PDA

View Full Version : Training volume for age groupers?



spudfin
October 1st, 2008, 07:31 AM
Good Morning
I have posted before and as some may know I am the parent of a 13 year old age grouper. I have a question for all of you coaches and former swimmers as his mom and I have never swam competitively? How much volume should he be swimming at his age? I limit him to three hard workouts per week at this point and one dive practice. He also takes a lesson from a great private coach once a week that is just technique oriented and is just thirty minutes long. His total yardage is probably around 15K per week. Some of the other kids his age are doing twice the volume and the subtle pressure is there.
What do you suggest?
Thanks
Spudfin
PS I would rather he study more than swim more........

swimshark
October 1st, 2008, 08:00 AM
I think the amount is based on what the parent is comfortable with based on other things like studying. I practice with age groupers and some are your son's age. They swim 4-6 times a week usually 4000-4500 a week day and 5000-6000 on Sat. Week day practices are 4:30-6am and Sat at 7-9am. We work on dives once a week - Thursdays.

tomtopo
October 1st, 2008, 08:20 AM
Volume is a just one tool coaches use to accomplish different goals. Increasing yardage can improve cardiovascular endurance, pain tolerance, pacing knowledge, stroke efficiency, and other important facets of swimming but you need to be careful. Increasing yards can be a double-edged sword. When coaches add yardage to swimmers with stroke flaws, bad habits can be reinforced and future successes can be stunted significantly.
It's rather easy to make sets more difficult by lowering intervals and/or increasing yardage and/or intensity. In a nutshell, a coach must have a method to their madness when manipulating various training aspects. If the program is helping improve athleticism (strength and specific swimming strength), technique, and adaptation to stress (swimming), it's on the right track.
A parent can become too involved in micro-managing their children's activity and in most cases (not all) it becomes very counterproductive. There are many support organizations that can help parents help their swimmers. Please go to the United States Swimming website and the American Swimming Coaches Association website where you'll find an abundant amount of helpful information for parents. Good luck!

tjrpatt
October 1st, 2008, 08:48 AM
If your child is comfortable with the schedule, keep it that way. If you son wants to do more harder workouts, let him. I was probably doing about 25,000 yards when I was his age.

stillwater
October 1st, 2008, 10:09 AM
When I was 12 we would do 3 workouts a day during the summer. We would rack up 10,000 or more yards each day. All we did was swim, eat and sleep. Yes, this was excessive. I remember however, really enjoying it. There is no doubt that this summer of hard work was part of my basis for college swimming and polo.

When school started we switched to double workouts, about 7,000 yds a day.

This was in the era of mega yards. There is a different and wiser thought out there today.

My point is, tons of yardage might not be bad, it wasn't for me (yes, however, I burned out big time at age 19, but I came back) but I don't think it is necessary. There are other more important things in life.

Mary1912
October 1st, 2008, 11:00 AM
When I was an age grouper I had practice Mon-Thursday in the evenings after school and some Saturdays when we didn't have meets. In the summer we had an AM practice and and afternoon practice. Lots of pool time and hard work but I LOVED it.

My work never suffered in school. I was an honors student and I firmly believe that swimming helped me focus in school.

If he wants to swim more, I'd let him and just set conditions that if his grades/work starts slipping with the increased pool time, he'll have to cut back.

I'll just state this. After just being back in the pool 20 years after I stopped swimming, I can't tell you how outrageously thankful I am my parents allowed me to swim and gave me the opportunites to do it as I wished. As a result, I can hit the pool today and still love it and enjoy it. It's reaping enormous benefits all these decades later.

quicksilver
October 1st, 2008, 12:48 PM
Good Morning
I have posted before and as some may know I am the parent of a 13 year old age grouper. I have a question for all of you coaches and former swimmers as his mom and I have never swam competitively? How much volume should he be swimming at his age? I limit him to three hard workouts per week at this point and one dive practice. He also takes a lesson from a great private coach once a week that is just technique oriented and is just thirty minutes long. His total yardage is probably around 15K per week. Some of the other kids his age are doing twice the volume and the subtle pressure is there.
What do you suggest?
Thanks
Spudfin
PS I would rather he study more than swim more........

My 13 year old child follows the same routine. 3 days a week seems to work fine for her.
She's doing very well on a combination of natural ability, and an easy does it attitude, which keeps up her enthusiasm.
(Being able to keep up with school work also reduces her stress level, and helps her stay balanced.)

And yes there are other more hard core kids who show up four and five days a week.
But these are the same ones who take off during the spring and summer sessions because they got burnt out.

