Squad Criteria 2022/23


Squad Progression, the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) and the Athlete Development Support Pathway (ADSP).

An essential element of the development of our swimmers is their progression through the Swansea Aquatics squad structure. This has been carefully designed to group swimmers into age, trainability and competition-ability appropriate squads.

Progression enables swimmers to develop their skills and stamina in an appropriate squad environment. For a range of reasons, swimmers develop at different rates, and it is important that progression through the squad structure is determined by the requirements for the long term development and wellbeing of the individual.

In common with all clubs, at Swansea Aquatics we use some specific criteria to make informed decisions about swimmer progression and development. As swimmers enter the club, we focus particularly on the development of technical ability, as the basis for the long term development of our swimmers. As they progress through the squad structure, we will increasingly benchmark swimmers’ development against particular time criteria. These help coaches in making decisions about how swimmers are developing, and they help swimmers, too, to be able to develop by allowing them to set targets and to measure their performance.

They are not, however, the exclusive basis for decisions about squad progression. Where swimmers are in relation to these benchmarks gives coaches important information about their development at a particular point in time. Coaches also need to weigh up other factors in their judgements on squad progression, not least of which is the potential for the younger swimmer to handle the physical demands of higher squads. The decision by the Head Coach on squad progression and swimmer development is final.


How do coaches make decisions about squad progression?

In general terms, our coaches’ decisions on progression, including on retaining a swimmer within a particular squad, are informed by a number of conditions:

  • Commitment to training as evidenced by regular attendance at the required minimum number of sessions;
  • Swimmers’ work ethic in sessions as displayed over time and their ability to manage the physical demands of a squad;
  • Technical ability, and especially evidence of progressive improvement in technical performance and skill development;
  • Mqualifying time criteria – used initially for progression into National Development and Youth Development squads and then, with increasingly challenging targets, for higher squads.
  • The trainability of a swimmer – a crucial aspect of not only the development of an individual swimmer but also of an effective squad is evidence that a swimmer responds positively to coaching.

Coaches, then, look at a number of factors in considering the long term development of an individual swimmer. It is especially important to understand that hitting particular qualifying times is not a guarantee of progression. As important as this is as a measure of a swimmer’s development, coaches need to look more broadly at the other factors outlined above. This can be a source of some frustration, but the best interests of the swimmer and of the club are served by decisions based on our evidence of an individual’s performance at particular point in their development.

Swimmers develop at different speeds, and the squad structure at the club allows for swimmers to change pathways when coaches have evidence this is the correct decision for the swimmer. I regularly consult with coaches in each of the squads to be briefed on the swimmers’ development, which enables us to review our perspectives on a swimmer’s future progression. When the time comes for a swimmer to progress, coaches will set out the rationale for decisions. These will have been made in consultation with me as Head Coach and this decision must be accepted as final.


When do squad changes occur?

Squad progression is based on swimmers’ development over time and therefore we use age bands to help us making decisions, based on the evidence we have available, is the appropriate squad for an individual swimmer.  Here, again, we use a number of general conditions:

  • Any swimmer outside of the age band or criteria can be put forward for fast tracking by the lead squad coach and a case made for a squad movement. This is at the deliberation and discretion of the Head Coach who will make final the decision.
  • Swimmers will be continually assessed with moves happening around the competition calendar.
  • The swimming season runs from September – August. Swimmers swim as age as at 31st December of the calendar year. This is in line with the Swim Wales and British Swimming criteria.
  • All swimmers are encouraged to compete at the appropriate level for their age and development.
  • For squads where qualifying times are in place for selection criteria, decisions take place after the following meets: Winter Welsh Championships; West Wales Regional Championships; Swim Wales Easter Long Course Championships; and Swim Wales Summer Open.
  • Swimmers will still be offered the opportunity to link into other squads, when the coach feels it is appropriate for the future development of the swimmer.

Our primary goal at Swansea Aquatics is to support our swimmers to achieve their full potential, whatever their age and be the best that they can be. Placing swimmers in the correct squad is how we make this happen.

Joel Knight,

Head Coach, Swansea Aquatics