Questions Regarding Swimming During the Summer at SwimMAC

My swimmer wants to swim with the neighborhood team this summer.  What is the best way to have him/her involved with both SwimMAC and summer league?

The coaching staff encourages summer league swimming.  Please prioritize SwimMAC practices over Summer League practices to maintain progressive momentum in the program and attend your Summer League practices as frequently as you want.

Why is it important for my young swimmer to continue with SwimMAC through the summer?

The SwimMAC program is a year-round USA Swimming team that moves to the international Long Course format in the summer.  This is where swimmers gain invaluable experience on the path to elite levels of swimming.  In order to continue to gain skills and strength along this path, we highly emphasize Long Course season engagement. The technique and strength of conditioning required over the summer advances their abilities for the next fall season.  We do not want swimmers to miss this pivotal step in their athletic progression.

Can my swimmer get anything out of his/her summer league practices?

Summer league coaches have a tough job.  They are often working with a large number of kids with diverse abilities and experience.  The majority of the neighborhood swimmers have not been swimming since last August, so it might not be much more than a fun time in the water with friends.  Once your swimmer has advanced to Dolphin and beyond, we encourage SwimMAC athletes to help out their summer teams by assisting in teaching at practices and helping little ones at meets.

How much does it cost for our swimmer to swim at MAC during the summer?

If your swimmer started in September and you paid the ten monthly installments, then your fees are paid up through the summer. If you started later in the year, then you will continue to pay the monthly fee through July 1.

What’s the difference between the short-course and long-course season?

The short-course season generally runs from September through March.  Most of the meets during these months are conducted in 25-yard pools.  The long-course season begins in April and runs through July or August, depending on the championship meet dates.  Long-course competitions are conducted in 50-meter pools.

Long Course is the format for USA Swimming’s summer meet schedule and the only way we can compare ourselves to international competitors who swim meters all year. All world records are given in meters, and international competitions, such as the Olympics, are conducted in long-course pools.  For more information, please see our detailed explanation on Short Course vs Long Course swimming.

How do we compare our swimmer’s times from short course to long course?

We can of course convert overall distance from yards to meters with a mathematical equation or a conversion tool, but many factors play a part in the difference between a short-course and a long-course time.  For instance, a short course 50 Free has a flip turn, in addition to the first 15 meters off the start, there are about 10 yards that set up the flip turn and another 10 yards of “breakout” swimming that follow and then the transition to the finish.  In a long course 50 Free, there is no flip turn, only a sustained straight-away that must be managed.  The flip turn is essentially a “hurdle” that needs to be managed, but no straight-away speed skills are displayed.  These are two completely different events.

We all know in butterfly, the more stokes you do, the harder it can become.  In a yards butterfly race, you may only need to handle less than 10 strokes at a time, and every 10 strokes you get a new wall to regain your speed off of.  In long course, you will need to sustain your stroke for more than 20 strokes at a time, over half of which have no wall support left to sustain you.  In every race, the long course version reveals your actual swimming skills, whereas the short course version reveals how well you “bounce off walls.”

What advantages does my swimmer get from swimming long course?

There are significant advantages to swimmers who fully invest in the long course season.  Although we are always working to increase the “distance-per-stroke,” the long course format rewards these more efficient, sustainable swimming strokes and produces swimmers who are stronger and can hold their technique together over the increased pool length.  The Long Course season challenges swimmers technically and physically in a way no other part of the year can, so intense engagement from April through July is pivotal to a swimmer’s long-term development.

How many long-course meets should we try to attend?

There are not many opportunities for long-course meets, so please take advantage of each meet that your swimmer is offered.  Since the race experience and strategies are different for long-course than for short-course, it takes time and practice to learn how to put together great long course races.  We encourage swimmers to take advantage of every opportunity possible to swim and improve over the Long Course season.

When does the summer practice schedule go into effect?

The summer season actually begins in the spring as we transition from short course to long course.  Then after school gets out, we go deep into long course training that often takes place in the morning and middle of the day.  We encourage all groups to take advantage of the long-course opportunities offered.

Do you have any other advice for us regarding the long-course season?

We encourage families to take their vacations after the championship meets (usually done by the last day in July) and be ready to return to training around the time that school starts.  The swimmers have worked hard all year, and we want to complete the cycle.  It is best not to interrupt their long course season as it’s so short and intense; it’s hard to find a way back on track after a week off.  Long-course practices not only will help them now but are also important for their long-term swimming development.

If you have any questions about the best schedule for your swimmer at this point in his/her swimming, please speak with your swimmer’s group coach.