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Sport for Life

The Canadian Sport for Life movement views sport as a life-long endeavor, and
seeks to have funded sports build programs that foster and encourage long-term participation. This
long-term approach has been identified as being required for the creation and
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timing of high performance as well as the longevity of activity for athletes as
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they pass into adulthood. Long-term development becomes a key issue for high
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performance as well as the over-all development of the concept of sport for
---------------life. Performances at the highest levels are being done by older athletes than
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in the past. The 10 years or 10,000 hours of focused practice approach
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---------------required for mastery has become part of the new paradigm. At the same time,
a long-term view of sporting participation will encourage the population to stay
Provincial Coach
active for life.

Vince Mikuska

We need to expand our thinking about swimming to broadly include all aspects
of swimming including the recreational component. The ability to swim is a life
skill that no one should be without. To be water safe is extremely important in
our province. Swimming needs to be learned early in life and therefore we are
seen as an early specialization sport. This early entry into swimming should not
be seen as exclusivity, but rather as the opportune moment to learn a basic life
To maintain our growth in registration and reach out to new participants, we
must continue to develop our relationships with all learn-to-swim aquatic
organizations such as Red Cross and municipal lesson providers. Often, these
are the organizations which are responsible for entry into our sport in the
broadest sense of introducing children to the water. One of our obstacles in
building membership is that we do not control the first contact learn to swim
programs in most areas. While some programs are able to run this type of
programming, most clubs rely on other organizations to provide this service.
Recently, there have been some discussions between Swimming Canada and
Red Cross, in particular, to find areas of commonality; however, it does not
appear that there are any imminent changes that would lead to a closer
professional relationship between these two organizations than that which
already exists. It is certainly in our best interest to have the best relationship
possible with these first contact providers to facilitate movement into our
sport. This will likely have to come on a facility-by-facility basis.
Growth in the established relationships with our current partners in the Masters
Swim Association of BC and BC Open Water Swim Association will provide
avenues for all types and ages of athletes. We should find opportunities for
further co-operation with the British Columbia Summer Swimming Association.
This would allow us to share our expertise in coaching and program
development. Further co-operation would also allow us to grow in areas of the
province where we are currently under-represented.
While maintaining our sights on the high performance model, we need ensure
that Swim BC has a long-term development model to ensure the right athletes

are peaking at the right time. What factors do we need to consider in our
decision-making process as a sport to create the required environment for success
at the highest levels?

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---------------Provincial Coach
Vince Mikuska

Gap Analysis for Swim B.C.

Current Situation
Late Adolescent Swimmer Retention:
The biggest segment of the competitive swimming population lies in the 11-15
years age range, or the Train-to-Train stage of athlete development. Broadly
speaking, our clubs are trying to retain those swimmers through to the Train
to Compete level.
The club system serves the elementary to high school aged athletes. After that,
if they are good enough to make a varsity team they become part of the
University system or move into the National Center and Academy programs as
high performance athletes.
There is little in the way of programming for post-secondary swimmers who are
not a part of the university programs. Some continue with their clubs but
generally not for a significant length of time. The Masters swimming program is
not developed enough to have these athletes included in a meaningful way.
Part of the problem lies in the reasons for swimmers dropping out of sport at
age 15 and older. Individuals have to decide if the time that they are investing
in their sport continues to be worthwhile when confronted with having to get
on with their lives. That generally means leaving sport behind. Inside of our
programs we need to have a look at ways to have these athletes, for whom
sport has become less of a focus in their lives, to remain involved. It may mean
creation of groups with a less intense competitive focus.
Therefore we need to find ways to raise our retention rate of 16&Over
swimmers and in particular create opportunities for more 18&Over
athletes. Working with Swimming Canada and the C.I.S will help in creating
competitive pathways and opportunities.

Physical Literacy:
It has been shown that a multi-sport approach at the FUNdamentals and
Learn to Train stages of athlete development is advantageous for long-term
development. Swimming is an early specialization sport. Children need to learn
to swim and must start to do some training at an early age. Expansion of
physical literacy for swimmers can come in the form of clubs encouraging
outside involvement in other sports. It can also mean the creation of dryland
programing inside of the club structure. We have both approaches in our
current system.
Extra dryland programming can be a challenge due to a lack of adjoining and
accessible facilities at the pool complex. Some outside groups are not as

another sport.
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---------------Provincial Coach
Vince Mikuska

