College teams do it all the time. For private schools it’s also common. But for a city-wide club team, single-gendered practices aren’t something you hear about hardly ever. For the Dayton Raiders of Dayton, Ohio however, they’ve become an integral part of building a more complete team.
Meghan Olsen, the assistant senior coach for the Raiders, explained that it started with having single-gendered dryland workouts. The staff had realized that almost no other sport trained boys and girls together at an elite level, and wanted to try something different. Then around a year ago, the coaching staff decided to try it with water workouts as well. This allowed them to coach the girls with the style that they feel the needed, and the same for the boys. After splitting half of the practices weekly into single-gendered practices, they’ve seen a myriad of benefits, both with coaches and athletes.
When speaking with the girls, they agreed that the girls team has grown closer as a unit. They now know each others goal paces, and hold each other more accountable when it is just the girls swimming together. The coaches also note that when the girls practice alone, they are forced to lead the lane, which gives a specific kind of confidence that wouldn’t otherwise be fostered, as the boys will typically lead the lane when the groups are together.
The boys echoed a similar sentiment, saying that the boys group have grown closer through having the room to work together. As a whole, the senior group is around 45 swimmers big, so when the boys can practice separately, with only 20-22 of them, they can spread out and take advantage of the room to race each other much more effectively.