high school swimming

Letter From a High School Coach to a Club Coach

I'm coaching a high school swim team. After announcing it on this blog, I promised that I would share the letter I would send to the year round coaches of swimmers that are on the team. The following is a template that I will send with some personalized modifications:

Dear Coach,

This coming season, I will be the head swimming coach for Oratory Prep. It has come to my attention that (swimmer) competes year round representing your team. I am writing you today with the intention of beginning a dialogue about (swimmer’s) swimming career. I believe that this is important to do because if we can find a way to work together, then we will be doing the best thing for (swimmer).

First, I want to recognize some of the limitations of high school swimming and how we can address them. The season is short, and so are the events. If (swimmer) is training to compete in distance events, that information is incredibly important for us. I will ask swimmers to report this information to me and will communicate to them that their season plan all practices will be designed with their long term development in mind. 

To that end, there are two huge areas where you can help (swimmer) as it pertains to high school swimming. First, I would like to hear from both of you what the most important competitions are that will take place during this high school season or following it. In turn, I will communicate where the highest priorities of the coming high school season are, and I invite you to discuss with me how we can come up with the best possible way to prioritize these competitions. 

Second, your experience coaching this swimmer is invaluable to me and (swimmer). Please share with me as much information as you can about what works well for (swimmer), What kinds of things he responds well to, what he doesn't and all that you have learned about (swimmer) both in terms of swim practice and your relationship with (swimmer)

Lastly, your sharing progress on what kinds of challenges the swimmer is currently working through would be extremely helpful. I will continue this work when (swimmer) is with me. I will be an open book and communicate with you what we have been working on at our practices.

Please let me know what the best way to communicate with you would be: I am happy to talk over the phone, meet you at your practice, or continue this communication in writing

I look forward to working together with you and (swimmer) to help him achieve his long term swimming goals.


The 2017 Easterns and Why High School Swimming is the Best

By the end I could barely croak out a few words. My vocal chords were spent and quite lucky that the competition was only two days long.

The 2017 Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championship was the dawn of a new era for what is still America's top private school competition. Although the meet may never match the glory days of Olympic contenders squaring off, it shouldn't try either.

The world has changed, and elite swimmers have gotten much older since the days when Gustavo Borges could swim at the Bolles School one year and then earn a silver medal in the 100 freestyle the next. Although Borges held on to his 100 freestyle record (now 26 years and counting), his 50 freestyle was finally broken, by Alberto Mestre, a senior from the Hill School.

So what can Easterns hope to be now? Well we started to see it this weekend at Franklin and Marshall. Easterns can and should be one of the most competitive high school meets in the country. The meet had a dramatic improvement of depth from a year ago. It took 4:38 to finish in the top 8 in the men's 500 freestyle, and 57.51 to do so in the men's 100 breaststroke. 

But a meet like Easterns should be judged by more than just the times on the clock. High school swimming is the most consistently underrated area of our sport. In fact, our sport suffers from a great inversion, where the parts of our sport that are actually inherently fun and would help to grow the sport are given the least serious attention from within. 

High school swimming taps into the natural, human love of competition. We love to see individuals and teams go head to head. We like to see a team champion, at whatever scale. Also, in a world where 3 hour plus baseball games test our patience, we like a flow of action that ends in a reasonable amount of time. 

The final crescendo of the weekend was Reece Whitley's high school national best in the 100 breaststroke. It seemed as if the whole pool, swimmers, coaches and spectators, were standing on their toes for it. Two events later, I realized I had the worst headache of my life. I sat down, dizzy. 

After drinking about 1.5 liters of water, I started to feel a little better. I had gotten caught up in the meet- the excitement of the swimmers and coaches, the joy on the faces of not just the winners but that first heat swimmer who went a massive personal best. This is swimming at its best. 

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