When a Coach Changes Clubs

When a Coach Changes Clubs

“My son and my husband and I are very happy at our Swimming Club. The Club provides everything we want for our 14 year old son, a positive environment, good coaching, a pathway to develop further and a great team atmosphere. Last night we were informed that my son’s coach is moving to another club and he has asked us to leave our current club and move to the new one with him. We are so confused and would like some advice on how we decide what to do.”

We receive many emails similar to the one above (received last week) from parents asking for advice around coaching, particularly when a coach moves onto another position. Every request for advice is different so we have summarized our thoughts below to assist parents in this situation.

Junior and Age Group Swimmers

In general our advice is if your child is happy in the club they are in, then it is more beneficial to remain at the club with their friends and training partners and continue to train together under a newly appointed coach rather than changing clubs and following their former coach. Invariably the environment created by the Club as a whole and the swimmer pathways within the club are more important to the continued improvement and success of a junior or age group swimmers.

Furthermore, for swimmers in these younger age groups, their coach will often be in an assistant coaching position, and the replacement coach is as good or even better than the departing coach. In general it is always worth giving the incoming coach a good 6 to 12 months for your child to get used to them and continue their swimming journey.

Location and travel time will also play a part in decision-making and it is important for families to understand the ramifications particularly if travel time increases, especially as children move into and through high school.

Coach Advice

For coaches looking to begin a new role in either an established or new Club, it is highly advisable to begin your new role with new swimmers and not encourage your current swimmers to move with you. When I (Gary) moved from one Club as an Assistant Coach to another as Head Coach, I instigated that no swimmers from my previous squads (60 State & National level swimmers) would be welcome to my new Club for a period of 2 years from beginning there. This allowed my current athletes to continue training and competing at my former club and further progress and improve with the least disruption to their swimming, their friendships and the Club. It also provided the incoming coach with the best opportunity to be successful in their new role. This was the right thing to do. It also allowed me as a new Head Coach to develop the culture and athletes from the base up in my new club, gradually over time to ensure the foundations were built for a long term successful club.

Most coaches will understand the reasons for working through a situation similar to that outlined above, however a small minority will “encourage junior and/or age group swimmers to leave their current club and follow them to their new club.” I have seen this happen a small number of times over the past 30 years and it nearly always ends in tears. This is a selfish attitude by the coach who is more interested in promoting themselves than supporting their athletes. It also shows a lack of respect for their previous employer which in turn often carries through to their new employer. If as a parent you are ever put in a position like this, please think twice before making a move as the grass is rarely greener on the other side. It may seem like a good idea at the time but it rarely works out well.

Take a look inside Swim Parent Advantage

Take a look inside Swim Parent Advantage

We have received so many questions form parents of competitive swimmers asking what Swim Parent Advantage is all about. So to help you out, we provide below some examples of what you get access to as a member of this world leading support program for swimming parents.

Parent PODs

Let’s start with the fortnightly live sessions (called Parent PODs) where you can participate and ask questions of our coaches or special experts. Each session is a bit different. Below is one of our more recent sessions with our resident Child & Sport Psychologist, Megan Davis. Megan is a former Australian representative swimmer, swim coach and a mother of 3 sporty kids. Megan also contributes with regular online episodes focused on many different psychology topics. Feedback from parents who watched the POD live or the recorded video include:

“I got a lot out of this session, thanks GCS and Megan” Claire

“I caught up with this POD today (Sunday). I don’t understand why parents who spend $ ‘00s on a race suit for their child don’t realise the value of the investment they could make for their child’s swimming by becoming a member of Gold Class Swimming. I just had my money’s worth in this session alone! Megan is great. Thanks guys, very valuable.” Tania

“That was a fantastic session highly recommend it to all parents. Lots of very practical advice” Michelle

“Fantastic session this morning. Thank you!” Emma

“Invaluable!! Highly recommended. Thanks guys” Prue

Online Video Library

To compliment the fortnightly live sessions there are more than 50 video discussions between aquatic expert Gary Barclay and 2004 & 2012 Australian Olympic Team Head Coach Leigh Nugent. These include discussions on the benefits of swimming, the swimming parent, swimmer development pathways, growth and development, swimming training and swimming competitions. Here is an example video discussing the coach/swimmer relationship.

Stroke Models

One of the most popular sections in the program are the four stroke models. Leigh takes athletes and parents through the key elements in learning and swimming correct freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. Each online video can be watched as many times as you like. Below is a short extract from the freestyle video.

“As a sports psychologist, we now know that by watching people performing motor skills in the way that you what to do them, helps train the nervous system that way. So your kids can actually be training by watching these stroke model videos.” Megan Davis

Nutrition Support

We all know that nutrition plays a major role in the development of children and adults. Parents are always looking for ways to ensure they are providing the right foods to their families… especially for kids who swim multiple times per week.

Our resident nutritionist Bec Stone leads us through many different aspects of nutrition with regular one hour sessions and many short episodes of online videos on specific topics. One of our recent episodes was on Protein Powders and do athletes really need them. You can watch it below. Bec also answers all your questions about nutrition, and as a former national level swimmer and coach understands all aspects of nutritional needs for the sport. You will also gain access to all the contents in the eBook “Nutrition for Swimmers” through the lessons in the nutrition section of the membership platform.

