Things to monitor, measure, weigh, count and assess during a competition

Things I monitor during competition and why

Everything and anything.

Finish time, splits, stroke rates & stroke count, quality of starts, turns and handover (videoed).

Heart Rate.


Intake of food & drink.

Medications (if they have any).

Competition Data

Type of Data

  Everything can be measured, assessed and improved … and then compared like for like until the athlete executes a skill, such as their turn, at a speed that is equivalent to good club, county, regional, national or international standards. Measured in the reasonably repeatable and similar conditions of a competition, i.e. in quasi-scientific conditions. This pre-amble applies to each of the following responses.


Race Pace Does this achieve what the swimmer and coach planned for. If so, well done, if not, why not? And what bearing did this have on the way the race played out and its outcome?


Critical Speed Was it achieved? If so when, too early or too late. What bearing did it have on the outcome of the race. How did it compare to previous competition races swimming the same stroke in the same or a different event. Why is it right, wrong or the desired figure? What bearing will this have on training and the next time this event is raced by this competitor?


Critical Stroke Rates Were they achieved? If so when, too early or too late. From break-out then held, dropping off during the middle of the race, then picking up for the last 25m or 50m. As planned or not? What bearing did it have on the outcome of the race? How was stroke rate affected by other competitors? And the lane swum in. How did stroke rates compare to previous competition races swimming the same stroke in the same or a different event. What worked and what didn’t? What bearing will this have on training and the next time this event is raced by this competitor?


Start Reaction Times Good, better or worse than usual. If so why so? How did this competitor compare to the rest of the field? How will this affect skills training poolside and land-based exercises? Does the swimmer compare well or badly with his or her peers? At what stage are they risking DQ?


Turn Times The turn times produced will tell the coach, the coaching team and the swimmer a great deal: are they performing as planned, or not? If not why not? Is their a component of the turn that is letting them down and needs to be improved? What bearing does their turn have on the outcome of their race?



Stroke Counts Up, down, spot on. Paced during the race. If not as planned what influenced a change and what effect did this have on the outcome of the race?


Heart Rates Degree to which Max HRT is reached and speed of recovery to suggest fitness.


Split Times Strategy during the race – how it was raced and whether it achieved the desire result. i.e. Did the swimmer set off too fast and have nothing left for the end of the race, or vice-versa? Or did they show no control at all speeding up and slowing down through-out. The aim is for the swimmer to feel in control because the race they give, evidenced by the split times, was that planned for.


Finish Times PB or better … or not. Short course or long (outdoors or indoors). Period in the training cycle, health, fitness & psychological wellbeing of the athlete … they can all impact on the finish time.


RPE Their perception and individual response to effort which will vary by personality, level of fitness, mood & state of health. Just as a doctor find out most by asking the patient what they consider to be wrong with them so a coach can find out from an athlete how they are coping simply by asking them. Doctors ask you to rate pain between 0 & 10; here the common practice is to ask the swimmer on a scale of 0 to 20 where 20 is outright effort.


Blood Lactate Levels Ability of the body to remove (or not produce) lactate when under sporting stress, and the ability to train this in … or to exploit a genetic advantage.




Swim Coach Kindle – Effective Poolside M-learning as in ‘Mobile,’ ‘Micro’ and by the ‘Minute’.

On its own content on an e-Reader such as a Kindle is NOT e-learning or m-learning.

(Though surely any kind of self-directed, personally motivated reading is learning?)

So how, in the context of swim coaching do I make it so?

There are two audiences, the athletes and fellow coaches.

I have dual responsibilities, as a coach putting in place ways to improve the times these swimmers produce (coaching) and in workforce development improving the skills of the team teaching or coaching swimmers.

(Ruben Guzman, The Swim Drills Book)

The Kindle content can be shown to swimmers; with the right content this has already proved brilliant at SHOWING the swimmers what I want them to do, complementing any demonstrations I do poolside.

Getting their eyes and ears engaged on the task is the challenge.

The right content, such as the Swim Drills Book has in place bullet pointed learning tips and focus points for the coach so that you can speed read this, or take a tip quite easily at a glance. More micro-learning that mobile-learning.

