The 2nd World Aquatic Development Conference was held in Lund, Sweden, from January 9-12, 2014.
Organised by the Swedish Center for Aquatic Research, the conference brought together a team of speakers, including Olympic podium placers, coaches and leading lights from the academic world.
On their minds were questions at the heart of ethics in the sport, such as:
- Which direction should swimming be swimming in to ensure the best and safest possible environment for young athletes to develop best-possible skills in?
- And how do we take best-possible care in a never-ending pursuit of speed?
The answers were both uncomfortable and inspiring.
As moderator at the event, Craig Lord, Editor of SwimVortex.com, had the privilege of a ring-side seat among the hundreds of coaches from 18 countries who came to listen and learn, both from the competitive track of the conference and in the learn-to-swim lane.
Over the coming weeks, we will take a look at the contributions of Allison Wagner, Caitlin Leverenz and Dana Vollmer, of Dr Fiona McLachlan and Prof. Joan Duda, before we turn to the work of Milt Nelms, the water whisperer who works with Vollmer, Leverenz and Co, Patrick Miley and others bent on the betterment of swimming.
All related articles will appear in this special as a resource for those who seek to improve, to find a better way and to join the discussion that flows from such questions as:
- what is swimming – and how do we know?
- does the sport empower coaches in a way that promotes sustained engagement and healthy participation in swimming?
- are you the best coach, guide and guardian you could be?
- what do you need to know if you coach women?
- what can you learn from your own body to take the next step to speed?
Watch for more articles. We started with the stage-setter at the conference, from Dr McLachlan, of the University of Victoria’s Institute for Sport, Exercise and Active Living. She asks: How To Be Good? Next came Dana Vollmer and Caitlin Leverenz, with insight into the work of women and what works if you have winning in mind, followed by the things that blighted the career of Allison Wagner and a look at Vollmer’s early years and why lessons learned when she made the national team in the US were followed by a back-to-basics move to harness speed and potential
December 22, 2014 -
The Betterment of Swimming Award: as we reach the end of 2014, we reflect on a special day back in January in Lund, Sweden, when Prof. Joan Duda, Dana Vollmer, Caitlin Leverenz, Allison Wagner, and Dr Fiona McLachlan took to the stage at the World Aquatic Development Conference
February 21, 2014 -
One of the first messages that registered with Allison Wagner as she grew up in swimming would shape her life for many years to come. “The coach said ‘be skinny and you’ll be good’, the former world record holder, world champion and Olympic medallist told a room full of coaches. “Alright, I can do that, I thought. It was easier to be skinny than do a 400IM … trim down and you’ll be fitter.” Good, fitter… but not healthier, as she would learn to her cost
February 21, 2014 -
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts,” said Winston Churchill. In the next part of our series on the betterment of swimming and winning approaches to success in sport from the World Aquatic Development Conference, Caitlin Leverenz considers the nature of failure and what it means to fail successfully
February 17, 2014 -
In our next series of articles from the World Aquatic Development Conference, Olympic 100m butterfly champion Dana Vollmer talks about her early years, her transition to the national team in the USA and lessons learned and unlearned on her way to becoming a mature athlete at CAL with coach Teri McKeever and through her work with Milt Nelms; her journey offers insight into the critical role played by coaches in the pursuit of speed: “Looking back at my experience and … at all those stories of horror, I feel so lucky that the people around me were more interested in me as a person not as an athlete with potential to be good.”
January 20, 2014 -
During a presentation by Milt Nelms at the World Aquatic Development Conference in Lund, the big screen was graced by the image of a human shape streamlining in deep ocean in unison with a dolphin a few metres away. The image spoke of serenity and symbiosis, not only between swimmers but with the element that lends them that status. It was taken by the third swimmer present, Shane Gould. The other swimmer was Allison Wagner: free once more to feel the joy of being in water after time out beyond a fine competitive career that masked the trauma of an experience she hopes no other youngster will ever have to endure
January 16, 2014 -
WADC 2014: At London 2012, the US women’s team celebrated a towering rate of success. That was not only down to the form of the athlete and the work done with the coach, we heard from many of the American women in London. It also came down to the leadership of head women’s coach Teri McKeever. Caitlin Leverenz and Dana Vollmer, two of those under McKeever’s guidance at CAL Berkley, the University of California, explain how, why and much more
January 10, 2014 -
When Professor Joan Duda stood up to speak at the World Aquatic Development Conference here in Lund, Sweden, she said: “We’ve heard the good the bad and, quite frankly, the ugly, here today.” Just before she sat down at the end of a world-class presentation that challenged swimming to find a better way of being, she concluded: “I never want to see this kind of thing happen ever again.” Before we explain the context though presentations by Prof Duda and swimmers Allison Wagner, Dana Vollmer and Caitlin Leverenz, we consider
January 10, 2014 -
Olympic champion Dana Vollmer is to have further treatment that could save her from having to go under the surgeon’s knife for a shoulder injury sustained last summer but kept under wraps until now. Out of training in water since Thanksgiving, Vollmer faces up to eight weeks of therapy before a decision on whether surgery can be avoided