Maybe when your son is a bit older he'll tell you if he's ready to make a stronger commitment.
Pushing a kid too hard often results in a melt down, and they won't want to go at all.

hofffam
October 1st, 2008, 12:56 PM
I am a parent of two age group boys - one is now a freshman in college. The other boy is now 16.

At around 13 yrs. old they were probably swimming 5 days a week. Sometimes a Saturday morning practice was a replacement for a day off weekday. I would guess they swam about 20-25,000 yards in those five practices. During this period they swam for two different teams. One of them, the largest and most famous team in Austin, was a yardage oriented team. Some of them (but not my boys) swim 8-9 practices a week with this team.

I believe 5 days a week, 20-25,000 yards is not likely to be "too much" from a physical perspective for the typical USS swimmer. I would hope the training is not just yardage and contains a healthy does of technique work and attention to details. I would be more concerned with attitude and watch for burnout. A 13 yr. old is probably growing, gaining size and strength, and recovers well from strenuous exercise. Make sure they eat and sleep well.

ehoch
October 1st, 2008, 01:03 PM
The question really is : what is the overall goal ?
Strictly in terms of swimming - 3x a week is not enough to be highly competitive >> college swimming in the future.

hofffam
October 1st, 2008, 01:09 PM
Great point above. At some point - kids often wonder why they aren't improving much any more. 3 days a week is just not enough for most. Even if college swimming is not a goal - in Texas they would likely not reach the state high school swimming championships (16 swimmers per event) without more training.

quicksilver
October 1st, 2008, 02:22 PM
3x a week is not enough to be highly competitive >> college swimming in the future.

Very true. The window of time to become a good recruit is very small.

By 16 or 17 you've got to be good, or that opportunity may pass right by (to be recruited/and or receive an athletic scholarship.)
There are however cases of still improving 18 year olds...joining up as walk-ons... and they turn out to be star athletes.

On the other hand, parents of younger children might just be happy to have their kids doing a sport.

Rykno
October 1st, 2008, 02:47 PM
our 11-14 yr olds are swimming 5 times a week for 90-120 minutes a practice and they get between 4500-7500m depending on the type of practice. the 14-19yrs olds swim 6 times a week, 2 hours a day and get a lot more yardage in than the 11-14 yr old. the older kids also have wrestling on wednesday for 60 minutes.

back when I was 8-13 we swam 5 times a week can't remember if it was for 60 or 90 minutes, but I remember liking it. the only times I didn't swim every week night was when I had soccer or baseball practice.

it was around 13 that I started saturday mornings. and around 15 when I started 9 a week, and 16 when I could drive myself to all the mornings doing 11 a week.

ehoch
October 1st, 2008, 07:12 PM
I think the overall yardage is a whole different discussion - but there is not a lot of disagreement in terms of the required time commitment. There is quite a lot of info out there that 13-14 is the key age to start building - so 5-6 swim workouts at 90min+ is simply what it takes (you can probably add 2-3 dryland sessions) to become an elite swimmer.

elise526
October 1st, 2008, 07:31 PM
I think the overall yardage is a whole different discussion - but there is not a lot of disagreement in terms of the required time commitment. There is quite a lot of info out there that 13-14 is the key age to start building - so 5-6 swim workouts at 90min+ is simply what it takes (you can probably add 2-3 dryland sessions) to become an elite swimmer.

I think this is sound advice. I taught a young man to swim at 11 and talked him into swimming year-round at 13 with the USA team I coached. He swam 5 times a week about 4,000 to 5,000 yards in a workout. Eased him into dryland work. By age 14, he was going a 55 in 100 back and 100 fly (yards). At 15, I sent him to a bigger USA team that had a number of boys on his level. He then started doing 9 swim workouts a week. His senior year of high school he was offered a full scholarship to swim for Tennessee.

If your son wants to add a practice in so that he swims 4 times a week, you might want to consider letting him do it.

The Fortress
October 1st, 2008, 09:43 PM
I think the overall yardage is a whole different discussion - but there is not a lot of disagreement in terms of the required time commitment. There is quite a lot of info out there that 13-14 is the key age to start building - so 5-6 swim workouts at 90min+ is simply what it takes (you can probably add 2-3 dryland sessions) to become an elite swimmer.

