Ask Swim Mom: When Will My Child Move Up?

by SwimSwam Contributors 5

June 10th, 2020 Swim Mom

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

Dear Swim Mom,

My child has been in the same squad for two years now. She is thirteen (a year or so older than most of the other kids there) and is a lot faster than them.

When I asked the coach about moving up to the next squad, I couldn’t get a straight answer. My daughter has had 100% attendance except for three sick days over the two years and she is working hard on things like flexibility and core strength outside the pool.

She desperately wants to move up; some of the other kids in the squad who she is faster than are to be moved up after quarantine. She has lots of friends her age in the squad above her, and feels she has been left with the ‘little kids.’

I’m trying to keep a positive attitude and telling her to keep working hard, but I worry that soon enough she will give up and want to quit. Her breaststroke, freestyle and fly times are equal or faster than some of the swimmers in the squad above. Her backstroke is lagging behind, perhaps this is why the coach is reluctant to move her up?

Hopefully this can benefit swim parents with the same question.

Kind regards,

Unsure What To Do Parent.


Dear Unsure What To Do Parent,

This is a common question from parents who believe their child should be moved up, but for some unknown reason the coach hasn’t done it, yet. It’s unfortunate the coach wasn’t better at communicating his or her reasons with you. With clear guidelines of what is expected for each group, a lot of confusion can be eliminated. Does your team have established or published requirements for moving up? Or, is it done on an individual basis? Some teams may move kids up one or two times a year, while others may not have such strict guidelines.

I can tell from your letter that it is your daughter’s desire to move up and not yours — which is a good thing. This is an opportunity for your daughter to talk to the coach on her own. At 13, she can take over communication for her sport. She could ask the coach what she needs to work on in order to be moved up. I’m sure the coach will appreciate hearing from her directly. She may become more motivated because she’s taking ownership, plus her relationship with her coach may improve, too. She can let her coach know what she’s working on outside the pool that you mentioned, like flexibility and core strength, if the coach isn’t aware of that already.

Although some kids possibly are overlooked for moving up through the ranks, usually there is a reason why coaches keep kids in certain groups. For example, it might be stroke development or developmental maturity. Good coaches look at the big picture and don’t like to move kids up too soon if they feel it’s not in the best interest long term of swimmers.

I hope this works out for your daughter and she continues to work hard and improve.

What advice do you have for Unsure What To Do Parent about her daughter moving up to the next squad?

If you have a question for Ask Swim Mom, please email Elizabeth Wickham at [email protected].

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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1 year ago

Hi, feels very familiar; my son was left “behind” while the boys of his age moved up. He was so, so sad. He worked so hard, but, he was smaller en tinier than most boys of his age. He had to swim in the same group a year longer, while the rest moved up. Now, more than a year later, we know this was the best decision for him, although I truely felt his pain and disappointment. Last summer he moved up, and now, he is swimming times the same or faster as the boys who were in the group for a year, he has grown more than 10cm, he is not small anymore. He worked to hard on his… Read more »

2 years ago

I am very surprised that I’m only the 3rd person commenting on this because we personally know so many people that are frustrated about this issue. I think because right now everybody is just desperate to swim again that some of the issues of the past have been forgotten. I would really like to see this topic revisited after swimming has been back for a few months.
It really is 100% all about communication. The swim clubs that have the time standards for each group clearly posted on their website or clearly stated in their Parent Handbook rarely have complaints about kids not being moved up because everybody is clear about the expectations. Our swimmer was so frustrated with… Read more »

Northern Swim Parent
Reply to  10U DAD
2 years ago

We moved clubs 3 times over 18 months to get to the right club. Bring on the down votes.

2 years ago

The fact that someone put this question to “Swim Mom” tells me there’s a far bigger issue to be dealt with…

VA Steve
2 years ago

Nice answer. The most important part, sometimes overlooked, is clarity in communications from the coaches to the swimmer (or parent depending on age). That helps address hurt feelings or legitimate differences in the swimmer’s potential or performance.