After months of planning I was really pleased to finally launch Do3 Swim Squads this morning. The first session was the 6am - 7am Monday morning squad based at Stratford upon Avon Leisure Centre. This is a little blog about how it went……
I don't mind admitting that I was a little nervous about this first session. After planning for so long, I wanted to make it perfect so that all the swimmers had a great first session, got a good impression and got a flavour of what the squads are all about. The interest in the Swim Squads has really taken me by surprise. After speaking to other swim coaches over the last year or so (and especially while over in Perth at Swim Smooth HQ), I was expecting the squads to start very slowly and for the numbers to take 6-12 months to build – I was prepared and committed long-term for this. I know that the area's open water swimmers and triathletes have been crying out for a front-crawl focused squad like like this for a long time, and this is clearly the case because by Sunday night I was already able to say 'Only 3 slots left' - we are nearly full!
I have set an initial limit of 20 swimmers per squad. This is to ensure that everyone gets the time and space they need to get the best out of their swim session. In reality, the 33m 6-lane pool at Stratford can hold 6-8 per lane so potentially 36-48 could fit fairly comfortably. I also want the squads to have a friendly and supportive vibe so the smaller number will hopefully nurture this.
The main thing that was making me nervous was all the admin I needed to go through before the session began. Swimmers want to swim, not do admin. Having said that, this was one-off stuff that needed to be covered (waivers, photo's etc). The swimmers had been warned about this and asked to arrive a little early (which is a big ask the wrong side of 6am!). By 5.50 I had a queue and by 6.10 it was all done. Now finally, the swimming….
The squad sessions rotate around Technique, Threshold/CSS, Endurance and Open Water Skills. This first session happened to be technique. The next difficulty with a new squad is getting to know 15-20 swimmers, what they are/aren't capable of, what kit (fins/paddles etc) they have, and basics like names! Prior to the session, I had done some homework and worked out roughly which lane everyone should be in. This will of course soon be fine-tuned once we do some CSS/Threshold testing in the coming weeks. I also now have everyones photos so by the time the next session comes around, I should have the names nailed – SO important in coaching.
The session itself was somewhat of a gentle introduction. A low intensity session focusing on arguably the most important skill in swimming – knowing how to breathe. We spent time doing some sink-downs https://app.swimsmooth.com/video/h5/sink-down-drill/, working on swimming while staying relaxed and exhaling under the water, doing the same while breathing bi-laterally (on both sides) and using the mantra bubble-bubble-breathe https://app.swimsmooth.com/video/if/breathe-bubble-bubble-breathe/. I also spent time putting the swimmers out of their comfort zone asking them to swim while breathing ONLY to their non-favorite side (by the amount of coughing and spluttering that I heard, I think there may be some work to do with a few!). It was an all-round easy introduction to the squad and to focussing on technique (rather than just churning out junk-miles).
The next session scheduled for the Monday squad is Threshold/CSS. This will be a different ball-game entirely with the focus here very much on getting fitter and faster.
If you would like to join one of our swim squads then please Click Here and submit the form at the bottom of the page. Hopefully see you poolside soon!