Gateways to advancement
Another purpose for deploying test sets is to insure that the top training groups are composed of swimmers who can do the work, make the send-offs, swim fast enough and long enough to fit into the group.
Many teams have different practice groups. These groups have all sorts of names, depending upon the club. Senior elite. National team. Gold. Then the other groups could be the silver, bronze, age groups. Whatever the name, that's not so important. There are stages and developmental focus points that each group of swimmers and coaches work upon for their improvements.
Obviously, the novice groups can't do certain things that the age group kids can do nor the senior swimmers.
This stratification process that splits the kids into groups can be a point of contention among swimmers, guardians, coaches and offer a layer of stress. One way to put to rest some of the doubt and make more objective judgments as to who should be included in what group is to make "test sets" a factor.
Jasmyne Telles posted on Facebook about AM practices and asked for feedback
How many programs out there have requirements of attendance vs meeting a set standard. For example, the standard offered was 5 x 400s on 6:00. None at all? A mixture of both?
Another area of interest of JT's is the 7 x 200m step test. See other posting.
Problem: Changing Dynamics
One issue about setting a standard for group advancement is the fact that teams improve as well as individuals. An entire cadre of swimmers might not be able to make the standard in September, but 20 or more might make the standard in April. And, some of the swimmers might graduate or not be with the team for the following year, but there might not be enough room to absorb all those who made the standard for advancement in the next group.
So, standards need some flexibility too. Then, they're not as objective as one might hope and assume.
Put lots of care and forward thinking into the standards. Change is possible, and generally a guarantee.
Does your team have standard test sets -- or ever deployed them -- for moving between groups?
Share your experiences in the comments. This page can be updated as new insights are gathered.