Should your swimmer only swim, or participate in several sports? As a swim mom for almost 15 years, I’ve had this conversation on the pool deck over and over.
My oldest did swimming, tennis, karate and piano, all at once. It was crazy. He had all these interests and I willingly hauled him around town.
He’d swim in the summer and fall and come back to it in the late spring. By age 11 or 12, he figured out that he was falling behind the year-round swimmers. He couldn’t compete and he wanted to. It was his idea to play piano and swim, dropping the other sports.
I dragged my daughter to the ballet studio. I loved ballet and was still dancing. My daughter must love ballet, too. Right? Wrong. Tears ran down her cheeks as she pulled on tights and a leotard. Her brother got to splash and play in the pool. She thought ballet was some weird form of punishment.
In both cases their sports specialization was self-directed, not parent-coerced. My son grew weary of rushing from practice to practice, or as I remember it, “If this is Tuesday it must be Karate.” And my daughter, well, she was happy as pie to focus on swimming at age seven.
Here’s my tip:
Follow your swimmers’ lead and support them in their choices. They will know when and if they want to specialize. They can’t put in the hours and hard work swimming requires to please their parents or their coach. They have to love it!
Swim parents, what’s your opinion on sports specialization?
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: http://bleuwater.me/.