Written and courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
I helped out at a high school swim meet last week and it reminded me of how exciting the high school season can be. Hopefully, your club team and high school coaches will work together and communicate. I’ve witnessed some instances where a high school coach wouldn’t allow swimmers to compete or attend practice with their club. The kids had to make the tough choice of whether or not to swim club or high school, and not get the experience of both.
“When a swimmer, a club coach, and a high school coach are all on the same page, high school swimming is a great experience,” said Jeff Conwell, CEO and Head Coach of Piranha Swim Team and Palm Springs High School Varsity Coach. “It should come down to what does the athlete want first and foremost. If an athlete’s number one goal in swimming is to qualify for Olympic Trials or qualify for Junior Nationals in the mile, I can see why high school swimming could get in the way. As a high school coach, I would respect that and make concessions to allow for that athlete to pursue those goals as a priority and compete on my team as well,” Conwell added.
“As a club coach, my goal is to produce kids prepared for college swimming but in a way that makes them want to swim in college, not burned out before they get there. And that’s a fine line. Not everyone is made for that. High school swimming can be a positive part of that. It’s great in teaching the kids to race when tired, swim for place and points more than time, and to step up on relays on a regular basis.”
Here are a few other reasons why it’s a good idea for swimmers to compete on their high school teams:
Competing for high school is more about the team, kind of like college swimming, rather than focusing on the individual swimmer. Although it’s important to swim fast, winning the race becomes the focus rather than a best time. It’s scoring points for the team that matter. How exciting is it to watch a close relay and have two high school teams at the end of the lane cheering and screaming?
Finally, after years and years of training and hearing friends ask over and over, “Practice, again?” the world knows why. All those hours staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool pay off. It’s a moment for club swimmers to shine and get a little glory in a sport that doesn’t get much attention from their high school peers.
One of my kids said his favorite thing about high school swimming was riding the bus to and from meets. Hanging out with a group of kids and traveling to meets is fun. High school swimming can be less pressure and bring an element of excitement and keep our kids passionate and enjoying the experience.
Our kids get to help out brand new swimmers. For some families, the only exposure they have to the sport of swimming is through high school. It’s an opportunity for club parents and swimmers to reach out to newbie families and hopefully get them hooked on swimming and into your club team. We can be ambassadors and let these families know how great swimming has been for our kids.
High school offers lots of opportunities to race. Instead of a meet once a month, your kids will race at dual meets weekly. They’ll be racing in events wherever the team needs them–and they’ll often race tired.
Why do you think it’s important to swim for high school?
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/.