Club Swimming Coaches vs High School Coaches


We know it can be tough as a club coach to share your swimmer. You’ve been coaching Jim (let’s call your swimmer Jim for the purposes of this article) for years, and you know what’s best for him. However, today, you received an email from Jim saying, “I’m going to have to miss practice today because I have a high school meet.” But that’s not the same workout as your practice would have been. They never are.

As the high school coach, you need your star club swimmer as often as possible. Jim sets the example for the rest of the team. Jim swims those clutch races that score your team’s big points. He motivates the team to keep going. But this week, your best swimmer can’t swim because he’s tapering for a big club meet. No fair. You think to yourself. He made a commitment to this team. But he is also committed to his club team.

So what’s the best way to even it out?

Keep in mind that Jim is trying his best to accommodate both teams. He’s not slacking or trying to cause problems. He’s doing his best.

The easiest way to solve this problem once and for all is cooperation. Try shooting the other coach a quick email saying something like, “Hey, how can we cooperate so that Jim can have a successful season?” If you work out a pre-set schedule for your swimmer, all he has to do is follow it. Let the other coach know in advance what meets/practices your swimmer will have to miss. Settle disputes before they arise.
No more angry e-mails, guilt trips, or worries about a compromised taper. After all, Jim can’t be in two places at once.

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6 years ago

thank you for this article. I think most coaches want what is best for kids, and it’s natural to be possessive, but sometimes we forget ourselves.

Reply to  kage
6 years ago

The inherent issue with high school swimming is very simple. High school coaches, perhaps with the best of intentions (and club coaches who coach high school are an exception in this case) require no actual training, certification, or credentials. Literally anyone can become an HS coach. While USA swimming s requirements are not burdensome, they still require a fair amount more specific intelligence. Disregarding largely the “highly qualified teacher” aspect which still has little to do with coaching. There will be a lot of disagreements and discrepancies here, and all of those will come from the people that argue the skills are transferable, some of which are and some of which are not. Nothing however replaces the skill and expertise… Read more »

Reply to  Dan
6 years ago

I would have to say that very few high schools just throw random individuals or teaches in as their swim coaches. To allude that all club coaches are well trained and good at what they do is unrealistic. Most high school coaches I know were extremely talented club and college swimmers that took the path of a teacher as a career, rather than the uncertainty that comes with being a head club coach in this country. I agree with this article that the two coaches need to work cooperatively and if they do I suspect that our swimmers will have bigger gains in the pool.

Reply to  Dan
3 years ago

What you fail to recognize is the fact that MANY high school swimming coaches are, in fact, highly accomplished former competetive swimmers who also happen to teach. Trust me, some of the best and most knowledgeable coaches out there don’t coach club currently. SAgreed, club swimming is essential to the success of US swimming in general. That’s basic common sense. It’s a year-round endeavor. Nobody reaches world-class status in anything by training 2 1/2 months a year. As far as club swimming not needing hs swimming…on the level you’re thinking about it, sure. But expand that thought a bit and you’ll realize that MANY club teams train almost exclusively in pools that are located in SCHOOLS! How many private, for… Read more »

6 years ago

Well… Illinois that’s not a problem. You cannot swim for club and school at the same time.

Reply to  geckholm
6 years ago

I live in Illinois, and for me at least it works out perfectly, though it helps that head club coach coaches my high school’s team.

6 years ago

I wish it were that easy in ma. Here you cannot by public school rules miss a school practice to go to a club meet or practice (with extreme exception eg, junior nats). In ma a swimmer has to choose for the length of the hs season club vs hs. Some swimmers do club am practices and hs pm practices. It is really tough to choose.

About Bryana Cielo

Bryana Cielo

Bryana Cielo Shortly after Bryana Cielo’s birth, she developed her love of water at her family beach house–and hasn’t stopped since. At the conclusion of her swim lessons at age 7, it was recommended that she try out for the local summer swim team. After her first season, she won the …

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