Long Term Athlete Development

Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) isa sports development framework that is based on human growth and development.

In short, it is an athlete centred approach to swimming development.

Scottish Swimming’s Swimmer Pathway is based on the LTAD framework and should be used to review and shape swimming programmes in Scotland so that we are all pulling in the same direction and ultimately to get more people swimming, to get existing swimmers swimming more frequently and to add increase to our growing pool of talent.

Scottish Swimming’s Swimmer Pathwayincorporates the following:

Basic Movement Skills – up to 8 years (female); up to 9 years (male)

Structured play, organised games and fun with an emphasis on developing generic movement skills across a range of activities.

Building Technique – 8 to 11 years (female); 9 to 12 years (male)

Building on the generic movement skills developed through FUNdamentals, this starts to shape those skills to an aquatics specific context. Participants learn how to train in a structured environment alongside participation in complementary activities i.e. other sports which use similar energy systems and movement patterns. This stage coincides with a period of peak motor co-ordination.

Training to Train
Building the Engine – 11 to 14 years (female); 12 to 15 years (male) 

There should be an emphasis on maintaining high skill levels whilst putting the swimming skills under increasing pressure through covering longer distances i.e. high volume, at slow speeds i.e. low intensity, to develop an endurance base. The focus should be on training rather than competition.

This stage coincides with a period of rapid growth spurts and peak endurance gains.

Training to Compete: Optimising the Engine – 14 to 16 years (female); 15 to 18 years (male)

There should be a continued emphasis on maintaining high skill levels and high volume, but with increasing intensity. The emphasis should be on developing individual strengths and weaknesses through race practice, simulated race situations and starting to specialise in a particular stroke or distance, but not both. This stage coincides with a period of rapid strength and weight gains.

Training to Win: Maximising the Engine – 16+ years (female); 18+ years (male)

There should be an emphasis on specialisation and optimising performance. Swimmers should be trained for specific events and competitions. As a result, all aspects of training should be individualised with the maintenance of high skill levels and variations to both volume and intensity.