coaches

NE Coaches Attend Para Athlete Clinic at Adaptive Sports New England

Contributed by Crystie McGrail GBM & NE LMSC Coaches Chair

Back: Joe Walsh (President Adaptive Sports New England), Todd Whitford (GBM), Cindy Regnante (Unattached), Eileen Craffey (NEM-TNT), Eileen Glovsky (NEM-CRM)  Front: Anna Johannes (Swim Coach, Adaptive Sports New England), Laura Dennison (NE LMSC Para-Athlete Chair & NEM-CRM)  Not pictured: Crystie McGrail (NE LMSC Coaches Chair, GBM)

Back: Joe Walsh (President Adaptive Sports New England), Todd Whitford (GBM), Cindy Regnante (Unattached), Eileen Craffey (NEM-TNT), Eileen Glovsky (NEM-CRM)

Front: Anna Johannes (Swim Coach, Adaptive Sports New England), Laura Dennison (NE LMSC Para-Athlete Chair & NEM-CRM)

Not pictured: Crystie McGrail (NE LMSC Coaches Chair, GBM)

QUINCY, MA -- Five coaches trekked to the Quincy YMCA to observe an Adaptive Sports New England Para swim workout on Sunday, March 25th. Para athletes have a disability (mobility, visual, or cognitive impairment) that can create additional intricacies for coaches crafting an effective swim workout Laura Dennison, NE LMSC's Para Athlete Chair and member of Charles River Masters, spearheaded this observation initiative.

Some of the guidance to help coaches integrate para swimmers into Masters workouts includes:

1)     Communication is key to building a strong athlete-coach understanding of possibilities and effective adaptations for inclusion.

2)     Patience is important to learning how differently-abled bodies can move through the water effectively. 

3)     Creating the space for a para athlete to be included in your workouts is essential.

4)     Focus on time, not distance, to help keep multi-ability lanes in sync.

5)     Focus on what will create forward propulsion for the para swimmer, and release the goal of an "ideal" stroke technique.

For additional para swimming resources, see the USA Paralympics website.

USMS to Deliver Free Stroke Clinic in Rhode Island

Bill Brenner

Bill Brenner

LINCOLN, RI -- USMS COO and Education Director Bill Brenner will lead a free stroke clinic at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) Flanagan Campus on Saturday, September 30, 2017. This clinic is coming to New England as a result of our LMSC winning the USMS Early Renewal contest in November and December 2016.

The clinic is free (no cost) to current USMS members and prospective USMS members age 18 and up.* Registration is limited to 36 swimmers in the water and up to 12 coaches who wish to gain practical experience working on-deck with Bill. Check-in is from 8:30-9:00 AM, and the clinic runs from 9:00 AM to noon. There will be an optional post-clinic lunch at a nearby restaurant (possibly Ladder 133 Sports Bar & Grill).

The goal of the clinic is to help swimmers improve stroke technique and teach drills that will enable continued stroke refinement. All four strokes will be evaluated and corrected. Swimmers are not required to swim all strokes and may work on only those strokes they choose. All swimmers should bring goggles, fins, paddles and a towel -- fins are necessary to facilitate drills.

USMS_Logo_tm_400x289.jpg

To register as a swimmer or on-deck coach, email Douglas Sayles at NEchair@usms.org or call (401) 633-5756.

Because the number or participants is limited, we ask that (barring emergency) everyone who registers show up.

 

*Prospective USMS members may participate in the clinic by signing a no-cost USMS trial/guest membership form onsite. Former USMS members whose memberships have lapsed must renew to participate in this clinic.

Masters Coaching Position Available in Brookline, MA

Seeking Masters Swim Team Coach

What: The City of Brookline is seeking a masters swim team coach to effectively design and administer workouts to US Masters swimmers. The position comes with competitive pay and excellent working conditions.

Where: Evelyn Kirrane Aquatics Center, 60 Tappan Street, Brookline, MA 02445, (617) 713-5435

When: Practices are Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 6:15 – 7:30am

Requirements:

  • At least one season coaching competitive swim team: age group, club, or USMS
  • Prefer experience coaching or teaching adults.
  • Minimum age: 21 years old

Contact Deb Cohen at dcohen@brooklinema.gov or call (617) 713-5434

Becoming a Team

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
  • Camping

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!  

