Goodbye Otters

It is with mixed feelings that I am stepping down as head coach of the Estes Park Swim Club today. I was hoping that my children would love swimming on a team as much as I did, and that I could help to make the club more robust and enthusiastic. Unfortunately, neither of those hopes has been fulfilled.

In spite of my best effort to convince her to continue, my daughter quit swimming last October. Since then, she has been spending more than eight hours each week sitting in the bleachers while I coach. Now my son has decided to “take a break from swimming.” He says he might swim again in middle school next fall. While I am disappointed, I want my children to choose their own extra-curricular activities, not mine. However, I cannot justify coaching if neither of my children are swimming on the team.

I also recognize that I might not be the right fit as a coach for this team. I was a very focused swimmer, and very competitive. Most of our swimmers are not very competitive. In fact, many of them don’t even participate in meets. I think it is great that the kids are in the water and learning swimming skills. They are all getting stronger, and there are many benefits to the work they are doing. But most of them are not interested in competition, which is where my heart lies in this sport. It is difficult for me to let go of my own competitiveness, though I have tried, to be a more relaxed and fun coach. So I think my stepping down my be in the best interest of the team. Hopefully a more fun-loving coach can be found who will better fit the culture of the team.

I have truly enjoyed getting to know the Otters. They are a good bunch of kids. I will miss seeing them every day. I hope that my children will reconsider and re-join the team some time in the future. If they do, I will certainly be a very supportive parent. But if they choose a different path, I will support them in that choice as well.

Goodbye, Otters. I hope that you all continue to swim, have fun, support each other, and strive to be the best that you can be. I will always be cheering for you in my heart!

Coach Tonya

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2014 Northern Colorado Winter Districts Results

Over the weekend, six Otters swimmers competed at the Northern Colorado Winter Districts Championship meet. Out of 31 total events, we had 26 best times. That’s 80%!

Andra led the charge with best times in all seven of her events. She dropped seven seconds from her 200 backstroke to easily qualify for Silver State in Denver next weekend, which was one one of her season goals. She also dropped five seconds from her 100 backstroke time, but just missed the Silver State cut in that event by less than half a second. She will get it next time!

Luke showed Colorado that he is more than ready for his new 11-12 age group. He placed in the top 12 in all eight of his events, and finished third in the 100 backstroke. He also made Silver State qualifying times in all of his events, so he will also be heading to Denver for that meet next weekend.

Abby swam four events and clocked two best times. She dropped nearly four seconds off her 100 freestyle time, and really looked awesome in that event.

Lucas swam three new events, the 50 backstroke, 50 butterfly, and 200 IM, and did well in all three of them. He jammed in the freestyle events, improving his times in the 50 and 100 free by two seconds each. He also improved his 100 breaststroke time by two seconds, placing 10th in that event and 11th in the 50 breaststroke.

Sebastian and Hunter both swam two events, and they both improved their times. Sebastian dropped three seconds in his 100 backstroke and six seconds off his 200 freestyle time. Hunter improved both his 50 backstroke and 50 freestyle times by about a second.

Congratulations on a strong meet Otters!

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Team Meeting Monday, 2/10/2014

Quote of the Week: Racing is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.” Mark Spitz

In our team meeting this week, we talked about the mental aspects of racing. We spend a lot of time physically preparing ourselves for our swim meets, but not so much time thinking about the mental aspects of the sport. And as Mark Spitz recognized, having a strong mental attitude is a key to success in swimming.

Since our Northern Colorado Winter Districts meet is just a week and a half away, we focused on the mental strength of remaining relaxed while at swim meets — even if you desperately want to make a state cut in your best event or beat a swimmer from another team who has always just out-touched you.

I took some recommendations on this topic from the swimmers, but most of them seemed to focus on food! Then Josh suggested playing video games to relax, which led nicely into one of the three suggestions I had for the team — distracting yourself.

Here are the three ways we discussed to relax and stay loose at meets when you are starting to feel stressed or pressured about your next swim or best event:

  1. Distract yourself: Cheer for teammates, listen to music, talk to friends, play video games, go for a walk, etc.
  2. Stretch: Stretching has a great calming influence. It helps you stay loose. Try keeping your focus on the muscles that you’re stretching and how they feel at that moment.
  3. Breathe deeply: Sit quietly, inhale through your nose to a slow count of 4, pause, then exhale through your mouth to a little faster count of 7 or 8. Focus your concentration on the rise and fall of your diaphragm. Try practicing this at home for four minutes a day. When you’re under pressure, one or two of these breaths will help you immediately “chill out.”

