Parents often ask me if their child is ready to start competitive swimming. Below are five points that need to be taken into account.
Most swimmers tend to start out competing between the ages of 7 and 12. However, it's never too late to start!
2. Ability & Speed
Swimmers really need to be able to swim at least one stroke comfortably for 50 metres. They don't need to be naturally fast, but as a guide, swimmers under 10 should be able to swim 50m freestyle under 65 seconds.
If the child enjoys swimming and likes hanging out with their friends from swimming, that's a good start. Children don't need to be naturally competitive to get started.
4. Time & financial commitment
Time can be a factor to consider for some families. Swimmers typically attend 2-3 swim meets each school term and most meets run for around 3-4 hours. The meets are held at pools around Metropolitan Melbourne, so driving time needs to be factored in too.
Also, swim meets aren't cheap - usually each event costs around $10 to enter.
5. Are the parents ready?
Sometimes the question is not so much whether the swimmer is ready but whether the parents are ready! Competitive swimming can bring out the best and worst in some parents. Some parents fall into the trap of getting too serious about junior sport, so attending swim meets just becomes an unpleasant experience for the child of such parents.
Parents need to have the maturity to understand that their child wont necessarily be the fastest in the pool and wont improve every time they swim.
Give it a shot!
Sometimes the only way to find out if they are ready is to give it a shot. At Tateswim, we run Junior Time Trials twice per year so swimmers can get a taste of what it is like to compete. We run 25m and 50m events in each stroke and swimmers can pick what they would like to race in.
You won't know unless you try!