How to Make Your Freestyle More Propulsive

Contributed by Bill Paine, Tech Masters (MIT)

For years, I have observed that many swim articles that turn the spotlight towards freestyle "technique" leave me with an unclear picture of what the "latest and greatest" contemporary wisdom is for this stroke. Especially the pulling motion! It seems that when anyone writes about the physics part of the stroke or other technical mechanics, things just get confusing. Then there are the videos. Sometimes they are shot so that all you see are blurry side-views that really don’t show you the actual arm pull. I’ve concluded, with regard to freestyle, that the pulling motion is one of swimming’s best-kept secrets.  

In November 2016, 4-time Olympian and noted author, Sheila Taormina, delivered an enthusiastic, laughter infused, and extremely insightful presentation to 150 coaches at the National Coaches Clinic held in beautiful San Mateo, CA. Taormina confessed that this was her first time talking about the stroke to a group of masters' coaches.  

Taormina’s session was called “Beyond Mechanics: Coaching a Propulsive Freestyle Stroke” and focused on the power generated from what happens underwater. For this article, I’d like to zero in on the arm entry and pulling motion. Of course, I have come to realize that it is much easier to demonstrate these mechanics on deck with my swimmers from Tech Masters (MIT), but for today, I’ll do my best to describe some key areas that Taormina highlighted, and offer my own words and descriptions to help you get started on improving your technique. And just so visualizing this is a bit easier, try to think of lying on your belly on the pool deck, and think of all the small tiles underneath you as if they were lines on a piece of graph paper.    

Let’s start with hand entry: 

The older and outdated method involved your hand landing in front of your head (fingers first), then tracking to a target that would be your centerline (think straight out in front of the center of your skull). The newer method suggests that your hand enters the water, fingers first, and moves forward and targets a spot that is in alignment with the width of your shoulders. As the arm is extended and the hand starts to "catch" water, the elbow pops up a bit, allowing the hand, wrist, forearm, and even other parts of the arm to become, in essence, a bigger paddle, thus giving you a bigger surface area, and for simpleminded folks (like myself), a bigger pull. Sometimes this is referred to as a "high elbow catch." This bigger "paddle" gets you more resistance and traction during the pull, which needs to move you forward down the lane. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on the "hand" pull because the pulling motion is bigger, so think of it as an "arm" pull.   

As the hand/arm creates resistance and the pulling motion begins, the hand/arm starts to track in an outward direction. Remember the right arm tracks out toward the lane line on your right. The left arm tracks out to the lane line on your left. I sometimes tell my swimmers to think of the arm pull motion as being similar to a small "question mark." This is significant, because some coaches and swimmers like to think of the pulling motion as a straight arm pull, but Taormina thinks differently.  After the catch and the elbow popping up a bit, your hand should track outward toward the lane line. This can be between 4 and 8 inches, or about one to two hand-widths.      

Elbow position is key when learning this technique: 

As the pulling motion begins, the hand/arm tracks outward. Now, right around the time the arm crosses, let’s say, the chin line, the arm starts to track inward toward the body. For some swimmers, in the old stroke, your hand and arm would move towards your centerline, which would be the middle of your chest, and then push backwards. But with the new propulsive freestyle stroke described by Taormina, your arm tracks in toward your body but not nearly as far -- only to a line that would be equivalent to your shoulder line. I know this is confusing, so visualize this: draw an imaginary line that would go from your nipple (can I say nipple?) to your feet. The arm never crosses this boundary during the pulling motion.  

The last area of the pull to discuss is the "finish." For me, I used to tell my swimmers that your hand should pull as far back to where the coins would be in your pockets (if you were wearing slacks). This way, you would have big long finishing strokes, especially for distance swimmers. However, with the newer propulsive freestyle stroke, pretend you are wearing blue jeans, and put your fingers in that weird tiny pocket that is above the regular pocket. Taormina suggests that when your hand reaches this area, you end the pulling motion and finish phase. Next your hand exits the water and you begin the recovery stage.  

