Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Little flyers (and breaststrokers)

One of the challenges coaches face at the beginning of the season is teaching the little kids how to swim breaststroke and butterfly. In the Old Days, the only 8 & under events were in freestyle and backstroke. These strokes are relatively simple. Get from one end of the pool to the other without pushing off the bottom--that's the basic requirement to be"legal" in free. The backstroke adds the complication of staying on your back, but still, pretty simple. (Though lots of little ones do turn over onto their stomachs before they touch the wall at the finish.)

However, at the March 1993 MCSL meeting, the team reps voted to add 8 & under breaststroke and butterfly to our meets. Breast and fly have strict stroke requirements--kids must move their arms and legs in a definite pattern or they will be disqualified.

Some of the young swimmers are naturals--or swim year round--and seem to move effortlessly through the water. Others look like they're drowning. It can be a challenge for stroke and turn judges to determine if the odd motions they are seeing conform to the stroke requirements or not.

The really fun part comes when the stroke finally "clicks" for kids and they start dropping lots of time.

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