Two Work Better Than One

Apr 15, 2015; Mesa, AZ, USA; North Baltimore Aquatic Club teammates Allison Schmitt and Michael Phelps check their goggles during practice session at the Arena Pro Swim Series at Skyline Aquatic Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Republic-USA TODAY Sports

By Jamie Kolar, Swimming World College Intern.

Swimming is considered by many to be an individual sport, and to an extent, that is very true. We get up on the blocks for a race alone, complete the race by ourselves, and train ourselves to be better. No one else can do the work for you. There are no team drills, like passing a ball back and forth, that are done in practice that have an impact on your individual swim. Yes, there are relays that are done with four people; however, you still are swimming your leg of that relay on your own.

While swimming is largely done alone, something great can happen when you work with another person. Peer coaching is an interesting thing, as you have to be open to giving and receiving criticism from your fellow swimmer, which is difficult to do. It can be especially difficult since your teammates are not your coaches, but they have been swimming for a good amount of time and may know a thing or two. There are several benefits to peer coaching; these are just a few.

A fresh new set of eyes.


Photo Courtesy: Liam Cosgrove

Sometimes when you have seen something over and over again, you start to miss little things that can be rather obvious. This can sometimes happen with coaches and swimmers. Coaches may have seen you make the same mistake over and over and may just miss it or forget to tell you about it after a while. When you work with your peers, you have a fresh set of eyes watching you that may be able to pick up on something that your coach missed previously. They may be able to see something that seems small but might have a big overall impact on your stroke.

New perspective.

Weidner freestyle swimming

Photo Courtesy: Jonas Gutzat

For the most part, coaches like to stay on the deck where it is dry. This generally gives them one angle of vision when watching your stroke, which is great but may limit what they are able to see. So much of the stroke happens underneath the water and may not be visible from the deck.

However, when you work with one of your peers, they are able to float underneath you or watch you from the side to see things that your coach may not. They can change their line of sight to get a more complete look at your stroke. This allows them to see everything from your catch to your finish. There is no hiding anything underwater, and minor details are now easily visible and more readily changed.

Helping others helps you.


Photo Courtesy: Sheila Himes

People say that you never really understand something until you are able to explain it to someone else. When you are peer coaching, you have to be able to explain what you see, why it is wrong and how to change it so that someone else can understand it clearly. This deepens your understanding of the stroke as well as your peer’s. You may discover that you find mistakes in your own stroke after peer coaching others. Some learning occurs best while teaching others and being able to see the change in someone else’s stroke before you try to do it yourself. Coaching someone else may just have been the push you needed to make changes in your own stroke.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect theĀ views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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