Head Coach Scott Ellis on the team’s achievements, training structure, and philosophy
In the past year, the UVAC swim team has participated in 11 meets. According to Head Coach Scott Ellis, the fact that 8 of those events took place on site at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center, makes the UVAC swim team experience unique:
“Because we have a great facility, even our beginning swimmers have the opportunity the first year or two to experience different levels of meets without having to travel,” Ellis says.
The UVAC swim team has set 18 new individual team records and 6 new relay team records over the past 10 months. Six of the team’s swimmers graduated from high school this year—all will attend a four-year college. Five of them will compete in a college sport.
The UVAC Swim team consists of four training groups. The Developmental squad, the team’s entry level group, consists of swimmers aged 5-10 years old who are focused on learning all strokes. The Junior squad, the second tier in UVAC swimmer development, consists of swimmers, 9-13 years of age, who refine their stroke technique and begin aerobic conditioning. The Pre-Senior squad consists of swimmers, 13-18 years old, and is designed to develop each swimmer’s technique and speed. The Senior squad consists of student-athletes 14 and over, and is designed for all swimmers who will be competing at a high standard of competition and who want to improve.
The UVAC Swim Team averages 110 swimmers during the Fall, Winter and Spring sessions and 70 swimmers during the summer session when school is out. The team’s coaching staff currently consists nine coaches who are certified and registered with USA Swimming, as well as two certified Strength and Conditioning coaches.
Signe Linville is UVAC’s Head Site Coach at the UVAC team’s Colby-Sawyer Site, and oversees training there, while Forrest Pollard is the team’s Head Age Group Coach and oversees the team’s Developmental and Junior Groups at the UVAC Site.
As the Head Coach, Ellis oversees all practice groups and practice sites, and has direct coaching interaction with all groups. He spends the bulk of his on-deck coaching time with the Pre-Senior and Senior Groups.
The amount of practice time for UVAC swimmers depends on their training group and their commitment level. Developmental swimmers train a few days per week for 45 minutes at a time. As swimmers move up through the groups, training time slowly increases. The team’s most competitive swimmers, who aim to swim at the national level, train eight sessions per week. They also participate in three land-based strength and conditioning sessions when they’re not in a competition week.
“It really comes down to each individual’s personal desires and physical requirements needed to attain their goals,” Ellis says. “When coming up through the developmental and Junior Groups, fun and technique are the primary foci.”
Ellis adds that the process of developing as a swimmer involves many skills beyond what happens in the pool. He points out that with frequent, early practice sessions, a swimmer’s sense of time management is strong.
“Family time, being a good friend and supportive teammate, and taking care of ourselves mentally and physically are also part of this process,” he says. “Having these things as part of the development as a UVAC swimmer helps each individual balance the sport with everything else in their lives.”
Because of these skills, Ellis says, most swimmers who stick with the sport are balanced in many aspects of their lives. “These swimmers are high achieving within their academics or other disciplines and continue to be good citizens as they grow up.”
Elizabeth Kelsey is a writer who specializes in mental health topics. www.elizabethkelsey.com