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PROGRESSION PATHWAY CRITERIA & SQUAD EXPECTATIONS

A1 Squad - All swimmers looking to join the A1 squad will ideally, but not essentially, need to be at Irish Summer Nationals and Irish Open LC standard and will hold the necessary ‘Regional Qualifying Meet’ time standards (or the old grade ‘A’).  Ideally, all swimmers will have Irish Summer Nationals qualifying times for that particular season, but progression will be at the discretion of the Head Coach.  Successful progression to the A1 Squad and maintenance of a place in the squad will also be determined by aerobic capacity sets, which are tested every 6-8 weeks, as well as completing the required testing protocols as outlined in the assessment of the progression document. Times and placings at Irish Summer Nationals and/or Irish Open LC will also be a determinant for entry to this squad.

New swimmers will enter the squad on a six-week trial basis, which will be tested by completing 30 x 100 meters on 1:30 / 30 x 100 meters on 1:40 (Freestyle or #1 Stroke) & 10 x 50m Kick on :60. The necessary improvements in technique, which will partner the improvement in fitness, will be key elements here.

If an athlete cannot complete their appropriate test sets or achieve the necessary times and/or placings at Irish Summer Nationals and/or Irish Open LC then they may be required to do extra training with another squad – space permitting, or on their own time.  A re-test will take place after a 6-week period.  If after this period, the athlete cannot complete the test, then the swimmer may be better suited to the level of training and performance expectation that is the norm in the A2 squad, solely. This will be at the Head Coach’s discretion following communication with the swimmer and, in most cases, their parents.


A2 Squad – All swimmers looking to join the A2 squad will need to hold the necessary ‘Regional Qualifying Meet’ time standards (or old grade ‘A’). Ideally, all swimmers should target Irish Summer Nationals qualifying times for that particular season, or alternatively but at a minimum, Irish Age Groups Division 2 qualifying times with a view to finishing at podium level at that meet.

There will be aerobic capacity testing every 6-8 weeks whereby the swimmers will be expected to complete 30 x 100 meters on 1:40 (Freestyle or #1 Stroke) & 10 x 50m Kick on :60. New swimmers will enter the squad on a six-week trial basis and will complete 20 x 100 meters on 1:40 at the end of this six-week trial.  If an athlete cannot demonstrate an ability to consistently complete their appropriate test sets then they may be required to do extra training with another squad - space permitting, or on their own time. 

A re-test will take place after a 6-week period.  If, after this period, the athlete cannot complete the test, then the swimmer will be encouraged to consider gaining extra training to enhance their fitness and techniques, either within the club or outside of it, to supplement their training time and focus. In cases of consistent failures to meet test set criteria, the swimmer may be asked to join another squad – most likely the A3 squad, space permitting.

Swimmers who are unable to successfully complete these specified test sets in the A2 squad and/or cannot maintain the levels of attendance set out per squad will not be considered for assessment to progress to the A1 squad when this opportunity next arises even if they hold the necessary Irish Summer Nationals and Irish Open LC qualifying times and placings.


A3 Squad - All swimmers looking to join the A3 squad will need to hold the necessary ‘Regional Qualifying Meet’ time standards (or the old grade ‘A’). Ideally, all swimmers should target IAG Division 2 qualifying times for that particular season, but progression will be at the discretion of the Head Coach.

There will be aerobic capacity testing every 6-8 weeks whereby the swimmers will be expected to complete 20 x 100 meters on 1:40 (Freestyle or #1 Stroke) & 10 x 50m Kick on :70. New swimmers will enter the squad on a six-week trial basis and will complete 16 x 100 meters on 1:45 at the end of this six-week trial.  If an athlete cannot demonstrate an ability to consistently complete their appropriate test sets then they may be required to do extra training with another squad - space permitting, or on their own time. 

A re-test will take place after a 6-week period.  If, after this period, the athlete cannot complete the test, then the swimmer will be encouraged to consider gaining extra training to enhance their fitness and techniques, either within the club or outside of it, to supplement their training time and focus. In cases of consistent failures to meet test set criteria, the swimmer may be asked to join another squad – most likely the DEV Squad, space permitting.

Swimmers who are unable to successfully complete these specified test sets in the A3 squad and/or cannot maintain the levels of attendance set out per squad will not be considered for assessment to progress to the A2 squad when this opportunity next arises.


Attendance for A1, A2 & A3 - It is compulsory that all A1 & A2 athletes attend a minimum of 90% & A3 athletes attend a minimum of 85% of all sessions monthly (Leaving & Junior Cert swimmers at 85% & 80% for A1/A2 & A3 respectively).  It is understandable that some swimmers may have mitigating circumstances which will dictate their attendance records. The coach must be made aware of these circumstances and he/she will deal with these on a case-by-case basis following careful consideration and potential impact on both the swimmer and the squad program. This decision will be at the Head Coach’s discretion.


