Ask Swim Mom: Should My Son Skip High School Swimming?

by SwimSwam Contributors 51

November 25th, 2019 Lifestyle, Swim Mom

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

Dear Swim Mom,

We are feeling torn for our son who is 16, on if he should compete for his high school or if he should skip high school swimming to train with his club team. He’s close to Junior National times which is his goal, plus he wants to swim in college. We’re afraid the time he takes off from training with his coach will hurt him achieve his goals. But then we are worried he will miss out on the fun of high school swimming this year, which he really enjoyed last year. What are your thoughts about high school versus club swimming?

Thanks in advance for some input.

Club Swim Parent


Dear Club Swim Parent,

That’s a tough choice for a lot of swimmers to make. Hopefully, it can be worked out if the swim coaches communicate and work together in the best interest of the swimmer. A friend’s son had a high school coach who wouldn’t allow him to miss any practice. Practices were at the same time as his club team, so he would be missing training with his club coach for the entire high school season. The club coach called the high school coach and explained the swimmer’s goals and target meets. They compromised on a swim schedule that allowed him to swim both. I’m not sure what your high school coach’s or school district’s rules are. Every high school coach is different. At our high school, the girls’ coach allowed swimmers to train with their club coach instead of the high school while the boys’ coach did not!

High school swimming can be a fun part of our children’s swimming careers. When they are year-round swimmers, high school allows them a moment to shine with their school peers. Often without high school swim, some of their best school friends would never have a chance to see them race or understand why they spend so much time at the pool. The school spirit and working together as a team to win league or state meets can be thrilling, too. High school swimming may be the very thing to rekindle a spark or enthusiasm if a swimmer is feeling burned out after years of age group swimming. Also, high school swimming trains kids for college with the focus on team, winning races and a schedule of dual meets.

That being said, your son needs to look at the big picture of what he wants from swimming. If he’s not allowed to train at all with his club coach during high school season, will it affect the rest of his swim season? Will it harm his long-term goals? Could he swim workouts that his club coach provides for high school practice and keep his training consistent?

Best of luck to your son and support his decision whether or not he swims for the high school team.

What advice do you have for Club Swim Parent about high school versus club swimming?

If you have a question for Elizabeth Wickham, please email her at [email protected] and your question may appear in a future story.

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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Sun Yangs Hammer

The experience of dual meets is alone worth it. It’s very similar to a college meet when you have to put up 4 quality races in less than two hours. You also learn to swim for the other guys on the team rather than yourself. It might not be the best training but the experience is valuable.


Yep. I’m pro-high school swim for most of my swimmers for the reasons you gave. Frequent race experience goes a long, long way come championship season. Also, the atmosphere of a high school team is really hard to replicate in a club setting, and I think it’s super important that kids experience that. Missouri doesn’t allow you to miss high school events/practices for club stuff, but you can do both if they don’t conflict. There are only a couple of reasons why I’d suggest a swimmer not swim high school: 1) The coach or team is toxic. Obviously, if your high school team doesn’t build you up and make you feel like an important part of something bigger than yourself,… Read more »


Not sure for all states but in Nj, you are allowed to train with a club and swim for high school (which a lot of people do). Swimming in the frequent high school dual meets can only help you because you are able to gain experience racing others and to improve how you race. Also I feel that you bond with the rest of the team better in high school and tend to enjoy it more.


Was rough for me where high school swim season was November through February, clearly interfering with prime heavy SCY midseason training and altering my taper several years in a row. It was frustrating knowing I wasn’t experiencing the time drops I knew I could have, winter after winter, and I was getting sick ALL THE TIME. My club coach was also antagonistic with his swimmers that swam high school (none of his favorites at that time had high school teams anyways). I actually contemplated bailing on my high school team senior year so I could have a “regular” healthy SCY training and taper season and hopefully reach my potential. Long story short, I didn’t. I toughed it out for senior… Read more »


Pro high school swim. Luckily club practice is before high school so he swims HS and does double practice 2 days a week. It has not hurt his times in fact he has improved. Every kid is different but the high school experience is good for them

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