How coaches can build their club while celebrating individuality

Although the term diversity has often described differences in gender, race, culture or ability, the truth is that any group of two or more people automatically contains the variance between individuals.

Some aspects of our uniqueness are visible (approximate age, height, skin color, goggle or bathing cap preferences, etc.), while others are not as easily detectable. From visual cues alone, you can’t be sure if a person prefers freestyle over backstroke, sprints over distance, men over women, or Star Wars over Star Trek. But the fact that we each chose swimming means that we share a deeply important bond.

Here are some ideas on how to celebrate individuality while building a team spirit that can lead to supportive relationships, lifelong friendships, and a shared love of swimming together.


First, introduce yourself to new swimmers and welcome them to the group. Help them acclimate by answering questions, explaining team terminology and including them in banter between swim sets. As teammates get to know and like each other, they may earn nicknames such as “Metronome” for a long-distance swimmer who splits evenly or “Speedboat” for someone with a kick. strong foot.

Build team spirit by showing your pride with team banners, costumes, caps and branded apparel, and displaying logos everywhere (water bottles, towels, swim bags or even on polished nails!) Wear team clothes when you go out to eat and drink. after practices, and show up to competitions wearing the team colors from head to toe.

Have team cohesion and a shared identity not means that everyone fits the same mold. Celebrate differences with sets designed for the specialists (sprinters, distance swimmers, open water swimmers, triathletes, etc.) Show your appreciation for the unique talents, skills and efforts that each swimmer brings to the pool.


A great way to recognize individuals is to celebrate birthdays during practice sessions. One way to do this is to swim a set based on the birthday itself. For example, if the swimmer turns 45 on October 5 (10/5), you can do 45 x 25 seconds with 10 seconds of rest, or do 10 x 500 seconds or 10 x 50 seconds with just five breaths per rep.

Another option would be to make a set based on the person’s name. For example, for Kathy’s birthday, the set could be five minutes of Kick, five minutes from Arms (traction), five minutes of Jgoy-five Hard, and five minutes of 25s YesOur choice.

Many master coaches give out awards to recognize contributions to the team. These may include individual attributes that have nothing to do with abilities, such as team spirit, sense of humor, service to the club or community, support from teammates and always showing up on time. Successful teams often have individual swimmers nominating their peers for special recognition for such things as inspiration, support, or simply the pleasure of being with them. Let people know that you appreciate what they bring to the team.


People feel closer to each other as they face the group challenge of pushing through super tough workouts. But they also bond when they’re having fun together, so don’t forget to do some crazy things once in a while. Noodle relays, synchronized swimming, dog paddling (with obligatory barking!) and deep-water games of “catch the medicine ball” will have people laughing together and feeling connected.

Enhance your team parties with fun activities like quizzes, pumpkin carving, tree decorating, and gift exchanges with white elephants. Use social opportunities to talk about your personal interests and other hobbies; conversations don’t still you just have to swim. (And if you haven’t heard the line “I didn’t recognize you by your clothes,” you haven’t been to enough swim team parties.)


USMS clubs are known for their contributions to their communities, and strong team bonds are formed when we share time to help others. These activities may include participating in a food drive, picking up litter, raising money for local charities, staffing an aid station during a marathon, or sponsoring a Little Girl team. League. Supporting swimming awareness programs such as the USA Swimming Foundation or helping with an adult learn-to-swim program are also great ways to build team pride while helping others.