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Thread: Advice for a disappointed 11 year old son (new to swim team)

  1. #1
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    Advice for a disappointed 11 year old son (new to swim team)

    My 11 year old son just started his first competitive year of swim team after doing a year of developmental swim team last year. He attended his first meet last weekend and was so disappointed that he told me he no longer wants to do swim. The kids in our area start swimming competitively very young and by 11-12 are all very fast. He came in last in all his races and with times twice as slow as the next slowest kid before him. Unfortunately, he just aged into the 11-12 group by 2 weeks, and in combination with being small for his age and not really being all that athletic/strong, the whole thing just made him feel like he was really bad. We have placed no expectations on him other than to try his best and have fun with his friends, but his perfectionist personality is sort of his downfall. If he can't be good at something, he would rather not try at all.

    His coaches have told me that he has great technique, so I know he at least has a good foundation. We tried explaining that the other kids have had many more years of training and if he sticks it out, he will start to catch up if he works at it.

    He loves swimming and being in the water, so I am hoping for some advice on how to have him continue without hating it. So far, we have compromised and said he didn't have to attend any of the USA meets this year. But we would like him to go to the local league's team meets, for the sake of supporting his teammates and being a good sport. He saw a glimpse of that at last week's meet when his teammates told him "good job" and a boy on the opposing team high fived him after he climbed out, exhausted, after the 100 yard free at almost 2:00.

  2. #2
    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Re: Advice for a disappointed 11 year old son (new to swim t

    First and foremost, work with his coach on anything. The coach will likely have seen this situation in the past.

    After that, have your soon take a look at his times and challenge him to see if he can drop them by a certain time (month-6 weeks?). If he's really that competitive/perfectionist, this should appeal to him. With only a year in, he's probably going to continue to drop time if his technique really is that good. Because he aged up recently he's going to have those challenge. Another thing is to maybe look at the USAS times to give him some goals to strive for to improve. They're pretty fast, but look at the difference between the 10U and 11-12. He can strive to work towards these times.

    https://www.usaswimming.org/Home/times/time-standards
    Kari Kennedy

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    Re: Advice for a disappointed 11 year old son (new to swim t

    I was in in a similar situation when Io was just a little older. My coach didn't really want to put me in, but I went for 200 yd breaststoke.

    For the first 150 yards, I tried very hard not to be too terribly far behind, but the last 50, I was just trying to finish. I was a little crushed coming out of the pool, but much more after my father helpfully said, "It would have been OK - IF YOU HAD ONLY TRIED." NO more club for me.

    Don't do that. (Advice I don't think you need.)

    But I love swimming and eventually got back it - at least for open water swims - that some of the folks (not me) call races. I'd likely be a much better swimmer if I could have stuck out the club another year or two.

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    Re: Advice for a disappointed 11 year old son (new to swim t

    I started when I was eleven, I was very bad. By the time I was fourteen I was pretty good. There's hope! I agree with the small challenges. It won't take long before he's a lot better.

  5. #5
    Very Active Member ForceDJ's Avatar
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    Re: Advice for a disappointed 11 year old son (new to swim t

    Well, dunno if it'll help but I will post a couple of stories that you can relay to him to maybe encourage him to stick with it. First, when my now 24 year old daughter was in 10th grade she decided she wanted to join her high school's swim team. She was a capable swimmer, but not fast at all (i.e. slow, not really athletic), and had no swim team experience. She really just wanted to join for the social aspect of it...to make, and be with friends. This was on a team that had just won the state championship the previous season...so they were flush with some fast, experienced swimmers. The only stipulation I put on her was that "if she started season she had to finish it, and to attend all functions (unless she was sick)." She never won a race, nor even a heat. In fact she was usually one of the last swimmers. But she enjoyed being on the team with friends. She was outstanding at supporting her teammates, boosting moral, and doing whatever the coach asked of her. She went out again her junior year (same stipulation), and didn't win a single race/heat. She went out again her senior year...and lo and behold the team voted her Team Captain. Toward the end of the season she finally won a heat (but still placed low in the final). But she definitely improved. (Funny thing about that was that when she stopped and stood up she immediately started swimming again because she though she had miscounted her laps (200yd freestyle).)

