For some swimmers personal bests and perfect technique come easily. But not all swim seasons end with a big bang! For some it is more a slow build & it can take longer for their hard work to pay off. Here are a few things to think about going into the season...
Keep expectations in check.
As a parent it is easy to overestimate, and/or have expectations that aren’t realistic for our swimmers. It is important to maintain realistic goals. Encourage your swimmer to be the very best that they can be on that given day. Don't lose sight of how well they swim in the moment by focusing on the what if's. Having unrealistic goals makes us overlook great achievements right under our nose. Our swimmers may feel like they’ve let us down when they’ve actually done really well.
Don’t add pressure.
When my son was an age group swimmer I talked entirely too much about swimming. Without a doubt my constant swim talk was not helpful! He'd laugh it off, but I'm sure it put pressure on him- even though that was the last thing I intended. If I could have a redo I would just stay quiet and listen.
Remember that sports are about peaks and valleys.
Ups and downs are a part of every sport. Don’t get too broken hearted if your swimmer doesn't drop time or make it back to finals. Remember all the good stuff they’ve gained by swimming and what a great experience this is for them. Some seasons they learn far more from the friendships they make than big breakthroughs in their freestyle. But also remember, especially as your swimmer gets older, breakthroughs come farther apart. Encourage hard work and goal setting.
Trust the process.
Remember... you chose the team and coach for a reason. Trust that they are doing everything they can to help your child become a better swimmer. Encourage your child to trust their coach and work hard. If they are consistently going to practice and trying their best- your swimmer can be confident of a successful meet.
Have fun and enjoy the meet.
I know that sitting with your fellow swim parents in the stands can be great fun, but it can also get competitive. Don't let it. Treasure the meet as though it is your last, because, trust me, in no time at all, you will be at your swimmer’s final meet. Enjoy each step along the way.
Here is another thing to consider-
ASCA (American Swim Coaches Association) Study:
What does this mean?
That only 11% of the top 100 swimmers in any event as 10 & under are in the top 100 by ages 17-18.
And for what ever the reason, only 50% of top 100- (15-16 year old) swimmers are still in the top 100 by ages 17-18!
The study also points out that most elite swimmers (age 17+) never reached the top 100 as a younger swimmer!
Also Consider this-
2001 National Alliance for Youth Sports study found that 70% of children quit playing sports by age 13 because it isn’t fun anymore.
swimmingscience.net article reports that early specialization increases the likelihood of early burnout and quitting, and that some studies suggest elite success is inversely correlated with training volume at age 14. In other words, over-training before age 14 can actually reduce the chances of later success.