Monday Musings with Coach Paul
Dear TC Sharks Team:
Wow, what a great first week back in the pool! It may have started with a bump (cancelling the first 6 and under practice due to rain) but the week smoothed out nicely culminating in a fantastic first fun Friday. This first week was all about getting to know the swimmers again and some for the first time. Welcome to all those first-year swimmers. Everyone did a great job. Thanks to all the apprentices and to Coach Rachel for organizing them. It is awesome seeing how well our swim system works.
After spending the week re-associating ourselves with freestyle and practices in general, we are ready to move on to working on strokes. For those of you who are new to the world of summer swim league, we embrace four strokes; freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. And traditionally, that is the order in which we learn/relearn them.
The 6 and under group was split into six shark schools last week in order for coaches to more closely see which swimmers were more advanced in their ability to swim. And let me tell you, we were all impressed with the levels we saw. Nary a one was unwilling to put their face in the water, a major first accomplishment on the way to efficiently swim. This upcoming week we will be sorting our little sharks into new groups; black, red and sand sharks. Please note that these groups are flexible, very flexible, and swimmers could be moving within them on a daily basis. It’s amazing how fast the 6 and unders can improve.
Here’s what the groups mean.
- Black group is for more advanced, stronger swimmers (based purely on coach observation). The black group this week will move to swim full lengths of the pool, hopefully independently but with coaches all around them. In addition, this group will start to learn backstroke.
- The red group will continue working exclusively on freestyle, getting stronger and more proficient in the basic swimming stroke. They will also be swimming full lengths of the pool but with more support, from coaches, kickboards and barbells.
- The sand sharks are the group that I see the most growth through the season. This group, in the mornings at least, will do most of their practice in the beach continuing to work to master the basics of freestyle while increasing their self-confidence.
Once a sand shark has achieved the ability to swim independently across the beach, a move up to the red group might be in order. Additionally, the sharks in red group are quite often later moved up to black group. The next big group changes will occur after the fun meet on the 26th. I hope as many of the six and under group can attend that awesomely fun day. FYI, coaches are always on high alert during fun meets to offer assistance to any swimmer who is hesitant to jump in and swim.
The 7 and 8 group has been doing awesomely as well. They have all embraced the walk-around set up we have started this year and walking feet have been overwhelming. I am really grateful for how well this group has been listening and improving each day.
The 9 and 10 group are amazing. They have been such a pleasure to watch work. They are doing very well with the walk around and are definitely ready to move on to the other strokes.
And the 11 and ups seem so grateful to be together at the pool that it just warms my shark heart.
Looking forward, this week will see us diving into other strokes, most notably backstroke and breaststroke. The six and under group will likely continue with freestyle but the black group may give backstroke a try on Thursday. Many will find backstroke a pleasure to swim since our faces stay out of the water the whole time, but breaststroke can be a beast to master as there are many aspects to the stroke that must be done correctly. Breaststroke is a lot of fun, though, as many will realize it’s the best stroke to use to swim under water.
The other groups will not be sorted into red and black groups until after the fun meet.
Spirit days: usually, during a non-pandemic swim season, the end of the season holds a championship meet held in a major pool somewhere other than Austin. The past several champs have been held in College Station. Since we have no champs meet this year, it also means we won’t be having our annual spirit week the week before champs. So, in lieu of no spirit week, we would like to introduce Fun Friday spirit days.
Here are the next two spirit fun Fridays:
- this week, Friday the 18th we are going to recognize the first home Austin FC game with Viernes Verde, or Green Friday. Everyone wears something green to practice. We’ll have some soccer-type activities and have a great time.
- The following Friday, June 25th, will see us having our second Christmas in June. We’re at the halfway point until Christmas, so let’s celebrate! The one we did a few years back was a blast, so we thought we’d give it another go. HO HO HO.
Fun Meets: The 26th is our first of two events this summer. I hope everyone will try to come and see how much our swimmers have accomplished thus far. If you’ve never attended a meet, this year is maybe your year to give it a swim. Both events will be only intrasquad, meaning we will be the only team racing. Signup for the meet will happen the week before the event and we are likely going to waive the three-event maximum this summer, so more swimmers get to swim more events.
The energy will be high and the world-famous Shark Shack will be serving the delectables we have all grown so fond of. Be sure to give Brian Viktorin a big smile with your purchase as he coordinates the concession stand, much to the envy of all the other teams in the league. We’ll be running some fun relays and well as incorporating a “Countdown to Splashdown” which will be 10-minute break every hour for volunteers and others not involved in the meet at that point, to jump into the pool and cool off. It’s going to be awesome. I hope everyone who’s in town that week will give the meet a try. However, as I mentioned, it does take many volunteers and Patty Ramirez, our volunteer coordinator, has sent out the first call for volunteers. Be sure to sign up early and get the position you most would like to have.
Private swim lessons: Many of you have approached myself or Coach Rachel about private lessons. Yes, we are able to do them, if you desire. I have talked with the coaches and several of them are available, while several of them are not. Coaches Christopher, Logan, Rachel and myself are available to do lessons. These lessons would need to happen outside of regular practice times. Ideally, they could be held right after morning practice and right before evening practices. The cost of the lesson is usually around 20 - 25 dollars per half hour, depending on the coach you would like to use. Reach out either after your kiddo’s practice or through email. Availability will vary. Here are their contacts:
Coach Paul: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coach Rachel: email@example.com
Coach Christopher: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coach Logan: email@example.com
Final thoughts: Thanks everyone for being a part of this season. Future Monday Musing shouldn’t be so lengthy, I just got caught up in the writing of it. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out, we want this to be the best shark season ever. Have a great day and I’ll see you at the pool
- Coach Paul
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These boys who have been Sharks friends for years! So sad for them to miss their final season.
Kemper Jackson, Sean Ayers, Dhruv Hosali, John Leeds, Tim Skelly, Lucas Abounader
(with Coach Mia and Grace Tuhabonye)
Sharks getting a pep talk at Champs - Brian Szymczak
We’re so sad swim team is cancelled this year! We love all the friends we’ve made through Sharks swim team. But we also love coach Paul. He recognizes kids of all abilities for showing up every day with a good attitude, being kind and working hard towards their goals. We will absolutely miss all the coaches this summer and their encouragement and dedication. - Claire Bingham
- Olympic gold medalist coming to speak to our Sharks!
- Team chants!
- The BEST Snack Shack in the entire league!
- The amazing volunteer staff.
- The cuties in the 5-6 year old age group!
- The pre-champs pasta parties!
- The trophies!
- Matthew Holliday
Violet and Coco Crosby in 2012 - Belle Middagh
When my daughter tried out for the Sharks, she had to swim 25 yards in under 60 seconds (this was before the Sand Sharks). It was freezing outside, and a 5-year-old Genet swam a 59.50. I remember thinking, “that’s one brave little girl.” - Jenny Leeds
Shark weather- last year's fun meet!! It was so cold...my kids came home and built a fire after....next week were dying in the heat!! - Rex White
Champs Memories - Michelle Crosby
My favorite part of swim team is spending time with people I only see during Sharks. - Genet Leeds (My sharpie art for Champs)