| Monday, February 27, 2017
WHY SHOULD YOU CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE MEET FORMATS?
When assessing readiness for competition, we tend to define competition strictly as organized swim meets where the participants compete against each other in specific events according to specific rules; a so called "adult model" of competition. A more fitting way of looking at competition involves broadening our definition of competition to include models that are developmentally appropriate. A young athlete may not be socially, psychologically, technically, or physiologically ready for the "adult model" of competition, but would be ready for and benefit from more developmentally appropriate types of competition. So, we need to think not so much about whether the young athlete is ready for competition and instead think about what type of competition the young athlete is ready for. In the following section, a few ideas or suggestions of competitions more appropriate for developmental athletes are presented.
Keep in mind that at the developmental level, the important element is skill; it therefore makes sense to structure events that emphasize skill.
Alternative Meet Formats
Scheduled between your club and another club. Is helpful to try and schedule a meet with events and ages that will provide a close meet especially if teams are uneven. Limit the "outstanding" swimmers' number of events to give newcomers a chance. Develop a written agreement with everything spelled out like:
- Top level kids-two events, others three or four
- No shaving
- Relays-double the normal distance
- Age groups start at different times; 1 pm for 12-Unders and 3 pm for 13-Overs
Invite several teams, each with an entry in training sets. Start the watch with a racing start and stop on foot or hand touch. Do not reset the watch, giving total swimming time without rest. One entry per team. Kids swim once. Score as a dual to six or eight places. Agree on order of events in writing.
- i.e. 4 x 800 @12
- 10 x 100 @ 1:30
- 6 x 50 @ :45
- 6 x 200 IM @ 3:30, etc..
Invite one to five teams with swimmers assigned to set heats, rotating the entire meet based on a 200 IM time. Heats are A, B, C, D, E, F. The pentathlon places in each age group are based on the total time. Knowing these are scheduled puts meaning into fall stroke practices and drill session.
- 12-Unders would swim stroke 50's and a 100 IM early season and stroke 100's and a 200 IM late season. You could also add a distance freestyle event like the 200 or 400/500 freestyle.
- 13-Overs would swim 100's stroke and a 200 IM early season and 200's stroke and a 400 IM late season. You could also add a distance freestyle event like the 400/500 or 1000/1650 freestyle.
Invite one to five teams, with each team assigned lanes by "draw" for the whole meet. Have 12-Unders at 1 pm and 13-Overs at 4 pm. Distances swum and events change three times during the season: early season-distance, middle season-IM, late season-sprint.
Set up a dual meet with a team of similar swimmer abilities. Have registered officials run "time trials" at both sites on a set timeline. Email results to each other after every couple of events.
Round Robin Weekend
Eight teams meet in two divisions with each guaranteed three meets. The teams with the best records meet for the championship dual. Each meet uses a different order of events. This is especially good in metropolitan areas where everyone stays at home.
Quick& Easy Meets
- Alphabet Meet-same as above with swimmers assigned to intrasquad mixed teams alphabetically based on total participants (A-E/F-I/J-N/O-Z).
- Battle of the Sexes-boys versus girls in novelty events such as kick, pull and sprints.
- Separate Meets-8-Under at 9 am, 9-10 at 10 am, 11-12 at 1 pm, etc..
- Separate Weeks-on Wednesday night, 12-Under on week one, 13-Over on week two.
- Mystery Meet-8-Under/9-10 only with grab bag awards.
- Prediction Meet-six teams, each swimmer enters four events (50's or 100's of each stroke) and writes on a card his/her total time prediction.
- Holiday Sprint Invitational-three teams with limited number of swims. Enter each event with a canned food for a local charity or food shelter.
8-Under-no scoring. Ribbons to swimmers in every heat.