Competitive swimming for youth is an enriching experience. It’s an excellent way to teach your child the importance of practicing and working hard to set and meet goals. It can teach your child how to accept and move past losses and celebrate their victories while making friends their own age. Competitive swimming can also help them maintain a healthy weight and establish lifelong fitness habits.
Here is what you need to know to prepare your child for competitive swimming.
What to Know Before Your Child Starts Competitive Swimming
If your child has expressed interest in competitive swimming, the first step is to enroll them in formal swim lessons if you haven’t already. The time and dedication these lessons require will give you and your child a good idea of what to expect before beginning your competitive swimming journey, and it will teach your child the essential strokes and techniques they need to know to be successful.
Here are some other things you can do before enrolling your child in competitive swimming:
- – Research everything: Always research teams, coaches, and facilities before enrolling your child, as each one is different. Meet with the parents of other swimmers and get an idea of what to expect, including the time required.
- – You may need more than classes and practice: While classes and regular practice attendance are crucial parts of any competitive swimming routine, your child may want or need to supplement training to reach their goals. Dryland training is a type of exercise routine swimmers do on the land, and it includes strength and endurance exercises.
- – Your child may not enjoy it: While it’s important to encourage your child to try new things and persevere when they don’t catch on right away, be prepared for the possibility that they may not enjoy competitive swimming. Swimming competitively and swimming for fun are very different experiences and they may find it’s not the best fit for them.
When to Start Competitive Swimming
Ultimately, what age you should start competitive swimming depends on your child’s abilities, interests, and available time. The best time to introduce swimming to your child is when they are physically and mentally ready to learn the necessary skills to stay safe. You can find competitive swimming lessons and meets for kids as young as five years old, as long as your child is developmentally ready to participate.
You should also consider the other things happening in your child’s life, including other sports, academics, and extracurricular activities. Make sure you pursue a swim schedule you can realistically fit into both of your lives. Finally, it’s important to listen to what your child wants. If they aren’t ready to commit to a competitive swim routine just yet, that’s okay! Keep encouraging them to try new things and see if the interest develops on its own. Alternatively, if your child is excited to start something new, do what you can to help them pursue their new interest.
How to Help Your Child Prepare for Competitive Swimming
Swim lessons and practices will teach your child the rules of the sport and help perfect their form and techniques. You can also do some things at home with your child to set the groundwork for success. When it comes to swimming training for kids, there are a few things you can do together to make the experience successful and rewarding, such as:
- – Master the basics: Before you begin, take the time to get a full picture of your child’s current swimming abilities. This will let you know what kind of lessons to pursue and which basics they still need to master before competing. Some basic swim techniques every swimmer should know are flutter kicks, front crawling, the butterfly, arm strokes, and breaststrokes. They will also need to know the correct way to breathe and balance underwater, and the correct posture and form they need to stay safe.
- – Set goals: Work with your child to develop short-term and long-term goals so they can record and track how their hard work pays off over time. It’s also a great way to keep lessons and practices focused. For example, if your child wants to improve their lap time by two minutes, they can write down their lap time every day and celebrate when they meet their goal.
- – Create a routine: Although competitive swimming can be one of the most fun and enjoyable parts of your child’s week, it does take work, practice, and discipline to improve and perform well at swim meets. Add these things to an already existing schedule of school, homework, family time, and extracurricular activities, and things can get overwhelming. The best way to combat this is to establish and stick to a daily and weekly routine, so everyone knows what to expect and what needs to be accomplished. A stable routine is also the easiest way to avoid forgetting practices or meets.
- – Be a cheerleader: Although your child is the one in the water, parents often work just as hard to make competitive sports a reality. Make an effort to be present at your child’s meets and cheer them on. Celebrate wins together and encourage them to keep trying when they fall short.
- – Invest in quality swim gear: Although quality gear is not essential for beginning swimmers, you will want to invest in some when your child decides to turn their hobby into a competitive sport. Equipment like hand paddles, swim fins, junior goggles, kickboards, pull buoys, and swim training platforms can hone their skills and perfect their form. Quality kids swimwear will keep your child comfortable throughout long practices.
Get Swim Gear at Kiefer Aquatics
Competitive swimming can be a great choice for your child. It’s fun, fosters a healthy sense of competition, and will teach them valuable fitness and social skills. With some pre-planning, plenty of practice, and the right gear, you’re setting your child up for a successful, lifelong sport. Visit Kiefer Aquatics online to find the kids swim gear you need, including swimsuits, goggles, and kickboards. As your child advances, you will also find training equipment like hand paddles, swim fins, and pull buoys.