My daughter just turned 14 and that's basically what she does. She just bumped up to 6x week, 2 hours each, with drylands. She has friends that do 8-9 x week, but that seems too much to me.

spudfin
October 2nd, 2008, 07:45 AM
Wow thanks for all the great responses. I had a sense he may be a little light on the frequency and yardage and that is OK with me. There is time for more as he progresses. One of the posts mentioned intent. He wants to swim in college at some level and given his level of success with minimal training I think he could. I am the stick in the mud however. He will have to present a good argument for continuing in college as I would have him focus on his studies. It is a fine line between my past experiences and his future dreams. I love that the boy has dreams!
Thanks again for the great advice.
Spudfin

hofffam
October 2nd, 2008, 01:37 PM
Spudfin - it sounds like you plan to continue restricting him to 3 workouts a week. If he wants to swim in college - he is at a point where an investment in more (quality) training will pay off. I am definitly not a fan of the pounding yards school that is still popular in many age group teams. But repetition, science-based aerobic work, and technique all will improve your child. 3 times a week will become a constraint.

My oldest son is a freshman in college and is swimming. We told him it was his choice to swim or not. He had a great senior year in high school and decided he wanted to swim. He is a walk-on, as perhaps most Div 1 male swimmers are. But he is part of the team, and he has a strong structure to his day, which I think helps him his freshman year away from home.

If he chooses to quit at some point - that's his choice and I won't try to change his mind. He knows he is in college to get a worthwhile degree.

knelson
October 2nd, 2008, 03:13 PM
PS I would rather he study more than swim more........

In my experience swimming less very seldom results in studying more. Whenever I was out of the water I tended to procrastinate on my school work. You feel like you've got plenty of time to do it. When you're swimming doubles you know you've got to get it done if you want to sleep that night.

elise526
October 2nd, 2008, 03:18 PM
Wow thanks for all the great responses. I had a sense he may be a little light on the frequency and yardage and that is OK with me. There is time for more as he progresses. One of the posts mentioned intent. He wants to swim in college at some level and given his level of success with minimal training I think he could. I am the stick in the mud however. He will have to present a good argument for continuing in college as I would have him focus on his studies. It is a fine line between my past experiences and his future dreams. I love that the boy has dreams!
Thanks again for the great advice.
Spudfin

Many swimmers learn how to balance their time well and do great in college, even with a heavy training regimen. One of the girls I coached as a high schooler went on to swim for Alabama all four years and now has her doctorate in exercise physiology.

I swam all 4 years for a Divison III school that is ranked in the top 20 of best colleges (academically), had time to study, and did well enough to get into a good law school that is likewise ranked among the top 20 law schools. There are others on this forum who went to even more academically demanding schools and swam in college.

I agree with the other posts here that 3 times a week is not going to be sufficient if you want to see him have a shot at swimming in college. The young man I mentioned in my prior post was somewhat exceptional in achieving the times he did in a short period of time. If your son wants to have a chance to swim in college or achieve his true potential during high school, I would at least consider moving up the number of practices he does with the team to four per week.

spudfin
October 2nd, 2008, 07:39 PM
I appreciate the most recent posts on combining college swimming with academics. I suppose given my experience in a Div 1 athletic department in college I am biased against combining the two but remain open to the possibility. Sounds like the overwhelming advice is to let him swim more if he wants within reason. Based on what you tell me 4 or 5 a week at his age would be OK. I like the post that suggested that if his increase in volume results in a decrease in GPA then we talk again about the choice.

Here is another question perhaps for you coaches and former college level swimmers. If he wants to swim in college what level is best for combining school and swimming? What has been your experience? I know a great deal depends on what he wants to do in school and how fast he swims in high school of course. Just wondering about your experiences.

Regards
Spudfin

gobears
October 2nd, 2008, 08:02 PM
I swam only summer league up until the summer after my freshman year of high-school when I joined the local USS team. I was 15 at the time. I really got sucked in and trained like crazy through the rest of high-school and college. I ended up swimming at the National level with scholarship offers from a few DI schools. I don't know that every kid has to be piling on the yardage so early in their careers. This kid is only 13--with the age of "peak swimming" seemingly getting older I'm not sure it will hurt him to only swim three times a week at this point...

The Fortress
October 2nd, 2008, 08:08 PM
I appreciate the most recent posts on combining college swimming with academics. I suppose given my experience in a Div 1 athletic department in college I am biased against combining the two but remain open to the possibility. Sounds like the overwhelming advice is to let him swim more if he wants within reason. Based on what you tell me 4 or 5 a week at his age would be OK. I like the post that suggested that if his increase in volume results in a decrease in GPA then we talk again about the choice.

Here is another question perhaps for you coaches and former college level swimmers. If he wants to swim in college what level is best for combining school and swimming? What has been your experience? I know a great deal depends on what he wants to do in school and how fast he swims in high school of course. Just wondering about your experiences.