Team News

  • This week the Silver & Gold group are completing the Klondike Challenge during practices on Monday, Wednesday and Friday — for the last time this season. Come to practice ready to swim fast and beat your previous averages!
  • Next week we will be tapering for Northern Colorado Winter Districts, Feb. 22-23. We will be doing lots of work on starts and turns, tapering off our speed work, and getting lots of rest. Please remember to eat healthy foods and get lots of sleep next week so you can swim your best at districts.
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Team Meeting Monday, 2/3/2014

At our team meeting this week, we discussed the best foods to eat before and during a swim meet. Though we have covered this topic before, the doughnuts and candy bars that I saw many swimmers eating during our High Altitude Classic meet a couple of weeks ago indicated that the topic needed to be revisited.

The swimmers all had good ideas of things to eat before and after meets. The bottom line is that you need some protein (eggs, meat, nuts, etc.) and some carbohydrates (fruits, whole grains, carrots, etc.) to perform your best. Doughnuts, nachos and other items commonly found for sale at swim meets are not adequate. BRING YOUR OWN FOOD TO MEETS is the best policy!

Our big meet of the season, Northern Colorado Winter Districts is just three weeks away. We are currently in the speed phase of our training, so we are focusing on picking up the tempo of all of our strokes, while keeping them long and strong. The endurance training we have done in the past months will help us hold our fast tempo longer. We will continue this phase of training for the next two weeks.

The week before Districts, we will be tapering to rest for the meet. Though we will be doing less intense workouts, it is important for everyone to stay in the water. We will do one or two short fast sets each day that week. But we will have a lot more rest, and we will do a lot of work on starts and turns. Please don’t miss practices!

Team News

  • Check out the Rocky Mountain News this week for an article and photo about our Otters and the High Altitude Meet.
  • Our streamline and breakouts off the walls are slowly improving, but they can still be much better. Keep working on kicking out past the flags on every push off in practice. Don’t breathe off the wall in freestyle or butterfly sets or events.
  • Next week, the Silver & Gold group will do the Klondike Challenge for the last time this season (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). So come to practice ready to swim fast and beat your previous averages!
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High Altitude Classic, 2014

Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped set up and tear down, sell concessions, run the computers, serve as meet officials and timers, and prepare the awards at the High Altitude Classic this weekend. It was a smashing success, thanks to your efforts!

It was so great to see all the families on the deck. I loved seeing the parents at the end of their kids lanes on the 8 & under events, taking video and helping their little ones out of the water at the end of their swim. I know this must be a very special meet for parents because at most meets these days, they can’t get that close to the action. Just another thing that makes Estes Park Swimming special – no wonder 137 swimmers and their families drove up here for the meet!

I must also congratulate our Otters. They swam fast, and I saw a lot of good sportsmanship. Many of our swimmers shook hands with other competitors after their races. This is a great habit to establish and should be done whether you win or lose.

The Otters swam 33 best times and 8 new races out of 56 total races. That means 73% of their races were the fastest they have ever swam those races in a meet. That’s a percentage any coach would be proud of. Great job, Otters!

We had a lot of “firsts” in this meet. We had one new little swimmer, Noah, who swam four events in his first meet ever — and won two ribbons! While his older brother, Luke, won first place in every event he swam in the 9-10 boys age group, running away with the high-point trophy. Another new swimmer, Hunter, who swam his first meet in December, won his first ribbon on Sunday at the High Altitude Classic. While Connor broke a minute in the 100 freestyle for the first time with a :58.9.

Other highlights include Gabbi’s valiant effort in swimming her first 200 freestyle; Andra’s and Kaelin’s big drops in the 100 freestyle to 1:05.6 and 1:16.5, respectively; Abby’s five-second drop in the 100 IM to 1:22.4; and Lucas’ and Sebastian’s big drops in the 100 free to 1:17.9 and 1:22.4, respectively.

