In a live webinar now posted on the USA Swimming website, (link below), National Junior Team Director Mitch Dalton outlined a new vision for the National Junior Team, and explained the process by which USA Swimming arrived at implementing some pretty major changes into how the National Team Junior is selected.
According to Dalton, the National Junior Team Tokyo Task Force, consisting of coaches like Jason Turcotte, Sue Chen, Dick Shoulberg, Teri McKeever, and Gregg Troy, sought feedback from other coaches about the National Junior Team, and soon realized that had been been no unifying goal, vision or purpose behind the National Junior Team.
These discussions led to a vision statement:
The National Junior Team program will strengthen the future performance of the United States Olympic Swimming team.
With the new vision statement comes more emphasis, prompted by feedback and statistics, on helping make sure the National Junior Team will keep athletes in the pipeline who will represent the United States at the highest levels.
Dalton’s presentation reviewed the highly detailed process the task force went through to arrive at the changes, but here are a few of the highlights:
- From the feedback, coaches wanted an increased focus on services to athletes and coaches.
- Identified five ways to measure success: Olympic medal, Olympic finalists, Olympians, Olympic Trials Finalists, and National Team Trips.
- A months-long process of data collection looked at the correlation of age, world ranking, highest meet, and time.
- The data showed that:
- a female swimmer with a Top 75 world ranking had a 25% of advancing past the National Junior Team. Only 3% if not in the Top 75.
- a male swimmer with a Top 100 world ranking had a 17% of advancing past the National Junior Team vs. 3% if not in the Top 100 world ranking
- All together, this led the task force to decide to narrow the size of the National Junior Team, with a new focus on world rankings, instead of just top times among US swimmers.
- A smaller team, based on world rankings, will allow an increased focus on those athletes who are more likely to make impact on the senior level.
- Dalton recognized some concerns about having a smaller junior team, and he announced that, to help alleviate some of these concerns, USA Swimming would also begin to recognize junior swimmers who rank in the top 100 in the world, for 18 & under, as well as their coaches.
- There will no longer be any crossover between the National Team and the National Junior Team.
The upshot of all of this is that the National Junior Team is about to get a lot more selective than it has in years past, from over 100 swimmers to somewhere between 50-80 swimmers, and with an increased emphasis on where junior swimmers sit in world rankings, but now with a clearer stated vision of producing athletes who will help Team USA win gold medals at the Olympics and other major international competitions.
More details on selection procedures for the 2016-2017 Junior National Team here.
You can watch the full webinar here.