Regards
Spudfin

If he's a good student, I really doubt his grades will suffer from swimming more than 3x a week. That's pretty minimal unless he's also doing other sports or activities. Both my teenagers are doing fine training every day. Sports keep them efficient and organized. If only sports would eliminate the "teenage" factor ...

I swam for a year at a small D I school, although we weren't very good. (Burned out and RC tear) It was very academically rigorous, and it was difficult at times to balance the two. However, it can certainly be be done if the desire is there. Half my swim team was pre-med. From what I've observed, endurance athletes (swimming, cross country, crew) tend to have high GPAs.

You have a ways to go before worrying about that now. I'm hoping my kids continue their sports in college. But I don't want them selecting their school for that reason particularly. I have an academic bias as well.

elise526
October 2nd, 2008, 10:13 PM
In my experience with coaching, I did notice a difference when a kid went from 3 to 4 practices a week. Jumping from 4 to 5, usually not much difference. Jump up to six or more and you start to see a huge difference. Of course, this was a general observation, but seemed to hold true over the 300+ kids I have coached over the years.

I swam for a Division III school that stressed putting academics first. It was a very enjoyable experience. Since DIV III schools do not give athletic scholarships, I did not have the pressure that I know scholarship athletes deal with.

Many parents have your concerns and I think much depends on the particular child. You still have many years ahead of you to see what develops. I think you might want to consider waiting until your child is 16 to revisit the issue of swimming during college. In the meantime, if your child wants to swim more, consider letting him give it a shot and see if he maintains his grades. You may find that his grades actually improve because he will know he has less time to waste. ;)

lefty
October 2nd, 2008, 10:31 PM
If he wants to swim in college what level is best for combining school and swimming? What has been your experience?


My experience is that there is no cause and effect here between swimming level (I assume we are talking D1, d2, and d3) and academic success. I can name several intense D1 swimmers who are medical doctors. I know plenty of D3 swimmers who are medical doctors, too. It is possible to be immensely successful as a swimmer and immensely successful as a student at the same time. I'll add that Einstein went on 2 hour walks everyday. So I would agree that any workout over 2 hours might get in the way of great thinking (Source "Einstein" by Isaacson).

PS: if you want to save some time from the schedule, unless he is getting the private instruction from his coach (or coach approved lessons) he *might* be better served swimming a 4th workout with the team. I would need to know more about the situation before making that call, though.

elise526
October 2nd, 2008, 10:49 PM
Lefty is exactly right about success in college and swimming. There are many folks that I can think of that were big stars in top Division I swimming schools that went on to be vets, docs, accountants, etc. As I mentioned before, one of the gals I coached swam for Alabama, a strong Division I swimming school and majored in biology. She obviously did well enough to go on to get her masters and doctorate in exercise physiology.

It is all an individual choice. Your son's coach will be a good one to consult with as the time draws near on what program will be well-suited for your child. There are many things to consider.

hofffam
October 3rd, 2008, 10:35 AM
I appreciate the most recent posts on combining college swimming with academics. I suppose given my experience in a Div 1 athletic department in college I am biased against combining the two but remain open to the possibility. Sounds like the overwhelming advice is to let him swim more if he wants within reason. Based on what you tell me 4 or 5 a week at his age would be OK. I like the post that suggested that if his increase in volume results in a decrease in GPA then we talk again about the choice.

Here is another question perhaps for you coaches and former college level swimmers. If he wants to swim in college what level is best for combining school and swimming? What has been your experience? I know a great deal depends on what he wants to do in school and how fast he swims in high school of course. Just wondering about your experiences.

Regards
Spudfin

I am convinced that 4 or 5 times a week will not harm your child physically unless he swims for an abusive team/coach (they do exist).

I think there is likely to be a big difference swimming for an elite Div 1 program vs. other Div1 schools or other levels. Ian Crocker did an interview for the Olympics and he seemed to regret at least a bit how much of his college years were dedicated to swimming.

My son almost chose Emory - a Div 3 elite academic school. The swimmers are all strong academically yet they are a fast serious team. The university ultimately values academics over athletics so the priority is in the right place. Emory didn't want to even talk to my son about swimming until he was accepted. I think elite Div1 schools regularly find ways around the NCAA training rules and suck more time from their athletes than other programs.

If I could make one more suggestion - it is that by the time your child is ready for college it is wonderful to have choices. Swimming could be one of the choices and might be a great experience for him. Maybe not. But if he doesn't advance his training he won't have that choice.