Development Squad (DEV)- The focus here will be on stroke development, analysis and improvement of swimming technique and fitness.  Swimmers in the Development Squad can and should aim to compete both locally and nationally as well as in other competitive aquatic disciplines. Ideally, athletes should target similar levels of competition and training as those in the A3 Squad with the view to progress to this squad and beyond in the future.

DEV Squad offers similar, and in many comparisons, more training hours at this level than most other programs nationally. Attendance is set at 80% for DEV Squad as they do not have as much pool-time as the A1,A2 & A3 squads but should maintain their training to a desired level and not fall behind on attendance, especially where space is at a premium and where others may be waiting to join the squad and offer higher levels of commitment to maintain their place in that squad.


Further breakdown of functioning of the Development Squad:

Swimmers who have reached the adequate age for DEV and who have out-grown the age profile in SSS and may decide to leave the Senior Skills Squad, or their current squad, but who still want to train and even compete can request entry to the Development Squad.  In this case, each swimmer’s request must be discussed and assessed by the Head Coach, the swimmer’s current coach and the Development Squad coach on a case-by-case basis.

Swimmers who have not passed in-squad aerobic capacity testing and who are required to supplement their training for their retest.  Any new or current club swimmers looking for quality training for aquatic competition (i.e. triathletes, distance swimming, etc.) who can commit to the level of training required by the Development Squad coaches.

Squad Progression Criteria:

Swimmers who join the Development Squad can apply for entry to any of the Dolphin Swimming Club competitive ‘A’ squads but must pass the necessary assessment set out for that squad which is outlined in this document as well as holding the required time standards per specific squad. Assessment applications will depend on space availability in other squads.


PROGRESSION REQUIREMENTS

A3 to A2 Squad

Attendance - It is compulsory that all A3 athletes attend a minimum of 85% of all pool sessions monthly, if they are to be considered for assessment to progress to A1. All absences must be conveyed before training is due to begin and a full attendance record is kept at each session by the squad coach. Attendance at dryland and YOGA is also desirable for squad performance and progression.

Lane Discipline / Instruction – E.G. reading the clock, adhering to TAT (Turn Around Times), working off % effort intensities, demonstrating the ability to carry out coaches' instructions, taking heart rates, pacing, keeping to swimmer’s own side, etc.

Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) Stage – At what stage is the swimmer in the aquatic pathway where we are preparing them for learning how to train, training to train, training to compete, etc.? Are they at the right stage developmentally, are they mentally, cognitively and physically mature enough to train at these levels?

Endurance Capabilities – The A2 squad works very hard on this and anyone who moves to A2 must demonstrate a capacity to hold their stroke count and technique on shorter rest periods but with more repetitions and at a higher intensity.

Time in A3 - As is the same case with all competitive squads in Dolphin SC, there is a clear squad pathway within the A3 squad, in that swimmers come into the squad at first and go into a base-level lane, progressing through the lane structure as they improve. Length of time spent as a member of the A3 squad will not be one of the main determinants of progression to A2. Apart from test set results, coachability*, attendance and training protocols will be the significant factors considered when deciding who is assessed for progression to A2. There is no queue-system in any squad for swimmers awaiting assessment and time in the squad will only play a part when all assessment for progression results are equal.

Technique - the A1 & A2 squads place a large emphasis on stroke technique and while they are in the A3 squad the aim is to improve this aspect of their development to enable long-term ability for building competition speed and distance efficiency.

Targets – A1 & A2 are the top squads in the club and swimmers must be realistically aiming to achieve a minimum standard of Irish Summer Nationals competition each season.  This ensures maximum levels of competition between each swimmer in training and aims to prevent situations where swimmers continuously miss out or opt out of other high-level competitions such as Irish Short Course, Dave McCullough and Irish Open LC.  Again, this aspect is also looked at on a case-by-case basis and is not a definite standard in final progression criteria.

*Coachability can be defined as the athlete’s ability to listen, comprehend and demonstrate any given directions and instruction by the coach/teacher, as best as they can. To be able to consistently show good levels of attention, enthusiasm, diligence and positive behaviour in the squad or individual-based structure.


ASSESSMENTS

A3 Squad to A2 Squad

When swimmers have been selected to go forward to be assessed for progression from A3 to A2, they must complete the following assessment:

  • Swimmers will complete and be assessed on a timed 200IM swim and 10 x 50m Kick on 60seconds, and will be marked out of 100 points, broken down as follows:

  • 40 points given for a timed 200m IM, breaking down as 10 points for each stroke, based on technique (primary) and time (secondary), including starts, streamlining, swim phases, turns and finishes.

