How do we know that OAK has a coach who screams so forcefully at swimmers, that parents in the stands sometimes are made to cringe? How do we know that BAD has a ‘no parents on deck’ policy as coaches are more likely to be caught screwing around on their smartphones instead of actually coaching? How do we know what’s going on at these clubs? How do we know what BAD & OAK parents are thinking and doing?
Because after having more than a dozen former and current BAD & OAK swimmers and their parents come to us, we’ve heard a lot from both, not everything, but have we ever heard a lot, and then more.
The blogs on this website have been written based on the angers, frustrations and disappointments of these swimmers and their parents.
Nothing has been ‘made up’ for the sake of sensationalism.
Former athletes have come to us as a result of being burnt out or after developing an anxiety disorder as a result of the hyper-competitive culture emanating both within the team between swimmers vying for spots on higher and higher levels of training, and also at swim meets where swimmers drive themselves to make cuts and qualify for higher and higher level meets and team membership. Swimmers have been forced to quit the sport – now think about this – at the age of 10 or 11! These swimmers and their parents come to us with their stories after taking a break and now want to return to the sport but without the mandatory push to compete, and as a result are seeking a skill & technique focused approach.
Interestingly, these swimmers after a year or two of training that is technique focused and without any push to consider competing, these swimmers on their own often develop the desire to compete once again. Having gained new skills, which has led them to building a new sense of confidence, they want to test themselves out and they have as members of their high school swim teams. In some cases, after learning of the world of multi-sport events, these athletes are open to trying out events such as aquathlons, duathlons and triathlons.
Current athletes have come to us because parents after watching their child compete at recent swim meets realize that after 3 or 4 years of swimming with the club, after thousands of dollars paid to the club, after hundreds of training hours and swim meet hours, their child still does not dive properly, cannot execute proper and legal turns, cannot swim in a straight line, cannot swim in events longer than 100m maybe 200m due to the lack of capacity, and what’s the point of longer events when their child is repeatedly DQ’d [disqualified] at swim meets because of their poor technique. These swimmers and their parents come to us with their own stories, and come asking for proper coaching (their words, not mine) because its clear to them that no one has made time for their child, no one has taken care to ensure that their child can in fact swim, or no one knows how to coach properly at their home team.
When you hear story after story of children failing, falling behind, of developing injuries and illnesses and subsequently being unable to continue in a sport they love because the culture is hyper-competitive, well… its why we started our teams: to provide athletes and parents in our community with an alternative approach to sport.
Our approach does not rule out competing, instead competition is put into perspective… when the athlete is able to execute sport specific skills and technique on demand, when the athlete is deemed to have the mental and emotional stability to take on the pressures of competition, and when the athlete themselves decides it is what they want to do.
When you continue to hear story after story of children having to drop out of sport, clearly not enough parents know that there is an alternative. This then provides us the opportunity to share the difference between our team and Swim Ontario/Swimming Canada affiliated clubs.
To all the athletes & parents who have shared their struggles openly with us, thank you; our hope is that your stories will resonate with other athletes & parents who are equally struggling and who will now realize that they have options.
To those athletes & parents in other areas of Ontario, there are many former National Team members and Olympians who have started their own swim schools and swim teams which are not affiliated with Swim Ontario/Swimming Canada who also focus also on teaching the technique of the sport and do not push early or excessive competition.