Selecting the best swim club and swim coach for your child
Posted on February 06 2015
Many parents rely on recommendations from neighbours or simply choose the swim club that is nearest to their home, but for your child to get the most out of their swimming experience, you as a parent, need to determine what the goal is for your child and this process should include your child.
Set Your Goals
The first step in looking for the right swim club is to sit down with your child. Talk with him or her and find out if they are interested in swimming for fun or if this is a sport they think they want to pursue more seriously. Gauge how interested your child is in learning to swim or in swimming competitively. Once you have written down the goals, you will have a better foundation on which to research nearby clubs to find the best fit.
Check the websites of all the swim clubs that are in your general vicinity. If your child is serious about swimming, you will be spending a lot of time at the club, so it should be as close by as possible to make it convenient to get to practices and meets.
Begin by visiting the clubs to watch lesson sessions, team practices and even meets, so you get a good feel for how the club operates and what the style of the club is. Check out their code of conduct and mission statement. Talk with some of the coaches so you understand their teaching and coaching philosophies. Learn what types of expectations they hold for their students and teams, observe how the treat the swimmers. Do they yell a lot or do you hear a lot of cheerleading and encouraging words?
Finally, ask what type of programmes they offer. Are their programmes distance-based or technique-based? This may not seem important but it can be the difference between a child falling in love with swimming, or hating it. Distance-based programmes focus on swimming long practice sets to develop a strong aerobic base. For younger children this can be very boring, and kill off their enthusiasm for swimming. Technique-based programs focus on stroke development and use interval sprint sets to increase swimming speeds. Both types of programmes are demanding, but in different ways.
Begin to match the goals and personality of your child against the goals, philosophies and personalities of the clubs. Choose a club that most nearly mirrors the personal style of your child and adheres to philosophies you, and your child, are comfortable with. Once you identify a club you think will be a good match for your child, ask for a trial period so your child can “try it on for size”. Most clubs have trial periods at the beginning of the new season. If they will not provide a trial period, try the next club on your list until you find one where your child feels at home and is happy to go to the pool and happy when they return from the pool.