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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2 years ago

Unless your son is one of the select few that will compete beyond college at an Elite level (not including Masters), you have to ask yourself what the point is. The point is PARTICIPATING in the sport–in high school and in college primarily. Club is integral to that, and irreplacable. But if Club becomes an excuse to MISS those critical parts–the parts where swimming is a team sport–the point is lost.

High School and Club coaches that put their own egos before that should be replaced, as they have forgotten or lost their role.

2 years ago

I have had kids swim both with their club team and High School team. But it is the EGO of the coaches that mostly prevents that.Too many coaches do not want to lose having their hands in the training of the kids at the kids expense. My boys swam and competed both, but my girls had a hard time doing so, and it was the same High School coach that made it almost impossible. All of my kids have gone to swim DII and compete at a high level and even at the NCAA DII Championship level. If the coaches would just consider what is best for the swimmer, the Club Team and the High School team could have better… Read more »

Mike Griggs
2 years ago

In Ohio, swimmers are not allowed to compete for their club teams during HS season, with exception of Olympic development meets. Almost no swimmers opt to swim exclusively with their club teams during the HS season, unless their HS does not sponsor a swim team. In many cases, the HS coach is also the club coach (as is the case for our local swimming) so there is no conflict and training is uninterrupted.

2 years ago

Let your son decide.

2 years ago

Only 1 comment: Let your son decide.

2 years ago

I think most parents whose children swim year round have similar questions. I have two sons that swam on a year round club team, one of which was a 4IMer, and 200 breast and 200 back which are not swam at high school. What he got back from swimming high school was the experience of swimming and being recognized as a varsity athlete and the different kind of “team” experience. High school dual meets are pretty low key and fun until late season when championship meets get closer.

Jeff Olsen
2 years ago

Why does he have to take time off from his club team to swim high school? Can’t he do mornings with one and afternoons with the other?

Ansley Barnett
2 years ago

So thankful my daughter’s swim coach is her club coach. The governing association of the state we live in set rules for how many practices the kids have to go to compete in meets & how many HS meets the swimmers have to compete in to be eligible for championship & state competition. My daughter has made Jr. Nationals & is now aiming for Olympic trials, but were encouraging her to swim as much as possible with her HS team & enjoy the sport. Burn out is all too real in high school.