International school swim coaches join forces to better train and support elite student swimmers
By Taylor Smith, Head Swim Coach, UWCSEA East
On Saturday, 4 November UWCSEA East hosted the first International School Elite Team - Singapore (ISETS) team training and education day. ISETS has been set up and designed by a team of international school coaches from across the island, with a view to increasing both the education of young international school athletes as well as helping coaches to learn professionally from each other. The intention is to bring coaches and athletes together three times per year in order to create a 'togetherness' among the schools here in Singapore. And who knows, in the future, we may even take the team to compete on an international stage.
Swimmers were selected based on the US Swimming motivational standards. Those achieving multiple AAA and AAAA times were invited to take part in the first ISETS session which was held at our very own swimming pool here at East Campus. The challenging qualification times ensured that only the elite international school swimmers in Singapore were in attendance. The objective is to create a performance-goal focused culture within the international school community as well as to provide the already inclusive (swim for all) environment within home swim club programmes. The rationale is to bring swimmers and coaches together within an intense learning environment with the view to knowledge being taken back and shared with the less experienced swimmers in each of our international school swim programmes. Coaches Kris Gilchrist (UWCSEA Dover), Aaron Gray (Singapore American School) and Taylor Smith (UWCSEA East), have worked hard over a number of years to create a collegiate atmosphere here in Singapore. Smith says, "Swimming is what matters, not coaches and not individual teams. Coaches need to put egos aside if they truly want the best for our sport. I believe we have amazing coaches here in Singapore and it is an honour to learn from them. There are, in my opinion, two types of coach; those who do it for themselves and their career and those who do it entirely for the swimmers. We, in Singapore international schools, are fortunate to have coaches who do the latter."
Day 1 consisted of a pool swimming session, land based work and a classroom education session. Swimmers arrived at 6.30am for a short "get to know you" session and land-based warm up where they shared practice from their own clubs. They then warmed up as a group in stroke and event specific lane groups. The session aim was to perform a short training test set, which swimmers could use to inform their training paces over the coming months. The final hour in the pool consisted of a skills/drills and aerobic conditioning set which was administered by lane coaches from different teams. This was a great experience for the athletes as they has the chance to work with different coaches. After the pool session, the swimmers moved to the gym and were tested on a number of flexibility and general land conditioning measures. These were recorded and shared to help inform coaches and swimmers moving forward. The intention is to re-test these measures on Day 3 (in May). After lunch swimmers moved to the classroom where they took part in an education session which was focused on capacity and efficiency.
The format and goal of the education day was to bring swimmers together and to learn new things. Consensus around the coaching team was that it was a huge success and something that we must continue with in the future. It was fantastic to witness the enthusiasm of both swimmers and coaches alike. Day 2 and 3 dates are still to be confirmed, however Stamford American International School, Singapore American School and UWCSEA Dover have expressed interest in hosting later in the year. Thank you to everyone involved, and lets keep working together to create something special for international school swimmers.