What Does the Future of Swimming Look Like?

I read this question and immediately was like, I need to write a blog on this because it’s the entire reason I created Swim Like A. Fish. There is no doubt in my mind that we are in a new era of time. Jobs are changing, technology keeps booming, and swimmers keep swimming faster than ever, but how do we keep up with it? What are the next steps for the sport of swimming? Let’s dive into these questions deeper below!

Let’s Get Started!

During this technological revolution, every company has had to work to adapt and change their employee’s jobs with the growth in technology over time. What that means is the goal of your job doesn’t change, but the way you do your job does. Artificial Intelligence has done that for us. The way we go about creating content and writing copy has shifted with the help of A.I.. A.I. hasn’t taken away the need that we do have to write and create as a digital business, but it has changed the way we get things done.

Coach Abbie running a Swim Camp!

Social Media Algorithms are another example. These constantly change and shift over time, but as a team who uses social media marketing for their digital business – we have to stay abreast to what are the best practices and be okay with experimenting with new things. The goal of growing our following though hasn’t changed.

Because change can be hard and intimidating, some companies rise up quickly and last – while others never make it past first base. As a young entrepreneur, one of the key things I’ve learned is slow and steady is the ticket to long-term success and sustainability. Sure, everyone wants that quick growth with tons of funding and a booming business with great PR, etc., but without the right people in the right seats driving the bus – many companies fail. The common reasons for companies failing are bad management, lack of leadership, lack of upward growth for employees, and not pivoting quickly enough.

Why Change Matters?

It’s not necessarily the change itself that matters, but it’s your willingness to adapt to the change. If you grow up swimming on a summer league team and then transfer to a club team – that’s a change. You age up and move up groups on your club team, another change. You sign a letter of intent to swim in the NCAA, another change. It’s constant. I’m actually reading a book by Apolo Ohno, the Olympic Speed Skater, called Hard Pivot and it’s all about how Apollo has had to pivot and change through his career in sport and beyond to be successful in life.

The goals in the pool for swim coaches haven’t changed. We still use similar water, blocks, lane lines, painted black lines, stop watches, and digital clocks to help facilitate our overarching goal – get our kids to swim faster. But, how do we accelerate this growth to stay with the times and not fall behind? Because my personal opinion is swimming as a sport is struggling to keep up with the technological growth. Wearables and other pieces of technology are now on the market and allowed for competition, but we are YEARS behind football and basketball and how they incorporate the use of new technologies and metrics in competition. So to avoid us continuing to fall behind, how do we stay ahead? Here are 5 pieces I believe we can pay attention to as swim parents, fan, coaches, and athletes to improve the longevity of the sport of swimming.

1.) Use Video Feedback

Our Video Analysis Packages were my FIRST product I ever created online. Back in 2016, I launched this and remembered being so nervous but then my first check came in for $3,000 of sales. I wasn’t sure how it was going to be received by the masses, but to ANY BUSINESS owner what this proved was what I created was NEEDED. Customers valued it and purchased it based on its’ value.

The way I did my Video Analysis Packages back in 2016 was a lot different than how it is now. I used to use iMovie for all my editing and the process was so clunky – but now with the use of other programs and softwares, it’s cut my time in half of editing and I’m able to analyze more strokes faster and help more clients.

All coaches have a cell phone. Most teams actually have iPads and TVs. Some even have tablets, but what I’m not always seeing are coaches USING them. I said earlier that changes can be hard and very daunting. Some changes can include that feeling of imposter syndrome, where you question everything about yourself and your capabilities – but I promise you, you can use your video feedback systems well AND you will see a big benefit from bringing them more on deck with your swimmers.

Coach Abbie reviewing film with swimmers!

Just like practice makes perfect for your swimmers, the more time you spend analyzing strokes the better you’ll get analyzing them. This is where the future of swimming (and coaching) is going, so be sure to use your phone the next time you hit the pool deck!

2.) Gamifying the Sport

With the use of wearables and other trackers, data is at the ease of our fingertips as coaches. We can use this data to either help or hurt us as swimmers. It’s all in how you interpret it and deliver it the message to them.

