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Why Swimmers Should Hire a Swimming Coach

One-on-one technique work not just for triathletes

swim, Kirsten Read, coaching, EVF
Recently an open water swimmer asked me about my how my coaching business is going.  I remarked that all of my clients this summer have been triathletes.  "Oh, that makes sense, we swimmers already know how to swim -- we don't need coaching."
I was so stunned but I didn't say anything.  Is this what people really think?
I have been mulling this over for the week and have a few thoughts of what I might have said:
1. Are you swimming as fast as you would like?
2. Do you have goals…and are you reaching them?
3. Would you like to improve?  And, if so, how do you plan to do it?
4. Do you have a coach?  And, if so, do they give you technique feedback?
5. Does your coach have open water experience?
6. Has your coach videotaped your stroke?
Growing up, my coach talked mechanics each and every day.  Feeling the water, maintaining a high elbow, setting a rhythm, strategizing a set, using drills to improve technique imperfections -- all in a day's work.  Our coach gave us personal one-on-one attention and feedback, no matter what our ability level.  And if he told you to do something, you better believe he was watching to see if you did it correctly -- and he would tell you if you did or didn't.  He also knew our times.  He paid attention to our times and gave us goal times to hit.  (When you think someone is watching, I guarantee you will find that extra power.)  We used strategies like descending, negative splitting, building, pacing, and utilizing different kinds of aerobic threshold sets -- and we knew there was a big plan at work for each season culminating at certain meets.  I remember him coming up behind the blocks one time when I was about to swim the 1500 and saying, "you are the most prepared swimmer here today."  I believed him.
When I was recruited and subsequently got to Brown for my freshman year, I found that workout consisted of the coach alternately looking at us and at his watch, saying nothing.  I remember killing myself on some distance sets and feeling really defeated when I didn't get even one word of positive reinforcement.   I really missed the interaction, both technique- and motivation-wise.  I quit the team by Halloween.
Some people swim for the fitness.  Some swim for the fun.  Some for the zen. 
But if you swim to get faster, swim farther, or more efficiently, consider enlisting the help of a certified coach who will give you that attention to take you to the next level.
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