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Swimming – How it all began
My son started age group swimming competitively in the 6th Grade. He took lessons when he was in the 2nd and 3rd Grade but didn’t take it to the next level till the 5th. Many times you fall into activities because of friends or family. My son’s best friend in Elementary began swimming early in Kindergarten. His mother started his swimming to help his asthma and it helped him tremendously. We would see for years that swimming also helped my son’s friend in other more subtle ways. He was passionate about swimming and took more care of his eating. He would take care of washing his own swimming equipment. It also gave him more self-confidence.
So my son was playing catch up for the first couple of years. A negative becomes a positive. After the end of 5th Grade my son went to a couple of competitions and didn’t place at all. We didn’t mind because my son was getting into good shape. That’s all I initially thought about swimming. What great exercise!
Anyway at the end of that year his coach decided he was leaving to coach at another opportunity for him. He recruited all of the best swimmers on his current team and what happened next was very shocking to my son…
The coach never asked him to go to the new team. It was heartbreaking to him because all of his friends were leaving. I didn’t think much about it because I knew my son wasn’t very good. Bad parent or being real? Fast forward to September and there is a new coach. All the “good” kids were gone. What happened next REALLY shocked ME! My son started going to competitions and started winning?!?!
WTF!!! My son started winning and winning. He was the best on his team. What did this mean? It meant so many different things. It meant hard work did really matter. Having a coach that treated everyone the same mattered. It also meant that we stumbled on a hidden talent.
My son got better and better through the next few years. Eventually switching to a better team. A team that had nationally ranked age group swimmers. We were both a little scared about that. The coach was hard and the practices were grueling. My son was always tired and on top of that he had to do his school work as well as practice cello everyday!
Age Group Swimming Nationally ranked!!!
My son in 8th Grade was ranked as high as 96th in the whole country during that year. He ended that year ranking in the top 25 in New York State! However, it didn’t end well. He hurt both his shoulders and never fully recovered. Here is some advice for swimmers, you must do dryland training. It is a necessity to work out with weights so you gain strength in both arms. If not, you will have a more dominant arm and this will cause injury.
My son only swims on his High School Team. He does not swim on any club teams. We decided the best thing for him was to pick one thing to do seriously, he picked cello. He will continue on the High School Team until he graduates. Ideally he will be captain his senior year.
Though my son doesn’t swim competitively anymore there are good things that he definitely got out of it for now and the future. I think any activity that you put in the time and the hard work can only help you positively. Besides the physical benefits, there are mental benefits as well. He knows through all that hard work he has in him, the discipline and the mental fortitude to get things done. I’m sure most parents know how hard it is to coax kids into doing things.
On the social side of things, the more the better. The more activities your child does the more friends he/she will have. If they are actually good at the activity they will be even more popular. Don’t underestimate how important it is to be socially accepted in middle school and high school. If you don’t remember, let me tell you it is very, very important.
Hard work pays off
If you have only one child or very little ones, all of this might seem a little overwhelming. Honestly, it is hard but think long term but make short term goals. Reward your child as well as yourself often because we all need encouragement to get through 12 yrs or more of this.