Of course, learning to have a propulsive freestyle stroke involves many items and details, i.e., moving body parts, rotation, kicking, an open mind, and more! If you are looking for more info, you might want to read Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes by Sheila Taormina. Gaining a better picture and understanding of what is happening during the pulling motion can make a big difference in your freestyle. 

Last point:  

Getting advice from a 4-time Olympian as she unravels the mystery is a great start. And make no mistake – Sheila Taormina is letting the best kept secrets out of the bag!

NE-LMSC Coach Scholarship Winners present: Flip Turn Clinic #2

REGISTER

Join NE-LMSC Coaches Todd Whitford and Crystie McGrail for a flip turn clinic on Sunday, March 5th in Dover, NH.  

The clinic will be broken into two sections - Novice Flip Turns for those who don't consistently use flip turns in workouts and Advanced Flip Turns for those who are looking for feedback and a tune up for their flip turns. The Advanced section will also review and practice the backstroke to breaststroke cross-over flip turn.  

Registration is required for this event as spots are limited. Cost is the $7 pool drop in fee.  

Check-In for the clinic will begin at 8:30 AM and we will be in the water from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM.  Immediately following the clinic participants are invited to join a one hour workout with Great Bay Masters Swimming Club from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM. 

This clinic is brought to you as part of the NE-LMSC scholarship initiative to support New England coaches attending the USMS National Coaches Clinic this past fall.

Questions: necoaches@usms.org 

Competition Etiquette... "Competiquette"

Contributed by Crystie McGrail, NE-LMSC Coaches Chair

A few notes on the “lay of the land” for the racing waters we inhabit.

New England does meets like no other. We have two of the biggest, fastest, bestest (that's a word, right?) championship meets every single year. On top of that, we have multitudes of fun mini meets of all styles and a slew of open water events for the truly crazy folks. 

With this many events it’s often evident that a few folks didn’t quite get the memo on the etiquette surrounding some of the rules and common practices of Masters competition. As such, I was enlisted to write a quick article sharing some of the taboo things that happen at swim meets. 

The most common issues surround the enigmatic meet warmup, and that is what this article will focus on.   

Just kidding! Let's help each other out!

WarmUp TaDas and TaDon’ts

 

NO DIVING  

There are only two instances when it is okay to dive in the pool during a competition - the first is when the starter beeps, signaling the beginning of your race (don’t miss that one; it’s important) and the second time is when the officials have opened specific lanes for sprints.  

Two key words in that sentence are officials and specific. If you are unsure if a lane is a sprint lane, ASK! They may look all official and scary in their pristine white shirts hovering about your lane like sharks… no wait, these are masters meets - they are likely lounging in a chair nearby chatting with other swimmers to catch up on the kids and family.  

 

SPRINT LANES are for sprinting

If you see a completely empty lane during a fairly busy warm up, it is safe to say that it’s probably not some Utopian turn of fate to allow you a perfect warm up - it’s a sprint lane. ASK an official if it’s a sprint lane and if it is - please don’t get in and start doing your normal laps. Sprint lanes only happen during the last 15-20 minutes of a warm up and are usually announced. 

A note about “sprinting”: The definition of sprinting is moving at full speed. Always respect that each individual's “full speed” is very different. You can do this by observing the lane you are going to sprint in to make sure that those before you have the opportunity to finish their sprint as they wish without being impeded. 

 

NO PADDLES 

Leave ‘em at home. No one wants to be whacked with your paddles in the middle of a frenetic warm up pool. Oh, and this is actually in the rulebook - no paddles.  

 

ON YOUR LEFT

Much like life, swimming depends on a lot of non-verbal communication. We can’t very well yell out “ON YOUR LEFT” underwater when passing someone like runners do (though most of us probably wish we could). Make sure you pick up the clues and follow the general rule of thumb that passing happens on the left (similar to driving).  

And don’t hang out in the middle of the lane. If you’re at the wall, stopping in the middle is always bad news; stay to the right if you are stopping.  

