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Do They Train for Distance or Sprint Events?



I have a 15 year son and a 13 year old daughter. We have recently change swim clubs. The coach from the old club liked the kids to swim a lot of events at a meet and also spread themselves across all strokes. My son has missed out on national times by half a second for 2 years running now in his 100m and 200m backstrokes and also not too far off for his IM’s. The new coach of our new club would like the kids to specialise, choosing either 100m sprints etc. or distant events etc and has asked the kids to have a think about it.

We are confused as what to choose because although Backstroke 100m and 200m events seems to be their best events they are both also great at IM events (200m and 400m). This is making it difficult to choose how to specialise.

What is the best way to make these decisions when you are a middle distant swimmer and strong in more than one stroke? The old club swam mainly endurance sets which is why they are strong across all events and trained in a 50m pool. They are now training in a 25m pool, so we realise this will probably effect the way they perform.

Thank you
Confused Parent


Dear confused parent,

When swimmers are 13 to 15 years of age it is important to get a strong aerobic base whilst also continuing to develop technique, speed, power and race skills.

A majority of the good 100 metre swimmers trained for 200m and even 400 freestyle/IM events when they were this age and then as they became older they could drop back to the 100 metre events.

Without seeing your kids swim, the fact that they are both good at the 200m and 400m IM makes me lean towards a middle-distance / distance program rather than a sprint program at this age.

This ensures that their aerobic and general fitness is developed and will hold them in good stead when they get older.



The Swimming Expert

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