The coaching staff view swimming as a team sport in which a spirited team culture is valued, and believe in developing the whole swimmer.
No one should leave a meet until we give our last cheer after the last event, and they have helped clean up our area.
Everyone counts, and everyone contributes. From lane 1 to lane 6, all have something positive to contribute, and all make a us a better team.
We strive to have every swimmer compete in at least two events in every meet. Although we strive for this, there are several things we need to keep in mind:
A. Exhibitions count as an event, and those times can be used towards qualifying for Championships.
B. The real time a swimmer proves they are able to handle a higher level of competition is in practice, not in a meet.
C. Our definition of fair is not everyone swimming the same number of events, but everyone getting what they need to succeed. Therefore, it is fair for a higher level competitive swimmer to swim in three or four events, because they need that level and intensity of competition to improve. It is also fair for beginning and less proficient competitive swimmers to swim in one or two events, because that is appropriate for their skill level. It is not fair for us to hold back a swimmer who can achieve more success, not for the individual nor to the team. At the same time, it is not fair for us to put a swimmer in a race who is likely to DQ; it is akin to setting them up to fail. However, the more proficient a swimmer is at multiple strokes, the greater their opportunities will be. For example, if a swimmer can only do freestyle, then he/she is limited to the number of races available to him/her. Don't forget, we have 120+ swimmers whose ages range from 5-19 each summer, whose purposes for joining the team vary, whose abilities range from beginner to national qualifier, from swimmers who can handle no more than 500 meters in practice to those who can handle 5,000+ (and sometimes they are in the same age group). Additionally, coaching a team of our size is always a balancing act between the needs of the team and the needs of individuals. We hope we have earned your trust in our judgment in maintaining this balance.
D. Having said this, we value every individual and we believe every swimmer (no matter their ability level) will have access to all the strengths of each of our coaches. Therefore, every coach works with each ability group at least 1-2 times each week through our rotation.
Also feel free to occasionally to let us know how your kids are feeling and any insights you may have as to what may work with them. Some teams discourage parents on deck, or parents questioning coaches, we do not. We're comfortable and confident in our philosophy and decision making process to be open to parent concerns and ideas. We'd rather explain why we do what we do, than let gossip, rumor, or misperceptions take hold.
Remember though, almost every swimmer wants to swim more, and almost every kid believes they work harder than their peers.
E. Every coach rotates through all ability groupings throughout the season during practice, and every swimmer should see one of us before and after their races. Our goal is to attend to each swimmer and provide them with the instruction and guidance that can best help them improve no matter their ability level. When each individual improves, we all improve. It is our goal for every coach to have trained, taught, guided, or in some way interacted with each swimmer throughout the season; we do not believe in one coach/one group. We believe in team, and even our coaching rotation philosophy follows that.
F. Food for thought: Coach Drake's own daughter didn’t swim in half the meets her first year, because he didn’t think it was fair for her to replace more advanced swimmers in her age group. Also, since she could only swim freestyle and backstroke without disqualifying, her opportunities to swim that year were limited to those events. That meant her chances of swimming only one event in a meet increased. As for his son, he only had the chance to swim in two meets when he moved from the Developmental Group, and only in one freestyle event per meet. Of course, now that they are more proficient they get more opportunities, but it is a reflection of the standards all are held to. By the way, in summer swimming, there is a max of four events per meet, per swimmer. Everyone will swim in 2-4 events each (relay or individual).
Every swimmer should train and aspire to be physically and mentally flexible, to be an athlete that can swim and compete in any stroke (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle). Not only does this make the individual a better swimmer, but makes the entire team stronger. This focus creates a team with depth and a team that can adapt itself to meet the challenges posed by other teams.
Although we recognize individual achievement, it is always within the context of how it benefits the team. What swimmers learn is how individual sacrifice not only leads to a stronger and more successful team, but how their sacrifice actually helped them as individuals, because they often are able to improve themselves in areas they may not have been as good in previously.
Also, win or lose, we are always the loudest, most sport spirited, classiest team in the league. In every meet, you can always hear us cheering from start to finish. We stress good sportsmanship, not only from individual team members, but as a team. At the end of every meet, regardless of the result, we always give the other team a loud, spirited cheer, and shake hands too.
Swimming is a team sport:
If you put Michael Jordan in his prime on any high school basketball team, the performance of that one player would likely result in a trip to a state championship. In fact, if you put even just one professional level athlete on any high school basketball, football, soccer, or baseball team, it would have a dramatic impact on how that team performs. However, in swimming if we had Michael Phelps on our team, we still might end up with the same record, even when we were winless in some seasons. The reason being is that any one swimmer’s impact is limited. For example, in the Penn Jersey League, a swimmer is limited to four events, which means the most points he/she can score is 16.25, or only 5.9% of the total needed to win. Even if we had four Olympic swimmers, their impact is limited to the age group they compete in, which represents no more than 20% of the total points. As a result, in swimming the team score truly reflects the total strength of the team, and not how “fast” individuals appear on paper.
Additionally, the strength of a team is not how "fast" your kids are or how "good" the coaches are, but how well organized we are. Successful teams are able to more consistently get their swimmers to attend meets, to arrive on time, to get the right swimmer, to the right block, at the right time. If you can't do that, it doesn't make a difference how "fast" or "good" you are. The score of the meet reflects that organizational acumen as well.
It is absolutely our belief that swimmers who sit together, swim together, and cheer together, perform better together.
When swimmers don't show up at meets, it affects many more kids. One swimmer who misses a relay, means that the other three potentially don't get to swim. Often we can make quick substitutions, but when the number of changes starts to become overwhelming, not only do we start to run out of people to substitute, but it screws up the marshallers, judges, scorers, coaches, and swimmers. If one swimmer does not show up without informing us, then the changes to the meet line-up snow balls, and potentially, for every one swimmer who doesn't show up, it can result in 12 changes we need to make off-the-cuff during the meet. If several kids don’t show up, the coaches start prioritizing and when we get to the last few, often it results in no other choice but to scratch the event and/or swimmer.