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
1 year ago

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.

Sven
Reply to  Sun Yangs Hammer
1 year ago

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 »

Dbswims
1 year ago

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.

200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
1 year ago

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 »

Angela
Reply to  200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
1 year ago

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

Sccoach
1 year ago

The kid should skip it if the high school team is a detriment to his training.

But ultimately the kid should do what he wants to do

Coach D
1 year ago

The answer is, “It Depends”. Every State, Club and High School have their own unique situations. Just don’t put pressure on the kids “To Do” or “Not do” high school. They have to live with the outcome. To say all must do high school or all must not is not good.

The big thing is to not get upset or harass them if they don’t make the decision you prefer. This goes for High School and Club Coaches. If coaches, parents, and athletes care about the swimmer they will support the decision.

SwimCoachDad
Reply to  Coach D
1 year ago

I think that is the right answer, Coach D. It depends on a lot of things. Some of our high school programs are very good. Some are not very good. Some of our swimmers have competition on their high school teams and the high school events suit them. But whatever the decision, it has to be something they decide. We have some parents who want their swimmer to swim on the high school desperately but those are often for the parents and not for the swimmer’s best interests. We had a swimmer a few years ago who was primarily a 500 free, 400 IM, 1000 free, 1650 free, 200 back swimmer. He had Junior National cuts in a couple of… Read more »

Jeff
Reply to  SwimCoachDad
1 year ago

The same can be said for the sprinter alike the D swimmer. They miss a little training here there (no big deal), they get up and race that best event and practice it several several times at HS meets, go to states on a “self taper” suited ang go great time, then they fo to Jrs and bomb. Over swam the event. This happens alot. But I’d support HS swim

Swimmy
1 year ago

As a high school swimmer…
In 90% of cases: no
In the 10% or super unbearable cases: maybe

Dbswims
Reply to  Swimmy
1 year ago

i misinterpretated your comment previously. my bad. Ignore the initial comment.

Swimyosocksoff
1 year ago

Depends. Many HS coaches are also club coaches so they already have knowledge of the differences and keep long term development in mind during HS.

As long as the choice not to swim HS is swimmer centered and not club coached centered, good luck to all.

RenéDescartes
1 year ago

Unless they are an Olympic Trials qualifier, the answer should be no.

Swim2392
Reply to  RenéDescartes
1 year ago

I have OT cuts but I’m still swimming Highschool. Is this a bad idea?

RenéDescartes
Reply to  Swim2392
1 year ago

No, its not. But, it should only be a question that needs to be answered for swimmers at that level. Lots of high school swimmers with OT cuts still do HS.

Sccoach
Reply to  RenéDescartes
1 year ago

Wrong answer for many obvious reasons.

Swim2392
Reply to  Sccoach
1 year ago

why?

Sccoach
Reply to  Swim2392
1 year ago

My response was to Rene, but to answer you, if you like high school swimming you should do it, if you don’t, don’t do it. Simple as that. Taking a couple months out of the year to do something different will
not effect your long term progress even if you have to train with the high school team and not your club.

When I was in high school mostly all of us on the club took one short season off to play water polo in the fall, then swam for the rest of the year. This didn’t hold anyone’s swim career back and many of my teammates were OT qualifiers. I wasn’t because I was slow 🤷‍♂️

Mr Piano
Reply to  RenéDescartes
1 year ago

Carson Foster does high school and he went 1:32.9 in 200 at state last hs season. Caeleb Dressel did high school swimming and went 18.9 in the 50 free. Actually, plenty of Olympic Swimmers have done high school swimming. It prepares you for college swimming, and it’s usually super fun.

SwimOH
Reply to  Mr Piano
1 year ago

Jake and Carson Foster did high school only to try to take down St. Xavier. He swam for Sycamore HS. I am not sure if Carson is going to do high school this year because of the waiver process involved in Ohio to attend USA meets. OHSAA is very strict about not participating in club events with any sport.

Swim2392
Reply to  SwimOH
1 year ago

The waver is pretty easy to get. I swim under OHSAA and I got the waver to attend winter JNATS pretty easily.

SwimOH
Reply to  Swim2392
1 year ago

It isn’t for everyone, especially if they are off to US Open and 2 Pro Series.

Xman
Reply to  SwimOH
1 year ago

Being from Ohio , the challenge of taking down St X in Ohio is up there with making OT and NCAA. At least from a myth standpoint.

swimgeek
Reply to  Mr Piano
1 year ago

Agree with your point, but minor statistical quibble — Dressel never went :18 in HS competition (he did it at Winter Juniors while he was a senior, I believe). Hence, the HS national record is 19.29.

2 Cents
Reply to  swimgeek
1 year ago

But he was still under the Bolles team name, correct? Most of those big time boarding school or private school programs (Bolles, Baylor, GPS, McCallie, Mercersburg, etc.) are a hybrid club and high school team.

With that said, every state I have ever lived in does not care if the swimmers train with their club and only show up to meets. My high school coach liked it when I showed up, but it was not required. I would show up on days when I needed a rest or break from my club team. Some states are ridiculous with these rules and I can only assume they are related to basketball or baseball or were made because of those 2… Read more »