ASA Level 3 Swimming Coach seeking opportunities with a club in the South East

There are eleven modules to complete to qualify as an ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) Level 3 Senior Club Coach – I have now passed all the first ten modules which in each case has included reading resources, attending a day long workshops (when I did it Long Term Athlete Development ran over two days), reflecting on practice in your own club (applied learning) then completing and submitting an assignment (less an essay, then fill in the spaces with phrases, sentences or single words).

Due to a year working away from home I became ‘freelance’ and find myself without a club to complete my final, poolside assessment. I am prepared to give 12 hours a week for a year to the right club so long as I have a squad (say 8 to 12 swimmers) of at least County or Regional standard. I live in Lewes, East Sussex and work 30 hours a week in Brighton during the day. Within reason I can make early morning sessions, while evenings and weekends are best.


On the importance of keeping accurate records

It is important to keep accurate records

Accurate records allow you to contrast, compare and analyse factors that influence the way an athlete may develop, perform or ‘turn out.’ Inaccurate records that cannot be relied upon, or where there are gaps in the information give only part of the picture and can be misleading. The saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out,” which is no more true than here – if the records aren’t accurate they have no value.

By keeping sets of times achieved by swimmers I have coached and taught across different events I am quickly able to profile and assess any new swimmer I meet. Only by keeping test data on swimmers is it possible to make adjusts to their training, what is more, as you a proven right or wrong by what you do and how things turn out your predictions and planning changes.


Details from Hy-Tek Management System,
Details from my bespoke FileMaker Pro DTB
Session plans with assessments from my Session Plan folders across teaching groups, training groups and squads.

A coach is like a juggling artiste from Cirque du Soleil

On top of their water and land training, you’re going to have to think about nutrition. But to keep them motivated how are they handling friendships, school/college work and the costs of swimming. Are they being supported by the family?

1. Relationships

2. Education

3. Money

4. Family

Keeping them in line and motivated can be achieved the by listening; by doing so you come to understand their strengths and weaknesses, their hopes and ambitions. Too often a swimmer will quit when they get into a pre-exam panic; they ought to have planned their study time, production of course-work and revision just as their swimming programme is planned. By knowing where they are headed help can be given here too by liaising with their school, as we should have done through-out their age group and junior squad swimming ‘career.’

There’s no assuming that all swimmers have a ‘busy’ life; indeed they have made sacrifices in order to swim. The club compensates for some loss of a busy social life by having club evenings and trips away at half term, as well as the annual ‘even’ camp which in 2008 went to Australia. To keep teenagers engaged this is vital, otherwise they will naturally start to feel they are missing out.

What I do in my coaching sessions to develop the following capacities.

Please correct, or suggest your own. Better still I’ll publish this as a Wiki and we can all dip in to help get it right.


Coaching Activity
Skill Development

Mid-pool turns

Dead Starts


Leaping (from blocks)

10m Underwater

25m Dolphin kick

Bilateral breathing

Turning to different sides

Fitness Development




15m sprints

Kick sprints

10m UW + 4 stroke breakout

Midpool turn + 4-8 strokes



Swimming with parachutes, pull-buoys or paddles.



Weights & repetitions



Mid-pool Turns

Dead Starts


Endurance T.30. No. repetitions. 2 hour sets. High Volume at X pace below Max HRT.




Land Based exercises


Tactical Development


Watching playback of your own races and those of others.

Analysing a competitors strengths & weaknesses.



Psychological Skill Development



Use of language that conjures up images appropriate to the desire outcome.


Relaxation Techniques



Resting after pool time on mats


Goal Setting


Using Personal Log Books

Looking a Calendar of Events

Achieving something as a team




Swimming with a cup of water on the forehead.

Accurately counting strokes or judging pace.

Accurately judging splits & negative splits.



Is it OK to change your mind over a session you had planned?

How I involve swimmers in the planning process? What’s the benefit of this?

Get them to complete a goal sheet or assessment sheet and from this consider personalising the plan, either adapting what they would do as part of a squad or think about a individual set and scheme of work. They buy into something if they feel responsible for it – this kind of intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic motivation.

When I change my mind.

I hadn’t appreciated that most of my swimmers would be taking part in a massive internal gala the following weekend and they naturally wished to practice starts and turns rather than drilling on specific strokes. I was more than happy to accommodate so after a warm up we worked on starts, turns, streamlining and transitions for all strokes from the deep end and shallow end.

Expecting a group of seven swimmers to turn up for a session that was earmarked for BK I found I had only one swimmer. Looking at his notes I knew this would be a great chance to work on his dive and BR so that is what we did.

Working with a group of young adolescent swimmers who were having problems with the rigid sessions being delivered by the former coach and knowing that fins would engage them we did a programme geared around dolphin kick and drills into FLY.

The aim is not always to get the planned result from the session, but to get a result or the best result from the session you end up taking. This might change because of the mix of swimmers or additional info: such as a event coming up or once in a while the need to shut close the pool for emergency repairs resulting in a need to do something else.

Content to push the training group hard whenever I took them to cover for someone else I was surprised to learn that half of them had just come from an hour long land based training session so were not only warmed up … but actually pretty tired out too! The session I had for them that included an 800m warm up then 1600m VO.

Swimmers have goal sheets that invited them to assess their strengths, weaknesses and goals.

They discuss this with me and this will then be reflected in the kind of sessions they do. They are asked to remind their coach of their individual ambitions/plans which may simply mean a swimmer ding more arms only work, or working on a combination of strokes or specific drills with a set that all can follow.


