Shaping Successful Junior Swimmers

Meyer & Meyer is a publishing house in Germany. They specialize in publishing books on every sport imaginable. They are unbelievably good at what they do. If you want to research anything to do with sport, go to their website and look through their catalogue. I’m certain you will find something of interest. Meyer & Meyer distribute their books around the world, through book shops and through on-line sellers such as

Many of Arthur Lydiard’s books on running were published by Meyer & Meyer. It was Arthur who suggested sending them my first swimming manuscript. Meyer & Meyer accepted the manuscript and “Swim to the Top” was published in 2002. Two years later my second manuscript was also accepted and “Swimming – A Training Program” was published.

A few months ago I sent off a third manuscript. This too has been accepted and is currently going through the editing and setting process.

So, what is the book about?

For as long as I have been coaching I have been puzzled and annoyed about why some swimmers successfully explore their talent and others fail to progress. What was it about the careers of successful swimmers that was different? I knew it wasn’t talent. Some very successful swimmers have modest levels of talent. Some swimmers, who leave the sport early, are very talented.

The reason for researching the subject and writing the book was to try and describe why some swimmers I have coached “made it” and others, with just as much talent, fell by the wayside. How were the swimmers in the table below different from Jamie in Florida or Alley in Auckland who had equal talent but failed to travel as far as their talent should have taken them? The book includes many examples of real events and people that I have known; some of whom were successful and others who failed to progress. The champions whose experience has contributed much to this book include those in the table below.

Name Record
Toni Jeffs NZ National Champion, Pan Pacific and World SC medallist, Olympian
Nichola Chellingworth NZ National Champion, Pan Pacific and Oceania representative
Jane Copland NZ National Champion, Pan Pacific and Oceania rep. WSU scholarship
Joseph Skuba Florida State Champion, US National finalist
Rhi Jeffrey Olympic Champion (prior to swimming with me) US National Finalist
Jane Ip NZ National Champion, Oceania representative, U of Hawaii Scholarship
John Foster US National Finalist, U of Cal. Swimming Scholarship
Lara van Egten NZ National Champion (Relay)
Loai Tashkandi Saudi Arabia Champion, record holder and representative
Eyad Massoud Saudi Arabia Champion
Oswaldo Quevedo 2 x World Masters record holder, Olympic Rep.(prior to swimming with me)
Bridget Maher NZ National Representative, NZ Championship open water medallist
Alison Wright NZ and UK National Champion, Comm. Games representative – track
Penny Jones NZ National Champion – Surf
Andrew Meeder Florida State Champion, US National Junior Finalist

The book “Shaping Successful Swimmers” examines this problem and suggests measures aimed at improving young swimmer’s chances of making it through the minefield of junior swimming. In the table below I have listed the titles of the book’s chapters. The titles give you some idea of how the subject has been dealt with.

Chapter Content
1 Is There a Global Problem?
2 Is There an Individual Problem?
3 What is the Cure?
4 Build a Foundation
5 The Danger of too much Anaerobic Training
6 What Does Anaerobic Training Look Like?
7 What Should the Swimmer Know?
8 What do the Daily Schedules Look Like?
9 How Far Should I Swim?
10 Patience
11 Role of the Coach
12 Pushing Early for Big Results
13 Too Many Races
14 Too Much Speed Training
15 Lack of Periodization
16 Don’t Time Everything
17 Avoid Monotonous Training
18 Some Sundry Items
19 The Rest of Life
20 A Case Study in What Can Go Wrong
21 The Damage Abuse Can Do
22 Retirement

In the table of champions I was fortunate enough to be involved with two of the swimmers from learn to swim through to international representative. This experience combined what other swimmers have told me and from researching the literature provided the information on which the book has been written.

Certainly the subject is a serious problem in swimming. The teenage drop-out rate, around the world, and in New Zealand, is between 80% and 90%. The most cursory look through the results of New Zealand junior championships reveals dozens of winners who five years later are not even swimming. Social media naively bombards us with predictions of some junior swimmer who is about to stun the swimming world. Sadly, few ever do. In fact those who make it through, like Corey Main and Paige Schendelaar-Kemp, are the exception rather than the rule. Federations, coaches and clubs need to change that statistic. This book aims at providing some thoughts on initiatives that might bring about that change; that could see swimmers stay in the sport longer and explore their potential better.

Eventually all swimmers retire from open competitive swimming. This can be a difficult transition. Certainly the two most read stories on Swimwatch are on the subject of when and how to retire. The final three or four chapters of the book discuss how to successfully make the transition into retirement.

If you do decide to read the book I hope you enjoy it and find it interesting and helpful. .

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