View Full Version : Some advice on my HS swimmer

October 31st, 2013, 06:11 PM
Greetings all!!

Frequent lurker ... not so frequent poster. I've been swimming Masters for about a year now with my son's USA swim club. After only 45 years out of the water ... I have a LONG way to go, but I am generally feeling better than I have in a LONG time!!

Right now, my wife and I are increasingly concerned about our son who is 14.5 and a sophomore in high school (skipped a grade so he's a bit younger than normal). He's been a age group swimmer since he was 8. From the time he hit about 11, he was the only guy on his team to make it to PNS Champs (we're in Tacoma, WA). He's primarily a breaststroker. (When he was younger, his coach often joked that he ought to swim the breast during freestyle since he was faster doing breast than he was doing crawl!!) In the past couple of years, he has improved to the AG Sectional and Regional Levels. He's still a ways from Jr Nationals (5-10 seconds on his 100/200 breast times). He lettered last year in HS as a freshman and swam at the league and district levels. He was about 4 secs off a state qualifying time. (His immediate goal this year is to make the state time.)

His club swim team coach has ID'd him as having the potential to go much further ... at least into the NCAA level. She's talked to him about it, and he decided that that's what he would like to do. But ...

He also started playing water polo. Played some club last year and is currently on the HS varsity team. He enjoys the fun of the game and being with the guys on the HS team. But, it is taking a lot of time away from his club swim team. And, it's really sapping his energy. He's been pretty sick twice already this school year and seems to always be tired. (I know the easy answer is just to tell him to quit water polo and concentrate on swimming but that's easier said than done. Especially when he's having so much fun with his teammates.)

Our concern is really more than just the polo issue. It's the whole HS vs Club swimming focus. He wants to swim on the HS team again this year (season starts in late November) but it will take away from his club practices. Plus, it takes away a lot of his energy ... last year there were many days where he swam from 5:30-7:00am, then from 2:15-4:30pm with the HS, and then club from 4:30-6:30. Thats a LOT of time for a 14-year old to be in the pool!! (Luckily he's pretty smart so he's able to maintain a 3.5-3.6 GPA without a lot of studying.)

My question is ... how do y'all recommend dealing with this? How, or maybe even should, we balance between club and HS swimming? How did you do it when you were a kid? How are you doing it with your kids now? And, finally, how can we re-kindle and help him maintain his passion for swimming and encourage him to make it to the next level?

My wife and I have never really dealt with this problem before and we really need some advice.

Thanks in advance.


October 31st, 2013, 07:03 PM
Has his club coach talked to him about what impact playing water polo could have on his college swimming aspirations? The club coach should be the expert here, letting her handle it would be my thought.

Do his club coach and high school coach have any sort of working relationship? It's not uncommon around here for better than average club swimmers to swim primarily with their club team during high school season, perhaps swimming with the high school only once or twice a week.

I'm no expert, but three workouts a day (more than 5 hours in the water!?) seems beyond excessive and possibly counterproductive.

October 31st, 2013, 09:57 PM
Missy Franklin swam varsity.

November 1st, 2013, 07:53 AM
In SW Pennsylvania, the schools generally require their swimmers to practice with the team in order to be eligible to swim in the meets. I think it's a league rule, actually. Some elite swimmers have come from this area, and they all paused from club training to participate with their high school teams. Doubling up will only result in early burnout, in my opinion.

November 1st, 2013, 12:01 PM
IMO 5+ hours of training a day is way too much for a 14 year old. Major burnout will not be far away. Do the age group coach and HS coach have a good relationship? They should work together to do what's best for your son. I don't think this training regimen will help your son on his path to being a college swimmer. He will likely get injured or just quit before he gets through high school.
BTW my son is swimming college now (at UPS in your city) and he got through high school with just club swimming, 2 hours a day of practice, 5 days a week. Didn't swim high school because it's not offered in our district.

