We have visiting parents, with kids in summer league (8-10 week programs) who are interested in joining a year round program (USA Swimming), ask us lots of questions about swimming club. They are generally concerned about the timecommitment and seriousness, as well as lack of knowledge about what year round swimming really means. Below, I hope to dispel some of the more common myths we hear about year round swimming.
All three of Gwyn and my kids started the sport of swimming at our neighborhood summer league team…and two progressed to swimming in college through USA Swimming club programs. Along the way they swam, played football, soccer, did boy scouts (all 3 are Eagle Scouts), and got good grades that got them into good universities after high school. We felt like a well-rounded person was important…and while school was always first priority, we wanted them to have fun and be “all-in” on effort on their other activities.
We hope below dispels some of those myths.
Myth #1 – I’m not good enough to swim with a year-round club.
Answer: If you are legal in all four strokes (Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Freestyle) you are a strong enough swimmer to be in year round swim.
Myth #2 – The time commitment is too much.
Answer: In the novice level swim team practice groups, the practices are usually 3-5 days per week. However, most teams like ours encourage kids to come 3 times a week hoping they continue to be involved in other activities throughout the week. Each practice is usually 45-60 minutes long, so a couple days per week for an hour is likely not as much as a swimmer was practicing at summer league. With t hat being said, Attendance + Effort = Success…so the more frequently your swimmer attends…well you know!
A perception of year round swim meets is that they last all day. For 12 and unders USA Swimming has a four hour rule…whereby the meet session has to end in up to four hours. In many cases this is shorter than a summer league dual meet! And if you cannot swim all 3 allowed events that day…or cannot go to both weekend days of the swim meet, that’s ok! We would prefer your swimmer come swim an event or two even if it is only one day of the swim meet to continue to expose the swimmer to the fun of racing.
Myth #3 – I won’t be able to participate in other activities if I swim.
Answer: As described above, year round swimming while year round is NOT all encompassing. There is flexibility to do other activites and we actually encourage swimmers to be well rounded student-athletes.
Myth # 4 – Year-round swimming is too serious.
Answer: This comes down to your definition of seriousness. USA Swimming is not called #funnestsport for no reason! Where do you get to be in a suspended environment, rifling through the water as fast as you can. Anyway, swimming is as serious as you make it…and we like to put the Fun in FUNdamentals of swimming in our program. From our experience, when the kids are having fun they are more apt to learn and grow in our sport. Like summer league your swimmer is still swimming for faster times.
Myth #5 – I’ll burn out if I start swimming year-round too soon.
Answer: Not if you are having fun and doing other activities.
Myth #6 – I hear there’s morning and afternoon practices.
Answer: No novice swimmer will be expected to attend two workouts. Double workouts (i.e. twice a day) do not generally happen until the swimmer is ready physically, mentally and emotionally. For many swimmers this is around 13+ years old.