Coaches Blog


Dec 2017

What a difference a day makes..

What a difference a day makes used to be a famous song. Twelve months into the role and I am realising what a difference 365 days makes. When I first walked through the stuck by ice doors of the Aquadome one year ago, I did not expect the swimmers and coaches to transform in such a way as they have. Since then a few things have changed:


  • A criteria of what it takes to be a performance athlete that is suitable to each level of an athlete’s development
  • The organisation of squads has occurred with a timetable to match their suitability.
  • Like-minded coaches have been hired who are of a suitable calibre to take the athletes to performance levels.
  • Each and every child from Early Performance and higher have had a review of where they are and where they should be heading with individual targets along the way.
  • Regular three month visits to every club within HST.


  • This has been the biggest shift in the past year. All coaches have put technical developments far above the “going fast” and it is paying off in dividends.
  • We have a large databank of analysis on each athlete where we can communicate with home coaches over areas needing or skills that are improving, as well as, discuss with athletes who want to see where progressions can be made.
  • We have training video analysis on a regular basis with the “Performance” squad athletes and plan to develop this to further down the program in 2018. This is also accessible over training weekends an hour before the day starts.
  • Athletes are far more efficient in the water than they were 12 months ago and are able to understand the minutia of swimming technique.


  • We, as a team, surpassed our National Age group top ten figures from 2016, resulting in some of the highest number of finalists HST has had before.
  • We, as a team, followed that up with a great summer championships, resulting in more medals than previous years.
  • Personal bests from Early Performance and Skills squads have seen a rise on a meet by meet basis – with some younger athletes building in confidence to try further distance events
  • And finishing the season off with a new Junior record in the 4×200 relay by Jenna, Louise, Katie and Brooke – all of which should be really proud of themselves.


Now none of this would have been possible without the huge help from the committee of HST. The fantastic support of all the lead coaches – Stevie, John, Viv, Val, Kirsty, Stuart, Cath and Craig. The ever present support of Thorsten and Allan (regulars at the HST training weekends) and the HST coaches of Jen, Dawn, Maureen and Jim. Each of whom deserve a huge amount of thanks for all the work they put in.


Well, what happens next?


Firstly, it is Christmas and New Year – you know what that means? Presents, stuffing your face and holidays from school – all of which richly deserved for the hard work this year. However, I am also keen not to lose focus on the goal of continuing the momentum of the previous year into 2018. With this in mind, I am pushing the idea that on the odd occasion when boredom kicks in and you are starting to feel that bit out of shape, I would pick up some sessions at the pool when it is open. I have put some sessions below to maintain the fitness over this block:

Set 1

15 x 50     Every 5th on RP   50s
12 x 50   Every 4th on RP 55s
9 x 50   Every 3rd on RP 60s
6 x 50   Every 2nd on RP 70s
3 x 50   Every 1 on RP 90s


Set 2)


4 x 75     50 Max 25 Ez + WB   1 min 45
2 x 100   Max 2 min 30
6 x 75   Every 2nd Max + WB 2 min
4 x 50   Max 1 min 30
8 x 75     3 Max / 1 Ez   2 min



Set 3)


1×100 Cruise 1min 30
1×50 Race Pace 1 min
1×150 Cruise 2min 30
2×50 Race Pace 1 min
1×200 Cruise 3min 30
3×50 Race Pace 1 min
1×250 Cruise 4 min 30
3 rounds          


And as for 2018……


We have a whole lot in store.

We will be running an education day on the February training weekend covering all the ins and outs of HST – come along ask some questions, suggest some team ideas and hear about the exciting future of this team.

We will be continuing our ideas from 2017 with a plan to deliver it more frequently to the younger squads within the program

We will be putting on a huge team day in June.

We will be planning our first away trips to Luton, Derby and maybe a few other locations.

We will be competing at the National meets on offer in April, June, July and December.

Maybe, just maybe, we might have a few more records in 2018 to look forward to.


Now I have set my glass of milk out and a carrot out for Rudolph, I think there is really only one more thing to say


Hope your festive period goes swimmingly and I will see you all in 2018.




Jul 2017

Sessions for the holidays

Understandably, during the holidays some will want to rest and chill out after a hard season. However, not everyone will be keen to sit about all day, every day, so I have below added a few sessions if boredom does overcome you and your chlorine addiction takes over.