November 1st, 2013, 12:30 PM
My question is ... how do y'all recommend dealing with this? How, or maybe even should, we balance between club and HS swimming? How did you do it when you were a kid? How are you doing it with your kids now?

This is one of those things that different states handle differently. I grew up in Michigan and there you either swam high school or you swam club. You didn't do both at once and HS swimming was a big deal. Here in Washington the good swimmers primarily continue to train with their club teams and attend just what is necessary to be a part of their HS team. Most of the HS training tends to be low-key. In fact, I'm amazed your son's team trains more than two hours per day.

I think the bottom line is three workouts a day is excessive. Is there some way he can do the morning club workout and the HS afternoon workout and skip the afternoon club workout? If the coach requires him to attend all the club workouts "just because" he or she is being an ass, IMO. And that's certainly not unheard of. For whatever reason lots of club coaches see high school swimming as sort of Mickey Mouse and something that takes away from their training. My opinion is being part of a team trumps the more serious club training. These are kids, for Pete's sake. Let them have some fun.

As far as polo, I think he should continue playing if he likes it. I've known plenty of swimmers who've been able to do both.

November 1st, 2013, 02:15 PM
It is interesting that you refer to this as a "problem" when it is basically self induced. The world is full of kids who can almost make junior cuts and who can potentially swim at the NCAA level. The real issue is how many times a week he should be swimming to keep in in the sport and advance his swimming career.

As a high school and a club coach and as a parent of a kid who does both, here is what I would suggest. The camaraderie of high school swimming is hard to beat and will provide him with a lifetime of good memories. However, I fully recognize that club swimming is where you get your swimming chops. I require my year round swimmers to attend one HS workout a week, often as peer coaches. Forcing these kids to do both daily would likely result in nothing good, for me, the school, the school team, the club team, or, most importantly, the student athlete. The only focus should be what is best for the kid and the two coaches should figure this out. Right now you are in a situation where the coaches and you are doing nothing good for this kid. 5 hours a day is ridiculous.

It seems there are a lot of different situation on this nationwide, often varying from state to state. I realize this often poses conflicts but it doesn't have to if adults keep the focus on the student athletes instead of their trophy cases.

November 1st, 2013, 02:30 PM
Hi Ken,

How do y'all recommend dealing with this?
He's torn several directions, he's trying to do it all.
Depends on how well he's handling things and if he gets to a breaking point where somethings gotta give.
There's only so many hours in the day and he has school, studying, practices, & sleep.

How should, HE balance between club and HS swimming?
Depends on his priorities, the requirements of each program and the flexibility of each coach.
Ask your son what his goals and priorities are for HS and beyond.
Then meet with the coaches and ask questions to find out what needs to be done and when.
It's OK to ask your child the questions but don't provide the answers.

How did you do it when you were a kid?
When I was in high school, there was 1 swim coach for all the high schools in Austin. The required HS workouts weren't as good as Longhorn aquatics workouts. So I swam HS my freshman yr only then trained club team with Longhorn aquatics the rest of the time, 10, 11 & 12th.

How are you doing it with your kids now?
my kids weren't swimmers. Daughter dabbled a little her SR yr in HS.

How can we re-kindle and help him maintain his passion for swimming and encourage him to make it to the next level?
Don't go there.
It's not the parents job to motivate and push their child in any sport.
Let them choose their sport/s. (if the family can afford the time and cost, allow your child to train.)
Make sure they get to practice on time and home from practice when they're done.
Make sure they have the stuff they need for practice and competitions.
But don't helicopter parent coming to the rescue when they forget something.
Get them a swim bag & encourage good habits so they don't lose stuff.
Don't watch your child practice.

Don't get more into their sport than they are.

Don't keep records of their times. Let them tell you how they feel about their times at a meet.

Give them a box to hold their medals and ribbons, news clippings ...

Do educate your child about inappropriate coach behavior and to immediately tell you if anyone ever does anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Also to insist on 2 deep leadership and that at no time should an adult be alone with a child.
Trust the coach and give them some space but not too much.

