Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham
Dear Swim Mom,
I feel like my 12-year-old daughter is ready to be moved up. She’s mature for her age and faster than the other kids in her group. She’ll be turning 13 in a couple months. I mentioned it to her coach after practice and I didn’t get much of an answer. I think she’d fit in better with the senior level swimmers who are faster. What can I do to help her get moved up?
Do you have some advice on what to do?
—Wondering What to Do
Dear Wondering What to Do,
Moving up into the senior group can be an exciting time, if your child is ready. Most teams have set criteria and it’s helpful for swimmers to understand what’s required at each level. Some coaches move kids only at the beginning of seasons or into the senior group at certain ages. Others may move kids up individually when they feel it’s appropriate.
I’ve watched parents insist their kids move up into higher level groups — whether or not they were fast enough or prepared. Unfortunately, these kids quit swimming altogether within a year or two. With 70 percent of kids in youth sports quitting by age 13, moving up a child before they’re ready could end in burnout or losing passion for the sport.
The goal is to have our children progress and stick with swimming as a life-long activity. As they move up through the levels, practices get longer and more demanding. Our children have to find balance with homework, school, swimming and other activities.
Kids develop at different times both physically, mentally and emotionally. You mentioned your child is mature for her age and a fast swimmer. The coach may be looking at a long-term plan and doesn’t want her to burn out. If the next level is seniors and includes morning practices and more yardage, it might not be the best thing for her if you’re looking at the big picture.
Some factors coaches consider before moving up swimmers are:
- Work ethic and effort
- Technique and skills
- Ability to listen and follow directions
Set a time to meet with the head coach or your daughter’s coach. Find out what criteria they have for moving swimmers to the next level. You can ask when they see your swimmer moving up and why. Then your child, you and the coaches will be on the same page of what’s best for her.
What advice do you have for a parent who wants their child to be moved up?
If you have questions for Elizabeth Wickham, please email her at [email protected]. Your question may be featured in an upcoming article.
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.