Beyond the Pancakes: A Different Take on the “Club Team Mentality”

In Practice + Pancakes, SwimSwam takes you across the country and through a practice day in the life of swimming’s best athletes. It breaks down training sessions, sub sets, and what every team is doing to be at their best. But why are they doing things that way? In Beyond the Pancakes, we dive inside the minds of coaches and athletes, getting a first hand look at why they do the things they do, and where their minds are pointed on the compass of evolution as a swimmer.

When SwimSwam went to visit Lone Star Aquatic Club, we saw some things there that we thought were pretty novel. However, perhaps the most novel thing we witnessed was head coach Adam Depmore’s philosophy on how to run his team, which can be summarized into: Safe and Scalable Fun.

As opposed to many teams, which run through rigorous 6K+ yard workouts morning and night in which attendance is mandatory for the top groups, Lone Star puts more of an emphasis on what each individual might want or need. Adam wants the kids to enjoy their time at Lone Star and gain general athleticism as well as a good swimming skill set.

He also encourages trying other sports, even at the high school level. If they decide to commit to another sport, Depmore can be happy knowing they enjoyed their time in swimming, hopefully gained something they can take with them, and may come back to it one day.

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4 years ago


4 years ago

“Anyone can get a kid to D1 or guide them to olympic trials” Did i miss something?

Reply to  Natas
4 years ago

When you’re in Texas where teams are 1000+ kids, D1 and trials kids aren’t quite the unicorns that they are in other states.

Adam Depmore
Reply to  IUkicker
4 years ago

It also helps when that swimmer is 6’9” with a 30+ inch vertical jump…

Reply to  Natas
4 years ago

I took that to mean if the kid had D1(or OT) level talent that “anyone could get them there” not that anyone could get any athlete to that level.

4 years ago

Great perspective!!! Kids have to have fun at swimming in order to keep coming back, once having fun stops (too much pressure too soon, too much training for age, repetitive practices), it’s only a matter of time until they go do something else.

I have a very successful 13 year old girl swimmer, but I’m trying as hard as I can to make sure she has other sports interest, doesn’t practice like she’s a high school Sr, and keep her socially engaged with friends in and outside of swimming.

All of hard core training, high pressure meets, and focus will come soon enough but only if she stays in swimming until then.

4 years ago

There is definitely a market for places that provide flexibility and try to give team members each what they want individually. Particularly if all parties are on board with this approach.

I think high level team results may demand a more structured, clearly defined goal for swimming success than represented here.

I do not mean to be derogatory to this approach as in my own coaching career I have probably leaned more towards this approach than the rigid structure that many highly successful swim teams employ. This has led to reasonable success with individual or small groups of swimmers but not led to overall team excellence.

I just point this out as SwimSwam commenters often like to point to one… Read more »

M d e
Reply to  Mike
4 years ago

I think location is as much a factor as anything.

If you are going to be a high performance only program you need to be in a location where you will get those swimmers who will fully commit, and enough to make the program work financially.

If you are in a regional area, or one where there already is one or more high performance programs you can forget about it.

Adam Depmore
Reply to  Mike
3 years ago

Integrity has no rules

M d e
4 years ago

The problem I’ve found with being very accomadating of multi-sport athletes is (somewhat ironically given swimmings reputation in this area) that the coaches etc. Of other sports are completely unwilling to make any concessions, so you give and you give and you give and then you end up in a situation where a swimmer who is a District champion/state finalist level swimmer is being told that they can’t miss a single regular season game to go compete at states without losing their spot on the football team. A sport they arent even good at.

Obviously ability isnt everything but for me it has gotten to the stage where it’s hard to justify making these concessions all the time where there… Read more »

Adam Depmore
Reply to  M d e
4 years ago

We had a situation like this before with a swimmer who was a McDonald’s All American basketball player. We just let it go and let the college recruiters talk to him.

Lucky for us, Eddie Reese is a very convincing guy…

4 years ago

Great philosophy on what the club team experience can and should be. Loved this!

4 years ago

Love it!

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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