Almost all of our freestyle events were best times, and our IM events too. I noticed that our individual stroke events were not as consistently best times. So we will work more on individual stroke events in the coming weeks. I also noticed that though we have been working on our starts, streamline, and breakouts recently, we are still getting beat off the blocks and off the walls. So we will also step up the work on those skills in these last weeks before Winter Districts (Feb. 21-23).

Great job, Otters and volunteers! Now we have just one month before our big meet of the season. We will keep working on our skills and increase the speed work this month. We will taper the last week before Winter Districts. Make sure you get lots of rest, eat healthy, and don’t miss practices!

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Team Meeting Monday, 1/13/2014

At our team meeting this week, we focused on flexibility. I asked the swimmers the following questions:

  • Why is flexibility important in swimming? In other areas of your life?
  • How can you improve your flexibility?
  • When should you stretch?
  • Where should you stretch?
  • What should you stretch?
  • Favorite stretches?

The swimmers quickly responded being flexible and stretching helps reduce injuries. But they didn’t realize that ankle flexibility is the key to being able to perform flutter kick, dolphin kick and breaststroke kick more effectively. Or that shoulder flexibility is the key to being able to perform freestyle, butterfly, and backstroke pull more effectively. In fact, increasing your flexibility is one guaranteed way to improve your swimming.

The Otters recognized that some swimmers are more flexible naturally than others. That’s true. But ALL swimmers can improve their flexibility through regular stretching routines. Stretching in the morning and evening for 5-10 minutes and stretching before and after practice for several minutes can help. If you want to get fancy, you can even create a chart to track your stretching efforts and measure your results.

We have already been stretching before practice for a few minutes, but now we are adding stretching after practice for 5 minutes or so before I send the swimmers to the showers. I will also continue to remind the swimmers to stretch in the mornings and evenings.

Team News

  • The High Altitude Classic swim meet is this Saturday at our home pool! There are more than 100 swimmers signed up for the meet. Warm up is at 8 am, meet starts at 9 am. Andra will lead us in a team cheer before the meet begins. See you there!
  • Our next meet will be Winter Districts at EPIC, Feb. 21-22. We will taper the week prior to the meet. This is our big meet of the season, but one that everyone can attend. Look for meet information in your email coming soon — and get your event entries in early!
  • The high school girl’s swim season is in full swing, and there are several meets coming up at our pool. Because of these meets, we will have no practice on the following dates: Tuesday 1/14, Tuesday, 1/21, Thursday 1/23, and Tuesday 1/28. Otters swimmers are welcome to serve as timers or come cheer the Lady Bobcats to victory!
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Team Meeting Monday, 12/16/13

At our team meeting this week, we talked about the FAST swim meet last weekend.
Here are some of the highlights:

  • All Otters swimmers swam best times in all or most of their events!
  • Hunter had a great first meet. He swam the 50 freestyle and the 50 backstroke on Sunday and beat a few swimmers in each of his heats! He now has official times in these events that he will strive to beat at the High Altitude meet in January.
  • Lucas and Andra both made finals in their best events. It was a great experience for both of them to swim prelims and come back at night to swim finals.
  • Luke brought home lots of hardware, as usual, finishing first in two events and second in everything else. He had one rival who beat him in every event on Saturday. But on Sunday he was determined to beat him – and he did in the 50 backstroke!
  • Sebastian earned a Broken Goggles Deck Pass Patch because he goggles came off in the 50 freestyle, but he still managed to finish the race. He dropped 33 seconds off his 300 freestyle time from the High Altitude Meet last year, breaking the 3:00 barrier.

Three things were clear from this swim meet: (1) we are building endurance and getting faster between the walls, (2) most of us are very slow reacting off the blocks and our starts in general are weak, (3) most of us need to work on our turns. Therefore, we will spend some extra time on starts and turns before the next meet. But we all need to make every turn at every practice the best it can be so that we will be ready when we get to the High Altitude meet in January and we won’t get beat on the walls.

Team News

  • The Klondike Challenge finishes up Wednesday for Silver/Gold group.
  • Coach Meagan will be gone on Wednesday, so I will be covering both practices. Silver/Gold will start with list of dry lands and diving well work while I am coaching the Bronze group.
  • Christmas party Friday! We will play water polo and other games and have FOOD! Be there or be square.
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