Thinking outside the box, coaches at Traralgon Swimming Club have devised an innovative strategy to keep their athletes and members engaged with their club while their pool remains closed due to Covid-19.
Collaborating as a coaching group – led by Senior Head Coach Brian Ford – they placed their swimmers into six teams, who each week must battle it out at home in tailored programs and circuits.
With maintaining competitive spirit and motivational drive at the core of their idea, Ford said while it has been a challenging time, it has been refreshing to come up with new ways to keep their swimmers fit, healthy and connected.
“When we had to stop training it was a case of ‘what do we do?’,” Ford said.
“I think we are all competitive. We all live for competition – life is a competition. Kids crave it as well, kids want to compete rather just doing exercises for the sake of it.
“So, we worked out an exercise program that they had to do each day, and whether they were in the junior squad or the national squad, they had to get at least two hours of exercise done.
“The morning is a set program which involves some of our normal core warm up exercises and then in the evening they have to do something of their own like go for a bike ride or a run – do something they have to take responsibility and accountability for,” he added.
While Ford has been at the helm of the Traralgon Swimming Club for 23 years and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, he and his coaching staff also used the ideas of former Australian Swimming Head Coach and current State Head Coach for SA and WA, Leigh Nugent.
“Listening to Leigh, he just says, ‘let’s not worry about swimming specific exercises or get too technical, let’s just do something, keep them active’.
“He is a great mentor as a coach – his advice; keep it simple and keep them active.”
Not only does the competition take into account daily exercise, but points are also awarded for attendance in online meetings which are hosted by coaches three to four times a week.
“The Zoom meetings that we have take somewhere around 30 and 45 minutes and we discuss what we are doing and how we are doing it, whether there are any injuries and whether we need to modify the program” he said.
Overall, Ford said they have been seeing positive results since the initiative was implemented, with the winning team each week measured by attendance, improvement in their exercises and levels of engagement.
“The team that won this week for example was the junior team led by their junior coach.
“This young coach is only 18 years old and she got a couple of emails from very happy parents saying she is doing a wonderful job. She is really connecting with the kids, talking to them not only about their program but other parts of their life as well.
“It is nice to get those emails from parents saying you are doing a good job and engaging and keeping the kids involved – that is the key.
“Our engagement in the sport of swimming is very good and I believe when we do get back in the pool, we will find that most of our athletes won’t be going anywhere and will stay involved in the sport.”