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by Carol Nip

October 15, 2021

Don’t let swimmers fall off your radar because of middle-lane syndrome

It’s fun to coach fast-lane swimmers because they’re experienced, independent, and knowledgeable. Some coaches find it even more exciting to instruct newbies who need a lot of attention and display rapid development.

But what about those middle-lane swimmers who comprise the bulk of every club’s membership?

What is middle-lane syndrome?

Here are a few signs that middle-lane syndrome might be creeping into your club:

  • Overshadowed by the fast-lane swimmers, middle-lane swimmers are disconnected from their coach.
  • Exhibiting patience, middle-lane swimmers prefer to keep to themselves without building a relationship with a busy coach who gives an inordinate amount of time teaching newbie swimmers.
  • Middle-lane swimmers haven’t learned too many new things because their coach hasn’t corrected their strokes.
  • Middle-lane swimmers are hesitant to ask for help because they don’t want to rock the boat by asking for their coach’s attention.
  • Though hungry for encouragement and instruction, middle-lane swimmers don’t feel they are the favorite ones.
  • Least likely to feel comfortable talking with their coach, middle-lane swimmers have very shallow conversations with their coach.

Discipline is required to coach middle-lane swimmers. You must make time to pay attention to them. Coaching them may not seem as rewarding as it is to coach the fastest and slowest lanes. To be a successful coach however, you must study and connect with all swimmers.

Ways to coach middle-lane swimmers

  • Take notes and keep a file for your middle-lane swimmers. Set goals for them or ask them for their goals. Meet with these swimmers, preferably away from workouts, and review their progress.
  • Encourage and strengthen middle-lane swimmers with a phone call, email, or text to let them know you notice their improvements.
  • Recognize their accomplishments publicly.

Greatness ceases in a family of swimmers when the quiet ones are ignored because they’re overshadowed by the more talented among the club or the newbies with their many needs. A great team gets great by including and encouraging everyone.


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