20 August 2018
Dear Swimmers and Parents
Today I start my first session with Maxwell Swimming Club and couldn’t be any more excited!
You have all waited very patiently whilst I finished my commitments to Burnley Bobcats, and whilst I have been very eager to start I feel that this interim period has benefitted the club for the long term in several ways. It has given Marc Butcher, an already incredible coach, the chance to develop and grow as a coach and an administrator. He has done a fantastic job as Acting Head Coach. It has also given time for us to become very well acquainted and understand each other’s way of working, so that we can look at the club as a whole and adjust to what will be needed as a team. Furthermore, I’ve been able to make a great start on learning and getting to grips with the club and going through the finances and structure - so that I can hit the ground running - concentrating solely on coaching the swimmers in the pool from day one.
I see my job as more than just a ‘swimming coach’. It’s a job where I can spend 16 – 24 hours a week with swimmers, see their triumphs and failures, help them process and see the bigger picture, and guide them through this extremely tough journey in an extremely tough sport. These ‘kids’ are asked to grow up early, take responsibility and learn some pretty harsh life lessons early on in their development. I see it as my job to help both the swimmers and the people that make those swimmers (i.e. their parents and supporters). But to enable me to do my job I need the help of everyone in return – and I particularly need parents to understand what actually goes on in a swimming pool in a club such as ours.
As a swimmer myself, I’ve spent weeks exhausted - physically, mentally and emotionally. I’ve done a morning session, had a tough day at school then gone back to the pool to do a brutal aerobic set where I’ve been told I should WANT to do it. Any normal adult would have had enough by the end of the day, yet these kids are still there, and they need me to be my best to get the best out of them. This is where the communication, understanding and help from the parents comes in.
At my past couple of clubs, parents have understood the process due to the swimmer/parent meetings we have every 6 weeks, before every cycle of training. They learned to recognise that I must be a different coach for different sessions and times of the season. During the tough work, I have to be the tough coach, and during the stroke development sessions and recovery phases I have to be the fun coach. But above all I need to be supportive of every swimmer in the pool, and in return I need input, help and support from parents to enable me to do my job.
I will always ask that COMMITMENT is maintained, that excuses aren’t given, and we maintain a STRONG WORK ETHIC and HIGH STANDARDS. Parents need to understand the different personas during different sessions, and that there will be big long chats with the swimmers after sessions to help them know what they’ve worked through and the long-term effects. Swimmers need to come to the required sessions and not take ‘an odd session’ off here or there (this is a very bad habit which becomes harder to break), and the fun sessions and easy sessions that we do during skill weeks must be counteracted with the hard work. Finally, parents need to understand that the responsibility of that child’s swimming rests solely with that child. Not the coach, not the parents and not the other swimmers.
As a Head Coach, I’m incredibly excited for this opportunity. It is a big step up for me, with a bigger pool depth of talent and much bigger and better structure. My decision to take the job came from the conversations I’ve had with the swimmers (the group I had during my interview were hilarious and I clicked with them immediately), the chats with the committee members and furthermore the honest nature of the parents I’ve met up to now. As a northerner, I hope you’ll see I value honesty and a strong work ethic above all else.
My plans for Maxwell include developing coaches, helping them help their swimmers. I’m hoping for our core values as a team to be instilled from the beginning, so it becomes a culture that the coaches, parents and swimmers buy into from day one. I’m hoping that the culture and work ethic we develop turn the people walking through our doors into better swimmers, but also better people. People who have developed a fantastic work ethic, a high resilience and an eagerness to excel.
Our core virtues we will be looking for from both Coaches and Swimmers are;
1 – Togetherness (each squad and swimmer supporting and helping each other)
2 – High Standards (rules are to be adhered to, plus performing tasks to the highest standard)
3 – Commitment (if committed to getting better, they must do the work that is required and advised)
4 – Winning Mindsets (achieving during sessions and better understanding what ‘winning’ is)
5 – No Egos or Entitlements (everyone is on a level playing field, and the same is expected of each. No one is better than anyone else because they are ‘talented’)
6 – High Work Ethic (100% is given every session, to every task. Regardless of session intents or how we’re feeling that day)
7 – Respect for each other and all around us (respect for every coach, swimmer, official, parent and volunteer)
8 – Ownership and Responsibility (taking responsibility for their own swimming. This means understanding the bigger picture and that the input (training and how its applied) = output (final result and time))
9 – A ‘WE’ mentality (a team effort in each and every session, at each and every meet, supporting and helping each other; remembering to give as much as we take from the sport)
10 – Strong relationships and Teamwork (team mates are expected to be standing up watching and cheering for each other during meets; helping each other on pre/post pool work; supporting each other during sessions)
Attached to this letter is an information pack, which will come in very handy and gives a few bits for parents on nutrition, criteria and pathway progressions. Please take time to dissect it, understand the upcoming changes which will take effect (all to be confirmed in the future) and ensure that all swimmers attend the mandatory sessions, arrive on time and have two bottles with them. The rest will be down to the coaches and the swimmers, and to the parents offering their full support.
I look forward to meeting each and every parent, swimmer and coach and look forward to the upcoming challenge