I hope you find the following guidance and tips useful for improving the performance of your swimmer with Down Syndrome.
I strongly recommend joining a local Swimming Club that is affiliated with your State Swimming Association. This provides access to the Club training structure and any competition in Australia. It also helps the DSSA promote its profile with Swimming Australia
I believe it is very important that Multi Class swimmers are integrated into the mainstream training program. I have had great success with my swimmers using this approach.
Step up the squad so your swimmer is challenged daily by this group. Some of our sessions are very tough but they will cope extremely well.
I recommend at least 5-6 pool sessions and two gym sessions per week.
My training program includes 4-5 week blocks of training that include for the Principle of Overload and Progression, and the Principles of Specificity and Intensity. The program is designed so that a swimmer peaks for their targeted championships. Without going into the technicalities here I am happy to discuss this further with home coaches.
I have developed a set of Training Standards that all our Club coaches must implement and report on each month. This has seen a significant improvement in the stroke technique and technical skills of swimmers. This is an area that needs constant attention.
Our swimmers are videoed regularly on the surface and under water to identify skill deficiencies. This feedback is particularly valuable to visual learners if repeated regularly.
From my observations at the last three World Championships there is plenty of room for improvement in our swimmers technique. With that in mind I ask the DSSA to provide me with the opportunity to conduct technique clinics for our swimmers each year.
Each of my swimmers have a Goal Setting Session with me each season. The goals we set cover the areas of Performance, Training, Nutrition, Sports Psychology and Strength training.
Our swimming Club is associated with a group of professionals that work in each of these areas and provide individual consultations and forums for parents. An individual consultation on Sports Nutrition is particularly important.
Strength training is very important for the mature age swimmer in improving performance and should be done under the guidance of a professional trainer who understands the muscle groups that need to be strengthened for swimming
I would strongly recommend that each swimmer has a Muscular-Skeletal screening to identify the mobility of joints. The screening information is used for the management of injuries by coaches and the to advise content of strength and conditioning programs.
Measuring resting heart rate is the most ignored and neglected strategy in sport.
The Resting Heart rate(RHR) needs to be tracked over an extended period of time so that trends can be recognised and acted on. If there is a consistent increase in RHR in can signal an impending illness, especially if not feeling quite right. A break from training will help the immune system cope and aid recovery. Training should resume when the HR is tracking back to normal.
Furthermore, my swimmers use rollers for their recovery and warm ups. Some will also have a regular massage.
The swimmers at our Club follow a well-planned competition calendar that targets one competition per month, leading up to a selected major competition. I like my swimmers to have their last competition, two to three weeks prior to their major competition – this allows the taper to be effective.
Additionally, we continually practice our racing skills in training to make them a habit, undertaking a lot of race pace work, measuring stroke rate and stroke count. I also regularly challenge my swimmers with tough sets that not only improve fitness but also develop self-belief and self-confidence… “We train to race”.
Swimmers who experience negative emotion during competition are also given strategies to manage their negative thoughts. On occasion, I have used Sport Psychologists to help swimmers deal with their negative emotions as this impact can often lead to inconsistent performances.
The key to success for our swimmers is consistent training and regular competition. It is vitally important to “Perfect Your Technique” with your coach, particularly your technical skills as Starts, Turns and Finishes are a major component of any race and are often where precious time is lost.
Remember, prepare well for your events, always aiming to swim at your best!
I look forward to sharing my experience and skills more intensively, so please feel free to contact me.