Saturday, August 6, 2011

Snack: Swim-Life- Should Senior Swimming in the US Take a Step Back?

Take that Stone Cold Button! Ha!

I want to draw attention to another blogger out there, not just because he is Alaskan and that automatically makes him awesome, but because he is putting some ideas out there that deserve to be heard. Cliff Murray, Head Coach of Northern Lights Swim Club in Anchorage, Alaska has a blog called Swim Life. It is a collection of workouts and random thoughts about swimming. Recently Coach Murray has put a few posts out there that question the progression of Senior qualifying meets from the LSC level up to the Olympic Trials. Cliff seems to think that the old system with Regionals, three Junior National sites and the US Open made a lot more sense than the current system of Sectionals, Junior Nats, then Nationals. Cliff also is also able to give a lot of the dynamics that come into play that differ between large and small clubs.

If you have ever thrown up your hands wondering why there are such big jumps for senior swimmers to move up to the next step in the progression as I have, you really need to give these three posts at Swim Life a look:

Save Senior Swimming in the USA

Senior Swimming in America- The Progression We Should Be Following

The Facts About Senior Swimming in America

Check them out and sound off. Do you like the current system or is Cliff on to something?


  1. Cliff is totally nailing it! Him and I are thinking many of the same things. I obviously haven't put into words as well as he has what is going on with our developmental swimming.

  2. yeah, I see it the most starting in 8th grade. If a swimmer doesn't have a sectional cut by the 8th grade they usually enter high school swimming feeling like that is "their level" and they start dropping their club goals and sticking with the small pond. It is frustrating as a coach because I see so much lost potential when they get unreasonably discouraged by the huge steps on the ladder. That's a lot of talent wasted and left undeveloped. Maybe the big programs don't have that problem... but I kind of doubt it.

  3. Jon, the Viking is a HS coach too..

  4. Agreed SV, I was apart of the old 3-meet JR Nats. HS was a great way to improve my ability to race, race often and be spotlighted in my social circles a bit more. The old JRs gave me something to reach for that was attainable in the middle between LSCS, Zones and Nationals. NSCA has got it figured out, can we hope that USA Swimming is waiting until the next quadrennial to fix it?...

    ...The HS State meet was big, but not the end all be all that many kids here in Nebraska treat it as. So much "good enough" mentality around these parts, not very many kids see the point of putting themselves out there for the POSSIBILITY of national success when they get it locally at half price.

    Fear of failure and commitment are the biggest thing holding many kids back from being great. I firmly believe the "instant gratification generation" has a tremendous amount of difficulty with long term results being exactly that, long term. If I want to talk to a friend, I text them or FB message them. If I want to be entertained, I get out my favorite show from my DVR list or turn on the XBox.

    We need to bring back lawn darts, dodge ball, gravel driveways, wood chip embedded play areas and "kids playing outside until the streetlights come on" back into the mainstream thought...

    I also *&!$-ing hate this "hand sanitizer generation" of parents too. I don't have kids, yet, but mine will: eat dirt, ride bikes, have goals and go to practice even if they don't 'feel like it'. Structure in a kids life is a good thing. They want it. They want to know where they stand, but people are to freaking worried about burnout or forcing their children. Promoting responsibility, accountability and excellence is not doing a disservice to your child personality.

    I'm going to stop now before I break my keyboard.

  5. Gordy from AlbuquerqueAugust 8, 2011 at 8:14 PM

    I just returned from the Western Zone SR Champs and that was a FANTASTIC meet for the kids you guys are describing (the kid that makes the sectional cut but doesn't have a prayer to make it back at night). Unfortunately there were a few swimmers ages 19-20 that were there just crushing the HS aged kids...give me a break, one of them won the 100 Free in a 51+...I did speak to Brandon Drawz about the possibility of a ceiling Time Standard for the older swimmers. He was open to it.

    Is that possibly the direction to go in Senior Swimming? For those of you old enough to remember, if you swam at Seniors, you couldn't swim that event at Juniors. Unfortunately, Seniors has become a college-aged meet with a few HS-ers mixed in there.

    I love the NSCA Juniors! It provides a really good intermediate step.

    I was told there are 1750 swimmers at Juniors right now - so those standards are going to drop.

  6. BTW, I love the Alaska/TX graphic.

  7. What the MN HS Coach neglected to mention about MN HS Swimming is that Minnesota allows kids in 7th and 8th grade to participate in HS Teams. Developmentally probably not the wisest choice for most male swimmers. Just saying.