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How to balance training and life as an age group swimmer

How to balance training and life as an age group swimmer

Many age group swimmers (between ages 10 – 17years) and their parents can find trying to balance swimming demands overwhelming. Having a swimmer in the family can impact such things as, family time, holidays, weekends, meal-times and sleep. 

More recently, due to many studies around the world, the philosophy around training age group swimmers has evolved and coaches are understanding the benefits for swimmer performance long term if individuals are provided with a more balanced approach towards their swimming. 

Swimming organisations around the world are working with universities to provide a better understanding, in regards to children development in relation to swimming training. A couple of links below will provide additional information regarding this process:  

Swimming Australia - Project H2Grow 

GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF SWIMMERS (teamunify.com) 

These studies have recognised greater achievement as an older swimmer when greater emphasis is placed on balancing training, skills and technique with additional activities such as; team sports, bike riding, surfing, yoga, dance and free play are offered.  These activities support their growing bodies with better mobility and flexibility, which will enable their swim coach with the ability to provide stroke correction more effectively. The swimmers are then able to adapt to the change in a shorter period.   

Swimmers who are more balanced can enjoy swimming as a whole and then be more prepared physically and mentally as they feel less like there has been a sacrifice given to achieve their goals, this then channels a focus towards enjoyment of the process. The purpose for a quality age group coach is to manage the swimmers through the years towards moving into an open swimmer who has then a high-quality level of swimming techniques and continues to enjoy swimming. This process can prove difficult if the swimmer feel they have made great sacrifices to being in the sport during the age group years. 

The key elements to consider towards providing a more balanced approach are: 

  • Plan holiday breaks for the family after talking with the coach around optimum times throughout the year 
  • Ensure the swimmers can plan a free day during the week  
  • Plan an adaption long weekend after attending 48 – 52 sessions 
  • Balance sessions throughout the week with the coach to include additional activities  
  • Re-assess attending every swim meet or time trial and be more specific to allow the swimmer weekend time 
  • Consider writing down goals related to skill development as well as times without time frames 
  • Look into adding mobility and flexibility exercises into the schedule to support the risk of injuries such as shoulders rotation. The swimmers understanding of how their body moves can assist in their ability to apply changes to their stroke more effectively and efficiency. 

Age group swimmers will be in this stage of their development for around 8 years. Four of these years are in the learning to train phase, followed by the training to train phase.  It is essential that they are provided with the best environment to develop mentally and physically during this period to maximise their performance as they are moving forward into being well rounded open swimmer. 

The family and the swimmer will be better prepared as a whole by taking their time and enjoying the process, injury free. 

Rachel Brennemo (Performance Coach) and the HC Coach Team 

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