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Swim BC Interviews is a series where we reach out to Swim BC members and the sporting community to provide a place to share their innovations and ideas with the swimming community. The first person we reached out to for this series was Tina Hoeben, the Head Coach of the KISU Swim Club, to share their experience with Virtual Team Meetings.
Over the past year, Swim BC clubs have had to be innovative to keep their members connected. At the beginning of the pandemic, clubs obviously were not able to have their members come together to connect with one another. Even currently, most clubs have been training in small groups without any interaction between different training groups causing a disconnect and lack of team unity.
During the pandemic, Tina adapted her already successful team meetings to a virtual platform. KISU, like most other swim clubs, were stuck at home trying to adapt to the pandemic. Trying to find a way to connect their club members, Tina turned to Zoom. KISU already had been having regular team meetings before the pandemic, when their pool time was drastically reduced due to a renovation in 2010-2011. Over the roughly 10 years that they had been doing team meetings, Tina learned how beneficial it was for her swimmers to learn outside of the pool. She said, “You don’t necessarily need water to learn everything about swimming”.
Team meetings started as a great way to go over upcoming events, drills and stroke breakdowns, so that they didn’t waste any time they had in the water. In 2020, when they moved online, they got more creative with the format adding in more elements to engage their swimmers. The biggest addition to these meetings during the pandemic was inviting guest speakers, especially KISU alumni to help inspire the athletes. “I wanted them to be able to see what other members of KISU have accomplished, and that it could be possible for them too” said Tina.
They also introduced House Teams along with the Virtual Meetings. The swimmers were split up into a designated house team with a house leader, who was usually an older swimmer on the team. They could earn points for their houses by participating in the virtual meeting activities and asking questions to the guest speakers. “They’re similar to Hogwarts houses” said Tina and the House Teams have really helped to engage the athletes with the content knowing that participation would help earn them points for their team. Now that they have transitioned back into the pool, the house teams have remained and are often used as a teaching tool during drill work.
As already mentioned, they chose Zoom to host these meetings. It was chosen because it is a safe option for hosting meetings and has a good range of additional features. They use breakout rooms for House Teams and so that the members can socialize in smaller groups. They were also able to invite other clubs like Terrace Bluebacks, Swim Faster Club and Summerland Orcas to join and Zoom helped to facilitate that.
Now that they are back in the pool, Tina is seeing real improvement from the athletes that engaged in the Virtual Meetings. The athletes who are keen and engaged were able to get a lot out of the Virtual Meetings and it shows in their performance. It also helped the athletes to develop goals to work towards once they were able to get back in the pool.
Once the pandemic is over, Tina plans to resume in person team meetings but will keep some things she learned during the last year. Tina mentioned that during virtual meetings you can feel a disconnect between the presenter and audience and, as a team, they prefer in person meetings. They are be open to continuing virtual meetings if they want to have guest speaker that can’t make it in person. Guest speakers and having KISU alumni come talk to the team was one of the key elements that helped make their virtual team meeting successful and they’re something they want to keep in their meetings moving forward.
Thanks so much to Tina for talking to us about their Virtual Team meetings. If you are interested in starting up your own Virtual Team Meetings or in person team meetings when able, Tina is open to helping out other clubs wanting to get started. Just reach out to Swim BC and we’ll put you in touch with her.
If you have an innovative idea you would like to share with the swimming community, please reach out to Swim BC.