How about fellow coaches?

A colleague who was sitting out got her head around the Kindle after a few quick pointers on how to page turn (if we even all it that anymore).

She did two things, checked some progressions into swimming Butterfly for her next group of swimmers, taking from this a useful learning tip and then checked something on timing in Breaststroke for HER OWN swimming.

Next week, having primed her by email and some grabs on Kindle operation, I will show her how to highlight passsages in the Kindle and add notes. Surely, as other coaches do the same, this will build into an updated, club developed learning resource that more coaches and teachers will buy into because it is OF the club … we can identify, as you can in a Wiki, the contributions being made by people with decades of swimming experience as athletes, Masters champions and highly qualified sports coaches?

Not M-Learning yet

Now I integrate the Kindle content, this and other resources into two things:

Formal Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) qualifications, for example Levels 1, 2 & 3 Teaching Aquatics and Levels 1,2 & 3 Coaching Swimming.

Develop content in my swim coach blog, that is gradually taking the extensive offline electronic record or blog set to private, that I have now kept for five years. In here I have just about every session I have taken, possibly 1,000 sessions?

Encourage, through the formal programme of teaching and coaching that we have closer integration of what we do poolside and in the gym with both these formal and informal learning resources.

I’ve already shared ideas with an e-learning colleague in e-learning who did a Kimble e-learning piece in Articulate some weeks ago.

We are going to plan out generating our own content, including exploiting the affordances of the Kindle to create a series of ‘Flicker Book’ animations i.e. by controlling the speed at which you ‘page turn’ you generate or pause an animation that shows a specific technique. This might be as simple as how to scull, or long-legged kick for Front Crawl and Back Crawl.

Fascinating. My love for swimming and coaching swimming has been rejuventated as every time I am poolside will now be a workshop for learning.

An Aside

Four days ago 17 poolside helpers, assistants, teachers, coaches and principal teachers – a team manager too, attended a traditional ‘Tell and Talk’ point point workshop on Safeguarding Children.’ I was unwell so unable to attend. I would like feedback from this, but something more than some Smiley Faces or boxes ticked.

Any suggestions on approaches to Feedback that work without having to hire in consultants?

Senior Club Coach Management Duties


Senior Club Coach Management Duties

(Taken from Unit 1 of the UKCC/ASA Senior Club Coach Certificate course:)

List FIVE Management duties that you could be required to undertake in your role as a Level 3 Senior Coach, including the tasks associated with each duty.

Leading and managing a team of paid and volunteer poolside helpers, assistant teachers, teachers, coaches and other poolside staff/team.

Reporting back to the club committee especially the Treasurer, Club Secretary, Welfare Officer and Chairman. Supervision, observation and encouragement of teachers and coaches. Setting their goals, recognising and rewarding them. Identifying staff needs and recruitment and induction.

Budget for costs relating to equipment hire and purchase

Communicating verbally and in writing details of the teaching and coaching team, their goals, as well as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Price, compare costs, agree budget with the Treasurer, spend, check invoices and receipts. Allocate kit/equipment and tracks its use and replacement.

Attend committee meetings as a senior committee member

Report to the committee on progress of the team and suitability of teaching/coaching. Offer comment on all matters relating to coaching swimmers: water time, teacher to swimmer ratios, attendance, galas etc:

Data gathering, analysis and communication

Ensure that appropriate methods of swimmer data collection are used regularly and hat this information is communicated and interpreted so that each swimmer understands its use.


Attracting and retaining volunteers



The biggest region in the country and the largest in terms of the number of clubs, however, there are too many v.small clubs.


Performance coaches to mentor others.

“If you develop your coaches you will develop your swimmers.”


1 Beacon Club                                 Portsmouth

12 Swim ‘Hub’ Clubs                       Swim21 Networks

116 Clubs Swim21 Accredited        Currently 86

Performance Clubs                          Bracknell


Forming a ‘Hub’ for the South East Region

Talent pool

Top 24 Age Group Swimmers, Top 20 Youth Swimmers & Top 12 Open Swimmers to attend two 1 day workshops.

