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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Head Coach’s FAQs

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Why is the program broken up on age when clearly there are faster swimmers in lower levels than those above them?
o Age of Maturation versus Chronological Age
o Allows for swimmers to mix with swimmers their own age
o Individuals will always be treated as such and moved to the next group at the appropriate time as determined by coaches

Why do MMST swimmers predominantly compete in shorter events at meets and when will they start swimming longer events?
o Philosophy: Train Long, Race Short. A swimmers mind and body will decide what they like to do or what they are good at.
o What is a good result for the swimmer versus good against other swimmers?
o Winning needs to be understood as achieving the objectives of the process, not the outcome.

What do coaches look for at Practice versus Competition?
o Practice, or what we call Training in Australia is a combination of the two in my opinion. We Practice skills, we train the body. We have to train the body to accept certain situations by practicing those situations.
o Often Swim Meets are referred to as “training meets” by MMST Coaches. This means our expectations are not on the outcome, but rather on the process of the race. Did the swimmer not only work to perform the race plan, but was it done with the skills and technique required? 99.9% of the time… NO! It isn’t. That’s why we practice…

How much swimming is too much?
o A difficult question… By whose standards? Swim Canada can tell you what is required at each age as per the LTADS (
MMST’s program follows this very closely but with my (Jamie’s) own experiences injected.
o It’s very subjective and very individual. Coaches look for signs of fatigue constantly. Each swimmer responds differently to the stimulus provided in training.
o No stroke should be done to a point where the stroke deteriorates excessively.
o At no point should there be any training of bad technique.
o Having said this… There are absolutely some circumstances where this will take place. It has to as part of the learning experience for coaches and swimmers.

How do you balance stroke correction with the objective of fitness?
o Feed back to the kids is mainly made in two ways; individual and group correction. Pluses and minuses to both. Individually; you neglect the rest of the
group swimming if you work with an individual. As a group; some swimmers don’t engage fully with this type of approach.
o So which is the best? Both! They both have a place in training. Identifying the type of feedback a swimmer needs is the job of the coach.
o Swimmers on average in Purple/Bronze take 3000+ strokes a practice.

How many times should a coach correct the stroke in the practice? Is once enough? Or should it be every time? This is where a specific message to a group or individual can be delivered in a matter of secs, but again, how many times should this message be sent in a practice before something else is neglected?
o The job of the coaches is to provide swimmers with tools, much like a math teacher teaches the multiplication table to youngsters. At some point or
another, a swimmer will decide to use those tools. Eg. Streamlines, turns, kicking, elbows etc…
o So again, balancing this with Stamina is a tough ask, but not an impossible one.  Having beautiful technique doesn’t matter a brass razoo if you don’t have any base fitness. Being the fittest in a race doesn’t count for anything if you’re beaten by a more technically correct athlete.

Swimmers seem to do a lot of freestyle. Why? And at what point do coaches focus on other strokes i.e. butterfly
o Freestyle is the lightest load bearing stroke and is the best stroke for fitness.
o Basically, there’s no point doing a stroke unless it’s done well.
o Even John Swan very rarely trains anything over 50m’s of fly at a time
o While this seems to contradict the “Train Long, Race Short” Philosophy, it’s the number of repetitions that are important in achieving over training.

Why don’t the swimmers practice turns and streamlines every day in every practice?
o But… We do! Like stroke work, the kids turn approximately 60 times a practice which is more than enough chances to work on the skill.
o The challenge is having them remember to work on it… Again, give the tools and wait for them to create the masterpiece!

Why is it swimmers circle the lanes during a race at competitions?
o Old habits die hard. As the swimmers mature they learn to control their swims a little more.
o Knowing where they are in the lane is important. It’s fair better than bouncing from lane rope to lane rope which only ads obstacles and distance to the swim.