Is My Child Ready for Swim Team?

Swimmers ages 5-18 are welcome to join the Goochland YMCA swim team. Skilled coaching staff will help your child with stroke technique and endurance while incorporating the four core values of the YMCA swim teams; everybody swims, everybody wins. Each swimmer must be able to swim the length of the pool without stopping, backstroke and freestyle

Swimmers should register with their age group. 

Is your Child Ready for Swim Team?

Are you wondering whether to sign your son or daughter up for swim team at your local pool? Of course, you want it to be a positive experience, so that they'll return to the pool each season. To get them off to a good start the first time around, make sure they are prepared for the swim team experience. Here some important questions you can ask to determine whether your child is ready for the swim season.

1. Does your child meet the minimum skills required?
Many, if not all, teams require that all swimmers have learned a few essential skills. So the real question to ask is this: does your child know how to do freestyle with side-breathing? And can your child swim backstroke? That is typically the bare minimum. Your child will be asked to swim freestyle and backstroke unassisted for 25 yards. Their stroke technique does not have to be perfect.

2 When was the last time they were in the pool?

Swimming is like any other skill: if you don’t use it, you start to lose it. School teachers start every year with a review of skills learned the previous year for a reason. Just because your child demonstrated perfect beautiful freestyle in their lessons does not mean that they remember how to swim like that. Additionally, as kids grow, they have to get used to the mechanics of their ever-changing bodies. Give them some help remembering (or some assistance adjusting to their new height!), and sign them up for a few lessons prior to the start of swim team.

3.  How well does your child follow instructions?

As coaches, we are teaching your child new skills every day. Your child will be much more likely to get something out of their swim team experience if they are old enough to listen to a non-parent and follow simple directions (such as, “One lap of freestyle!  Ones, ready, go!”). Listening and direction-following skills are also important because they make for a safer environment for everyone on the team. Some children are able to do this starting around the age of four, and most all children by the time they are five or six years old.

4. Is your child willing to use the required equipment?

Goggles are important for a positive swim team experience. Kids (and adults) who wear goggles tend to swim with better technique for a variety of reasons: they are able to see where they are going and can tell whether they are headed in a straight line without lifting their head out of the water (a big no-no in freestyle!); they will be able to “look for the black line,” which keeps their head in a more neutral position; and they won’t use their breath to try to shake the water out of their eyes. Plus, goggles prevent burning or watery eyes after practice. Hot Tip: Goggles for Kids Young children need goggles that are designed to fit their kid-sized faces.  Youth goggles typically have smaller lenses to fit their smaller eye sockets. 

Long hair needs to be tied back or tucked into a swim cap. Just as with the goggles, wearing a swim cap can help your son or daughter swim better. When they don’t have to brush their hair out of their face to see or take a breath, they will be able to focus on swimming, and they will automatically swim with better technique. Swim caps come in fun colors, many with funny designs, and are available in several materials. Latex caps are cheaper than the thicker silicone ones, and much cooler for summertime swimming, but they don’t last as long.

In some cases the coach may give permission for swimmers to not where goggles or caps, but only if the child has demonstrated they are not causing any safety issues.

5. Is your child comfortable in the water?

Your son or daughter really needs to be comfortable in the water. If they are overly scared or worried (some fear is very natural response), they’ll spend more time and energy worrying than they will spend swimming and learning to swim. At that point, the stress of the experience may outweigh the fun. Of course, this varies greatly from child to child, and can be mitigated if their coach is someone they’ve taken lessons from already, or if they have friends who are also on the team.

We are here to help you.  If you have any questions or concerns contact the Goochland YMCA.