The topic of conversation this morning after practice was, what’s more important for young swimmers, aerobic base or skills?
Are they exclusive? Does focusing on one mean you don’t have time to do the other?
If you had to choose either, which would it be?
While I won’t speak for Rachel, my personal feelings have always been teach before train. What does that mean?
Demanding muscles, joints, and thought to be constricted to specific movements, to somehow be controlled into doing movements that aren’t necessarily natural, takes work. Changing instinctual movements to actions that are controlled takes mental and physical control. These things are NOT easy, and come with increased heart rate, and more often then not, controlled breathing patterns. These controls come with actions that can not help but… build the aerobic base.
By focusing solely on the work, the yardage, the distance (building the aerobic base), do we sacrifice the skills that will ultimately be required to achieve a swimmer’s potential in this sport? Can we train someone enough to overcome any deficiencies in technique (skill).
We also have to take in to consideration the MASSES. While there will always be stories of Olympians who did amazing things as young athletes, how many Olympians do each of us actually work with? At last count, JUST in the USA, there were approximately 350,000 registered swimmers in USAS, 60,000 swimmers in USMS (masters), and when taking into consideration high school, YMCA, summer club… last year there were 49 Olympians in the US.
In my opinion, there is NO right answer, I’m only playing the odds with my thinking. Not even talking about the psychological aspects of having someone in the sport for 15 years or longer. The only way to absolutely know what’s right for each athlete would be to be able to see into the future. Until we’re able to do that… I’m going to try to play the odds and… teach before train… but teach with the demands of proper technique, and the demands that come with building a stroke with long-term integrity.