    My now 21 year old son decided he wanted to play ice hockey. He could barely ice skate, and didn't begin playing youth rec league hockey until 6th grade. FYI, in hockey communities kids usually start skating and learning the game in pre-school. I put the same stipulations on him as his sister...if you start a season, you finish the season. Throughout his career he was always way behind the other players in development as a skater/player. He stayed with it and in high school made the team all four years. He was usually third line at best. Never got much ice time in games. But at the senior awards banquet, he was awarded the "Coach's Award"...an award that in most years would be presented to the team captain or MVP type player. But in the presentation, the coach said he proved to be a great value to the team in ALL aspects of sportsmanship and being a teammate. He didn't miss a single team function throughout high school.

    Dan
    Last edited by ForceDJ; November 5th, 2019 at 10:54 AM.

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    Re: Advice for a disappointed 11 year old son (new to swim t

    I have a few stories.

    I started swimming in middle school- right when I was turning 12. I was SO SLOW that I won "most improved"... two years in a row. Anyway, I started swimming year round I think after 9th grade and ended up with D-1 full ride to a mid-major and many 1/4 and 1/2 ride offers to big ten schools. More importantly, I ended up LOVING the sport and what it offers. Someone explained to me earlier that the only person I have had to race was me- My time would not be faster or slower or mean more or less if I was swimming next to a brand new 7 year old swimmer or an olympian. Just me & the clock and the clock never lies. That fact got me through a million minutes of swimming club with kids much younger, of struggling for semi state cuts when my team mates were heading to Jr Nats and through 2 seasons of swimming exhibition only, starting in the pool or on deck, scared of the blocks and unable to swim anything but breaststroke and freestyle.

    Another story- my current 8th grade daughter swam some club when she was younger but never stuck with it. She now is swimming again. Her 50 fr time is about 54 seconds. She LOVES swim and loves her team and is part of the crew- the only one who can judge her finish/place is HER and she chooses not to judge herself against others.

    A final story- I've seen dozens of kids- those I've raced, those I coached for a while that were phenoms at age 10-14 and either quit or became injured or just didn't have any zest for training... so many of those kids that crush it young will stop. This gives some benefit to being fresh & being hungry and sticking with it...

    And finally- my little guy is 10yo and just finished his first year of club. He is doing fine but gets beat by a lot of kids his age and will age up to 11-12 this summer. No signs of growth spurts yet. He keeps the USA swimming time standards chart in his bedroom and sets a goal like "B" or "BB" or whatever for each event and just races that chart instead of others! We also go to some smaller meets and that helps it feel less of a beating, you know?

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    Re: Advice for a disappointed 11 year old son (new to swim t

    Thank you for your encouraging words. I will have my son read these responses tonight!

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    Re: Advice for a disappointed 11 year old son (new to swim t

    tkbmom,
    your son has a lot of room for improvement and can drop chunks of time. big chunks.
    its the improvements that he needs to look at not the placing or times...yes i know that will be hard right now.
    when i was 7 i aspired to be in the top 3 of my local meets. when i was 8 i was getting those 3rd places. there were 2 other
    that were very good ahead of me. but i kept busting my hiney. i kept at it. chasing this other kid from KC named Dennis Finegold that set 7 national records that year. i was always 2nd.
    i kept working hard and trying to beat the older kids in my workouts.

    and let me be very frank...if he went 2min for a 100free, i would have lapped him....twice.
    i went 1:51.03 in the 200yd free when i was 12. and no i didnt win that race. i got 2nd. which put me 2nd in the usa as well. once again behind Dennis Finegold.
    ahhh but the summer we were 12 that all changed. and i finally out touched Dennis in the 100m fly. it took a new national record to win that race. a record that was older than i was. mine lasted 3 years. then Chas Morton broke mine....and has had it ever since.

    as one of the great MX racing greats Chad Reed said about the drive to win: "its not something you can learn, you are either born with it or not."

  9. #9
    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Re: Advice for a disappointed 11 year old son (new to swim t

    Someone just brought up a good point about growth spurts too. Kids that age, as I'm sure you know, all hit these spurts at different time, especially when those wonderful hormones start kicking in. He could hit his at another time and really blossom then.

    In short, stick with it! WE're all supporters.
    Kari Kennedy

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    Re: Advice for a disappointed 11 year old son (new to swim t

    i didnt grow then
    i didnt grow after

    my own son was was taller than me on his 12th birthday...6 years ago...now he towers 5 inches over me

    when we stepped onto the blocks at usms nationals in santa clara...this shadow went over me from the lane next to me.
    matt biondi is 11 inches taller than me. yeah, that guy with the 5 olympic gold medals.

    watch the mens 4x200 free relay from 1984 olympics....bruce hays...thats my size...fends off "the albatross" michael gross thats biondi sized.


    its not the dog in the fight but the fight in the dog

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