  • 20 points given for the timed 10 x 50m Kick on TAT of 60 seconds, breaking down as 2 points per lap.

  • 40 points for attendance broken down as 1 point docked for each pool-session missed over the last 40 sessions (10 weeks). Where results are too close, dryland and YOGA attendance will also be considered.

  • An extra bonus of 5 points will be added for any swimmer with an Irish Summer Nationals (LC), or higher, time (100m events or longer only – 50m events not considered).

  •  Assessments for A3 Squad to A2 Squad will be conducted at either the normal training session time slot OR a time designated by the Head Coach, with all selected swimmers present, all relevant coaches (2-5 including the Head Coach) present but only the parents of the swimmers being assessed and the designated parent on duty allowed on the balcony at the time.

There will NOT be a queuing system in place for assessments – in other words, swimmers will not be automatically next in line for progression because of their age, the length of time in the squad or whoever achieved their respective meet placings or time standards, or their full Regional Qualifying Meet or ‘A’ times, first.

 

     Swimmers must reach a minimum total of 75 points on assessment before assessment is deemed successful and marked as “passed”, and where space in the A2 squad is limited then those with the highest tally of points (over 75) will top the list.

 

     If a swimmer has achieved the minimum tally of 75 points on assessment but space in the A2 squad is limited, the swimmer will not require reassessment but will be placed in the “queue” to be next in line for movement to the A2 squad once space becomes available.

 

     If no swimmer reaches the desired ‘minimum points standard’ of 75 points and a vacancy exists in the A2 squad, then the swimmer with a tally of points higher than 70 and nearest to 75 will progress. If no swimmer has reached the desired standard and space exists in the A2 squad, a retest may take place at least one week later after consideration by the Head Coach. Following a similar result here, the space in A2 will remain available until the next assessment process has been undertaken.

 

     If a swimmer has not reached the minimum tally of 75 points, and no vacancy remains in the A2 squad, then the swimmer must wait until the next assessment day to be re-assessed and will start that next assessment on an equal par with all other swimmers going forward for the same assessment.

  

NOTE:

           Coaches will conduct a technical meeting / discussion immediately after the assessment session to total up the marks and decide who has made the entry criteria, as set out in this document, to progress to the next squad and who might require another assessment at the next available date.

 

The results of all assessments will be decided by gathering each participating coach’s results sheet and adding all scores together and dividing by the number of coaches present to get the best average scores from the participating swimmers.

 

All assessment results will be kept by the Head Coach and may be viewed at any time by any of the designated club coaches, on request. The athlete may view his/her assessment results at any time but will not be permitted to view the results of any other swimmer.

 

The results may also be viewed by members of the Club Management Committee, the Complaints & Disciplinary Committee and the swimmer’s parents, on request.

 

The Head Coach will aim to provide feedback on everyone’s results within one week of assessment completion.


 Senior Skills Squad – A (SSSA) to the A3 Squad All squad members must have achieved the full Regional Qualifying Meet (grade “A”) qualifying standards.

  • Swimmers will complete and be assessed on a timed 200IM swim and will be marked out of 80 points, broken down as follows:

  • 40 points given for a timed 200m IM, breaking down as 10 points for each stroke, based on technique (primary) and time (secondary), including starts, streamlining, swim phases, turns and finishes.

  • 40 points for attendance broken down as 1 point docked for each pool-session missed over the last 40 sessions (10 weeks).

  • An extra 10 points will be added for any swimmer with an Irish Summer Nationals (LC) time or 5 points for a National IAG Division 2 time.

  •  Assessments for Senior Skills Squad to the A3 Squad will be conducted at the normal training session time slot with all eligible swimmers present, all relevant coaches (2-5 including the Head Coach) present but only the parents of the swimmers being assessed and the designated parent on duty allowed on the balcony at the time.

  • There will NOT be a queuing system in place for assessments – in other words, swimmers will not be automatically next in line for progression because of their age, the length of time in the squad or whoever achieved their full Regional Qualifying Meet or ‘A’ times, first.

  • Swimmers must reach a minimum total of 60 points on assessment before assessment is deemed successful and marked as “passed”, and where space in the A3 squad is limited then those with the highest tally of points (over 60) will top the list.

  • If a swimmer has achieved the minimum tally of 60 points on assessment but space in the A3 Squad is limited, the swimmer will not require reassessment but will be placed in the “queue” to be next in line for movement to the A3 squad once space becomes available.

  • If no swimmer reaches the desired ‘minimum points standard’ of 60 points and a vacancy exists in the A3 squad, then the swimmer with a tally of points higher than 55 and nearest to 60 will progress. If no swimmer has reached the desired standard and space exists in the A3 squad, a retest may take place at least one week later after consideration by the Head Coach. Following a similar result here, the Head Coach will decide the suitability of the highest-scoring candidate to progress following further discussion with the athlete’s family and coaches.

