Introducing Andy McLay - Head Coach
As a coach I believe that a swimmer's ultimate performance depends on their long-term development from a young age. I feel as a whole the swimming community put too much focus on training and performance too early without setting the foundations for building a complete swimmer.
My aim is always to start with good foundations such as stroke technique, body position, base skills and developing a passion for the sport.
Between the age of 8 years & 12 years I aim to introduce, develop & reinforce these base skills with a process focused approach. Swimming practice for these kids should always be based around a stroke or skill and enjoyment of the sport. There are no expectations of performance, only the need to see a swimmer making progress with either stroke, skill or awareness. The majority of the time this results in the swimmer getting faster, but not always.
A SWIMMERS SPEED AT THIS STAGE DOES NOT REFLECT ON THEIR POTENTIAL LONG-TERM AT ALL.
Once a swimmer moves into the next phase, age 12 years -15 years we begin to learn how to train and maintain our foundations under physiological stress. We now add more structure to the distance and intensity of practice and swimmers are required to make a commitment to regular trainings, take ownership of their swimming and be the driver of their swimming future.
Swimmers ages 16+ will begin to take a more specific approach to training and racing. By this point they need clear goals for their swimming career and must have a commitment to training and racing. This is the make or break point for any swimmer with true high-performance aspirations and the key is the need to keep building season upon season as to keep improving. We would look to introduce strength training and conditioning and make plans for their swimming post school.
At the Papamoa Swimming club we are currently focusing on setting up the first phase and my goals are around running a high quality learn to swim and junior program, creating a team culture around fun and having great skill/technique foundations, and having self-belief in our ability. We are not about young swimmers achieving high performance, but swimmers having a good platform for long term development while offering an opportunity for the Papamoa community to get into aquatic sports with no limits on their goals for the future.