Fast Pools and LZR Suits

Finally, just as a “fast” pool is a function of fast swimmers, a competitive swim program needs a coach. “The most important need is a safety-certified swimming coach who knows the basic fundamentals of competitive swimming,” Hogan says.

Once these elements are in place, some items on the wish list can become readily available or as time and finances permit. Hogan suggests additional equipment like kickboards, hand paddles, fins and pull buoys. A video camera and a dry erase board will help with educational and corrective efforts.

Some plusses for the facility need to be planned before the construction phase, like seating for 500 spectators, and deck space for athletes and volunteers during a meet. A classroom or meeting space also is a bonus.

Hogan also suggests items in the ”really-nice-to-have” category to take the program up a notch: “an automatic timing system with an eight-lane scoreboard, [and], if the pool is indoors, a properly sized ultra-violet purification system and an HVAC system designed and sized for the proper air flow and relative humidity.”

What About The Suits?

Much has been made of the full-body LZR suits, designed to compress and streamline the athlete’s body, reduce drag an estimated 5 to 10 percent, and make perhaps a 2-percent difference in the times of a top swimmer. LZR suits (pronounced laser) are made by Speedo and designed for better oxygen flow to the muscles while repelling water.

LZR suits are the newest, highest-tech version of the age-old training practice of wearing multiple swim suits and omitting shaving during training, then wearing a single sleek suit and shaving most or all body hair that cannot be hidden under a swim cap. The better the conditions for reducing drag and the better the athlete feels, the less drag that is on his or her body, and the better the time.

But if the sight of Michael Phelps in an LZR is causing demands from your swimmers but reticence on your part because of the $500 price tag, Hogan has some good news: “The new high-tech suits, like the Speedo LZR, are not necessary for age-group swimmers. Some of the key features of these suits, such as body compression and drag reduction, do not come into play until a swimmer achieves a certain level of physical maturity and overall swimming efficiency.”

So save that money for kick boards and video cameras to help build the strength and hone the strokes of those future fast swimmers.

Jennifer Patterson Lorenzetti is a writer, editor, speaker and owner of Hilltop Communications, based in Centerville, Ohio. She can be reached via e-mail at jcpatterson@prodigy.net.

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