Session 1 (Fitness work)

3×200 effort “8/10” r.15
100 max r.2 min
3-4 rounds

Session 2 (Fitness work)

3×100 effort “8/10” r.10
2×200 effort “7/10” r.15
1×300 effort “6/10” r.20
4×50 best effort r.30
2 rounds

Session 3 (Technique work)
400 – 100 “7” cycles; 50 kick; 100 “6”; 50 kick; 100 “5”
2×300 IM 6-7 cycles
4×100 IMO – 4 kicks off every wall
2-3 rounds

Session 4 (Speed)
20×25’s r.20
3-4 min rest
2 rounds

Session 5 (Maximum speed work)
1×75 All out r.2 min
2×50 All out r. 1 min 30
3×25 All out r. 1 min
2 rounds


Please note, that these are all main sets – how you want to warm up is entirely up to yourself. HST have managed to keep a few lanes spare during the usual HST time so you will not have slow public members holding you up (only slow HST swimmers).


Enjoy your school break and I will see you all again at the start of August when pre-season really begins!



Jul 2017

What has happened in six months?

Since my last post it has been a long time. There have been many a hard training session, many a training weekend and many a few good meets. Most notably have been the three most recent competitions (ND Development, Scottish Open and Scottish Summer).

Although my attendance was not there at the ND Development meet, I did manage to see the PB rates in quite a few of the events. It struck me by surprise about how quickly swimmers are transferring those skills learned in training into the race environment. The Scottish Open and the Scottish Summer meet were displays of the older and experienced athletes transformation over six months into regular high performing athletes who are now understanding where there standard is, at present, and where there potential can take them. Again, PBs and finals were not just regular but almost normality.

However, having said all of this, this was not where my focus on assessing HST has been. Performance will play a key part in my role as Lead Performance Development Coach of HST, however, the true principles of technique, mindset and teamwork are the key foundations I view as essential to this program. We must get these elements right so that performance is inevitable, not just striven for.

In the past six months, I have been impressed:

  • with how athletes are now dealing with feedback and setbacks alike in a positive and constructive manner.
  • That skills such as efficiency in the water and lower stroke counts have now taken centre stage in training, rather than that of “how much, how quickly”.
  • That, most importantly, it is refreshing to see a HST TEAM who warm up together (both on land and pool); a HST TEAM who cheer on each other at meets; and a HST TEAM, in the most part, are respective and empathetic to those around them.



Unfortunately, I am not in business of accepting where we are. I truly feel there are rooms for improvement within our team and always will be. To be better we must strive to be better.

As we will now be entering a new season, in August, I think it vital that you, as athletes:

  • Strive to understand strengths and weakness’ alike and learn to deal with the feedback that seems hard to take;
  • Strive to improve your technique for next season and question EVERY element of your stroke to assess where you can make small adjustments.
  • Most importantly, question how you can be a better team mate and look out for fellow swimmers either in HST or in your home clubs.

We have travelled a long way in six months, but the party journey has just started.





May 2017

The Art of Failing

I remember my first ever Nationals race being petrified and genuinely nervous of what could happen: “will my trunks fall down?”, “will I miscount my lengths?”, “will I complete the race?” etc. All of these were not to come true (fortunately for the crowd) but I was so pent up about doing something wrong, I could not envisage what REALLY could happen – “could I set a new pb”, “could I win a medal” etc.


I think this is what some of us can suffer from regularly – we see the negativity and it can stop us succeeding. Unfortunately, most people nowadays avoid the aspects that can cause a failure and thus only place themselves where they feel most comfortable. This, ultimately, allows themselves to succeed but never pushing our limitations of what they REALLY can do. Wayne Gretzky (a famous ice hockey player) once said: “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.


I think in swimming, as in life, failures happen – and frequently. This frequent failure is not something to shy away from, but, contrastingly, the opposite viewpoint should be taken. We should embrace when things go wrong and learn from those failures – as this is truly how development happens. The more you strive for something new and fall short; the more you learn from why that happened and can better it for next time. “Failure is success in progress”- Albert Einstein.


How can we apply that in training and racing?


·        I would recommend every swimmer experiment with new ways of being efficient in the water or a new race tactics – some may need the coaches’ help with this. Trying out what works and doesn’t will refine your stroke and race ability for years to come.


·        New challenges such as a bigger meet, a harder training session, a new stroke/distance in a race are all ways in which we can learn to be successful – not avoid through fear of failing.


·        Set goals that will inspire you to great things and learn along the small setbacks.


·        Lastly, never forget to celebrate every new milestone. Breaking out of the “ordinary” you into a new extra-“ordinary” you, is something that is always something worthy of a pat on the back.



In HST, a “growth” mind-set will be high on the agenda of aspirations for each athlete. This will serve to be the main crux for each squad and child’s development. Be positive over the negatives and remember success is not void of failings but the accumulation of learned failings.




