What are our general teaching priorities for your swimmer?

Regardless of a swimmer’s group or skill level one of the ultimate determining factors in how your swimmer is trained and what their coaches are focusing on is their age. Of course, there are always exceptions to these rules, and for most of those cases individual conversations will override any general outline we can provide. But in general the below outline will be fairly accurate, and as they move up the previous points still will be worked on.

8 and Under

  1. Safety – Swimmers should be able to enjoy practice without fear of injury or being incapable of safely navigating the water
  2. Fun – Swimmers should leave every practice happy and want to come back for more.
  3. The Basics – Swimmers at this age are going to learn the basics. They’ll start learning what every stroke is. Some of the rules of the sport for when it comes to competition and start gaining a fundamental understanding. They are essentially learning the Alphabet of Swimming


At this age swimmers have learned how to safely navigate through practice. They have hopefully had a fun experience and want to continue in the sport, and they now have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of swimming. They are working on (or already are) getting to the point where they can swim all the strokes legally.

  1. Encouraging Friendly Competition – Whether it is in practice or at meets you will now hear more about competition and times. About trying to swim fast to be able to go to a certain meet or swimmers racing each other in practice. Swimmers will be encouraged to start attending meets and getting times to set the foundation for their future.
  2. Legal in All Strokes – Your swimmer has learned the basics, but they may have a few weaknesses here or there where they are not as consistent as they should be. We will work to iron those spots out so swimmers are capable of swimming every stroke legally and consistently.
  3. Fun (Still) – Swimmers are 9 and 10 years old, nothing in this sport needs to become too serious too fast. Swimmers should still be leaving practice happy and excited to come to the next practice. Nothing should be as difficult or as serious as the high-level training can become for swimmers this age. Whether that is practice, results and meets, or any conversation they are having with their coach. We’re relaxed and we’re having fun while learning and setting our future foundation.


Swimmers are at the point now where they have or are very close to having the full capabilities to perform all strokes legally for an extended period. They have built up an enjoyment of the sport and started engaging in competition in a frequent manner whether that is at practice or by attending meets. Now we begin to transition to a more competitive focused side of practice.

  1. Competition – Swimmers will be encouraged to attend meets and the training that we do in practice is focused around improving ourselves so we can perform at said meets.
  2. Sportsmanship – Although this is happening at all stages once swimmers start to understand the sport better and become more serious and competitive it is very important that we instill a certain degree of sportsmanship and respect.
  3. Goals – Now swimmers begin thinking about things more long term (End of Season / Year) in regard to swimming. They may start setting or thinking about goals, getting a specific time, making it to a specific meet. We start learning how to set appropriate goals and what it may take to work towards them.


Swimmers have now transitioned into the competitive side of the sport. They are attending meets, building camaraderie with their teammates, and preparing to move into a more serious side of the sport (if that is what they choose)

  1. Commitment – Swimmers now are at a point where their level of commitment is going to have a very direct and noticeable impact on their results. They need to understand that choosing to do this sport for 1 session versus choosing to do it all year will have dramatically different outcomes. They have talked about the impact of these decisions in their goal setting but now it will begin to show as it gets more difficult to get better as you get older and faster.
  2. Priority – Where does swim fall on the list in priorities of “extra” things we do? We will always have things that are above swim: School, Family, Health but when we talk about other sports or hobbies where is swimming going to land and how do we set appropriate expectations for that priority?
  3. Long Term – We need to make sure that our commitment and priority align with our Long Term goals for the sport so we are not leading athletes down a path that has a high chance for disappointment. If an athlete wants to try to go to the Olympics or swim at a highly competitive college but swims 2 sessions a year 3 nights a week they need to realize, and we need to be able to explain, that is not an appropriate commitment for the goal we want to set.


Swimmers have chosen what they want out of this sport. They have commitments and responsibilities that they need to adhere to in order for their long term goals in the sport to be attainable and we are on a path to increase the chance of success in those goals as much as we can.

  1. Personal Responsibility – Swimmers at this point should have a fairly clear outline of how success is achieved. It is now up to them to make sure that those standards are lived up to (to some degree) and the coach is there to provide that outline and additional support. We want swimmers to have ownership of their success and (while we are trying to avoid it) ownership and understanding of why failures may/do happen.
  2. Translation – Swimmers are mature enough now that we can start translating directly how the work and success in swimming is what will give them success in life going forward.
  3. Satisfaction – Ultimately success is not guaranteed in anything, no matter how well prepared you are. We want swimmers to always be satisfied with the work they’ve put in and the commitment they have made toward whichever goal they are chasing. When setting those goals we set a minimum level of commitment that shows us “We did everything we reasonably could with the commitment we choose to make” so even though we may not always be happy with results we are satisfied with the effort.