The sport of swimming is facing a major disruption around the world due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19). With swimming pools closed and social distancing restrictions in place preventing squad training and other social interactions that swim clubs usually provide, the team at Gold Class Swimming have looked at a number of ways to reach out to the swimming community and provide them with appropriate information and support to help them through this unprecedented time.
We have in place multiple platforms to reach out and support swim coaches including the popular Swim Coach Advantage program, and have been continuing to do so during this time, with additional care taken to refocus the information we have been sharing to be appropriate to current circumstances.
However, we felt that many parents were feeling isolated and wanted some information too, particularly now that they are at home with their swimmers who are in most cases now unable to swim.
Update 27 May 2020:
For a majority of parents and swimmers, the pending re-opening of swimming pools around Australia and in many other countries is a big step back to re-gaining some normality in their life. The announcements that pools can re-open under strict guidelines have started. The swimming bags are packed, training equipment has been disinfected and all we are waiting for now is the email or message from the coach to say “we start back on this day”.
But for many, the celebrations will go on hold very quickly as… Read more at Parent Patience Required as Pools Re-Open.
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Parent Support Webinars
As a part of our community service to swimming parents in Australia and around the world, we provided a series of free webinars to reach out to the parent community and provide advice to help them through the current environment.
These webinars will continue in the future within the Swim Parent Advantage program. The program includes regular Parent PODs whereby parents can ask questions and be involved in conversations.
- Week #1 – Parenting Competitive Swimmers Through the Current Environment – Thurs 2 April 2020, Watch Replay
We guide you through the current environment with most pools closed and homes in lockdown.
- Week #2 – Parenting Competitive Swimmers | Special Broadcast – Thurs 9 April 2020, Watch Replay
We answer your questions and provide a major resource for all parents.
- Week #3 – Parenting Competitive Swimmers | Special Broadcast – Thurs 16 April 2020, Watch Replay
Features a presentation by former Australian swimmer and child psychologist Megan Davis.
- Week #4 – Calling All Swimmers | Special Broadcast – Thurs 23 April 2020, 4:00pm AEST, Watch Replay
The coaches at Gold Class Swimming will chat with swimmers about their swimming, the current environment and how they can grow and develop their skills during this period of lockdown.
- Week #5 – Parent Special | Nutrition For Swimmers – Week #5 – Thurs 30 April 2020, 4:00pm AEST, Watch Replay
The coaches at Gold Class Swimming are joined by Swimming Australia’s Nutrition Lead Greg Shaw to discuss maintaining nutrition and healthy eating during this current period.
We have also put together the following resources to assist families through this period.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Family Guide
The following resources are very helpful for all families.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) and children in Australia
- Talking with children about physical distancing and self-isolation
- Physical distancing and family wellbeing
- Talking with teenagers about physical distancing and self-isolation
For most swimmers in Australia, this is a time (April/May) where people are taking a bit of a break, albeit for most, an unplanned one. The simplest message for this time is to stay fit, stay healthy, stay active and stay connected.
Swimmers are creatures of routine. As parents of swimmers you’re required to help them maintain that routine, so you’re also out of routine as well. It’s ok and probably a good idea (and necessary for some) to have a short break from that routine. But after you’ve had a short break, it’s important to get back into some sort of a routine. It’s most likely that’s not going to be the same routine as what it was when your child was swimming, but it’s important to create a routine regardless to bring some structure back into your life.
When having a break, it’s still important to try to maintain good physical condition. You need to look at the positives of this situation. Having a mental break from the pool may even be a good thing for some swimmers.
“Keeping a Routine During Coronavirus” is worth watching and reiterates many of the points we have been making.
Swimmers Weekly Planner
Example of usual weekly plan for a state level swimmer:
Weekly Planner for a State Level Swimmer
This link provides you with a blank template (excel spreadsheet) like the one below that you can enter your own routine into. There are two tabs at the bottom so please have a look at them both.
Remember to include some time for schoolwork (face-to-face or online), exercise, meals, chores around the house, relaxation and sleep. Aim to get up the same time each day and go to bed when you usually would.
Connection & Membership
Coaches are an important part of a swimmer’s life. Swimmers are used to having a coach guide their lives every single day. To suddenly go from being guided by your coach daily to having no contact can be an issue for some. That’s why, where possible, it’s important that you try to maintain that connection, as well as the connection with the wider swimming community. This is one of the reasons why it’s really important that everyone stays a member of their club, even during this period while they are not currently swimming.
Now when people have got a lot of time and the fridge is only a few meters away, it’s a pretty easy go-to place to take salvage in. We really need to be mindful of how much we are eating and what we’re eating.
Food intake during this time of reduced activity needs to be brought into alignment with the activity that they’re partaking. For most, it’s going to be a reduction in food intake. On top of that, because of the anxiety and lack of routine, we need to watch out for comfort eating. Many of us will want to go to those foods that provide instant satisfaction. Foods that are full of sugar and carbohydrates and are not good for you.
There needs to be a discussion around that with our children to ensure they have optimal nutrition during this period to set them up for returning to the pool in good shape.
This is a very good video to watch. It focuses on “How to Avoid Overeating While Spending More Time At Home”.
