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When Should My Child Start Competing?

Updated: May 1, 2018

Too soon, too late, just right. The parent, coach, and swimmer know the answer to get it just right. Below are some questions to answer when determining if it is the right time for your child to start competing.

  1. How old is your child? The younger the child, the more seriously the below questions should be taken.

  2. Can your child "legally" swim the stroke(s) he/she will be racing? Legal means that the child will not be disqualified for an incorrect arm or leg movement, breath, turn, underwater movement, or even dive.

  3. If your child is disqualified for an illegal motion during his/her swim, how will your child respond? How will you respond? The only correct answers are POSITIVITY and PERSEVERANCE. Any other answers are not appropriate for your child's overall love for competitive swimming.

  4. Is your child afraid of diving from the starting block? These issues should be resolved BEFORE his/her first competition.

  5. Can your child dive without losing his/her goggles or having them fill with water? One of the worst feelings is diving incorrectly and consequently, not being able to see where one is going.

  6. Does your child's coach think he/she is ready? Trust your child's coach. He/she probably wants to see your child succeed. Did we mention trust your child's coach?

  7. Who is competing, you or your child? First meet or 100th swim meet, you should NOT be living through your child.

  8. At many meets, the parent is not allowed on to the pool deck. Will your child be ok in the hands of only his/her coach who is also helping other children?

  9. If your swim team offers it, have you tried a smaller size, lower-intensity, swim meet?

  10. What is the objective for your child's first meet? The only goal should be to HAVE FUN. Any other goal is placing the cart before the horse.

Competing should be a WIN for the child, WIN for the parent, and WIN for the child's coach. Everyone wins when the above 10 questions are evaluated with honesty and objectivity.