Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham
Dear Swim Mom,
What do you do if your daughter is the fastest in the pre-senior group? She just turned 12 and on our club you can’t be in the senior group until you’re 13. She’s already the fastest and I don’t want to be ‘that mom’ that forces the coaches to move her up, but I still want her to improve.
—Wanting What’s Best
Dear Wanting What’s Best,
I think talking this over with the coaches would be a good option for you. They will be able to explain why they have an age requirement for their senior group. This is a question I have received more than once and there’s lots of great advice from readers in how to handle this including having your child talk to the coach directly. Does your daughter want to move up? If so, let her talk to her coach, which she’ll need to do when she’s in high school and college. This will be a great learning experience for her rather than having mom jump in.
There are many factors to think about when moving into a senior group—besides how fast your child swims—including if you want her training with 16 to 18 years olds and the conversations she’ll be exposed to. Also, will your daughter miss her friends her own age that she swims with now?
Coaches weigh many things like technique, attendance at practice and meets, attitude, age and maturity level. I’ve seen several parents approach coaches and ask for their child to be moved up before they were ready. It rarely turns out well for the child, coach or parent. We want our kids to love swimming and stick with it for the long term and not become part of the statistic where 70 percent of kids quit sports by age 13. For 12 and unders, the focus should still be on having fun and improving skills. The senior group may be less enjoyable with more focus on performance and heavier workloads.
What advice do you have for “Wanting What’s Best” about asking the coach to move up her 12-year-old into the senior group?
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.