Activity & Fitness
Activity and exercise is really good for all of us, for our stress and mental health and well-being and at the moment, we’re not trying to get the athletes fit. This is not a period of time to get them fitter or stronger. It’s really about maintaining a level of health and well-being.
Maintaining fitness remains important. The athletes are not going to lose talent or their skills because of this break away from the pool, but they will lose fitness if they don’t find other ways to remain active and maintain their fitness levels.
There were many questions around dryland exercises and this is something that leaders in the swimming community, including a majority of coaches, are working on developing for their squads.
What should athletes do about coronavirus?
Examples of resources for Coaches and Clubs from Swimming Australia:
With many facilities closed and normal training routines impacted, it is important for you to maintain good health and basic fitness to ensure when pools are open you are ready to train. Below are some guidelines to enable you to maintain fitness. There is no way you can avoid some level of specific detraining at this time, especially when access to pools is not possible. However, you can mitigate this by performing other forms of exercise.
Swimmers who usually perform 3-4 swim sessions per week
Swimmers should aim for 2-3 cardio sessions per week consisting of 30-40 min and 2 x dryland sessions using body weight exercises, bands and stretching.
Swimmers who usually perform 5-6 swim sessions per week
Swimmers should aim for 3-4 cardio sessions lasting 45 min + 2 x dryland sessions using body weight exercises, bands and stretching.
Swimmers who usually perform 7-8 swim sessions per week
Swimmers should aim for may do 5-6 cardio sessions lasting 45-60 min + 3 x dryland sessions using body weight exercises, bands and stretching.
Not all sessions you perform need to be done at a high intensity. Like your swimming training, a combination of low-intensity training where you are just able to answer questions with one-word answers, needs to be combined with shorter maximal efforts.
It is recommended that you keep a training diary during this time, so that you can share with your coach and so you can monitor your progress and help maintain motivation over time.
Using some form of activity tracker (Garmin, Fitbit, Apple watch etc.) can be helpful to maintain a log of your training, sleep patterns and recovery.
Not everyone will have access to water (backyard pool, lake, beach etc). It is important that you consider what access you have to equipment eg. a spin bike or treadmills, and most importantly your individual preferences and capabilities.
If you have access to water eg. a backyard pool or a beach, then some sessions can be performed in the water. This could be a combination of “ins and outs” or swimming continuously parallel to the shore at a beach, or a combination of continuous swimming and interval work using a tethering device in a pool.
Note: If considering tethered swimming, ensure you are conservative with your approach and limit the number of efforts per session to less than 50% of the entire session duration. Tethered swimming places 10-20% more load on the tendons around the shoulder joint, so you need to build the amount you do slowly, ensure adequate rest between individual efforts and allow full recovery between sessions by combining this with other exercise modes. Be sure to speak to your coach about how to incorporate tethered swimming into any training program.
Other activities may include cycling, running, skipping, bench step-ups or rowing. As with tethered swimming, if any form of exercise is not familiar to you, start slowly and build up time/distance and effort. For example, running may initially consist of 4 min jog, 1 min walk, repeated four times. This can be slowly increase until 30-40 min of continuous running can be maintained.
It is recommended you use a combination of the different exercise modes to prevent over-use injuries and to provide variety. If you cycle outside, consider combining longer flat rides with shorter hilly rides. Other possibilities include setting up a circuit consisting of skipping, bench step ups, a stationary bike and repeated sprints.
Share your ideas with your fellow team-mates for variations and encouragement. Regardless of exercise mode, ensure you maintain good technique, wear appropriate footwear, and make sure your bike position is appropriate if cycling.
The following chart of exercises has been produced by Swimming Australia. It can be downloaded here.
We also discussed the psychological effect of swimmers not being able to finish their season off. Whether they are in school competitions, aiming to swim at Nationals, trying to make their first national team or trying to make the Olympics, they’ll all be disappointed that they couldn’t prove themselves and achieve their goals when they were expecting to achieve them.
This will feel like a major loss for many of those swimmers and psychologically they could be suffering as a result. It’s important that we let them know that there’s going to be other opportunities. Swimming is going to go on. They just have to make sure now that they are doing the right things so that they will be ready to start again when that time comes. There is no use in dwelling on what could have been. We have to accept the current situation and work within the constraints set upon us and manage those things that we have control over rather than wish circumstances were different.
5 Tips to Protect Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Crisis
It is important for parents and their children to maintain good sleep quality throughout this time. Provided below are tips to sleep well whilst most of us are living only at home.
Let’s now look at 5 tips to maintain our muscle mass.
Here are some suggestions on how to stay motivated during the period we are staying at home.
And now we’ll take a look at a list of training considerations.
On-going Parent Support
Do you want to provide your child with the best support you can on their journey through competitive swimming and access to expert coaches and a community of like-minded parents?
Swim Parent Advantage is an online support program for parents of competitive swimmers. The program has been in development for the past two years and was scheduled to be launched in March 2020. While the program is available for new members to join, with the outbreak of coronavirus we have decided to postpone the launch until swimming pools re-open and squads start training again.
A number of parents have already joined and are currently enjoying the 50+ videos and watching the stroke models with their kids during this time of staying at home. You are welcome to do this with the understanding that the weekly posts will begin once pools re-open and we actively launch the program.
See more about Swim Parent Advantage