When Should Season End For Age Group Swimmers?
Season should end after a swimmer's championship meet. Right? Seems obvious, but in todays complicated coach-parent-parent board climate, this has become a tricky question. It shouldn't be, because breaks between swim seasons are important. Numerous studies have shown the physical and mental benefits of time off. So why do teams now actively encourage swimmers who already competed in their championship meet, and who did not qualify for additional meets, to continue to practice?
The cynical reason... revenue.
Teams charge on a yearly basis. So, some parents feel they aren't getting their money's worth if swimmers are not allowed to come back to practice before the official end of season. They also do not want their swimmer to miss out on time with their friends and coach. Understandable, but swimmers develop at different rates. Some age group swimmers lag behind due to growth spurts, when their bones are growing longer, and their muscles are not as flexible. It can make swimming a challenge they aren't physically capable of meeting during that time of their development. Or maybe they are at the bottom of the age group. Perhaps, your swimmer doesn't make championship cuts during this period, but they might come back next season and qualify for everything! Sports peaks and valleys are lessons in patience. And sending swimmers back to the pool when their season is done is confusing, not only that, but it might be sending the wrong message. It might tell them that no matter how much time they dropped, how many leaps and bounds they made, it was not good enough. So back they go. Many feel they are being punished by their parents. And at the pool they spend practice explaining to their teammates why they are back at practice. By not allowing the season to end in a natural progression, the swimmers who qualify to move on, miss out on smaller practice groups and one on one time with the coach. A benefit they earned.
Offer dryland during the breaks. If you don't already have it- rent gym space. This will allow the kids who completed their championship season to be with their friends and teammates while they work on things that will benefit them long term, such as coordination, core development, and strength training. This gives swimmers a much needed break from the pool. Prevents injuries. And they will come back super charged- ready, willing, and eager to swim!