Our first meet went great. The kids I'm working with were significantly faster than last year at this point of the season, which shows we are set to swim much faster when the season-ending meets approach! We also had about 50% of lifetime bests, which for a season-opener Intrasquad meet is quite impressive! Looking at the bigger picture of the club, the Senior swimmers were also much faster than last year, and the younger age groupers got a higher percentage of lifetime bests, which shows the whole club is improving. Now, that's a good place to be!
Back to the title of this post. Last night, I had to throw away my original plans for practice, and spend a large portion of it revising drills. The original plan was to spend just about 20-30 minutes of practice with stroke drills, and then hit a challenging set. However, it seemed like the swimmers were thinking about racing and swimming fast from the begining of practice, and were just going through the motions during the drill set. While the racing mentality is important, I felt like making sure we understood the drills and stroke mechanics, especially for developmental swimmers, should stay at the top of the totem pole.
Simply put, I had to remind them that swimming is a technical sport. When you are not being efficient, putting more effort against the water will just get you tired and slow you down. Learning propper mechanics just cannot be emphasized enough. Then, this morning I received my weekly GoSwim! updates, and amongst those was a link to an old article Glenn wrote, which deals with the importance of mastering technique first! While the article addresses more directly the importance of having swimmers aged 8 and below to focus solely on technique, I believe it can also help understand why developmental swimmers - and swimmers that haven't even reached HS yet ARE developmental swimmers - should still focus a large ammount of their work on technique. My way of thinking of it is: Technique comes First! It needs to be mastered before any real 'training' can occur.
So, we'll keep dedicating a good ammount of our practices toward drill and stroke work, and I'll keep that challenging set in my pocket. The swimmers can be sure it will hit them at some point, when they are technically ready for it!