Parent Community

Parents who are members of Swim Parent Advantage enjoy access to the private group on Facebook. While all online videos and discussions are promoted through the group, parents can also ask questions and share ideas.

Join us today at Swim Parent Advantage and let us share and support your journey as a parent of a competitive swimmer.

Sport Psychology

Sport Psychology

In our latest Swim Parent POD, sport psychologist Megan Davis explained the ins and outs of sport psychology and how what we say to our children can greatly affect them in a positive or negative manner.

Today we share a few excerpts from the most recent POD where Megan discusses the way she likes to work with sport psychology. It is so much more than just peak performance. It’s about establishing a foundation of a ‘secure self’ and then working towards ‘great practice’ before any focus on ‘peak performance’.

In the video below we have shared the discussion on ‘great practice’. Megan is a regular contributor to Swim Parent Advantage and the full one hour session is available to all members.

“It’s a pity there are not 2,000 parents on this today because this information is gold. I’ve really enjoyed listening to you speak Megan and absorbing the salient points here. There is no doubt that members (and future members) will be going in and looking at this at a time that is more convenient to them” former Australian Head Coach Leigh Nugent said at the end of the POD.

The program is designed to assist parents of competitive swimmers aged 8 years through to high level performing swimmers by educating and supporting them in a safe environment.

Parent Patience Required as Pools Re-Open

Parent Patience Required as Pools Re-Open

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 aquatic facilities, program managers and swim coaches work through the logistics of the restrictions placed upon them if they re-open. Many are waiting for public health orders to even be allowed to open and others are preparing their COVID-19 safety guidelines and procedures for their operations.

Most aquatic facilities will re-open when it is safe and financially viable to do so. This will not necessarily be the date that has been publicly provided by government leaders. If it is financially and operationally viable to open the pool, facility managers will then need to decide who can utilise the pool. If numbers are restricted, many Councils will use a booking system for lap swimming and it is unlikely that squads will be allowed to swim as the community may take up all the places.

Club’s will need to work through with the facility operators to secure pool space at a reasonable rate and be on the same page in regards to policies, procedures and guidelines around the health and safety of all users.


Our new program Swim Parent Advantage has weekly posts and fortnightly Parent PODs on Zoom where parents enjoy asking questions, sharing ideas and educating themselves on competitive swimming. Led by former Australian Head Coach Leigh Nugent, Olympic Gold Medal coach Rohan Taylor and experienced aquatic educator Gary Barclay, this program is the first of its kind in the world. Membership is now open for all parents of competitive swimmers.


For many clubs or programs, starting squads back with limited numbers allowed in the water at any one time will create issues around the financial viability of the program. Low user numbers will mean low income – if groups are limited to 10 or even 20, income will be limited. The aim for each program must be to break-even in most situations. A return to the pool may be cost prohibitive. Clubs and program operators cannot afford to run at a loss so they may have to make a hard decision and not start back until the restrictions on numbers have been eased. Charges to families may also be higher due to small numbers.

In many cases, squads will not look the same. Coaches will have to group swimmers by the numbers permitted and that group will train together whenever they train. By doing this, it is easy to recognise which swimmers or families may have been exposed to coronavirus if someone was unfortunate enough to get it within that group. They will also know that members of each group should not have been in contact with each other, at least at the facility.

Coaches will then have to decide which swimmers can come back to training. This decision will invariably depend on the numbers allowed in the pool, the number of lanes available, the number of swimmers allowed in each lane and the length of time the pool is available. This will vary from club to club however what we do know is that it will not be the same as normal.

Many clubs will choose to bring an older group of swimmers in first. These athletes will be more likely to follow social distancing guidelines and will be able to raise any concerns they have with the coaches and facility so that improved steps can be implemented before younger swimmers return. They will also be good role models when more participants are allowed to attend the pool. Talking last week with a leading coach in a high profile program, he explained that swimmers training 8 times a week for 2 hours have ‘missed’ the equivalent of 128 hours of training in the last 8 weeks. Swimmers who train 3 times a week for 1 1/2 hours have ‘missed’ the equivalent of 36 hours of training. It is therefore much more important for the older more accomplished swimmers to be the first groups back into the pool and then other age groups can re-join over time. It may take 12 to 16 weeks before all squads are back in the water on a regular basis.

What I can say is that I haven’t spoken with a coach yet who is not keen to get everyone back ASAP, and I encourage parents of swimmers who may not be invited back to the pool immediately or are offered a very reduced session load, to remain supportive of the club, program and coaches. When squads return they may initially have reduced time, for example 45min session and then have 5-10 minutes to pack up and leave the centre, before the next group enters and is in the pool 5 minutes later for their 45min session. This may happen multiple times each morning and night.

So, while governments and those in authority make announcements around pools re-opening, facility managers, pool operators, clubs and coaches may have many other issues to consider before everything is back to normal. Parents and swimmers will have to be patient…. just for a little bit longer.