The end of 2018 is on the horizon, which means out with the old and in with the new. This may mean breaking some bad habits in the pool, re-committing yourself to the remainder of the season and tightening up your racing strategies for your championship races in a few months.
‘In with the new’ can also apply to your training surroundings as well. No one likes to grind out lap after lap in a dungeon-y looking pool cave, devoid of anything motivational or inspiring. Here are just a few ways coaches, parents and teammates can jazz up their pool deck to help keep the team’s eyes on the prize.
#1 – Pool Records Board
You’d be surprised how many pools around the world don’t keep an actual Pool Record Board, or at least not one that’s visible. Could you imagine the look on a swimmers’ faces if they were to see their names written in history for all to see? Swimmers are competitors and competitors like to protect their own houses via keeping pool records within the team.
#2 – Fun Team Records
Not everyone will get their names in the ‘regular’ team record books for competitive swimming events, but some team members may appreciate being recognized in a ‘fun’ edition of team records. For instance, keep a list on a bulletin board of the reigning t-shirt relay squad, the team member who can scull a 50 the quickest or the swimmer who can put the fins on the fastest – anything fun that can keep kiddos engaged.
#3 – Whiteboard Wednesday
For a coach who uses a white board, that piece of equipment is hallowed ground, where no extraneous marks, phrases or pictures may roam. But, a simple way to engage the team is to let ’em have at the white board on Wednesdays. Perhaps an entire lane gets 5 minutes at the end of practice to write to their heart’s content (all clean, of course), or jot down a message to their favorite teammate practicing in the next session.
#4 – Weekly Challenge
At the start of every week, give your team a ‘weekly challenge’ and announce it on your on-deck bulletin board right there on-deck. For every swimmer who successfully completes the challenge, a sticker with his/her name is place on the board. At the end of the week, the names of everyone who has completed the challenge will be put into a raffle for a fun, low-cost gift such as a pin for their backpack, a sweet treat or even the chance to jump out of practice 3 minutes early to get their favorite shower stall.
The challenge doesn’t even have to be swimming in the traditional sense. It could be something like, “get through an entire practice without asking, ‘what are we doing?’ or ‘when do we leave’? Or the challenge could be to talk to a teammate you’ve never shared a lane with before.
#5 – Designated Throne
Have your team or parents over-the-top decorate a chair to remain on-deck and in-view of all swimmers. That chair would be designated as the ‘swimmer gear bag throne’, where a Swimmer of the Week/Month gets to place his/her gear bag , away from the hustle and bustle of the heap in the corner of the natatorium. The special treatment will give the swimmer a little extra boost during that week’s practices.
#6 – Invite the Cheer
At a future home swim meet, why not invite a few cheerleaders or band members from your local high school to lend their enthusiasm to the day? Work with your school’s athletic department to have these spunky-sounding students inject energy into the meet via cheering/playing on the sidelines during finals, just for something different.
#7 – Put Swimming on the Map
On any free wall space near the pool deck, post a large map of the United States (may want to have this laminated for humidity protection) whereby swimmers can insert a push-pin to identify each state in which they’ve swum. Swims can be at competitions, visiting other teams or even just frolicking in the ocean, but it’s a fun way for your squad to see how they’ve spread the swim love around the country.
#8 – Find the Mascot
As mentioned, swimmers are ultra-competitive, so age groupers will love the challenge of having to find a hidden treasure on the pool deck. Perhaps every Friday or even just once a month, coach hides a plush team mascot, a team trophy or other recognizable item somewhere on the pool deck. Whoever finds the mascot first gets to do something cool like write the warm-up, pick a pre-set or push the coach in the pool at the end of practice.