Mar 2017

Competition Warm up

Please feel free to copy and print off for meets:


Land warm up:


General loosen stretching – 5 min (Cardio & Arms, Legs)

AM: Co-ordination work;              PM: Posture/stretching – 5 min

Core development – 5 min

Strength development – 5 min (Chest, Triceps, Legs)


Pool warm up:


Loosen body:     200-400 (first half with fins)        [sprinters do 300-600]

Loosen legs:       100-300 kick                                   [sprinters do 200-400]

Skill:                     8×50’s or 4×100’s (Sprinters not to do)

Speed:                 8×50’s RP (400+) OR              

                             3-4×50’s RP (200m) Last one from a dive (25m if short course pool pool) OR

                             3×25 1) Push 2+3) Dive (100m) OR                  

                             3x15m 1) Free legs 2) Push 3) Dive (50m)    

Recovery:            200-400 warm up


Remember that being part of HST requires athletes to be a leader/role model for younger swimmers. I expect that by understanding this, athletes in HST will lead and direct all younger athletes in their home program through this routine.




Feb 2017

Familiarity does not make improvements

When I swam, firstly, it was a good few years ago – before WIFI!!! It was something I did, rather than actively being involved with. It became routine and, like routine, seemed to continue week to week and year to year. This was not a necessarily a bad thing, far from it – the more I trained, the fitter I got, with personal bests a-plenty. As I got older, however, this ceased fairly rapidly – the more I did, did not improve me. I trained just as hard as I had done before, what had been the issue?


It was only until I left the pool did I realise that the “how” element of the training, not necessarily the “how much”, was the definitive aspect of what improvements are made on. Yes, I had gotten bigger as an age grouper (and possibly fitter too) through my training, but, inevitably, the inability in myself to spent time improving my mistakes, ultimately, led to the quick demise of personal bests.


The vast number of HST athletes with have heard me talk about quality and standards and its huge need to be present on every session, if not every length or stroke. It is not just an action but, in its purest form, a mind-set. Rarely, in our lives, do we spend time on details, most things pass us by – especially those that are familiar to us. It is almost identical in swimming. Every freestyle stroke can be as repetitive (boring?) as the next; as can every butterfly turn or breaststroke kick. It is this familiarity, or lack of attention, that will allow you as athletes to engrain the same old mistakes day in- day out. Being used to something is cause for complacency and it is something that can vastly effect you, as an athlete, in a negative way.


Every aspect of every length should be a cause for scrutiny and examination (as well as experimentation to what works and does not). This takes time, effort and frustration but is surely worth it (over “working hard” on staying in the same spot). Every athlete in HST must have the incessant need to self-correct and self-better themselves every time they go near a workout – completion is not the goal. Just completing is the easy option, the option you can pat yourself on the back and call it a day “well done”. I expect, as a group, our attention to detail will be one of our finest qualities over time.


It is in the finer detail that allows you the opportunity to amend and better the overall athlete which will make you swim better. My advice is treat every session/turn/stroke/push up like a new one – one that has to be better than the one before. Do not be familiar, do not be normal and do not get used to where you are – as that is not where you want to be.



Yours in swimming,



Feb 2017

Coaches Blog

Firstly, an introduction. My name is Jimmy Orr. I was head coach of West Dunbartonshire for the best part of 9 years before embarking on this new role that is Highland Performance Development coach. My philosophy is simple – that the basics need to be right before anything is done further. I, furthermore, believe, that too many skip this stage, and believe it arbitrary, if they want to move ahead in the sport/move faster. I intend to bring this fundamental technical ideology to all levels within HST, and make sure it is pivotal to every training session.

I plan to aim high. Settling on being merely average is not what I would expect of a performance athlete, nor should it be expected of the Performance Development coach. I plan to be contactable regularly in one way, shape or form. This allows any issue to be dealt with timeously and efficiently. I will be assessing and supporting every club under the HST bracket. This should mean I know exactly how each club is developing; what is needed; and how I can support. I plan to take each athlete as an individual, developing their own needs and goals as unique as themselves – equity not necessarily equality

Lastly, what does it take to be a performance athlete within HST – what does the swimmer need to give back? It will take CONSISTENCY OF PRACTISE, dealing with setbacks and a lot of focus on doing tasks properly. I stress the first element because without practice, the technique, that is integral to being better, will simply be detrained and be lost. Consistency of this practise is what ultimately will define what you get out of the sport. As Anthony Robbins says “you are exactly where you want to be” – if you want to be better you must strive at that. This is why, to be an athlete within HST, the ultimate criteria will be the measurement of how each athlete, within the squad, strives to be better. If I feel that an athlete is not applying him/herself fully for the position that they have within the group, their position will be under scrutiny and may, ultimately, be lost.

It should be a fun adventure with many successes along the way. It may take time to build this club to a level and standard that is a reflection of the aspirations and goals I have for it. I hope you join and support me on this pathway as there will be a lot of success for those swimmers willing to.


Yours in swimming,