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.


Tips from Beth (1)

When addressing kids use FOUR words and use their language.


As a puppet controlled from the ceiling


Press the shoulder down

Catch as if popping your head over a garden wall


Times achieved at lower distances must be achieved at longer distances.

On every break say what you need to say in 2 to 4 words

Every swimmer has a different make-up and body.


Shoulder not deep. Nose on the water to breathe vs shoulder too deep and mouth goes under water.

FC Kick Problems

So kick like a football

Hips always too low

Legs lazy

UW phase

Like going down a flume tunnel and follow the line

Surface like a submarine


Hand out

Head in neutral

No go zone in front of hands

Must push down to the waist

Breathe early

Palm up/thumbs in air

Squirrel Nutkin pose

Flick at back

FLY Kick

If they’re kicking as the arms go in the other kick will follow.


The ‘do nothing glide’

Personal Survival

Swimming is a life skill

Be wary of cold water

Understand hypothermia

N.B. Retention of body heat

Treading Water

H.E.L.P. (Heat Escape Lessening Position)


Entering the water

  • Straddle jump
  • Track jump

Treading Water

  • Breaststroke
  • Cycling
  • Flutter
  • Eggbeater

Wearing Clothes

Climbing Out

  • Palms Down
  • BR Kick

Code of Ethics

Following ASA guidelines the club expects poolside helpers, assistant teachers, teachers & coaches to follow and abide by a code of ethics.

This covers such things as:

Put the well-being & health & safety if members above all other considerations.

Comply with all ASA codes.

Work without discrimination of any kind.

Respect each other.

Obided by the pool rules.

Obey the spirit of the sport’s rules.

Keep it appropriate to the age, ability & experience of the individual.

Have the certificates for the qualifications you say you have

Treat information on others in confidence

Be clean & smartly turned out.

Do not drink or smoke before or during teaching sessions or competitions.

Seek ways of and be willing to increase the development of your current qualifications.

Normal Operating Procedures

An NOP is the detailed description of the day-to-day operation of a pool. Centre manages through to swimming teachers ought to be familiar with the procedures.
From a teacher or coach’s point of view the duty manager remains in control and will direct all operations in the event of an emergency.

Let’s consider the list of items that must be considered:

  • The first aid room & its contents/stocking
  • The first aid reporting procedure
  • Duties of recreational assistants & life guards
  • Communications within the centre (radios/public address system/alarms)
  • Emergency procedures
  • The nature of the pools
  • Glare
  • Responsibilities of the lifeguard (behaviour/rotations/supervision zones/awareness of risks)
  • Bather loads
  • casualty recognition
  • First Aid awareness
  • Procedures with schools
  • Safe Diving Policy

Procedures are also given for gala hire & pool parties, float sessions & aqua aerobics.

From a coach & teacher’s point of view:

  • they must be suitably qualified
  • whilst responsible for the safety of their children in the case of an accident they must not leave swimmers unattended but call over a member of the pool’s staff.
  • they should know the position of safety equipment, 2 way radios & emergency alarms.
  • wear the club uniform so that they are immediately identifiable

Senior Club Coach Course with Bill Furniss, Nova Centurion

Sunday 26th October 2008

Shot to pieces by a dreadful night and thrown by the clocks going back, even though this gave me an extra hour in bed, I still get to Nottingham late.

Only 5 mins but the swimmers were attacking the water and our group and divided in two with half taking a lane while the others assessed their coaching styles.

I apologised to Bill Furniss and joined my group trying to put this gaffe behind me.

We judged our fellow coaches harshly then had a go ourselves.

J & I took a lane of 15/16 years olds, introducing ourselves to Kyle, Eddie, Shannon & Gina.

They had a punishing set:

This is for swimmers achieving national qualifying times. Age 13 to15.


4 x 300 FC even pace HRT -30 on 4.00/4.00/

1 x 100 BC EZY

200 IM PB + 30

3 x 300 FC even pace HRT -30 on 4.00/

1 x 100 BC EZY

200 IM PB + 25

2 x 300 FC even pace HRT -30 on

1 x 100 BC EZY

200 IM PB + 20

1 x 300 FC even pace HRT -30 on

1 x 100 BC EZY

200 IM PB + 15

The objectives were to keep the heart rate up, to keep the pace even, and on the IM speed up so as to get within 15 of PB time.

Two coaches to three swimmers gave them too much attention, but talking it through with J we could divide the responsibilities so that I took stroke count and watched their turns.

My stopwatch wasn’t working so I couldn’t get stroke rate, a nuisance as it meant my having to count 25m at a time – It gave me the results though.

Sometimes I gave too much +ve encouragement instead of delivering the objective loosing the fact that I don’t want them to cool down or get too much rest. K wasn’t able to keep up and having spoken to him I pulled him out – he’s ill.

E’s pace was like a roller-coaster, anywhere between 19 & 22 and on his FC turn in particular gives no UW kick and his glide was short.

With the girls they had an even pace, but weren’t reaching their targets on heart rate or their times on the IM so we had to get them to up the pace.

We set them right on all of this, E going for maintaining a faster, steady pace, but only getting a reasonable dolphin kick out of his turn in the last IM while the girls, technically v.accurate, had to pick up the pace and succeeded in doing so. Two coaches to 1 lane, with only 3 in the lane! An extreme ratio but it showed the advantaged of having a few people more poolside.

Bill always has TWO stop watches running. He gives times & stroke rate and knows if a swimmers is on or off target and tells them how to correct this.