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?
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.