Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a Swim21 club?[+]Swim21 Club Accreditation is the ASA’s ‘quality mark’. It recognises the clubs that are committed to providing safe, effective and quality services for the benefit of their members.
Swim21 is the ASA's Club Development model - a planning tool, based on the principles of Long Term Athlete Development, enabling clubs to help athletes, teachers, coaches and administrators to achieve their full potential. It focuses particularly on the needs of athletes - striving to provide them with the best possible support and environment.
Swim21 Club Accreditation is available at one or more of five levels. Foundation, Teaching, Skill Development, Competitive Development, Performance.
Lincoln Vulcans have achieved accreditation at all 5 levels.
- What is Performance swimming?[+]Performance swimming adds a level of competition to the sport of swimming. Rather than treating swimming as a recreational pastime, swimming at performance level involves a disciplined use of regular training, stroke improvement and coaching to improve a swimmer’s performance over measured distances.
Performance swimmers measure themselves against the best in the county, the midlands, the country and even the world!
- How is Performance swimming measured?[+]The performance swimmer will be expected to test themselves on a regular basis at competition. The swimming calendar commences in early September and will involve a number of individual and team competitions with a view to gaining qualifying times for either the County, Midland or even National championships.
- The Counties[+]The counties take place in March each year (800m and 1500m distance events are usually in February) and represent the initial stage in a swimmer’s development.
Swimmers may achieve County QTs at any properly organised event – open meet, club championship, club sprints, Junior, Lincs or Arena League etc.
County QTs are available from the age of 9 and if you achieve County qualifying times you are already one of the best swimmers in your age group in Lincolnshire!
- The Midlands (Regionals)[+]The Midland (Regional) championships are the next step in the swimmer’s progression and take place in May and June each year.
Midland qualifying times are harder to achieve (perhaps 15-20 seconds faster per 200m race) than County QTs. Qualification for the Midlands places the swimmer amongst the very best in the midlands area.
Midland QTs can only be achieved at an event that is licensed by the ASA. Therefore only times achieved at Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 Open Meets, or the County Championships, can be used for Midland qualification. The earliest age that a swimmer can compete at the Midlands is 10 years old.
- Nationals[+]The pinnacle for many swimmers’ career is qualification for the National Championships, which take place in July.
National QTs are set at a harder level than Midland QTs and their achievement will place the swimmer in the top 20-30 in the country at that event.
National QTs can only be achieved at a licensed “long course” event (which includes the Midland championships) and the youngest age is 11 years old.
Swimmers who make the evening finals at the Nationals come to the attention of British Swimming and are often “spotted” for places on the Talent Development schemes which offer support, mentoring and coaching as part of the swimmer’s continued development.
Many Vulcan swimmers have progressed beyond the Nationals - to the international stage and even Olympic finals.
- Age Group and Youths[+]The Midland and National championships, due to the large number of competitors, are split into two separate competitions: Age Group (up to 14 years old) and Youths (15 and above).
- What are Qualifying Times (QTs)?[+]Qualifying times represent the minimum standard for each stroke and distance that the swimmer must achieve to take part in that event. Each age group will have a different set of qualifying times and there are usually separate QTs for males and females.
For example, to compete in a 100 FC at an Open Meet a 9-year old female swimmer may need to have already achieved a time of 1 minute 15 seconds (1:15) to enter the event.
The latest Qualifying Times for area competitions are available here.
- Open Meets and Galas[+]As previously mentioned, performance swimmers will be expected to take part in a number of competitions during the year.
The club host their annual championships (the “Club Champs”) during July and these give the swimmer their first shot at achieving County QTs. Trophies and medals are awarded during the Presentation Evening later in the year.
The Squad Sprints (50m races in all 4 strokes) take place in May and November and trophies are presented to the swimmer making the most improvement in each age group.
Additionally, each squad will target a number of Open Meets throughout the year. These are “open” competitions against swimmers from other clubs.
