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Articles by Dartes Swimmers Past and Present

Every now and again, someone pops up out of the deep end and writes an article for the website. Sometimes these are former Dartes swimmers with happy memories to share. Often they're current members with something special or interesting to shout about. Either way, if it's interesting and in some way connected to Dartes or Doncaster Swimming, we'll probably publish it.
Here's one of those articles.

Advice from the AIS

Introduction

Over the past year or so we've linked to two or three of the blog entries written by Mrs Coach. Well it seems a significant proportion of the hordes of swimming enthusiasts visiting this site eagererly follow every link we publish. We received an email last night from the lady herself: "I've noticed when I get a flurry of visits from your link. Thank you very much for that." Apparently her kids love the fact that her blog gets so many non-American visitors (mostly from around South Yorkshire perhaps), so keep on following those links!

In a bizarre coincidence, during the summer her kids swim for a summer swim club. You'll never guess what it's called. The Delaware Aquatics Racing Team Stingrays, or DARTS as it's known! They're American so obviously they're going to spell it wrong ;-)

She also sent another article that she picked up during Mr Coach's spell working at the Australian Institute of Sport. We've no idea who the actual author is but it does follow on nicely from the other articles we linked to about parent types.

Date: 16 Jan 2010
Contributor: Mrs Coach

Think You've Identified the Next Olympic Champion?

The following general advice will be helpful to those who think they might have identified the next Olympic or World Champion.

  1. Children decide to become elite athletes - not parents. It is unethical for parents to decide that the life of a small child should be dedicated to becoming an elite athlete. For parents to dedicate the entire developmental years of their child to pursue their own selfish goals is reprehensible. The chances of becoming an elite athlete are extremely small, let alone the fact that as the child gets older they might not wish to live their life in that way.
  2. Talent is not always apparent by observation alone. To be talented in sports usually requires a blend of favourable characteristics. While strength is an important component of weightlifting, so too is an ability to apply strength quickly (power), as well as possessing short arms and short legs. Similarly while it is true that "big legs" are indeed helpful to the sprint events in track cycling, the leg girth must be almost entirely due to muscle and not fat. However, muscular lean legs are not enough - otherwise all triathletes would make great track cycling sprinters! The existing muscle fibres must also be of the type that have the ability to contract very fast. The point here is that there are often several key characteristics associated with a sport that must be taken into account to optimise or predict performance in that sport. Often you cannot see these characteristics, but you need to measure these objectively or scientifically.
  3. Being a big fish in a big pond - not a big fish in a small pond. A child shows real talent when they outperform all comers. Comparing a child's talent with local groups, friend and family members can lead to an inflated idea of a child's real talent. The talent must be compared with the performance and attributes of the entire population, and this is done by evaluating the child's performance on a series of standard tests or measures which have been previously conducted nationwide. Comparing the child's performance against normative data or a sporting organisation's own historical data is most instructive.
  4. Don't specialise in just one sport - try several. It is not necessary for a young child to specialise in a single sport for them to achieve sporting excellence as an adult - quite the contrary. With the exception of some sports [Ed: (un)fortunately, swimming is regarded as one of those early specialisation sports], a broad sporting focus rather than a narrow one is preferable for attaining sporting excellence. Before the teenage years, parents can help maximise the chances of their children succeeding in a range of sports by allowing them to participate in activities that have:
    1. an aerobic or endurance component (such as running, swimming, hiking, cycling, rowing, dancing)
    2. a motor-skill or coordination component (such as hitting, kicking, throwing, catching sports, gymnastics)
    3. a social or interactive component (such as team-based sports).