Will work with performance coach, nutritionist, physio & reaction coach.


Target of 32 S1-S14 Classified

Will attend their own camp

Funding to develop the network & disability swimmers


Target of 600 New Volunteers

Target of 200  New Licensed Officials


Target of 1,425 Teachers @ UKCC Level 2




x 7   50m Pools so far 4 with a 5th later in 2009 & hopefully a couple in Kent.



John Ingram CHAIRMAN Guildford SC

Guildford 400 members – target 550 in 210



Long Term Head Coach to deliver a vision of what they want to do i.e. where we want to go  – even though it may take 5 to 6 years.



That is a balance of skills – not just parents of swimmers on the board.


Volunteer Development

By getting parents of new swimmers involved (doesn’t follow given what he says above?)

Educate & communicate with parents

e.g. A termly squad swimmer & parent meeting


+ website

& notice board


At Guildford

Professional Coaches

x2 Level 4 coaches

x1 Level 3 coach


FIVE salaried coaches & 18 additional coaches.


Develop home grown talent with their Academy.


This has taken four years to get GOLDS in Age Groups at a National Level.

It took 9 years to develop a relationship with Surrey University.

Expectation of excellence

Common coaching language & take it seriously

Consistent pool time/harmonised

Can take three years




Pester the balcony

From regular parent & swimmer meetings

Gradual introduction (draw them in)

advertise in the newsletter (what newsletter)

Play to people skills

Direct approach

Ask regularly

Create a crisis


Club website

Develop swimmers


Young People Volunteers (schools)


Make it an attractive club

Hire a top notch Head Coach


vs. Dump & run




PAY ASA reg fees

Thank you gifts

Christmas Dinner

Recognition = Club Volunteer of the Year

Cover realistic expenses

Make them feel wanted/valued

Feed them (officials)

Give them an event T Shirt (officials)

Don’t take advantage of them


(Pay them)





Every day try to change one thing

Olympic dream from AGE 7

Broken arm turned out to be cancer age 13 & muscle in shoulder removed.


Party of those who had made it possible from the lady who opened up at 5.30am so that he could train


He didn’t let others get in his way


Get you through the grind


How did you get up in the morning?


Had a list of fifty reason why I should get up to train. Ran through the list and by the time I got to 30 I was up & out of the house.


Made anything a reward.







Teacher Induction

For Swimming & Water Polo Teachers & Coaches

  • IoS & other Memberships
  • Qualifications
  • CPD
  • CRB disclosure no. & date of last check

New teachers & poolside helpers will need to take part in an induction process.

An informal introduction to the pool, the teachers

  • Basic Emergency Procedures & Normal Operating Process of the pool (where these are relevant).
  • A CRB check done,
  • Details & proof of qualifications & CPD.


The lesson plans

Lane structures

Teaching/coaching programme & contact details.


They too will need a copy of the:


  • Club Mission Statement
  • Code of Ethics & Child Protection Policy

It is my intention to assemble all this information into either a folder (printed out) or in digital form as an e.mail attachment or on a memory stick or CD.

They will need to read the Code of Ethics and sign a piece of paper saying they agree to abide by them.

I’m not suggesting that the Membership Secretary is responsible for all of this as it should be shared out with the Welfare Officer, Head Coach & Principal Teachers, possibly also the Chairman if someone is signing a contract or letter of agreement. Some clubs have a ‘Volunteer Liaison Officer’ who may do some of this.







Three Month Summer Teaching Programme


Date w/c


Contrast Act


July 1


Fly Turns

July 2 Breaststroke
BR Turns
July 3


Backstroke Starts

July 4


Test sets G7-G9


July 5


BR starts

August 1 Starts/Turns

Comp Start Testing

Use competitive start sheets
August 2

Water Survival

Use water survival sheets

Swimmers to bring clothing

August 3 Relays

All groups joined together

August 4



Sept 1



Backstroke Turns All promotions to be handed to principal teachers

Sept 2


BR Turns

Sept 3


Dev Gala 21st Sept. Triangle G1-5
Sept 4

Teachers Choice/Revision

Dev Gala 25th Sept. G6-Mini