Swimmers are advised to discuss with their coach which events to enter at the Open Meet.
At Open Meets, swimmers compete against each other in heats based upon their “personal best” entry time rather than their age. This ensures that each heat contains swimmers with similar ability, and it is not unusual to see talented younger swimmers holding their own against much larger, older swimmers.
- Personal Bests (PBs)[+]Every time a swimmer competes, his time is collected and stored on the PB Chart. This is available on the club website in the Members Area.
The swimmer’s personal best is the best time he or she has achieved so far in each event.
- League Competitions[+]In addition to the individual competitions, swimmers may be selected to represent Lincoln Vulcans at one or more league events during the year.
The Junior League has 3 rounds against Lincolnshire clubs, with the winner over the 3 legs going on to the Northern Final, and then hopefully the National Junior League Final. Junior League age groups are 9, 10, 11 and 12 year olds.
The Lincs League is another annual competition taking place over 3 rounds for the title of top Lincolnshire club. Age groups are 10 and under, 12 and under, 14 and under, and “Open” for the over 14s.
Finally, Lincoln Vulcans take part in the National Arena Swimming League, initially against clubs in the Northern/Midlands area and again hoping to qualify for either the “A” or “B” Final. Age groups are 9-11 year olds, 13 and under, 15 and under, and “Open” for the over 15s.
These competitions each have their “age as at” dates and rules regarding how many events a swimmer may take part in. This is normally a maximum of 2 individual events in their own age group, 2 relays in their own age group and 2 relays in an older age group.
Swimmer selection is based upon latest “personal bests” in the events in question.
- Long Course and Short Course[+]Events that take place in a 50m pool (such as Ponds Forge in Sheffield) are known as long course. Events in a 25m pool are “short course”.
There are conversion tables available online which will give a “short course” equivalent to a time achieved in a long course pool, and vice-versa.
This takes into account the benefit gained from the shorter pool, as the higher number of wall-turns should give the swimmer a speed advantage.
- BAGCATs[+]There is a separate section on the website devoted to the wonder of BAGCATs!
At certain competitions, swimmers accumulate points for each event they compete in, based upon their age, the event, the distance and the time they achieve.
At the end of the competition the swimmers with the most BAGCAT (British Age Group Category) points are declared the overall competition winners.
- Training Zones[+]British Swimming has developed a number of systems to help coaches design training plans for the benefit of their swimmers.
These are based around “training zones” which indicate the level of effort taking place – measured against the swimmer’s maximum heart rate.
Young swimmers will concentrate on largely “aerobic” training (low-level fitness building akin to a steady jog) with a smaller amount of “sprint” training also taking place.
As swimmer’s mature they will be introduced to higher levels of training including Lactate training, Aerobic Threshold and VO2 max. These are all designed to help prepare the swimmer for peak efficiency when racing.
- Building a good base[+]Compared to a number of other sports, swimming seems to demand so much more from both swimmer and parents.
Many sports limit involvement by young people, as over-participation may impact upon physical growth and development. For contact sports, there is also the increased risk of injury.
However swimming takes place in a weight-bearing environment (water) and it does not involve the “impact” of sports such as rugby, football or indeed running which all involving varying degrees of physical contact with either the ground or other opponents. Therefore the swimmer can put more hours into training each week without risking physical damage.
Initial training will focus on establishing both sound stroke technique and also a good level of aerobic conditioning (healthy heart and lungs). Land work to aid physical development will be added as the swimmer matures.
It is important to establish both good technique and sound overall fitness levels at an early age – hence the increasing levels of training required.
- Long Term Athletic Development[+]Our Swim21 status reflects our understanding and adoption of the principles of Long Term Athletic Development. LATD is a sporting model embedded throughout British sport that seeks to protect and develop young athletes as they journey into adulthood.
Both coaches and parents should be aware that true sporting success comes at adult age – you do not see many Olympic stars in their teens (with the exception of perhaps gymnasts).