Lots of times coaches are a bit nervous to implement this new type of data-driven feedback and stick to the regular: splits, total time, and maybe stroke rate. I’d like to ask our coaches to start transition to this next level up on coaching. This goes for me included. Let’s expect more from ourselves, so when we expect more from our swimmers – they don’t see a difference.

One of my favorite ways to use data incorporate into practice or a meet is to make it a game. This helps use the metrics as motivation for your swimmers versus ‘grades’ against what they ‘should be doing’. I recently had a demo call with Swim Warrior, which is a gamifying ranking system for teams that brings this style of video game structure to clubs. Check them out here.

3.) Virtual Swim Lessons

One of my favorite SLAF products and also, one of our newest is Virtual Swim Lessons. This may be one of the most repeated questions I get about being a ‘Virtual Swim Coach’. How Do I Do It? How Does Virtual Swim Coaching Work? I always respond with Facetime, Zoom, and Skype are beautiful things. As long as someone can accompany the swimmer to a pool and has a solid wifi/cellular connection, we can host a swim lesson through the WEB! I’m so proud of the fact we were the first entity EVER to launch this! I love staying innovative and ahead of the curve and I challenge other coaches to start thinking outside of the box like this too! This is the future of swimming!

Asides from Virtual Swim Lessons, we do sell downloadable training plans for swimmers as well. Both of these facets of SLAF hit purpose of why SLAF exists and that is helping swimmers no matter where they are in the world gain access to great swim coaching. I truly believe to keep this sport growing we have to keep evolving and so does our competition. If we allow more open door conversations and access to great swim coaching education, it will keep pushing the mark on what is possible and allow swimmers from all around the world to flourish. I love that the internet helps us connect with other humans across cultures, races, ethnicities, and languages. It’s amazing and one of my favorite reasons I do my job.

4.) Swim Coach Mentorship Program

Our latest invention because coaches shouldn’t be stuck at home without any access to great swim coaching education. Continually learning and always staying a student is KEY to success in coaching, so we wanted to make that even easier for coaches to have access to multiple Olympic Coaches through our platform. I want to help take this sport as far as we can, and I know that means we all have to keep learning and having those important conversations to help us grow. I’m so darn proud of this new program of ours and the amount of swim coaches we are going to affect with it!

Depending on budget we didn’t want to silo coaches out on bigger programs with the most funding and smaller clubs that fundraise a lot to exist, so we have coaching education courses at a lower cost for continuing education for coaches too. Courses on all four strokes, starts, and turns can be found here.

5.) Customized Swim Workouts and Strength & Conditioning Workouts

I love our Customized Swim Workouts and Strength and Conditioning Workouts Products because of the pretense that other coaches and a fresh set of eyes can be extremely valuable for your swimming career. This doesn’t mean I’m running around trying to recruit swimmers from other clubs, ever. My argument is the same notion that most coaches know everyone learns differently and sometimes it’s that ONE conversation that happens that helps a swimmer’s lightbulb go off. Those moments are invaluable and actually really help the ‘home coach’ make forward progress with their swimmers. I’m all about being that additional support on the sidelines for many athletes and with how this sport is progressing, if you don’t want have that extra support – you are falling behind!

I truly believe my job here at SLAF is to be someone’s secondary coach. I spend most of my days talking and following up with my client’s primary coaches, so they know what is going on and we all circle up about what are the next best steps for them. If this square works well between myself, the swimmer, their primary coach, and parent. It’s harmonious, and really the only way – it works the best. I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone and explore some different training styles. Switch up the feedback you get a bit and don’t be afraid to make changes. After all, we started this blog about how change can be scary but it is SO important for growth. This might just be that reminder that it is time for you to do just that.

Conclusion: The Future of Swimming

One of the main reasons SLAF exists is to bring great swim coaching education to anyone no matter where they are in the world. I want to see this sport flourish and athletes continuing to dedicate their life to their swimming craft. As coaches, it is our responsibility to keep giving our athletes the best probability of a great career by staying abreast on the new innovative technologies in our sport.

So next time you hit the pool, make sure you’ve done some continuing education, spoken to a mentor, increased your confidence with your stroke analysis skills, created a new set that makes it a game, and pushed yourself to a innovative limit to bring your best coaching style to the table for your swimmers.

Until Next Time,

Abbie Fish

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