Desire and motivation has to come from your child.

good luck Ken


November 2nd, 2013, 06:32 AM
When I was starting to get burned out the summer after my Senior year in high school (and didn't realize it), I cut back my workouts to just swimming once a day and I loved it again and swam faster than I did when I was swimming two a day workouts. Working out three practices a day is way too much (I am a coach)...if a swimmer of mine came to practice and had already swam two practices that day, I would send him or her home. Three days a week, he can swim doubles (whether it be club, high school or water polo) and the other three days, swim once a day. You didn't mention whether he was doing dry land work or weights. He needs balance and more quality swimming...

November 2nd, 2013, 09:27 PM
I know people hate it, but the past perfect tense of "swim" is "swum." You had swum, not swam.

November 2nd, 2013, 11:13 PM
I know people hate it, but the past perfect tense of "swim" is "swum." You had swum, not swam.

A businessman who travels to Boston frequently finally has a chance to go out for some of the famous seafood he's heard so much about. It's a little late, so he jumps in a cab and says: "Take me some place where I can get scrod" and the cabbie replies: "that's the first time anyone has ever asked me that question in the past perfect tense." :)

November 2nd, 2013, 11:48 PM
I know people hate it, but the past perfect tense of "swim" is "swum." You had swum, not swam.

I've wanted to point that out for a long time...so thank you for doing so!

You can say I swam in that pool last week. You can also say I have swum in that pool. But you should not say I have swam in that pool.

November 3rd, 2013, 12:03 AM
Well, first off, congratulations on having a child who succeeds on so many levels. It's a credit to both him and his parents.

As for advice: so many people have recommended you talk to his coaches. Good idea, but what about asking him? He's a bright kid; he will be capable of understanding that 5 hours per day and/or three teams is too much.

That he has been getting sick frequently is a wake up sign. He needs more sleep and rest, both for general health and so he can develop muscle and bone needed for the "next level" of athletics.

I am a soccer, cross country, and track and field coach, both high school and club. I see conflicted kids all the time…especially kids with "Potential". Every coach wants them to dedicate themselves to THEIR sport/team. Kids specialize at younger and younger ages now. Many burn out at younger ages, too - and then don't have other sports to fall back on because they've focused on only one.

So here's my suggestion - first and foremost, listen to what your son thinks is a good plan. Then follow that. But if he is looking for guidance from you, err on the side of "fun": play water polo and/or swim on his HS team. He will be getting good athletic base training (water polo + breast stroke - a natural combo!) and he can always go back to club swimming later. There are many college teams who will take "non elite" athletes with potential, too. Set him up for a lifetime of enjoying aquatics rather that picking the narrow path of pursuing nationals/Olympics/Worlds/scholarships.

Let kids be kids.

November 4th, 2013, 11:27 AM
As a H S coach of 22 years boys & girls, do not burn him out!!!! Too many see a great start in swimming & over do it to the point the teenager never wants to do it any more. IF HE wants to do both - yes, talk with both coaches about how to do this. To me, it sounds like WAY TOO MUCH practice. Kids can do this right up to the point they injure themselves to please coaches/parents!!!

Paul Smith
November 4th, 2013, 02:49 PM
I would not advise parents of HS swimmers on our club to have their athletes train that much for many of the same reasons already mentioned. Although it varies not just state by state but in some cases school by school there are a significant number of HS coaches who "release" club athletes to train with their club for a majority of their weekly practices.

For example our sectional level and higher club swimmers go 4 mornings a week (two of those dry land) and 2-3 afternoons with the club...Wednesdays, Thursdays (meet days), Fridays & Saturdays (meet days) they train with their HS. Our better high school coaches recognize that the training they can offer is often limited...40-60 kids in an 8 lane pool with 50-75% non club swimmers can make it a challenge for top level kids to get the training they need, especially those that specialize in 200's and above.