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After-School Activities Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged

Beginning Competitive Swimming

Your child has incredible potential if they follow their heart in sports. Parents tend to struggle and put their children in a plethora of sports that aren’t a good fit before finding the one. As time goes on, kids start to weed out the sports that they’re either uninterested in, or that they might not have the natural talent for. As a competitive swimmer for 10 years now, I went through this process. I started off in soccer, than baseball and than basketball. I was signed up for the conventional list of sports that young boys are subject to. It took me until the age of eight to seriously consider competitive swimming. Although the popularity of competitive swimming is growing (think superstars like Michael Phelps), most people still associate the sport will lounging at the beach during the summer. This article will list the different levels of swimming for parents who are thinking of starting their kids with swimming from a young age.

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Swim Lessons

When considering swimming as your childs main sport, start them out in advanced swim lessons to see if they can pick up the basics of each stroke. Observe the swim lessons, and see how your child moves through the water, and whether or not they enjoy it. Are they picking up backstroke or struggling to stay afloat? Most often, kids will enjoy the feeling of being in the cool water on a hot summers day and will want to get in the pool regardless of their fear level. Everyone loves swimming but not everyone is a good match for a competitive team.

Summer Leagues

If your child aces swim lessons, consider signing them up for a casual summer swim team that you’ll find in most neighborhoods. This is a low pressure environment with coaches that most likely have been involved with the team for several years, and know how to coach children of varying degrees. Most summer league coaches actually swim on the same teams that they are coaching, so the level of dedication to a team is always present and good for your childs morale. I’m currently the head coach of my neighborhood swim team, and the environment that cabana teams creates and fosters makes the sport really fun. Summer league swim teams have practices during the summer only that do not cut into the school year; a major bonus if your child gets a lot of homework. It’s also a good option for your child if they feel burned out after a few months since they’ll have a whole school year to rest. Summer leagues tend to be where many serious swimmers find their passion. You can ask a lot of year-round competitors and they’ll tell you this is where they started to fall in love with the sport.

Year-Round Swimming

If your child/children have already tried out summer league teams and you’re sure that you want to dive in to the world of competitive swimming, you should try out for club team that trains all year-round. These teams are much more intense than the summer league teams since they provide a much larger staff of coaches and are run more like a business. I started swimming on a club team when I was 11 years old and swam with that club team up until I graduated high school. Club teams offer a competitive environment where swimmers can grow individually, but also be a part of relay teams and make friends that they can train with during their whole swimming career. On the flip side, be prepared because these teams are very intense and undoubtedly take up time as well as effort from the whole family’s life. It also capitalizes the most on the psychological aspect of swimming which requires discipline to become a star.

Why You Should Consider Swimming

One of the great things about swimming is that it’s both an individual and a team sport. Unlike many sports, swimming offers independence for each swimmer, since each swimmer is responsible for their own performance, and pushes themselves as hard as they want to. Having one bad day doesn’t lose an entire game, it’s a more independent experience. Each swimmer has to trust themselves and their coaches to be able to achieve the correct amount of training and rest. The team environment is essential to swimming. Having training partners makes tough practices much easier, and the best performances that many swimmers accomplish are when they are swimming on relays with the support of their teammates behind them.

Swimming should be looked at more when deciding what sports children should sample, since it provides both mental and physical benefits. Swimming uses all muscles in the body, and is very popular among adults since it is safer on joints and muscles. Swimming helped me get accepted to college, and undoubtedly helped me to stay on track with school and create a network of friends I will have for the rest of my life. So try out swimming when signing your child up for every sport you can think of. They might love it or they’ll at the very least learn how to swim and have a skill for life.