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How we helped build a swimming champion

How we helped build a swimming champion
Published: 28/01/2020

I want to start by saying that in no way are we solely responsible for Isaac's results. As coaches, we know we can only put athletes on the path to success and outcomes come down to what they do. All the success Isaac has had is his to own and he should be incredibly proud. Working with Isaac over the last few years we have remained consistent in our approach to his training. Whether it be working alongside his Physiotherapists in rehabilitation or ramping up training ready for a meet there have been key parts that we believe helped to shape his success not only in the gym but in the pool too.

We Cared

There was no generic program prescribed. Everything had purpose because we cared for Isaac, not his results, but for him as a human. We understood that for Isaac to perform well and train well he needed professionals that cared about him. We asked a lot of questions, often about how he was feeling before we started every training session. If you know a swimmer, you understand they do an insane amount of training volume in the pool. It would be irresponsible of us to not continually ask how Isaac was feeling session to session. If Isaac was not feeling great or we could see that in his body language we would change the program for the day. An athlete with incredible grit and determination will do nearly anything you ask but that is not always the best thing for them and as coaches, it's our role to know what's best and do that.

It was important for us to hear how Isaac was feeling after each race and an entire meet. Put simply, for us to be able to build a champion we need to know as much as we can, so we ask.

Isaac was always supervised in training sessions. This may seem obvious to you however it's very common for teen athletes to be prescribed gym programs to do on their own. You can just imagine what a teenage boy would do with a group of friends in the gym, "Hey let's see who can lift the heaviest". We hear so many stories of this happening and kids getting injured or not improving, it's very disappointing as a coach and I'm sure parents feel the same.

We did what was most effective

We did less, but it resulted in more because what we prescribed was challenging, quality and effective work that complimented pool sessions. Any athlete's gym program should work in with their specialty training, this is particularly important for athletes who do high volume training. Doing a standard gym program with no individualization is a recipe for wasting time and money.

We broke down what Isaac's strongest distances and strokes were, the physical attributes required to succeed based on elite swimmers data and looked at what his current best times were. Using research and continuous feedback we developed what would be the best plan to help Isaac.

We tested

Research showed that male elite senior sprint swimmers had a 1 rep max chin-up of 50kg + Bodyweight. We tested that with Isaac and he already had a 35kg + Bodyweight strength capacity when he began. From our conversations and understanding of previous injuries, we found out very quickly why Isaac is incredibly strong in his upper body. Upon our most recent test, he achieved a 45kg + Bodyweight Pull Up (hands pronated on the bar). Testing allowed us to know where more focus was needed and what was already up to the levels needed.

We added Nutrition advice

All training stands on the foundations of nutrition. Our Dietitian, Matt, consulted with Isaac and his parents about what good nutrition would be for his training needs and age development. This was also key for an elite athlete to speak to someone with a good understanding of what they are allowed to consume whilst not breaking sports drug policies.

The Key

What allowed us to succeed and continues to give us the upper hand in teen athlete development is our desire to work for the athlete outside of the session we have in the gym. That's when the research happens, that's when the check-ins occur and it is what an athlete hires a professional coach for - to do everything they can so the athlete can be at their best.


If you have a child who wants to succeed in sport or you yourself want to be a better athlete book a free meeting with one of our professional coaches below now:

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