Swimming Question: How should I prepare for the first day of practice as a new High School Swimming Coach?

I get a lot of questions about swimming from a diverse range of people. Sometimes they’re interesting enough that I can share them with the world. This is one such question. I implore you to look at the list from SwimSwam. USA Swimming is a fantastic resource for coaches of all levels and skill.

Dear podcast listener,

I can’t really say what exactly you should do as a new swim coach on your first day of High School practice; I’ve never been a High School coach.

I can talk about what I would do, and maybe that will help you.

First, I looked up on the internet for some ideas. I think this was the best source:

USA Swimming has a TON of good, free, ideas for how to be an effective swimming coach. They want you to succeed.

Here are some things you should do on the first day:
– Set expectations before people arrive. Email, text, whatever way you communicate outline what people should expect when they show up. Include the following:

     – What time they should arrive; 10 minutes before practice time? 5? 15?
     – What should they wear? Swim suit? towel, goggles, etc.
     – When will they be getting in the water? What time? ( I think you should have a practice planned).
     – What will the veteran swimmers do, varsity. What will new swimmers do? JV, new swimmers to the team.
     – what lanes will people be divided into, will they have a different set based on ability? Will you separate the advanced swimmers from the beginners?
     – Direct people to common swimming terminology and request proof that they understand things like streamline, circle swimming, etc.

I would have a brief speech with everyone, or different groups of swimmers before or after their practice. Detail what you expect of them; practice requirements, meet requirements, how you’ll assign events to swimmers, how you’re going to train them, etc. Be clear and upfront with what your goals are and how you are going to help swimmers meet their goals. Define office hours or opportunities for swimmers to meet with you and discuss their swimming performance and time goals. What time standards are they going to aim for. How are you going to increase your training program to accommodate those goals. How will you structure their taper?

I’d reach out to the local club team to see if they’ve been working on anything or if they have any insight into your swimmer’s abilities.

With honesty, upfront expectation setting, and general competency I’m sure you’ll do well. Please let me know if this helps and I’m open to hearing back from you.

Better swimming.
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