Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
“Why is the focus on the top swimmers? Why don’t younger kids get more attention?”
I heard this more than once as a volunteer board member, club newsletter editor and PR person.
In reality, the younger children are the future of the team. They are important. The coaches know this. They want them to stay with swimming and be successful. One of the keys to a young child’s success is having fun.
We can help by not putting pressure on our kids. If there’s too much emphasis on times — or a comparison with other swimmers on the team — we may unknowingly dampen our kids’ enjoyment.
As far as older kids getting attention, the elite swimmers do get more press. For example, I sent our local newspaper stories they would most likely use, like a local kid making it to the Olympics, or breaking Dara Torres’ high school record, or a swimmer going to Australia on the National team.
These stories should be inspirational to our younger swimmers and their parents. It gave me a sense of team pride. I hoped that pride would be shared by our team and community.
The club newsletter gave us a chance to write about more kids. We had a monthly profile on swimmers and covered each group. Today, social media like Facebook is a great way to highlight all swimmers.
My swimmers were young once, too. They looked up to older kids and had the desire to follow in their footsteps. The elite swimmers set an example, a bar raised for our younger kids.
Newer parents may not realize that many of the top swimmers on their club weren’t the fastest 10-year-olds on the team. They may have never heard about drop dead talented kids — who no longer swim. The top swimmers worked their way through the ranks. Most likely, they came to practice regularly and worked hard.
They also love to swim and have fun.
Young swimmers are important. They are the future of the team.
Kids who have fun keep swimming.
The top swimmers may not have been the fastest or most talented when they were younger.
Elite swimmers are amazing role models for the younger team members.
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/.