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Blog guest - Nikola Acin

Alphabet of Swimming – Swimming at the service of boys and girls

Swimming at the service of children growing up: swim and have fun!

Nikola Aćin, a member of the Serbian National Swimming Team, a swimmer of the “Proleter” swimming club from Zrenjanin

This is a story about “an alphabet” of swimming and growing up. A story about a swimmer who was helped by swimming and his friends to master each “letter” of the alphabet book of swimming, step by step.

At the age of four, he learnt the basic "letters" of the alphabet book of swimming. As a child, he realized that he was a friend with the water, and that swimming was his leisure thing, sport number one. At the age of seven, he "jumped out" his group of friends in the water and set out to conquer the largest "playground" in the world. Thanks to his fighting spirit in the water, healthy work habits, his commitment to swimming from an early age, Nikola Aćin is now, at the age of 22, a member of the 4x100m freestyle relay team of Serbia, side by side with Andrej Barna, Velimir Stjepanović and Uroš Nikolić, the team which will participate in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The rest of the story is about Nikola Aćin, a swimmer from "Proleter" from Zrenjanin (Serbia), who is currently studying and training in the USA, at Purdue University and is looking forward to swimming with the Serbian national swimming team at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

As a Swimming Dad #Blog guest, Nikola Aćin is giving us answers to the following questions: What are the most important letters of the alphabet for children, future swimmers? Which words from the "alphabet book of swimming" are the first to be learnt, and which are easiest to forget? What is important for parents to know about the "alphabet" of swimming? Swimming at the service of boys and girls who are just entering the pool is…?

Knowledge shared is knowledge squared. Is that the case with swimming too?

I fully agree with that. In my career so far, I’ve got a bunch of useful tips from swimmers like Ivan Lenđer and Ivan Guteša and coaches like Dejan Pejinović and Nebojša Đurkin (he trained Aćin from the age of 7 to the age of 16). These tips directly influenced the course of my career and changed my approach to swimming. I think that swimming becomes very interesting once you are surrounded by people who are willing to share information and personal experience with you. Sharing makes friends and precious memories, which is the most beautiful part of this sport. I'm sure that former swimmers don't remember most of their personal records, but they are very happy to remember their old friends and memories from their swimming days.

If swimming is the alphabet of every child, what are its most important letters for future swimmers?

I believe that beginners (children) should not rush and that patience is crucial in this period. Please note that this works both for the coach and the parents. First of all, the fear of water must be completely overcome, and then the development of basic technical elements such as strokes, footwork and breathing can take place. After that, I believe that it is necessary to teach children how to use all four swimming techniques, because if these are mastered at an earlier age, things will be much easier in the further development of swimmers.

Which words from the "alphabet of swimming" are the first to be learnt, and which are easiest to forget?

I believe that the (somersault) turn is learnt relatively early, and it is quickly forgotten if not practiced often.

Who gave you the most valuable tip in swimming, the one you would like to share with the youngest, future swimmers?

I can't remember exactly who told me this first, but most top swimmers would agree with this. I think it is vital to enjoy this sport because that is the only way you can truly love swimming and have a long career in the sport. The path to success is not a linear path going upwards all the time, the path to success is full of obstacles that often seem insurmountable. It is a normal thing to always strive for a better result, but if you focus only on that, there are great chances you will not survive in sports for long. No matter how good you are at one point, things often don’t go well and there will be a period of stagnation or regression. In those moments, it is necessary for swimmers to remember why they started practicing competitive swimming, because that will allow them to see that they started practicing this sport because they had fun in training and they really liked the sport.

There are always parents who "hear" about swimming for the first time. What is important for parents to know about the "alphabet" of swimming?

In my opinion, I think that parents should not meddle in their children's swimming career too much. It is important for parents to trust their child's coach and leave the coaching job to a professional. The most important role of parents is to provide constant support to their children from the very beginning and not to interfere too much in their children's swimming career. I think that parents who cross that "line" without noticing it actually put pressure on the child, which in turn can distract them from sports.

Every spoken word speaks about us, the way we are, what we want.. is it the same in swimming?

Absolutely. Every word, and even our body language says a lot about us and that is why I think it is important that swimmers and coaches pay more attention to it. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch the finals of the European or World Championships or the Olympic Games and pay attention to the body language of swimmers there and the way they express their self-confidence without saying a single word.

Swimming is a very difficult sport and almost every day the coach will ask you to do something that seems impossible or too difficult. In those moments, it is very easy to say something like: "this is too difficult" or "this is impossible". With that attitude, you have already given up and the chances of being able to do what the coach asks you to do have become very slim at that very moment. Just as we train the body on a daily basis, the training of the mind must not be neglected.

Swimming at the service of boys and girls who are just entering the pool is…?

To learn to swim and have fun!

Swimming career: Nikola Aćin became a member of the Serbian junior national team in 2015. As a junior, he was a member of the relay team that won third place at the Balkan Games in 2017. In the same year, he participated in the European Junior Championships in Israel, where he took the 17th position in the 50m crawl. At the end of 2017, he broke the junior record of Serbia twice in the 100m backstroke in the 25m pool. Senior career: he participated in the European Championships in 2018 and 2021, as well as in the World Championships in 2019. He is currently a member of the 4x100m freestyle relay team, which will participate in the Olympic Games. At the NCAA Championship (First Division) in 2021, he finished 8th in the 100 yards freestyle.

Education: He is studying in the USA at Purdue University, where he will soon be in his last year of studies. Pursuing a degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Clinical Exercise Physiology. He is interested in competitive swimming and strength & conditioning for sports performance. He’s passion is coaching, sports science, and the pursuit of finding new ways to achieve optimized athletic performance. H aspire to get a master's degree in Exercise Physiology.


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