Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is a sports development framework that is based on human growth and development. This framework acts as guidance to optimise the training of young swims alongside their physical development.

A number of scientists have reported that there are critical periods in the life of a young person in which the effects of training can be maximised. This has led to the notion that young people should be exposed to specific types of training during periods of rapid growth and that the types of training should change according to individual patterns of growth and the stage of their development.

The LTAD framework is based on these general growth patterns of children, but it is common to see significant differences in an individual’s rate of growth and their physical & mental maturation which needs to be taken into account.

There are two ways in which young swimmers can improve their performance:

  • Training
  • Growth & development

These findings have been used by Dr Istvan Balyi to devise a five stage LTAD framework that has been adapted to swimming:

  • FUNdamental - basic movement literacy (female 5-8yrs, male 6-9yrs)
  • SwimSkills - building technique (female 8-11yrs, male 9-12yrs)
  • Training to train - building the engine (female 11-16 years, male 12-15yrs)
  • Training to compete - optimising the engine (female 14-16yrs, male 15-18yrs)
  • Training to win - maximising the engine (female 16+yrs, male 18+yrs)