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by Douglas A Green

August 16, 2013

Implementing What We Learned: USMS Coaching Certification, Level 3

It really does make a difference

In March 2013 I attended the USMS/ASCA Level 3 coaching certification course at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. I had attended Levels 1 and 2 in 2012, and I found that Level 3 unified all of the teachings in perfect harmony, while emphasizing that we are providing services to our swimmers. In short, we are in the swimming business and our customers are our swimmers.

As with any business, you start with a mission and follow with a vision. You must have leadership driving the best practices to produce the best product. Understanding how this all works is what the Level 3 course was about.

Within a group format, we reviewed the many and varied aspects of our business, beginning with a full understanding of our swimmers. We studied time management, how to write workouts, insurance and safety issues, and how these items are impacted by the diversity of our swimmers. One of the most interesting group breakout sessions was how to host a swim event.

We also covered the special needs of working with triathletes, how to direct open water events, how to help swimmers with dryland training, and we reviewed all aspects of stroke development and technique correction. Upon completing the Level 3 course, I pulled our team of 10 coaches together and discussed how our coaching staff can present a better product. All of our coaches are Level 1 and 2 certified, so there was a clear understanding of our improvement objective.

As a result, we’ve redesigned our team website, added a Yahoo group page, implemented new uniforms, created a seasonal training plan, and begun a highly-focused workout program. We've also begun offering different competition programs for our fitness, triathlete, and competitive swimmers. Without attending the Level 3 course, we probably wouldn’t have seen the need for these changes.

Our South Coast Masters Swimming team is six years old, and our first workout had just 13 swimmers. We now have nearly 200 members. By all accounts, our team has been extremely successful. Attending the Level 1, 2, and 3 courses has solidified how important the continuing USMS education courses are. Understanding and implementing what we’ve learned at these clinics will ensure our continuing growth and success.