Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hyack Masters Swim Club

The Hyack Swim Club is a good example for a competitive swim club. It has several different programs with all the necessary ancillary programs for its swimmers, going from development to elite where senior national/Olympic team members train, plus a couple of programs for adult swimmers – masters swimming and triathlon. The team’s head coach Mark Bottrill is a full-time professional coach with Olympic coaching experience, and he directs the swimming program through some dozen or so other coaches (at least one being full-time as well) giving instruction at three different pools. The Club hosts four meets and is considered to be a major swim club in Canada. The Hyacks take their competitive swimming program very seriously, but I get the distinct feeling the Club takes their masters program less so (perhaps there’s a government subsidy for master swim programs? Could it possibly be profitable?). For example Masters uses all the available pools (quite understandable and welcome) but strangely the team registered with the Provincial Masters Swimming Association as three different teams (Hyacks, Hyack Coquitlam, and Hyack Triathlon). This clearly isn’t efficient administratively, and it also prevents Hyacks fielding masters relay teams comprising swimmers from all three. Nor is this an inadvertent administrative glitch. Incredibly to my mind there are no provisions for attending practices at any other pool except the pool a swimmer originally signed up with, and there is absolutely no coordination of practice times. Right now each masters swim team practices three times a week, a training level perfectly adequate for general fitness but grossly insufficient if one wishes to actually compete in the sport (I’d have to say one would need a minimum of six practices a week to be competitive, more would be better). But both Bonsor and Coquitlam teams swim on the same day at virtually the same time, so the possibility of swimming both pools is eliminated from the start. No better for the two masters triathlon teams, which practice mostly long course (i.e. fifty meters) three times a week in the mornings at CCAC (Coquitlam) and twice at Canada Games Pool but, again, two of the three mornings are the same day and time. And I was stunned to learn neither masters swim teams, despite Hyacks having access to two long course pools, practice long course until the season is over! Consequently it seems most of the Club’s best swim on their own to get in the necessary mileage and individuals such as Vladimir, a world-class masters swimmer, who's rarely ever seen at practices. I can understand why. Some changes are in order but it will take someone actually rolling up their sleeves and wading in to tackle them, assuming they are doable at all. I’ll have to think about that.

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