Imagine… walking into your childs elementary school classroom and… instead of 18, 20 or 24 children in the class there was almost 3x as many children. Imagine a classroom, imagine the noise, imagine the number of distractions, just imagine a classroom with 50+ children. The school did provide 3 teachers or at least 1 teacher and a couple teaching assistants, but still the classroom has 50+ energetic, rambunctious, excited children.

What would be your response?

What would you see as the learning experience that your individual child was receiving?

What would you believe to be the point behind the school cramming in 50+ students into a single classroom?

Would it be in elevating the quality of the learning experience?

Would it be in elevating the quality of the educational environment?

On Friday evenings at Angela Coughlan pool, GHAC [as in the Golden Horseshoe Aquatic Club] trains before our swim team.

A few weeks ago, I stepped out onto the pool deck a few minutes ahead of our allotted training time in the pool in order to start to write up the workout on the whiteboard. Within a couple steps of the doors to the pool deck I was met with one of several lifeguards who were on deck patrolling. City of Burlington policy is that only one lifeguard is needed when there are fewer than 25 in the pool, at which point a second lifeguard is needed when the number of swimmers exceeds 25.

With so many lifeguards on the pool, I didn’t even need to ask… the lifeguard looked at me and stated, “there are 55 kids in the pool!”

Based on the noise level on the pool deck, it was clear that the number in the pool was immense. I looked around and saw 3 coaches on deck who seemed to have split up the kids into 3 groups, each taking up 2 lanes. It then dawned on me… 55 kids in the pool… I quickly counted the number in a single lane… there were 11 kids in one lane!  11!  How do you swim, let alone train when there are 11 athletes in a lane?

As I mentioned, this was a few weeks ago.  I didn’t write anything because I thought to myself… maybe they had to cancel another session at another swimming pool, and it was a solution to ensure no one missed a workout. It happens… and sometimes you have to make the most of a situation.

But… to walk out again this past week and to be greeted again by multiple lifeguards on deck, and a noise level that indicated that were no fewer than 55 kids in the pool once again, and after experiencing this now in back to back years… I had to write a post.


If you walked into your child’s school classroom to witness 55 children attempting to “learn” or be taught anything… what would your response be? How quickly would you be heading to the principal’s office in search of an explanation as to why and for how much longer your child would have to be exposed to the chaos of the equivalent of 3 classrooms being crammed into the space of 1 single classroom?


What’s the difference between a classroom and a swim team session?


Well, none if quality of the coaching, if quality of learning and training is at all relevant to your child, to you.

Parents of GHAC… how long is it going to take you to walk to the ‘principal’s office” (i.e. contact the head coach or team Board of Directors) and ask for an explanation?  How long will you tolerate your child being taught how to swim in an environment where its impossible to hear oneself think let alone hear what the coach is attempting to communicate?

What happens when you cram 11 kids into a lane in a swimming pool and attempt to hold a training session?


There is no training session, its a race… each and every length is a race that your child has to participate in, like it or not, simply not to be run over by another child who is equally ‘racing’ just trying to hold their spot in the lane. When there are too many athletes in a lane, its no longer about swimming… its about just trying to stay within your allotted space between the swimmer ahead of you and the swimmer behind.

Quality of stroke, stroke technique, turn quality… everything is thrown out the window as the only goal that exists is not to get run over.

I guarantee you that if this happened at any senior level on the swim team, parents of those swimmers would be screaming at the head coach because being around enough pools and enough training sessions, those parents would know that their child is not training.


Its up to you to hold your swim team, your swim coaches, the head coach accountable for the quality of swimming experience, of learning experience. If you tolerate crap, then the team will deliver as much crap as they can get away with… all at your and your childs expense (and to the profit of the team).

And if you do not think that there is incentive to deliver crap coaching…do the math:

  • 1 hr pool rental for children is less than $100,

  • 3 coaches on deck for 1 hr doesn’t add up to anywhere close to $100,

  • 55 kids in the pool paying how much each session…

  • gee, it looks like a financial windfall for the head coach (all at the expense of you and your children).

Is that why you joined your swim team, to be fleeced?

Which brings the conversation back to Swim Ontario & Swimming Natation Canada…

Both have policy and procedure manuals that cover every aspect of operating a swim team, except when it comes to the quality of actual swim coaching, of learning experience. Considering how much effort and time SO and SNC put into regulating swim teams one would think that there would be some policy and procedures written about how to ensure that swim teams actually do what they are supposed to be doing… as in developing Canadian children into highly trained and skillful athletes.

Evidently… no

Evidently… 55 swimmers in the same pool at the same time is A-OK with Swim Ontario & Swimming Natation Canada

Which begs the question… who are Swim Ontario & Swimming Natation Canada working for? Are they representing the needs of Canadian children in their dreams and aspirations of becoming National Swim Team members, or are they representing the needs of coaches who have obtained a ‘swim team franchise’ licence and whose obligation is to operate swim teams for the financial benefit of Swim Ontario & Swimming Natation Canada?


It does make you stop and think – or at least it should – when no school in Canada would be permitted to have 55+ children in a single classroom… ever (or at least not for long).