  • If a swimmer has not reached the minimum tally of 60 points, and no vacancy remains in the A3 squad, then the swimmer must wait until the next assessment day to be re-assessed and will start that next assessment on an equal par with all other swimmers going forward for the same assessment.

*Certain instances may arise whereby a swimmer excels at one, or maybe two, particular strokes but maybe not in a full 200m IM.  In this case, we will look at the relevant National and Munster qualification time standards database for their age group and assess the merits of each case as it happens individually.

 

This case will apply to the A1, A2, A3, SSS and Development Squads only.

 


 Senior Skills Squad – B (SSSB) to Senior Skills Squad – A (SSSA) - Swimmers must achieve the standard of either of the following:

 

  • Two Regional Development (Upper Standard - 2) times at 100m Free and IM plus one Regional Development (Upper Standard - 2) time in a 50m Breast / Fly / Back

    Or

  • Two Regional Development (Upper Standard - 2) times at 50m Breast / Fly / Back plus one Regional Development (Upper Standard - 2) time at 100m Free / IM

Swimmers who achieve the qualifying standard in the 100IM will gain preference for assessment over those who only achieve the 100 Freestyle qualifying standard. Swimmers must then be assessed by 2-5 club coaches, two of which must be the Head Coach and the current Senior Skills Squad (SSS) coach.

Swimmers will complete and be assessed on a timed 100IM and will be marked out of 80 points broken down as follows:

  • 40 points for attendance – broken down as 1 point docked for each session missed over the last 40 sessions (10 weeks)

  • 40 points on a 100m IM assessment – further broken down as 10 points for Fly, 10 for Back, 10 Breast, 10 for Free

  • An extra 5 points will be awarded to a swimmer who has achieved a National IAG Division 2 time at the time of assessment

  • An extra 10 points will be awarded to a swimmer who has achieved a National IAG Division 1 time at the time of the assessment.

  •  Assessments for Junior Skills Squad to Senior Skills Squad swimmers will take place during the normal squad session hours.

  • There will NOT be a queuing system in place for assessments – in other words, swimmers will not be automatically next in line for progression because of their age, the length of time in the squad or whoever achieved their full Regional Development (Upper Standard - 2) times first.

  •  If a swimmer has achieved the minimum tally of 60 points on assessment but space in the Senior Skills Squad is limited, the swimmer will not require reassessment but will be placed in the “queue” to be next in line for movement to the Senior Skills Squad once space becomes available – the swimmer will be allowed (in consultation with the Development Squad coach and space permitting) to supplement their training with one session in the Development Squad if they have achieved one Regional Qualifying Meet (old Grade 1 / A) time.

  • If no swimmer reaches the desired ‘minimum points standard’ of 60 points and a vacancy exists in the SSS, then the swimmer with a tally of points higher than 55 and nearest to 60 will progress.

  • If a swimmer has not reached the minimum tally of 60 points, and all vacant spaces have been filled, the swimmer must wait until the next assessment day to be re-assessed and will start that next assessment on an equal par with all other swimmers going forward for the same assessment.

*Progression from JSS to SSSB will be determined by the JSS coach following consultation and observation with the Head Coach.


‘Dolphins’ to JSS

Swimmers will be assessed by the Head Coach, the current Junior Skills Squad coach and possibly, if available, one of the other competitive squad coaches with help from one of the DOLPHINS squad coaching team.

Swimmers will need to show the ability to perform Freestyle/Backstroke with good timing of the stroke. Breaststroke with correct kick action and the fundamentals of the Butterfly are essential.  The overall impression of the swimmer’s ability across all strokes will be assessed.  

Other factors such as ability to follow coach’s / teacher’s instruction, body position, streamlining, swim efficiency, etc. must also be considered when deciding on an individual swimmer’s progression to JSS.


This document has been formulated in accordance with the Swim Ireland “Aquatic Pathway”.

  • Training to Win & Training to Compete = Males 15 to 18+ / Females 14 to 18+

  • Training to Train = Males 12 to 15 / Females 11 to 14

  • Swim Skills = Males 9 to 12 / Females 8 to 11

  • Fundamentals = Males 7 to 9 / Females 6 to 8

     

    *These are all general age profiles in accordance with Swim Ireland; we understand that some swimmers fit into certain physiological pathway groupings earlier / later than others.          

     

    *If external factors play a part in an individual swimmer’s situation such as long-term illness, disability or extreme family circumstances then entry to any squad is decided on a case by case basis.        

     

    As will be the protocol in every case of athlete progression within Dolphin Swimming Club, the Head Coach will have full discretion and have the final say on all these matters. If any questions should arise following a decision on athlete progression, the all concerns should be immediately communicated to the Head Coach for full explanation and further direction.               

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