Monday, August 4, 2014

A polite reminder to be polite to your fellow swimmers...

Dear Swimmers

Hope you're enjoying this glorious weather today! It was simply beautiful on the pool deck this morning - thanks for joining me if you were able!

In an effort to ensure that the squad remains a happy, productive environment in which everyone can enjoying training and improving their swimming, I thought it'd be of benefit to re-hash some "lane etiquette" pointers as we roll through the last few weeks of winter and towards the new season. I apologise if I sound like a stickler when I go through these, but it's amazing how a little lane "harmony" can really affect everyone's attitude in a positive manner!

Squad attendance has been unusually high during the winter, probably spurred by the fact that we have a confirmed 263 people currently on the wait list to join the squad. If for any reason your circumstances have changed recently, do please let me know. I am keeping a close eye on numbers as we speak and as a little bit of an update in how things are looking, see below:

  • Monday 7-8am - light, technique session - FULL
  • Monday 9.30-10.30am - light, technique session - PLEASE ENQUIRE*
  • Tuesday 5.30-6.30am - moderate endurance session - FULL
  • Tuesday 6.30-730am - moderate endurance session - PLEASE ENQUIRE*
  • Tuesday 6.15-7.15pm - moderate endurance session - PLEASE ENQUIRE*
  • Wednesday 5.30-7am - very hard endurance session - FULL
  • Wednesday 9.30-10.30am - threshold development session - FULL
  • Thursday 6.15-7.15pm - threshold development session - PLEASE ENQUIRE*
  • Friday 5.30-6.30am - threshold development session - FULL
  • Friday 6.30-7.30am - threshold development session - PLEASE ENQUIRE*
  • Friday 9.30-11am - *NEW* very hard endurance session - PLEASE ENQUIRE*
  • Saturday 1-2pm - open water skills session - PLEASE ENQUIRE*

*I will be keeping a close monitor on these sessions this week and next and will offer space in them if space appears available - by all means let me know if you are keen and I will keep you posted for the time being.

Playing "nice":

Here are some tips on how to play nice within the squad sessions to ensure that everyone has a great time - I genuinely hope they help…I'll be testing you this week on these - ha!

  1. Keep your wits about you - it's easy to zone out and become so self-absorbed when you're completing a set on a target time, but please be aware that there are others around you - it's amazing what a cursory glance over your shoulder just before you set off can do to ensure you're not pushing off into someone! Think "wing mirrors"!!
  2. Mind the gap - try to adhere (where possible) to the 5-8s rule behind the person in front of you…usually the green sign on the left side of the pool at the 10m mark is the easiest way of doing this. No one likes having their toes tickled and if you do this to the person in front of you, it's usually interpreted as you wanting to get past. If the lead swimmer offers to let you go past, you should do this or at least drop back a few meters to stop touching their feet. This mostly happens unintentionally but can be very frustrating for the lead swimmer. It all starts by setting off the right distance apart and then holding this gap, as opposed to closing it down on the first length. We're not racing for sheep stations and maintaining a gap rather than closing it down will be more beneficial for your swimming anyway. Please do it.
  3. Keep to the left - in the last 3 months I've made a practical intervention to try to improve the squad by offering two ability groups within most lanes so that two people are leading two sub-groups, each with their own beepers. The idea is to allow you to be swimming at a pace more closely linked to your specific CSS pace. In an ideal world there'd be a lane for each of you and you'd each have your own specific beeper but the practicality of this in a squad environment makes it impossible sadly. A good compromise is having two smaller groups operating allowing twice as many of you have the responsibility and practice of leading the lane and getting your pacing set correctly. The downside is that eventually the faster group will lap the slower group and for a while it can get a little messy. Keep your wits about you, don't swim over the top of each other and slower swimmers keep to the left, but it is the faster swimmer's responsibility to do the passing! This happens most often in the Wednesday 5.30am and Friday 9.30am sessions (due to the length of the intervals) and to some extent the naming of these sessions "Red Mist" was born out of some of the stress and frustration that people feel in this situation of "controlled chaos". Of course it's the same sensation that many experience in a race, so learning to calmly take it all in your stride will not only benefit your session, but your racing too!
  4. Avoid short turning - in the case of Point # 3, sometimes it's inevitable that the best thing to do is to short-turn at the shallow end to avoid a big calamity as the two sub-groups converge, but you shouldn't use this as an excuse to think it's fine to do this all the time! Short turning is bad practise with your fellow buddies who feel like it messes up the rhythm of the whole lane. Please avoid where possible.
  5. Finishing / moving over - as soon as you finish an interval, move over to your right or into the very left-most corner of the lane, but do be cognisant of those behind you still wanting to finish (or turn) on the wall. During busy sessions this is especially important, so please be aware of the intentions and goals of your fellow swimmers and allow them to get their full length in too.
  6. Listening up - my poor old voice (and that of Sally's too!) has been taking a real bashing this last year, so much so that I'm off to see a voice coach on Friday to see how I could better "throw" my voice. One of the things we're looking at is a portable P.A system but even then it makes it hard if people are talking when we're trying to give instructions. I have to say that you're all normally VERY good with this (and thank you for that), but do please see if you can catch yourself out from time to time or even your fellow swimmers and politely remind them for a bit of "shhhh!" during key instructions - it'll be really very much appreciated!
  7. Take charge - don't be afraid to have a go leading the lane from time to time if you're having a good session or are on the cusp of moving up within the lane anyway. No one is going to think you've failed if you can't make the times and ironically enough I can say with 110% certainty that you'd gain more kudos from your training buddies simply from giving it a go - it's not that scary, trust me!
  8. Simply be nice - I personally feel that the squad (now into it's 8th year) has reached a good level of "maturity" and there are clearly some great friendships that have been forged. It's a lovely place for me to personally work and I love to coach you all and see you enjoying yourselves. A simple "hello" or "how are you?" with your fellow training buddies can be all that it takes to reduce some of the intensity and pressure / stress that some of you feel within a training session, so don't forget to simply be nice. The escapism that the pool allows you all is a great way to say to yourself "OK, this next hour is my chance to let go of anything I'm stressed about at work / home and just enjoy myself" - sharing that with your fellow team mates really bolsters that feeling and you'll be amazed how much better you can feel after a session if everything has gone well and everyone has been nice to each other. 

Peace out (man!),


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