.

3. Front doors

View from Highland Avenue. Front door of the school is up the steps in the dark hole in the center of the building.

Ramp from parking lot to the left avoids the steps.

Visitors enter the school’s front doors that face Highland Ave. Go to the middle of the building and walk up the steps or the ramp to the left.

4. Entry

The front doors of the school remain locked nearly all the time, especially when school is in session. At the front door to the school, there is a buzzer, a bit like a door bell. Pushing the button alerts the school security office. However, this buzzer won’t be helpful if the security folks have already departed for the evening. That generally happens at 7 pm unless there is a big event such as a basketball game or musical performance. First step, try the buzzer.

Coach Mark’s cell phone, 412-298-3432. Use this to get into the pool if the door is locked. We’ll send someone out to give you entry. Call. Do not text, as the text message won’t get noticed and you’ll be standing there for some time.

5. Inside

Entry into the school, just inside the front door, comes with a walk through the medal detectors.

Past the front doors, the office is to the left. Turn right and see the Obama swag and head through those double doors to get to the pool, gym, cafeteria and auditorium.

Hallway just past the cafeteria sports the Obama Eagles decor. A few historical elements from the days as Peabody High School remain in a couple of the trophy cases.

On the right are the doors that lead into the gym.

6. Final steps

Front lobby and hallway. Auditorium and cafeteria are to the left and gym and trophy case to the right. Pool doors and snack bar / student store are straight ahead.

The pool entry doors are generally open at night and in practice times when the pool is in use. Find these doors on the right side at the end of the school’s front hallway.

Swim pool at Obama Academy is with six lanes and 25-yards long. Pool has electronic timing and end-zone seating with pillars.

7. From the pool deck, more steps to the locker areas

Off the pool deck near the shallow end backstroke flags is a door that leads to the shower and locker areas for both the boys and girls.

Steps to the locker areas. Go down and the boys do a U-trun at the first landing and the girls go straight.

8. Future

Since the move of Obama from Schenley to Reizenstein to the former Peabody building, a number of basic building modifications have been suggested. We hope that the accessibility can be improved so that the school and its pool can a better community resource and eventually comply with the ADA law passed in 1990.

8a

The swim pool needs an accessible family changing room / rest room somewhere on the same level as the pool deck.  Presently, if anyone wants to go swimming, expect to go down and up two flights of steps to reach the pool’s showers, bathrooms and locker areas.

Restroom upgrades were made in other parts of the building in the summers of 2016 and 2017. In the summer of 2018, the school is going to be used as a site for PPS’ Summer Dreamers Academy. We want to keep the pool opened in the summer of 2018.

8B

A proposed new entry to the swim pool could serve as a conduit for entry and exit from the street and sidewalk to not only the swim pool but also to the athletic field.

The swim pool would be well served with an entry into the pool area directly off of the front sidewalk on Highland Avenue into a new foyer and lobby that is presently only a back door to the pool. A lighted, covered, entry that goes right into the pool area would offer higher levels of safety, security and convenience.

Allegheny Middle School Pool, a site for Swim & Water Polo in 2017

| Summer Dreamers

The Northside ‘s Allegheny K-8 is one of the sites for Swim & Water Polo Camp as part of Pittsburgh Public Schools Summer Dreamers Academy in 2017.

swim pool

Allegheny Middle School pool has five lines on the bottom but is set up with only four blocks.

The swim pool is 25-yards in length.

Varsity Swimming at Obama has been a constant struggle. Letter to PPS Superintendent from November 7, 2012 from Coach Mark Rauterkus

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