At a time when communities are concerned about gangs and violence, I would like to invite you to attend a local Swim Meet. You could find around 100 young people involved. There are many other places that this number of young people could be on a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. Multiply this by several different locations across the country.
Swimming is typically administered by a state swimming organization as part of a national program sponsored by United States Swimming (USS). USS is the organization that oversees competitive amateur swimming in the United States. As the national governing body for sport, USS is a member of the United States Olympic Committee and the International Swimming Federation.
Nationwide, each year, more than 20,000 volunteers register with USS as non-athlete members. Interested individuals donate their time, energy, and expertise to serve as officers, administrators, coaches, and workers involved at all levels, from serving on national committees to participating in the local swim club. Utah Swimming currently has 240 non-athletes and 1,600 registered athletes.
All pools must develop and run a Complete Aquatic Program that includes swim lessons and a Pre-Comp Swim Team program. These aquatic programs would in many cases lead to the formation of an official USS pool swim team, where each swimmer pays an annual registration fee to USS and an additional $ 20.00 to $ 30.00 monthly fee. This money is used to pay for coaches’ fees and other team expenses.
In a match, six swimmers enter the pool at the same time. They are grouped by age and ability. In each group of six there is an even chance that any of the six will enter first. But getting there first isn’t really the problem. Each swimmer has a personal best time from previous experiences in the pool. The goal of each individual swimmer is to decrease their individual personal best time. As a result, there are NO losers, everyone is a winner.
Swimming should not have rules about the number of swimmers that can be on a team. Anyone who wants to work and progress can be part of a team. Anyone who wants to work can be a winner. Who can put a price on the value of this experience for those young people who are positively committed to self-improvement and hard work?
Some school districts are considering closing all of the district’s swimming pools to save money and avoid liability issues. It is interesting that no one has considered the possibility of rolling up basketball courts or destroying football fields. In some states, age group swim teams must rent pool time. We have become a community where ALL decisions are based on the “bottom line”. Is it possible that our community values are based on money or trophies?
In many areas of the country, communities or schools provide pool time for USS Age-Group Swimming in recognition of the contribution that participation in swimming makes to the people involved and to the community at large. There simply cannot be found a better way to ensure the absence of drugs and other antisocial behaviors in a youth group.
Come to any swim meet and pick any parent at random. Ask them what your child has gained from the swimming experience. Any parent will inform you about growth in self-confidence and discipline that is unmatched by participating in any other type of sport or activity.
Swimming doesn’t usually get much glory or publicity, except perhaps during the Olympics. As a result, coaches are unlikely to have much ego on the line to produce “winning” teams. Age group coaches are not typically hired or fired based on their win-loss record. They invest a lot of time and personal effort in helping people grow and develop and in helping swimmers define success in their own personal way.
Many valuable values have been perceived to be inherent in sports participation, but are not automatically accessible to all who participate. There are values that are not only worth pursuing, but must also be available and accessible to more young people. It is not about saturating a community with organized sports leagues or simply improving physical education programs in schools. Many young people, including many who participate, do not really benefit from sports for a variety of reasons, but at least in part because of the prevailing “win at all costs” concept today.
Participation in sports should be a vehicle for holistic personal growth and the development of a positive self-image. This process includes two key elements:
1. Put the victory in its proper perspective. There are winners and there are “winners.” Everybody needs to “win” sometimes if they want to get satisfaction from a sport. However, the victory can be expanded to include progress on many levels. Each individual can learn to set their own personal goals and define “winning” in their own personal way.
2. Creating an environment that provides essential experiences that not only make sporting values more accessible, but also provide motivation to participate in sport, learn the necessary skills and develop the self-esteem necessary to face life with confidence. and that’s what it’s about.
Well-managed Complete Aquatic Programs are designed to develop the skills and attitudes that help a person feel in charge of their own life and feel like a winner. United States Swimming research indicates that participation in water sports will foster an interesting list of characteristics:
– People acquire a strong work ethic
– Individuals get great physical conditioning.
– Individuals acquire mental strength
– Individuals acquire skills for goal setting and achievement
– People acquire great self-esteem.
Subsequent research indicates that 35% of those who start swimming drop out of school when they turn 16, mainly due to an incomplete or inappropriate program and / or a conflict with the personalities of those running the program.
The goals of a swim club should be:
1. Provide opportunities for social and emotional development.
2. Provide a healthy and valuable physical and recreational outlet.
3. Provide opportunities to learn sportsmanship and develop awareness of team cooperation.
4. Provide an educational environment.
5. Provide opportunities to learn good health habits.
6. Provide training and competence that help develop worthwhile attitudes.
7. Provide a broad base of experience for everyone and not just the highly skilled.
8. Provide opportunities to develop good work habits and self-evaluation.
Note that the goal of developing national champions or a winning team is not mentioned. Mediocrity shouldn’t be anyone’s goal, everyone should strive for excellence. However, the true winner in age group swimming is often not the winner of the race, as she or she may be achieving that goal at the cost of not achieving another goal available in the program, which may be more important. . It should always be kept in mind that the only justification for this program is that it exists for the benefit of each child.
It’s hard to argue that winning is important, but children are more important.
In 1979, two groups, the National Association for Sports and Physical Education and the American Academy of Pediatrics passed a Bill of Rights for Young Athletes. This “Bill of Rights” should be incorporated into all approaches to coaching. We cannot think that the agony of the defeat of one child can be the thrill of the victory of another, that winning is the only reward and that losing is the punishment. Children and psychologists know that this is not true. The urge to overcome physical barriers and, later, to compare one’s own ability to that of others is a natural part of a child’s development, vital in forming feelings of competence and self-confidence. They are all key ingredients for competitiveness and self-motivation in sports, but it doesn’t have to be at someone else’s expense. Learning to win and lose are parts of the same process. Children can be taught to define “winning” in their individual way so that their efforts toward personal growth and development are seen as good.
It has been said that “if you build it they will come”. However, this is simply not true when it comes to swimming pools. Efforts should be made to reach out to the community to encourage and make participation not only attractive but also financially possible. Pools can be left empty and when those responsible for pool programs take the position that staff cannot be hired until there are enough participants to pay staff, a program will simply never be launched. How can you hire a lifeguard when you must tell him that if there are not enough people involved in the program, you may not be able to give them any hours? It just won’t happen. Establish funds, hire staff and find participants.