Our oldest (13 soon) started year round swim team at the end of last summer.
In Boulder, it’s not unusual for 8-10 year olds to be doing double workouts, and competing at a high level in multiple sports. We have some very well trained middle schoolers.
My approach is different => we want to leave room so performance will improve all the way from child to adult.
Leave the athlete somewhere to go => improve from 12 to 21 and beyond.
With a motivated kid, this means my role is holding back the pace of progression so the athlete has a better chance to reach their full potential and enjoy the benefits of lifelong exercise.
When To Go Year Round
When the kids were little, we didn’t specialize. Our younger kids still do a wide range of sport. The idea here is to develop a range of skills.
Racing is a skill.
While we didn’t ramp training load, all my kids have been racing fast since they were 5 yo. Summer swim league was the venue.
They love it and are building an invisible edge. Invisible to them but my lack of racing skills was obvious when I started competing as an adult…
- Intensity tolerance
- The ability to go way past reasonable, stay there, then go further
This spills into their endurance when it comes to learning capacity.
Summer swim league easily splits into three types of racing… where you’ll crush, about right, where you will be crushed (hopefully not too hard).
Early specialization has the field strength too strong, too early.
I’m a potted-plant parent and give very little feedback. It helps that I’m clueless when it comes to swimming really fast!
I make no effort to remember their times so I’m genuinely impressed every time they race.
You went so fast!
My main area of input is: (a) encouraging the kids to be nice to the new/slower/different people they come across; and (b) fielding off-the-wall questions about sex and human development. Our daughter is learning a lot (from being tossed in with older kids).
I also make sure we remember every athlete ends up back in the “real world” at the end of their career.
Boys & Men
We were fortunate to replace Uncle Andy with another male swim coach. Having male character models for my son does a lot for his motivation to attend.
JiuJitsu is coming back this week (male coaches) and his swim coach works part-time as a wilderness firefighter.
The cool factor matters to him, and me, when I think back to my own development.