 

KNOW WHEN WARMUP ENDS

There is nothing worse than the highly responsible first heat of the meet standing cold and ready behind the blocks, waiting to race, while the officials or meet directors chase up and down the pool trying to clear that last person (or few people) out of the competition pool. Respect your fellow swimmers and clear the pool at the scheduled time. Don’t know what time it is? ASK.

Lastly…

BE FRIENDLY 

99.8% of masters swimmers are super friendly. Be one of them. Many of the notes above say “ASK” because at a Masters meet you will be instantly surrounded with some of the best people in the universe and they are extremely helpful. Don’t feel bad asking questions; it’s a great way to make new friends!  

Got questions, comments, or criticisms?  Track me down at a swim meet and tell me!  Or I guess you could email me: NEcoaches@usms.org

NE-LMSC Coach Scholarship Winners present: Flip Turn Clinic

REGISTER

Join NE-LMSC Coaches Todd Whitford and Crystie McGrail for a flip turn clinic on Sunday, February 12th in Dover, NH.  

The clinic will be broken into two sections- Novice Flip Turns for those who don't consistently use flip turns in workouts and Advanced Flip Turns for those who are looking for feedback and a tune up for their flip turns. The Advanced section will also review and practice the backstroke to breaststroke cross-over flip turn.  

Registration is required for this event as spots are limited. Cost is the $7 pool drop in fee.  

Check-In for the clinic will begin at 8:30 AM and we will be in the water from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM.  Immediately following the clinic participants are invited to join a one hour workout with Great Bay Masters Swimming Club from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM. 

If you don't get a spot in this clinic - don't worry - we will run it again on March 5th.  

This clinic is brought to you as part of the NE-LMSC scholarship initiative to support New England coaches attending the USMS National Coaches Clinic this past fall.

Questions: necoaches@usms.org 

Masters Coach Needed in Brookline, MA

Swim Coach // Town of Brookline - Brookline, MA // Part-time

Looking for part-time swim coach to lead small group of Masters swimmers. Must have previous experience coaching adults, be knowledgeable and interested in providing feedback, assigning drills and technique work and helping athletes reach their goals. The group is currently comprised of swimmers with a variety of interests, ranging from general fitness, to triathlons and open water events.

Group meets three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6:15 - 7:30 am, at the Evelyn Kirrane Aquatics Center in Brookline. The EKAC is an indoor, three pool public facility, with a six-lane 25 yard lap pool, a 12 ft deep diving well and a lesson pool. We are located steps from the Brookline Hills Green line stop, right next to the high school.

Qualifications:

  • Minimum 1-2 year coaching experience, preferably at the Collegiate or Masters level
  • Certified Masters Swimming Coach preferred but not required
  • Experience coaching triathletes or open water swimmers preferred but not required
  • Available to attend meets or events, if needed
  • High School Diploma or equivalent, Bachelor's degree preferred

Start date: 1/23/17, open until filled. Pay starts at $20/hr.

Please email resume and three references.

NE-LMSC Annual Meeting Summary

Contributed by Douglas Sayles, NE-LMSC Chair

This fall I had the honor of presiding over the NELMSC Annual Meeting in Waltham, MA. I’ve touched upon some highlights below. Full minutes will be posted on the NELMSC website.

Meeting attendees included 13 of the 15 NELMSC officers, three club reps to the board, our SCM and SCY championship meet directors, and other NELMSC members interested in governance issues. On October 16th, the NELMSC had $48,660 in total assets, over 2,500 USMS members, 23 USMS-registered clubs, 54 USMS-registered New England Masters Swim Club workouts groups and two registered Lifetime Swim New England workout groups.

During 2016, there were 16 SCY, 5 SCM and 2 LCM meets in the NELMSC. Our short-course championships continue to be two of the largest Masters meets in the country, attracting hundreds of swimmers each year. If you have not already done so, mark your calendars and book your hotel rooms for our NELMSC SCY Championships at Harvard on March 11 (distance day) and 17-19, 2017.