professional in their approach as our pool programs, which can cause frustration
on the part of athletes and coaches. We are also often in competition for the
same athletes, which makes coaches reluctant to give up their athletes to
Therefore, we need to encourage and assist in the development of physical
literacy. Encouragement and the creation of professional development
opportunities will assist in this area.
Long-term Planning:
Long term planning by coaches is key to athletes development. One of the
measures of progress is performance at the provincial level competitions. Our
provincial format has been under constant scrutiny and re-vision over the past
several years. We need to make some decisions and let them run their course
over a period of years to see if they are beneficial.
Therefore, we need to create stability around the Provincial meet
formats. Better communication between Swim BC, the BCSCA and the
Technical Advisory Committee will allow this to happen.
Technical Competence:
Our technical performance as a province and country has been lacking in
comparison with other nations. Our training is very good but our swimmers are
being beaten due to deficiencies in stroke, start, and turn technique. We need
to have better patterns developed earlier in the athletes careers so that we
dont have to create new, or undo poor, motor skills.
Therefore we need to have better delivery of technical aspects of the
sport at an earlier age. The stability of our NCCP program will help in
getting coaches better educated. Our Provincial 12&U camp program will
also aid in the professional development of coaches dealing with this level
of athlete.

Current Status of Swim BC regarding Canadian Sport for Life

Currently Swim BC is involved in many of the areas covered by Canadian Sport
for Life. The language and commitment to those principles are outlined in our
2008-2012 Strategic Plan:
Operational construct
Swim BC operational construct and organizational philosophy of an Athlete
Focused, Coach Drive and Administratively Supported organization is
paramount to our strategic plan. This philosophy is reflected throughout
Swim BCs structure, values and goals.
The Athlete: Ranges from participants in the grassroots level where the
FUNdamental aspects of the sport are learned through to a lifetime pursuit of

health and well-being (Masters). The interests of the athletes are paramount
and are always at the forefront of any/all decisions made.
The Coach: The Coach is the single most influential leader in the sport. They set the bar and
determine the quality of the outcome for the athlete. For this reason, Swim BC is committed to
their professional development, which subscribes to the values of the
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organization and the delivery of a systematic, long-term development model
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for our athletes.
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---------------Provincial Coach
Vince Mikuska

Provides the support and programs, which guide and
challenge the member organizations (Clubs, Universities, Regional Centers and
National Centers) to play a role in the development of excellence.
This is stated further under Goal 1: Sport System Development, Objective 1:
Initiative - In collaboration with Swimming/Natation Canada, provide all
Swim BC coaches with a toolbox of LTAD resources
In consultation with TAC/BCSCA fine-tune the National LTAD strategy to our
Swim BC philosophy;
Swim BC History in Long Term Athlete Development
Swim BC has been involved in long-term athlete development thinking for quite
some time.
In the late 1980s there was a curriculum developed by the Executive Director
of Swim BC that was to cover the early development of swimmers from entry
level to the beginnings of the competitive levels. The concepts were based on
information from the book Coaching the Young Swimmer by Dr. Kurt Wilke &
Dr. Orjan Madsen, in 1986.

This program included out of pool activities (physical literacy) and life skills.
The program was very comprehensive and too large for most programs to fully
develop or implement. The program was refined in the early 1990s into the
Swim BC Swim Stars program. This program was not mandatory but served as a
jumping off point for long-term athlete development in specific club programs
and regional competition formats.
One of the biggest areas of development came from a commitment to develop
swimmers aerobically at the pre-pubescent (Learn to Train) stage as well as
have them compete in all four strokes in short, these swimmers were to have
an Individual Medley basis for their training.
It should be noted that for our purposes, the notion of avoiding early
specialization is not necessarily related to the sport as a whole, but rather to
not having swimmers specialize in particular strokes or events until they are
into the Train to Compete or Train to Win stages of their careers.

Swim BC clubs and coaches have been involved in long-term athlete development
for quite some time. The particulars of implementation may change from club to
club but the broad brushstrokes are certainly there.
Swimming/Natation Canada LTAD

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Swimming/Natation Canada has a published Long-Term Athlete Development
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strategy and position paper, which can be found here.
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---------------Provincial Coach
Vince Mikuska
This is being viewed as a fluid document and there will be changes as time goes
on. Many of the observations made in the Sport System review are applicable to
our Provincial situation. There is a link on Swim BCs website (under TECHNICAL INFO)
which discusses LTAD in brief and provides links to the Swimming Canada LTAD
and the Canadian Sport for life Parents Guide

Issues arising around Canadian Sport for Life Implementation

Competition Calendar
Our Championship format is seemingly under constant scrutiny and revision. We
are comfortable with the timing of our four Provincial meets but the format
changes almost annually. This is due to the large numbers of swimmers
qualifying for the meet, a problem of success according to some. We have to
decide if we can support large numbers at the meet or if we feel like we need
to reduce the numbers through tighter qualifying standards and/or the number
of non-qualified swims. Our numbers seem to have stabilized over the last four
years so hopefully we can begin to move forward.
We need to find some stability and consistency in our provincial championship
format so that we can leave it in place for some longitudinal examination of
the results.
We changed to single year age groups for our Provincial Championships in the
2007-08 season. This mirrored a change in the National Age Group
Championships held annually in July. This fits in well with principles of Sport
for Life.

