While meets are largely on hold worldwide right now due to the effects of COVID-19, and many teams are just getting back to practices, BSN Sports still wants to highlight and celebrate swim teams from around the country. This week, we’re taking a look at the Westchester Aquatic Club, a USA Swimming club that’s served the New York metropolitan area for the past decade.
The Westchester Aquatic Club Wolverines are led by founder and head coach Carle Fierro, and consists of arproximately 165 athletes who swim primarily out of the College of New Rochelle Wellness Center Pool in New Rochelle, NY.
Fierro describes her coaching philosophy as, “Creating interesting, fun and challenging workouts with lots of technique while creating sets that have a specific goal and purpose, making sure the swimmers know what they are. I work really hard on teaching the swimmers strategies to help them learn to support each other and get along. As a team we recognize all accomplishments in and out of the pool, we have an excellent parent support network and we have fun!
Additionally, Fierro told us a little more about her goal in creating the team and how she and the rest of staff approach training.
Westchester Aquatic Club was established in 2010, because I felt too many athletes were getting injured in the sport. I believed that we as coaches could do a better job in injury prevention, while maintaining a high level of performance. I dedicated myself to developing such a program, we do 45 mins of drills everyday, no doubles and most of my nationally ranked swimmers swim 4-6x per week 1 practice per day.
We asked Fierro what her swimmers would name as the iconic team set, and she told us about a work that consists of “How long can you go?” followed by 25s fly from a dive.
They love to do “How Low Can You Go Sets” either by 50s, 75s, 100s or 150s free or stroke for example. I would do a preset to get their heart-rate up a little then I vary the intervals so every ability level is challenged but basically we do:
- Fastest Group may do – 3 descend on 120 – 2 pace on 115 – 3 descend on 110 – 2 all out on 105 under a min.
- Other Interval – 3 desc on 130 – 2 pace on 125 – 3 desc on 120 – 2 fast on 115 (just make it !)
- Fastest Group – 2 on 45 smooth – 3 on 40 descend – 2 pace on 35 – 3 on 30 (just make it !)
- Others – 10x50s – 3 on 50 smooth – 2 on 45 Pace – 3 Desc on 40 – 2 on 35 (just make it !)
3) 25s perfect from a Dive or Flo Fly – If one person breaks stroke add more (The kids got into it after a while as a challenge!)
Fierro has been coaching for a long time at multiple levels, and we asked her to reflect on what her biggest struggle as a coach has been, and how she’s overcome that.
Having always been considered an “Age Group Coach” (something that I am very proud of) other teams in the area who have large senior programs may look to criticize my program and will say the seniors on our team are missing out because we don’t have a huge senior team/social group or I don’t have the ability to get their children into a good college program because I don’t have the connections etc. Some parents panicked and have switched to these larger teams. This has not happened that much lately as the performances of those who leave have not been good over the years. Also, when you have a few standouts, parents feel these swimmers get more attention, so I have to really make sure everyone is getting exactly what they need and connect with the swimmers and parents when a meet doesn’t go as well as expected.
Over the years, Fierro has racked up plenty of great swimming memories, but she described two that particularly stood out to her.
My 1st big meet at Austin Grad Prix – This was my 1st big meet and Rachel Stratton who coaching AGUA at the time had adopted us which really helped so much! Kate [Douglass] had just turned 13 and we thought her best shot at trials was the 200 Breast – her best time was 2:39.43 going into the meet. We had done NO long course training, just drills and Low Go Sets, but I felt Kate was ready. Kate went out nice and long as usual like 16 strokes per lap long the 1st 100, and then she built her 3rd 50 perfectly and then she came home so strong and I new she was so close and then at the flags she was so flying and she did it Kate couldn’t see the clock so I jumped up and down to let her know but didn’t want cheer or to make any noise because it was my 1st big meet and the coach behind me put his hand on my shoulder and told me it was OK to cheer because that was a great swim. Kate was thrilled! Qualified in the B final with an OT CUT – splits 36.07 116.47 (40.40) 157.00 (40.55) 234.71 (37.71) (Go Low Go lol).
2nd Memory – Alexa Reyna – Olympic Trials Cut in the 1500 at the 2020 Berkley Aquatic Club Jim Wood Memorial Meet. Alexa had just missed her 800 cut 2 days earlier by .31 (went a 8:49.40 racing AGUAs Isabel Gormley). So she was really disappointed. I had to get her to redirect her emotions and focus on the work she had done and to keep her emotionally happy and in the right place because the weekend wasn’t over yet. In the mile, unfortunately, she was all on her own, no one there to pace or push her and she was just under pace holding mid 1:07s out in the lead all by herself and then she descended her last three 50s (33.81, 33.30, 32.21) . Just like our Low Go Sets and went 16:48.25 and got her cut and she was sooo excited and I knelt down and just thanked God, because she worked so hard and she did it!
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