Long Term Athlete Development

Long Term Athlete Development

Policy Section: Board

Policy Subsection: Sport Development

Policy Title: Long Term Athlete Development

Policy Statement

Swimming Canada is one of a network of agencies and organizations that promote and deliver a step-wise strategy of seamless science-based phases for swimmer development coupled with appropriate evaluation and competition.  Long term athlete development provides all registered swimmers the best opportunity possible to progress to their highest potential, limited only by factors outside the scope of Swimming Canada and the network of agencies and organizations.


Background – At the onset of the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) dialogue in the late 1990’s Swimming Canada sought to embrace a renewal of their athlete development system wherein swimmer retention, longitudinal career progression and multi-faceted skill acquisition are central to that system. Research, empirical review and system analysis identified several ‘symptoms’ or standards of practice that clearly ran contrary to LTAD principles; practices such as traditional competition structures, early specialization, anecdotal coaching development and restricted event development.  It is Swimming Canada’s intent through the direction outlined in the Long Term Athlete Development Policy to apply the principles and practices of LTAD and maximize all registered swimmer opportunities for long term participation.
Statement – Swimming Canada believes that long-term swimmer development is the key to building the foundation for Canada to progress as a world swimming power.  Swimming Canada believes that the most effective evolution in the deployment of the principles of the long term athlete development strategy is a longitudinal roll-out beginning with the Novice or Basic instruction level through to Active for Life or Compete to Win. This is in keeping with the concept that the training and competitive structure must be built to address the needs of each development stage of the swimmer.


Swimming Canada recognizes that the delivery of development programs, including long term athlete development, occurs at the club, Regional and Provincial levels of Swimming Canada and ultimately the key to success in LTAD rests with these organizations.
One of the operational responsibilities in directing the delivery of the long term athlete development strategy will be through provision of the sanction authority to the Provincial Sections (PSO).  In the role of delivery of development programs, each PSO will be responsible to ensure that competition sanctions are granted to appropriate development mechanisms as outlined in the long term athlete development strategy. These mechanisms will be the control of appropriate competitive opportunities through specific event selection and competition exposure at the appropriate frequency.

Through research and consultation Swimming Canada has developed and will continue to develop a long term athlete development framework to guide and lead the process. Swimming Canada must also play a change agent role in LTAD.  Barriers to change at all levels – coach, club, region, provincial and national levels – must be overcome.  All Swimming Canada education and certification programs, directed at officiating, coaching, parents and club development, will be consistent with and support the long term athlete development strategy. Swimming Canada will ensure that “teaching moments” that address LTAD are included in every Swimming Canada driven consultation process and interaction designed to develop coaches, parents, clubs and support of the PSO.

Body Action
Board- Program Policy Committee
  1. Ensure that all policies of the Board related to Athlete Development are aligned with the long-term athlete development strategy.
  2. Conduct an evaluation of the progress of the milestones/goals/programs of LTAD




  1. Communicates a strong position concerning the role and effective implementation of long term athlete development strategy swimmer development framework for the future of Canadian swimming.
  2. Develops a reporting and evaluation system that regularly monitors the effectiveness of domestic development, programming and competition.
  3. Develops and continually evolves the overall communication and consultation strategy to lead change among the coaches, clubs, PSOs and Swimming Canada concerning LTAD.

In that the control to grant sanctions is held by Swimming Canada and is provided to the PSO under the by-law of the Swimming Canada, Swimming Canada reserves the right to authorize sanction authority to a PSO contingent on advancing the constructs of the Long Term Athlete Development.


Swimming Canada By-Law #1
Swimming Canada Long Term Athlete Development Strategy

Review and Approval

Approved by the Board:    December 11, 2006
Reviewed and approved:    March 28, 2009
Reviewed and approved:     January 18, 2014

Appendix 1.

Competition Program

The keys to successful provincial competition program include:

  • The competition format is pre-determined and planned
  • The frequency of competition is appropriate and regulated
  • Competition duration is appropriate and limited by the skill level of the swimmer
  • The competitive schedule and format are planned from the bottom-up (Novice to Provincial Level) with age appropriate events and distances
  • The IM and “aerobic-based” freestyle events must be used as a progression measure

The provincial competition program must be initiated by the technical expertise of the PSO. Best case scenario will be as follows.

The individual(s) responsible for provincial technical direction will:

  • develop a competitive model
  • receive approval of the provincial coaching representative body
  • receive approval from the provincial board of directors
  • review competitions schedule and format with Swimming Canada technical committee
  • empowering the PSO to manage the competitive program via the sanctioning process