It is therefore important that the young swimmer is able to progress at a pace that allows them to develop their swimming ability over a period of time while still maintaining family and school life and finding time to eat and grow!
As the swimmer progresses, they may be invited to experience the joy of early-morning training!
- Early morning training? Are you mad?!?[+]Doesn't everyone enjoy getting out of bed in the middle of winter at 4am to train for 2 hours before school? No?!?
Unfortunately, early morning swimming is a necessary evil for the maturing swimmer. It presents the opportunity for more pool time (there isn’t much demand for public swimming at 5am!), additional sessions (national level swimmers may be training 8-9 times per week) and it also allows the swimmer to benefit from double-training – where they train twice in one day to really work and develop their muscular and cardiovascular systems.
Swimmers also develop the ability to produce their best at the beginning of the day - crucial when competing at a high level when the morning heats may require personal best swims to make the evening finals.
- Nutrition and the complete package[+]As any sports scientist will tell you – the actual pool training is only a part of the bigger picture.
Training is designed to overburden the heart, lungs and body muscles. The human body responds to this “stress” by adapting and growing so that is able to meet the new challenge. At which point the training is increased again!
However the body can only respond to the training if it has sufficient food to both replenish the spent resources and keep some spare for growth, and sufficient sleep to allow the repair and growth to take place.
Without all three components, progress will be limited and eventually the swimmer may become over-tired or ill.
There is a separate page on Nutrition for Swimmers in the Information section on the website.
- Land Work[+]Land work (out of the pool exercise) is an important component of swimming training and even young swimmers will benefit from gentle exercise that helps to strengthen and protect the core (abdominal) muscles.
As swimmers grow and reach maturity they will be able to introduce more complex, challenging exercises.
Your coach will be able to advise you on suitable exercises for your swimmer – it is important not to attempt unsuitable land work that may injure the young person.
- Blood Flow, Warm-ups and Swim-downs[+]Talking of injury, your coaches will want you to avoid it at all costs as it interferes with training time!
Regular “blood flow” exercises before swimming help to prepare the body for the training that is about to commence. Gentle swinging of the arms and legs and careful rotation of the joints helps to prepare the body by warming up the muscles and increasing blood flow.
Once you are in the pool, the first part of training (the “warm-up”) should be swum at a sensible pace to further prepare the body for hard training. Only swim at maximum effort when your coach asks you to!
A normal session usually involves:
1) Blood Flow: on poolside to get ready for exercise
2) The Warm-up: the first part of the swimming session will gradually increase in pace so that the muscles of the body become ready to work harder without suffering injury
3) The Pre-set: the coach may use part of the session to improve stroke technique, turns, dives, pacing etc
4) The Main Set: once your body is properly warmed up and ready to work hard, your coach will ask you concentrate on building your fitness levels and putting into practise any technique points already discussed
The Swim-Down: relaxed swimming or kicking to allow your heart to return to normal levels and your body to flush away any aches from the hard training.
- Swimmer development[+]Every child has their own rate of growth, and it is important to let your own child develop at the correct pace without comparing them to other swimmers.
Some swimmers develop quickly and a few may improve to a National standard at the age of 11 or 12. Others may struggle to achieve County qualifying times at any early age, but grow into top swimmers later in their teens.
Your coaches will help you guide your child's development so that they can enjoy competitive swimming for many years without the pressure of undue expectation.
- Coaches and Squads[+]All of the coaches at Lincoln Vulcans have ASA-certified qualifications and work to ensure that swimmers train in an enjoyable, safe, beneficial environment. If you have any questions about training, your child, or swimming in general they will be happy to chat at the end of the session.
- Volunteers - your club needs you![+]Volunteers are always needed! Many of the coaches started out as parents, volunteered to help poolside, enjoyed working with the swimmers and progressed to full coach status. Coaching is a challenging but highly rewarding experience!
We also need timekeepers, judges, club officials and helpers at every meet we attend and host so please talk to Cheryl or Dave Hendel to see how you can help.