The Swim Coaches’ Perspective on the Speedo Winter Invitational

Photo Courtesy: Mihitha Kamasani

By Kyle Roethlin, Swimming World Intern.

January is the middle of short course season, a time for fast races in a 25-yard pool. However, the Speedo Winter Invitational, a long course meet with a 50-meter pool, falls within this season. Swimmers have to be ready for the quick switch from long course to short course in order to be ready.

This change leaves coaches with an interesting dilemma: how should they prepare for a long course meet in the midst of short course training? Particularly, how do coaches prepare their younger swimmers for such a meet?

Some coaches use the long course racing opportunity to enhance their swimmers skills and prepare for upcoming meets. Gabbie Sofia, a coach at Long Island Aquatic Club, explained that the Speedo Winter Invitational is just another meet. It’s not too different from any other, despite the change in distance.

Coach Tom Himes of North Baltimore Aquatic Club seemed to agree with this sentiment. NBAC does not prepare for this meet any different than the would any other. Hines, however, appreciates the opportunity that Berkeley’s annual long course meet offers for his swimmers. NBAC has a big short course meet around Christmas time, and this meet allows his swimmers to swim fast without having to worry about going slower than their short course times from their Christmas meet. So Hines calls this simply a “good workout meet.”

Fritz Homans of Southern Maine Aquatic Club had a very interesting perspective on the meet. Homans explained that there are no long course pools in Maine, leaving his team with an obvious problem of how to prepare. SMAC has found a solution here in New Jersey: They bring swimmers down to New Jersey on multiple occasions each year to train in Berkeley’s long course facility, and they also swim in five to six long course meets throughout their season, solving their problem of a lack of long course pools.

For Southern Maine and the rest of these clubs, the big advantage of the meet is long course racing, gaining experience in a format they see sparingly but one that is critical in the world of swimming. And since the biggest meets in swimming are all held in long course pools, the experience gained could be a big boost to swimmers down the road.

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