Despite our championship meets’ popularity and the many other meets held across New England each year, most of our mini meets are quite small (10 to 70 swimmers) and our aggregate meet attendance is slowly decreasing. Collectively we can easily reverse this trend by rallying our swim mates and entering one or two mini meets this season. These events need our support if we want them to continue.

In both USMS sanctioned meets and recognized meets, times swum by USMS members are usually official for USMS purposes. The main differences are that sanctioning provides insurance liability coverage for the swimmers, volunteers and event host and requires all of the swimmers to be USMS members.

During 2015 there were 10 sanctioned and 20 recognized meets in the NELMSC, accounting for 25 percent of all recognized meets nationwide, substantially more recognized meets than in any other LMSC and proportionally far fewer sanctioned meets than most large LMSCs.

At the USMS convention this past September, the House of Delegates voted to impose a new $100 fee on each recognized meet in 2017. This fee will be charged to the local LMSC. The primary rationale was that recognized meets were benefiting from USMS and LMSC meet promotion, creating more work for volunteer Top Ten recorders and otherwise receiving USMS benefits for free.

Consequently, at the NELMSC meeting we adjusted our subsidies and policies to incentivize sanctioning over recognition. At the same time, we want to avoid alienating meet directors who prefer recognition because if they walk away from USMS altogether USMS members’ times from those meets will not be recorded in the USMS database.

A meet host can now apply to the NELMSC for a sanction at no cost (we fully subsidize the $50 USMS fee) or else pay $50 for meet recognition (we partially subsidize the USMS $100 fee). We now also allow sanctioned meet hosts the option to offer non-USMS members a $15 one-event USMS membership, which can be applied toward a full USMS membership within 30 days of the meet. We had previously only allowed one-event memberships for open water events.

During our meeting we also reviewed several successful NELMSC-subsidized coaching initiatives from the past year, including swimmer clinics, coaching clinics and certification courses, Adult Learn to Swim instructor certification, and National Coaches Clinic scholarships. We have budgeted for similar initiatives in 2017. On a similar note, at convention we learned that USMS officials training will soon include an online certification option.

During the NELMSC meeting, we formally voted Alana Aubin onto the board as the new NELMSC communications chair. She took over this position several months ago from Christina Dwiggins, who I want to publicly thank for her contributions and able stewardship of the monthly NELMSC e-newsletter. This is a natural transition for Alana, who deserves credit for recent website improvements and for launching the NELMSC Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. In September, she and NELMSC Registrar Tim Lecrone also ran a very well-received social media workshop at the USMS convention.

Other topics covered during our meeting included bestowal of the NELMSC Coach and Contributor of the Year Awards (congrats to WAM’s Alford Green), the forthcoming introduction of a new NELMSC awards process, ideas for raising awareness and Masters Swimming opportunities for para athletes, promoting open water swimming, and other steps the NELMSC can potentially take to increase USMS member value in New England and at the national level.

In an effort to offset the $2 increase in 2017 USMS membership dues and reduce our NELMSC cash balance, we voted to reduce the NELMSC annual membership fee from $7 to $5 and approved a deficit budget for 2017. If we incur all $32,400 in budgeted expenses (which is unlikely) and realize $13,000 in forecast revenue, our cash balance will decrease by $19,400 in 2017 while still leaving a healthy reserve.

At the national level in September, the USMS board of directors and new CEO Dawson Hughes presented an updated strategic plan and infographic. Key 2017 initiatives included the aforementioned recognition fee to promote meet sanctions, allocating resources toward developing a new fitness swimmer program, upgrading the USMS website including enhancing Places to Swim and developing an open-water event results database, supporting college clubs to attract younger Masters swimmers after graduation, ongoing training of USMS coaches and Adult Learn to Swim instructors, and expanding swimmer clinics nationwide.

On behalf of the NELMSC board of directors, thank you to all of the swimmers, coaches, officials, organizers and volunteers who contribute to the vibrant Masters Swimming community that enriches all of our lives.

And if you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to renew your USMS membership before December 31st to receive special merchandise discounts from Speedo, TYR, FINIS, SwimOutlet and other USMS partners.

Happy Holidays and New Year!

Douglas Sayles

Chair, New England LMSC