Ask Swim Mom: Can I help my swimmer get faster?

by SwimSwam 5

January 02nd, 2019 Swim Mom

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

Dear Swim Mom:

My daughter was the fastest in our area when she was in the 9-10 age group. Now that she’s 13, she’s no longer the fastest. In fact, she only has a couple AA times. I’m afraid she’ll lose interest in swimming. Is there anything I can do to make her stay with swimming, or help her to get faster? Thanks for any help you can give me.

Anonymous Swim Parent

Dear Anonymous,

Your daughter probably received a lot of attention for being fast at a young age and it may be disappointing for her to swim without the accolades. Kids grow and develop at their own rates and someone who was fast at a younger age will experience their peers catching up with them eventually. The important thing to remember is not to focus on her times at age 13. If you want your child to keep swimming, ask if she’s having fun and tell her that you love to watch her swim. Be supportive without putting on pressure to perform. It sounds like your daughter puts enough pressure on herself that it’s not a good idea to compare her with other swimmers.

Swimming has to be her sport and she shouldn’t be swimming solely to please her coach or parents. Yes, we want our kids to continue swimming to experience all the valuable life lessons like perseverance, time management, teamwork and good sportsmanship. With hard work and drive, faster times will surely be in her future. You can also ask your swim coach about private lessons if you think your daughter would benefit or enjoy them.

Our kids need to love swimming for many more reasons than getting attention for their successes. Of course it is a part of it, but they should be having fun with friends, enjoy their team’s culture, look forward to practice and reap the rewards for their hard work. Plus, love swimming for the sake of swimming.

What advice do you have for “Anonymous Swim Parent” who wants to help their child stick with swimming and get faster?

Do you have a question for “Ask Swim Mom?” If so, email Elizabeth Wickham at [email protected] and your question may appear in an upcoming column.

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.

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2 years ago

As an official I see many 12 year old girls get out of the water, stand up…and they keep standing up. Then they step out of the gutter and are taller than me–and I’m 5-10. The 11/12 and 13/14 age groups are very difficult for some girls since so many grow and mature quite early compared to others.

My own daughter has always been relatively short and slender. It didn’t make that much of a difference when she was a 10 & Under, but as her peers began to grow and put on weight, they had incredible advantages over her after the dive and each wall. Many times she would catch up to them while actually swimming, only to… Read more »

2 years ago

you just have to be honest in evaluating your swimmer’s potential. The parent could have a one on one with the coach and get some honest feedback. The parent may find out the swimmer is not putting in the work or maybe lacks the talent. It could be the coaching/team environment. Best to be open minded in this. My daughter quit at 16 I could tell she lost the edge about 18 months prior and I just let it play itself out and she decided to stop on her own.

2 years ago

Perhaps the letter was edited, but I don’t see where you’re getting the “it sounds like your daughter is putting enough pressure on herself”? From the letter I read, it sounds like the mom is the one worried about her daughter not being fastest in her age group now that she’s older. But most definitely, the swimmer should be enjoying herself (the majority of the time) and not focus on the plateau.

2 years ago

“Puberty is the great equalizer” – I cant remember who said that, but it is so true. Having gone through the entire process once (d1 freshman boy), nothing stayed the same from 10u to 18. Very dramatic changes. I also have hs sophomore boy and 10yo girl. I stress over and over that every kid is free to have their own success story.

2 years ago

Dear parent who asked the question. Swimming is a brutally sensory depriving sport. It can pay you back for life if you don’t end up being driven by parents like you. Lay off your kid, work on it remaining fun. And stop extrapolating those AAA times at 9 to a full ride at Stanford. Your kid could be in a plateau. Or your kid could be beginning a phase where power points are going lower, year over year.

Maybe consider trying another sport – running or xc maybe?

I disagree with the “all kids develop at different paces.” While true, that implies that your kid will “catch up” at some point, and that may not be the case. Start getting… Read more »