SwimBC's first Provincial Team intiative of the year took place October 18-20 at Watermania in Richmond with over 30 of BC's best young swimmers attending with the goal of developing the skills necessary to continue on the pathway to success.
The camp kicked off with Canadian Sport Institute (Victoria) Strength and Conditioning specialist, Eugene Liang leading the swimmers through a dryland activation protocol that has been implemented with the National Team and which the leaders of Canadian swimming see as a crucial component to develop among younger swimmers.
This activation protocol isn't your usual arm swings / stretching / jumping stuff you'd typically
expect, but rather, it's a series of carefully prescribed and controlled movements that look to activate the muscle groups which are supposed to be used to maintain proper body form and technique in the pool.
All of the exercises are meant to be done in a deliberate manner, focused on utilizing the key muscle groups on the trunk of the body. For example, "Open / Close Shutters", while it involves moving arms in front of the body like on a Universal Gym "pec deck", the action is all about the action of, and needs to be driven from, the scapulae.
The exercises are presented here as a reminder for those swimmers who were at the camp on what to do; I would advise those who have not received instruction on these activities NOT do them.
Our National Team guest swimmers at the camp - Alec Page and Eric Hedlin from the Victoria Academy of Swimming - led those exercises at the start of all of the other pool sessions, and did a great job in demonstrating as well as correcting the form of the swimmers at the camp.
Our first pool session featured a series of underwater dolphin kicking drills delivered by Guest Coach, Janusz Kacmarek, coach of World Junior Championships Bronze medalist Emily Overholt.
The swimmers also did a timed 400m kick as well as a timed 25m underwater dolphin kick.
The 400m kick was done without a board, as we've come to learn that kicking performance with a board carries over very little translation to kicking performance while swimming - the body position while being propped up on a standard-sized kickboard is significantly different than it is while swimming, and the body position enforced by the kickboard runs totally counter to the "flat-lower-back" body position we're trying to get the swimmers to achieve.
With the 25m underwater kick, we've developed some benchmarks and will be creating some sort of recognition program for swimmers who are able to hit those benchmark goal times. Four swimmers at the camp hit the benchmark time for their age group at the camp.
Below are the benchmark times (which we encourage coaches to start having their swimmers aim for), as well as the four swimmers who hit the Target Time:
- Joanna Redenbach (RAC): 13.7
- Jordan Andrusak (UVPCS): 13.9
- Lucas Tyler (LLSC): 12.7
- Ben Neufeld (COMOX): 13.4
Saturday's morning workout consisted of more underwater butterfly drills and practice, and then a test set of 30x100 Free on 2:00. Second 50 always holding 800m race pace (or 400m race pace plus :01), while the first 50 descended in groups of 5 from pace + :10, pace + :08, etc. so that the last 5 were even split at 800m race pace.
The swimmers did a commendable job on this, given that it was their first exposure to this set. This is one of the sets that Swimming Canada hopes to foster in training groups throughout the country, looking to get girls holding :32/:32 and boys :30/:30 on the last group, with even stroke counts, and bringing the send-off interval down as they improve fitness and efficiency.
Saturday afternoon's four-hour pool session was a four-station circuit as follows, which the swimmers went through in groups of eight, receiving instruction and feedback at each of the stations:
- Start analysis and turn speed practice
- Underwater stroke video analysis
- Mental training skills
- Nutrition skills, specifically, how to work eat well from the typical restaurant menu
Sunday morning's pool session involved stroke reliability work delivered by Guest Coach, Brian Johns. The set, which appeared easy enough as written (50s on a minute), proved to be very challenging for the swimmers, as the stroke count and speed were dictated and had to be descended and held at various points through the set.
Sunday afternoon concluded with a breastroke technique session, delivered to encourage all of the swimmers to spend time working on the stroke, even (or particularly) if they're "not a breastroker". Many good swimmers have three good strokes but "don't do breastroke; it doesn't like me". And indeed, the most recent Canadian record holders in 400IM - both men and women - were all in that camp. Once they made the decision, though, to put serious focus and determination into developing their breastroke, that was the step that led them to become world-class IMers.
SwimBC would like to thank all of the clubs who supported the camp, and particularly, those who made do without one of their coaches for the weekend. Our sincere gratitude also to those coaches - Cory Beatt (SFA), Rod Barratt (UVPCS), Amy Canuel (WDSC), and Jason Brockman (CONNU) - who served as staff coaches for the camp, as well as Tara Ryan who served as chaperone. And a huge thanks as well to Eric Hedlin and Alec Page who delivered inspiring talks and did a phenomenal job interacting with the swimmers and providing feedback to them on everything from attitude to streamlining. They are phenomenal ambassadors for our sport and their enthusiasm for it was evident to everyone.