Be it pool closures, meet cancelations, or even just a training session not going as intended, every swim coach has been forced to deal with some form of adversity in his or her job. And, because of these disruptions, every coach has had to develop some form of creativity in order to handle these unexpected events. Now, as both the swimming and real world handle a situation unprecedented in this day, coaches are faced with a new question: How can they continue to provide education and support for their athletes without seeing them in person.
Megan Oesting, current head coach of Eastern Iowa Swimming Federation and former All-American and school record holder at UCLA, was faced with this very question. With no idea when the ability to train her athletes in person will return, she needed to find a way to coach and educate her athletes without coming into contact with them. She feels that her job as a swim coach is to provide the best possible experience for each athlete under her supervision.
Every day at practice there’s a goal, whether it’s underwater work, stroke count, or any number of different technical aspects of the sport. Oesting aims to create this same system, even when she doesn’t have direct contact with her athletes. Her first dilemma was how can she continue to deliver the goals of every practice and help her swimmers benefit without touching the water.
First, she had to ask what lessons she could pass on to her athletes under the current circumstances. The answer was the education side of swimming, the teaching side of the sport that takes place between sets on practice or on the deck before swimmers even enter the water.To pass this knowledge along, she began a series comprising of both videos and questions designed to encourage thought and help swimmers appreciate the opportunities that are presented to them through this time away from the water.
The first lesson, aptly titled “Opportunities,” focuses on the opportunities presented to swimmers through this time away from the pool and dives into some of the aspects of swimming technique that can be improved on land, such as streamline, joint and muscle flexibility, and core stability.
In the second lesson she focuses on more of the mental aspects of swimming and how athletes can use consistency to improve both their workouts and competition. She also looks at some of the muscles that are used in various points in the stroke and how they can be used to improve the stroke.
How coaches can implement these ideas with their own team:
- Sharing mental training aids with their athletes
- Encouraging athletes to use time away from the water to improve upon their nutrition
- Support athletes’ focus on school work (it never hurts to get ahead in the classroom)
- Motivate athletes to begin new routines (such as Swimming-Specific Yoga)