As your child gets older (8 and up) and seems like an accomplished swimmer (can swim 3 out of 4 racing strokes proficiently, dives, treads, etc…), perhaps you’ve wondered if swim team may be a good fit for your budding swim star. Here are some helpful tips to think about:
1) Competitive swimming is a sport that gets better as children mature. Starting later often produces better results and increases the odds of longevity without burnout. Although your child would be part of a team, it’s very much a solitary sport in terms of performance. And it’s compounded by the monotony of swimming laps without any outside stimulation. In a sense, it can be incredibly boring. For kids that love it, it doesn’t matter but at a younger age, when children crave more stimulation and social interaction, this aspect could be a turnoff.
2) If you’re interested in a particular team and you have a child on the younger side of elementary school, make sure the team has a well developed junior team program that focuses primarily on technique. Additionally, the practice obligations should not be as intense as it can be for older swimmers.
3) Swim team practices are typically always much later in the afternoon and even into the evening. Many teams make a 4 day a week practice mandatory, while others are more flexible. It’s important that you and your child are ready to commit to the rules of that team when you start so do find out if the team has any leeway for younger swimmers or if they are amenable to which days you come and if you can switch it up week to week depending on other obligations.
4) Competitions for some teams are also mandatory while others are fine if you just attend practices. I do think attending some swim meets, even just to support teammates, can be a great experience (Warning! Most meets are far and getting up at ungodly hours is part of the deal, I’m afraid). Meets are quite fun and exciting and participating in one or two can really give a budding swimmer a sense of whether or not this is something they really want to continue pursuing.
5) Make sure you check out a swim practice before bringing your child to tryout. Find out what the requirements are for making the team – typically it’s being able to swim 100 yards (4 lengths) of freestyle with side breathing and then 50 yards (2 lengths) of one or two other strokes; or some combination like that. Definitely have your child practice with their regular instructor before attending a swim team tryout.
If you are actively looking for a team to join, our office has an extensive list of teams and the fees, requirements, practice schedules and coaches. Feel free to contact us for more information if you’re interested.