Contributed by Todd Whitford, Great Bay Masters Coach
As USMS members, we are all part of a team, club, or workout group: a group of people who get together, jump in a pool, and swim endless laps together. We probably know the names of the coaches and the people in our lanes, and we might even know the names of most of the rest of our teammates. But are we really members of a "team"?
In November at the USMS National Coaches Clinic in San Mateo, CA, the attendees of the clinic were treated to a presentation by longtime coach Ron "Sickie" Marcikic, of the San Diego Swim Masters, about team building. As a coach for over 30 years in all levels or swimming, Sickie has a lot of experience in how to build a team from a bunch of swimmers into a cohesive whole, and shared some ideas with us.
As he went through his presentation, a common theme stood out: the coaches are the main drivers in team dynamics. We are the ones who set the tone, work with the board or other governing body to set organizational goals, help the swimmers set their goals, and generally be the leaders of the team as a whole. It is within our power to shape, or at least guide, our organizations to become something that we are proud of and that are fun to be a part of.
So how can we, as coaches and swimmers, help to build the "team" mindset? It starts with building camaraderie in the pool and on the deck. Get to know the people you swim with: their names, a little about them, what kind of people they are in and out of the pool. Then take that idea and move it out of the pool. Do something as a team that isn't a workout or a meet. Here are a few ideas:
- Going out to eat or for drinks
- A picnic
- Beach day!
- Volunteer work
- Other sporting activities such as fun runs, bike or triathlons
Bonding as a group in the workout pool and outside it will translate into an increased feeling of being a team, rather than just a group of people who all happen to swim together. You may be surprised at the results!