Each sport provides a unique experience for children and parents who become involved. If you or your child have decided to start the journey into competitive swimming--congrats!
Swimming teaches lifelong lessons and instills incredible values within its participants. If you’re raising a young swimmer, you should know there won’t be any experience quite like the experience of a competitive swimmer.
But as a parent, you might be wondering what you can expect out of this experience, and what will be expected out of you and your swimmer.
For the age 10 and under swim group, here are the top four things you can prepare for as you embark on this swimming journey with your child.
Training and Practice
Practice times and frequency will vary, depending on the coach and the team. Most swim teams with a 10 and under group will schedule practice five to six times a week. It’s best to encourage your child to not make a habit of missing practice. Emergencies and last-minute situations can happen at any time, keeping your child away from practice, so it’s always best to plan to attend unless something comes up.
This is best practice for any type of commitment your child may make. Instill in them from a young age the importance of sticking to something they’ve signed up to do.
Timed finals or single session events will likely only take place on one day, but most swim meets span two days, and generally over a weekend. This could be a Friday afternoon and a Saturday morning, or both Saturday and Sunday mornings.
At this young age, you should encourage your swimmer to have fun during swim meets. Teach them from an early age that this is something they should enjoy so they won’t dread practices or meets in the future.
You want your child to take their races seriously, but don’t make it so serious that they stop having fun. Most children aged 10 and under are not going to have a serious competitive edge, and that’s okay!
Goals and Progress for Your Swimmer
Swimmers in the 10 and under age group are likely competing for the first time in their lives. This is also typically when swimmers are learning stroke technique, so it’s fair to expect the early goals for your swimmer to include simply learning and mastering the basic fundamentals of each stroke. Coaches will include a mix of drill sets and swim sets at each practice, helping your child to not only learn the stroke, but build muscle along the way.
In addition to learning the strokes, swimmers at this age are building motor skills, learning how to listen and take instruction, and exploring their own limits and how to challenge themselves. Remember that it’s not all about winning at this point--your swimmers are growing and developing as people as they learn to compete in this new sport.
Nutrition and Rest Expectations for Young Swimmers
Growing children will most likely have healthy appetites to start, but once you add in swim training, expect that appetite to grow. It’s not uncommon for swimmers to eat more than other children who might not be involved in athletics. Try to feed your swimmer a balanced diet of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, meats, and grains.
Encourage your swimmer to drink plenty of water as well. It’s easy to forget that sweating still occurs in the pool, so your child should replenish often during training to avoid dehydration. And, with all growing children, it’s important they receive adequate sleep every night.
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