Courtesy Elizabeth Wickham
High school swimming can be a fun, amazing part of your children’s swimming careers. If they are year-round swimmers, high school allows them a moment to shine with their school peers. The school spirit and working together as a team to win league or conference can be thrilling, too. High school swimming may be the very thing to rekindle a spark or enthusiasm. It’s not better than club swimming, it’s different. We hope our kids have the opportunity to experience both.
Here are six tips for parents about high school swimming:
Find out the rules.
Does your swimmer get to practice with their club team instead of high school? Can they compete unattached at USA Swimming meets? Or, do they have to make it to every high school practice? Hopefully, the club and high school coaches are working together to create a schedule with your child’s best interest at heart. These are important things to learn before the season starts so your family and swimmer know what to expect.
Don’t go with second-hand info.
Things change from year to year and even though your mentor swim mom tells you what the coach expects, there may be a new AD, new coach or new rules. It’s best to let our kids talk to coaches to find out what’s allowed and expected, and hopefully, they won’t rely on info they heard from a friend.
Evaluate and reevaluate.
If your swimmer isn’t allowed to participate with their club team for the six to eight weeks of high school season, are they okay with that? If they are told they have to attend every high school practice and are still swimming club, will the extra hour and a half practice hurt them in terms of swimming or school work? Try things out and let your swimmer know it’s okay to reevaluate during the season if it’s not working out for them. Perhaps they can talk to their coaches and work out a plan that is better for them.
Volunteer for the high school team.
Find out where you can help out with the high school parent volunteers. They can be short-handed for scoring, timing, fundraising, snack bars, etc. With many high school swimmers new to the sport, their parents may be thrilled to find someone who knows their way around the pool.
Encourage new swim families.
With attendance in many LSCs taking a downward turn, high school swimming is a great place to promote our sport. Some new high school swimmers may show raw talent and excitement. It may be their first experience with racing and competing in the pool. Keep your eyes out for potential new families and encourage them to continue swimming beyond the high school season.
High school swimming can be a great experience. Don’t worry so much about your swimmer’s times, but get into the school spirit. Enjoy these few short weeks of competition. Your swimmer is making more memories you’ll treasure for years to come.
What advice do you have for swim parents during the high school swim season? How do your swimmers find a balance between club and high school swimming?
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.