March 8, 2013
The Value of Your Child Competing at Meets, Especially Taper Meets
Swimming is a peak performance sport. Every practice, every workout for every athlete is a form of stressor that produces adaptations in the energy systems (aerobic and anaerobic) and muscle fibers of the athlete. Over time those adaptations add up and the coach, by means of a taper (reducing workloads over a short period of time incrementally) manages the stressors and adaptations to facilitate a peak performance, (a series of days where the body is in peak physiological condition to deliver energized and optimum performances at a swim meet).
Younger swimmers do less work and so their tapers are more like short rests, but the same principles apply and they are also capable of their own peak performances.
The purpose of being on a competitive swim team is to compete, and in so doing, not only get faster, but learn, develop and grow as a person. Indeed, that’s where the long lasting influence and value of the sport manifests itself. At every level of development, as the swimmer moves from one level of speed to the next, C to B, B to A, A to JO’s, etc. all the way to Olympic Trials and beyond, there are corresponding levels of maturity, wisdom, toughness and character that are developed in order to facilitate and fuel the improvements in the pool.
As someone who has parented himself, ( I have a nephew that I raised through middle school and high school), it was the personal growth and character development from the sport that I prized most in Daniel, and I saw a great deal of it as he improved from level to level as a swimmer. In fact, that personal growth had to be developed for him to continue to get faster. He had to learn how to goal set, how to deal with and overcome adversity, how to be tough, disciplined and hard working, how to be humble in victory and dignified in defeat, how to problem solve, how to get along well with others, how to be part of a team, how to communicate with authority, how to take responsibility for himself and his outcomes, how to succeed, how to postpone gratification and much, much more.
But can our young people learn the lessons this sport has to offer, if they are only half heartedly invested; if they don’t attend many meets, and especially if they don’t attend the taper meets for their respective group? We live in the heart of Silicon Valley and we all lead busy lives, and it’s difficult to make every meet. But, in 20 years of coaching, I have observed that the folks who support their children attending the majority of meets are the ones who see the most return on their investment in the sport.
For this weekend’s CBA+ meet, less than half the eligible swimmers will be attending, and that sort of number is becoming routine for much of the team. We do have a core group of swimmers who attend most every meet, and they are reaping the benefits.
For the parents of young age groupers, consider the value of already being a good swimmer when your child attends high school and goes out for swimming or water polo. It is a tremendous advantage to them, both athletically and socially, and helps boost self confidence. We have some tremendous high school swimmers and water polo players right now on the team. All of them had the benefit of regular attendance at swim meets, where they were able to establish a foundation of Competitive Development (defined as growth in mindset, character, fitness, race pattern skill sets, toughness and ability to step up when it matters) they could build on to succeed even more through the high school years and beyond.
Please look at the team’s upcoming schedule, and ask your child’s coach when the next taper meet will be; then do what you can to put your swimmer on a path to be ready for it by planning to attend it and the lead up meets on the way to it. Over time, you’ll see the growth!