SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.
Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers whether high school teams should allow athletes to train with a club but compete with the high school team.
Question: Should high school teams allow swimmers to train with swim clubs but still compete with the high school team?
- Yes – 86.1%
- No – 13.9%
A huge majority of SwimSwam voters said that swimmers should be allowed to train full-time with a club while still competing for their high school team.
The high school vs club debate is a hot one within the swimming community, but is heavily impacted by geography: specifically, the level of high school swimming in various areas. In some states, high school swimming is much less organized and much less prestigious. For some, high school swimming has become synonymous with poor coaching and low-level competition. On the other hand, many states have extremely competitive high school atmospheres complete with well-regarded programs and coaches at the high school level. In some cases, swim clubs are seen as the pinnacle of the sport at the junior level, with respected coaches and more rigorous and specifically-designed training groups. In other cases, clubs are more known for overtraining athletes, pushing the commitment to the sport to unhealthy levels too early in a swimmer’s development (read: 5 AM practices during the school year, year-round seasons, meets on major holidays), leading to early burnouts.
In many ways, this debate goes back to the aspect of control in coaching. Club coaches are often loathe to let their athletes train elsewhere for a three-month high school season out of fear that a shakeup in training will set the swimmer back. High school coaches are often unwilling to let their athletes train elsewhere for fear that club training won’t match the compact training block that high school coaches have to build in a few months with regular dual meets built in.
This idea came up in a high-traffic Facebook group on swim coaching, and most of the responses centered around doing what was best for the kid. Ironically, though, most of those responses seemed to assume that the best thing for the kid was wherever the commenting coach was – club coaches argued it was objectively better for the swimmer to train with a club, while high school coaches maintained it was more beneficial to train in the high school setting.
Setting aside the idea that one environment or the other is by definition superior (not really a great argument considering the wide ranges of club and high school programs), the debate also has to do with team-building. Club swimming tends to lean more toward the individual side of the sport, emphasizing individual swims, cut times and major meets. High school swimming really gets to the heart of the team side of swimming: dual meets, racing, swimming different events to fill out a lineup. From that perspective, it’s hard to see any other team sport that would allow players to train wherever they want before coming together for competitions. The team aspect of high school swimming is an underrated piece of preparing for college swimming, too, and there’s a solid argument that high school coaches should emphasize that piece by requiring the team to train together.
Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Poll, which asks voters whether Ryan Lochte will win this season of Celebrity Big Brother:
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The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner