Communication is always a key to successful teaching, particularly when the students are spending most of the time with their ears under water. At The Race Club, we have found the Swim Talker communication devices to be an invaluable tool for getting our messages across.
With our Swim Talkers, each swimmer places a small device over or near the ears, secured in the back and the sides by the goggle strap. The device doesn’t have to be placed directly on the ear, since it uses bone conduction, but it does help make it easier to hear the coach when it is closer to or on top of the ear. Comfort with the device on has never been an issue.
There are seven different communication channels on the Swim Talker, using Blue Tooth technology, and an unlimited number of swimmers can listen in on each channel. In other words, one coach can talk to all of the swimmers at once, or up to seven coaches can speak to up to seven different groups of swimmers in the pool at any time. In our camps, we often give an introductory talk explaining some important fundamental for the stroke or technique we are teaching, where the entire group can listen in. Then, we break up into individual smaller groups where our coaches can communicate directly with the swimmers in their group by changing the channel. We find the multichannel communications to be extremely valuable for our teaching in this manner. The transmitter microphone for each coach has a hands free head set, so the hands can be used for stop watch or commands while speaking.
With the technical teaching that we offer at The Race Club, correcting our swimmers in real time is extremely important. The moment our coaches detect an error in technique, they will correct it at that moment, rather than waiting until the swimmer returns to the wall. In this manner, we find that we can gain more improvements in technique than we could before. Further, whenever we comment on a swimmer’s poor technique, which is often, all of the swimmers on that channel will hear the message. While they may not be making the same mistake, it does reinforce the correct technique for all of them.
If there is a downside to the Swim Talkers, it would be that a few extra minutes are required at the beginning of practice to place them on the swimmers. If the group is large, that can cut into the practice time. They also don’t hold a charge very long and have to be charged at the end of each practice, which is a nuisance. Being an underwater electronic device means that durability is also an issue, so we send back units often for replacements.
Overall, even given these negatives, I would still rank the Swim Talker as one of the most important advancements in our ability to teach and recommend their use widely. Occasionally, when I forget to bring them to the pool, I am painfully reminded of their value by trying to remember the five things I spotted wrong to tell a swimmer when he or she gets back to the wall. Usually, I cannot remember all five of them and even if I did, the swimmer wouldn’t remember them either. Correcting the swimmer in real time at the moment the mistake is made is clearly the best way to teach. It is safe to say that I don’t like coaching today without Swim Talkers!
Yours in Swimming,