Physical Literacy
Most clubs have a dryland program that is addressing some of the issues
surrounding physical literacy. Appropriate space is not available at all pools for
clubs to do more than basic dryland programs.
At a younger age, when parents bring their child to a swim club, it is
specifically to get instruction in swimming. They are not always supportive of
other activities as they simply enroll their child in another sport as well.

Coaches are somewhat reticent to have other sports come into contact with the
athletes, as there is the fear of losing them. Everyone is competing for the same
children. There is also a fear that alternative programs might not offer the same
level of expertise as our professional coaches.
I believe that this is a developing area for growth.
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---------------Provincial Coach
Vince Mikuska

Geographic delivery
Our regional 12&Under camp program is part of our plan to address this issue.
By bringing additional coaching, sport science and mentor swimmer expertise
into the outlying regions, we are enhancing and improving their existing club
programs. Provincial Coach visitations are also part of an effort to provide
equal opportunities for swimmers to achieve excellence in the areas other than
the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria.
Our new National Club Excellence program will hopefully bring information to
parent boards so that they can develop their way to a stable program. A high
turnover of coaches in several communities has contributed to a dip in program
performance in some geographic areas.

We have been a fully integrated sport since 1993. Para swimming is part of the
Provincial program and multi-sport Games such as the BC Summer Games,
Western Canada Games and Canada Games. We are currently involved in
several areas to increase the number of swimmers with a disability in our sport.
We are working with disability organizations and Swimming Canada streamline
the structure for directing the interested disabled into our programs.

National Coaches Certification Program
The re-writing of the NCCP has been a real problem for coaching in all areas.
Coaches have been unable to complete levels to move forward. Courses have
not been offered in a timely fashion to assist new coaches coming into the
system. Costs have been prohibitive in some cases.
Competency-based assessment in a new program is now underway. There are
several opportunities for feedback to the coach during the assessment stage.
The observations of coaching practices in training and competition in the
Competition Coach stage are proving to be both valid and useful for growth and
the development of mentorship opportunities.
Availability is an issue as clubs at all levels are having difficulty finding staff.
The uncertainty surrounding NCCP requirements over the last several years has
been a deterrent to young people entering the profession.
Stability in smaller communities has also been a problem. Clubs are being
encouraged to find people who are already established in their community to

assist the programs in achieving some stability. We may need to counsel clubs on
ways to find individuals with good potential teaching skills and then teach them
the necessary technical components.

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---------------Provincial Coach
Vince Mikuska

The number of facilities in the province is an issue, particularly the lack of a
world-class training and competition facilities in the Lower Mainland. Facility
access is always a constant negotiation between clubs and facility
management. It is difficult for clubs to further develop programming due to the
limited access to facilities.
The high costs for facility rental is an obstacle for many clubs. Aquatic sports in
general suffer from communities seeing the pools in a different light than the
cost of other athletic facilities. We also cannot piggyback onto the educational
system for capital development of facilities as other sports that can take
advantage of new gym and field space.

Registration and Retention

Our overall number of registered swimmers continues to climb. We have had
six straight years of growth through 2009-2010. (See chart below)
In terms of retention we have had steady growth in the 6-15 year olds but we
are seeing a decline in the 16 and over athletes. This is an issue that has to be

These numbers give a rough idea about our officiating. (See chart below) The
numbers may not be reflective of growth but more a function of officials
registering. We need to accumulate more information in this area with respect
to tracking levels and locations of these officials. Officials development is key
for Swim BC to move forward.
2007-08 233 officials
2008-09 543 officials
2009-10 806 officials

Where do we want to go and how do we get there?

We have a system of individual clubs that are for the most part, non-profit
organizations. The Head Coaches of those programs are seen as owners of
the program being delivered by that organization. Any authority that Swim BC
has is generally only in the area of sanctioning. Swim BC grants sanctions for
clubs to operate and for swim meets to run; there is little or no mandate for
programming that comes from either Swim BC or Swimming Canada. We can
only work to encourage change through education and discussion.

The Swim BC Board of Directors reviews our strategic plan annually. Our current
plan is through 2012; its objectives and outcomes are currently being evaluated.
Strategic planning for the next quadrennial will begin in September 2011.

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---------------P. 604.898.9100
F. 604.898.9200
---------------Provincial Coach
Vince Mikuska

Officials Numbers