Whether you’re hoping to join a club, high school or college team, the best place to start is with proper preparation. So to help swimmers at every level thrive this year, we tapped TYR team swim coach Peter Verhoef for some pointers.
As the newly appointed Head Coach of the Bolles School, Verhoef brings with him years of experience both in the water and on the pool deck. In fact, during his tenure as a student-athlete Coach Peter even served as Team USA Team Captain at the 2007 World Championships. Prior to joining Bolles, Verhoef was the Senior Coach and High-Performance Director for SwimMAC. During that time he coached the USA National Junior Team and recorded the highest number of scholastic All-Americans of any program in the country. In addition, he also assisted in coaching SwimMAC’s Team Elite program for Olympic level athletes from 2010-16.
So what are his tips for joining the team of your dreams? Read on below to find out.
Know Where You Stand
If you’re looking to join a swim team there are thousands of clubs across the country where you can call or email a coach to setup a tryout or join at the beginning of their season. Typically club leaders will help guide you to a program or practice group that fits both your ability and commitment level.
Generally speaking, ability refers to an athlete’s performance capacity (i.e- how fast you swim and at what level you are training). Whereas, commitment pertains to how much you practice each week and what competitions you are willing to attend. At an entry level, commitment can range greatly between clubs, so it is important to ask what the coach or club believes is necessary for a student-athlete to be successful. As your ability increases, the commitment to be competitive at a higher level must also amplify.
Before you get started be honest with yourself about where you stand. Ask yourself how much time and effort you are willing to dedicate to the sport so that you can find a program that works best for you.
Start With The Basics
For teams where there may be a performance or ability requirement to join, it is important to know the basics. Regardless of age level, coaches expect to see athletes that understand how to streamline when leaving a wall, how to finish a lap completely and how to maintain a steady kick in every stroke.
Practice habits are also essential. However, these will likely vary based on age. For all student-athletes general rules of respect like listening and following directions are important. For older swimmers who may be joining into a practice as a tryout it is helpful to know how to read a pace clock, count the repetitions, pass or be passed in a lane and ask questions before the set starts. Each team is going to look for different things. Legal strokes, ability to swim specific distances and ability to make certain times are all areas to consider.
If you’re truly brand new to the sport – find out if you can take a lesson from a competitive swimming coach or program. If you choose to do this, be sure to let the person you are training with know you are preparing for a tryout.
Throughout your swimming career there will likely be instances where teams are forced to limit their number of student-athletes for a variety of reasons. If you are faced with the idea of trying to “make” a team (or even a new practice group), be understanding of the coach and ask for help on what they expect of their student-athletes.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Always remember that regardless of whether you are given the nod to join a team or not- the only person you have to truly impress is yourself. Take pride in the effort you put forth, and enjoy every opportunity to grow as an athlete. There is a place for everyone in the sport of swimming, and it is a life-long love for the water that coaches hope to develop in every athlete. So, if you’re having fun, you’re halfway there!
Also, be sure to follow along with the Bolles School Sharks on Instagram!