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'Cowboy' talks workload, Waterworx and what works

STAR: Waterworx swimmer Mollie O'Callaghan, 13, is a national champion.
STAR: Waterworx swimmer Mollie O'Callaghan, 13, is a national champion. David Nielsen

WATERWORX instructor Paul Sansby has seen it all during his time as an athlete and now head coach.

His experience has helped send numerous Ipswich athletes to state and national championships.

So people generally stand up and take notice when the veteran swim coach talks junior development.

Ahead of the State Swimming Championships in Brisbane starting tomorrow, Sansby shared a unique insight into just how much time and effort goes into preparing young competitors for a shot at state and national glory.

Sansby said it was important to find "the fine line” in managing the workload of young swimmers, as their bodies develop concurrently to spending upwards of 15 hours a week in the pool.

"We find female athletes can handle it better than the male ones, from the ages of eight or nine years old,” Sansby said.

"But first and foremost it's about building that aerobic base and teaching the basic skills.

"We'll have children come in from other programs and say, 'Yeah we've trained for 10 weeks' but there's playing and then there's training.

"I always tell people what we do in the indoor pool is learn to survive - when they come to the outdoor pool, that's when they learn to swim.”

Sansby is not one to mince words.

Listening to him bark out instructions to his swim squad can seem, on face value, quite intimidating.

But ask any of his pupils, and they would not have it any other way.

Working with kids presents further challenges, namely keeping them motivated to spend prolonged periods in the pool.

"The younger age groups especially, they love racing it's what gets them in the pool,” Sansby said.

"But what we need to watch for is the parents expecting their kids to swim faster and faster each week, which just isn't realistic.

"We find the kids will swim a personal best after a solid block of training.

"Right after winter is one time, and another is just after Christmas where we've trained for six to eight weeks.''

Trust the process, and the results will come is the takeaway.

Topics:  ipswich swimming paul sansby waterworx swimming club

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