Video Courtesy of Columbia Swim Club.
I know it differs from region to region, state to state. In some communities it’s regarded as the highest (and only) level of competition for the season, while others see it as merely a means to get their children out of the house during the week. DQ’s can be anywhere on the spectrum from dream shattering to not even called. There could be a stand alone novel written on the legality (and types) of strokes seen at these meets. It brings joy to parents, athletes, and coaches alike because no matter what, it’s always fun in the sun: Summer League.
Summer League swimming is it’s own form of competitive swimming, and it takes all different forms across our country when the season of sun rolls around come late May. Leagues form ranging from 100-200 to thousands of little, and not so little, swimmers running around losing their goggles and learning the ropes. Typically, the idea is to get kids active during the summer. It can also serve to get kids interested in the sport of swimming and introduce them to the idea of year round clubs.
However, sometimes this process doesn’t always end at age 11 or 12. Sometimes summer league attracts, or just plain encourages, competition all the way through senior year of high school. This begs the question: How old is too old to swim in Summer League?
You're never too old to swim summer league! #thefunnestsport #summerleague #swimlife
Posted by Columbia Swim Club on Thursday, June 22, 2017
Answer: Any kid who hasn’t gotten to college yet should have a place in summer league (luckily for everyone else, there’s masters!). And that’s because summer league has all of the best parts of swimming, and it’s fun for everyone. It has racing; the excitement of being at a meet, stepping up on the blocks and looking across at your competitors before you hear that whistle and dive in to give it your all. It has the best events: 50’s and 100’s. None of that 200 and up business in summer league, they keep it strictly professional and kid friendly. And best of all: it has ribbons. Need I elaborate?
I have a confession to make: I attended my first summer league meet just a couple weeks ago, and I’ve got a quarter of a century of swimming experience under my belt. I guess my parents just didn’t know about it, or it wasn’t an option where I’m from, when I was a kid. But somehow I didn’t get to be around a summer league growing up. But being a huge fan of the sport now, and getting to witness one as an adult, completely opened my eyes to a whole new facet of the sport.
It may have been the most pure expression of fun in swimming I’ve ever gotten to be a part of. It was just kids being kids in the water, and having a blast doing so. No coaches were hounding them with expectations, no parents pacing nervously in the back of the stands, no pick-me-up self talks behind the blocks. It was all high fives, ice pops, and joy for winning that coveted ribbon.
It was a very cool experience, and something that I don’t think any kid should be deprived of in our sport that can easily get very monotonous. After all, I bet if you asked them, most high schoolers would express just as much excitement for a ribbon as an 8 year old.