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Swimming is a very enjoyable activity for many children. Many swimmers, especially those who start at an early age, become very good swimmers within a few years of consistent swim lessons. A question that often comes up is “When is my child ready for a swim team?”
USA Swimming, the national governing body for competitive swimming in the United States, recognizes the youngest age group for swimming athletes to be age 10 and under. Many local groups, including W.H.A.L.e (West Houston Aquatics League) break down this age group even further, offering events for children age 6 and under.
Depending on your child’s skill level and maturity, children can join a swim team as early as age five, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, there are other factors that determine whether or not your swimmer is ready, including:
Emotional and Mental Readiness
While joining a competitive swim team is determined by age, there are many other factors that determine a child’s readiness for competitive swimming, including emotional and mental readiness. In addition to swimming abilities, your child’s cognitive skills should be on par as well, or he could have a hard time with drills and following an assigned workout. Children must also be emotionally ready for the stresses that come with a coach’s critiques, winning/losing, and self-discipline to stay on course and improve their skills. If a swimmer joins a swim team before he is ready, they may get discouraged and soon decide that swimming is not fun anymore or that it is too much work.
Basic Strokes and Skills
Before joining a competitive swim team, it is important that swimmers learn to not only be safe when in and around water, but establish basic swim skills in a positive, encouraging, fun environment. The Survival Swim program and Stroke Development program are two programs that offer opportunities for students to learn basic water safety and swim skills where one skill is built upon another. These skills are practiced repetitively so that your child acquires a level of proficiency. Students enrolled in our Stroke Development program move through six different levels of classes to build basic strokes and skills, however, there is no time limit to complete each level. Swimmers in this program learn at his own pace to become independent and confident in the water.
Transitioning from Swim Lessons to Swim Team
For swimmers who have mastered basic swim strokes and skills, but still want to continue developing his own skills and endurance before joining a swim team may enroll in a bridge program, like our Pre-Competition Swim program. This program is composed of a variety of different swim sets and drills designed to improve current swim skills for a competitive swim team. However, swimmers do not compete competitively, only amongst each other.
If your child has mastered the four basic swim strokes (freestyle, butterfly, breaststroke, and backstroke), is mentally and emotionally ready, and expresses a clear desire to join a swim team, he is likely ready to try it out.
Texas Swim Academy’s offers many programs for swimmers to improve their swim skills. For more information about our programs, please visit our programs page.