Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
I have a freshman swimming in college and I have to remind myself that this is a transition year. Her coaches, workouts and team are new to her, she’s working out harder than ever. And she’s not getting best times at dual meets. I’m not freaking out about it. The shaved and tapered meets are still to come. It’s also possible that she won’t get best times this season.
When kids are little and learning this great sport, they seem to drop time often. As their bodies grow stronger and bigger, they drop and drop. In their late teens, they may not get a personal best except when they are shaved, tapered and wearing a fast suit.
I was asked repeatedly by parents of youngers at age group meets when my daughter was age 16 to 18 — “Was that a best time for her?”
I’d say, “No. Not close.”
“Why not? What do you think is wrong?” was the typical concerned question that followed.
I would explain about the phenomenon that swimmers don’t get best times at every meet when they are older — in my daughter’s case, age 16 on. I described training cycles and that best times would come at target meets.
Here’s my three tips about best times:
You have to trust your kid’s coach. Don’t second guess what they are doing — especially in front of your swimmer. “Coaches Coach. Parents Parent. Swimmers Swim.”
Don’t focus on the times — or you may kill your swimmer’s enthusiasm for the sport.
Trust the experience. If your child is swimming as an older teenager, they must love the physical and mental toughness of practice and competition — or they would’ve quit long ago. They are building life skills of grit, determination and perseverance.
Do you have tips about personal bests? How was your swimmer’s freshman year in college?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog: http://bleuwater.me/.