The benefits of joining a swim team at an early age will last a lifetime. Besides the comfort of knowing that your child will be okay when he or she goes over to a friend’s house who happens to have a pool in the backyard, there are numerous other advantages. The earlier you start, the more comfortable the child will be with the water.
Swimming provides a structure to the day, a few days per week ritual as a young child, and later on a daily basis as a senior swimmer. Dedicating a few hours to swimming will teach time management skills. As a parent, you can help by sitting down with your child and planning a schedule, allotting time for swimming, homework, dinner, and playtime.
Swimming is an individual as well as a team sport. The nature of swimming, a sport measured by the clock, allows the child to set tangible goals and watch as he or she achieves them. As children work harder, they will notice improvement. In addition to competing for themselves, on a swim team, they will be a part of a larger group with a support system for their successes and failures along the way.
Swimming is one of the most rigorous sports and it requires hard work and sacrifice. Your child will learn that they must make some compromises, i.e., skip the late-night movie in order to go to bed on time and wake up ready for morning practice. This dedication will spread to all areas of life and teach the child to strive for balance.
Swimming can help plan the future. High school and college swimming are unique experiences. Not only can scholarships and recruiting help with admissions or with finances, but swimming in college will continue to build character and provide a group of supportive friends who will encourage one another along the way.
While swimming is an excellent sport, it is important to recognize when your child has had enough. Basic water safety and some stroke skills are necessary, but if a child is not enjoying it, don’t push it.