Your Child’s Growth & Development

In this month’s meeting, we want to address two questions that competitive team families often have on their minds in reference to their child(ren)’s development.

  • How does my child advance at NSC once they’re on the competitive team?
  • What can I expect to see with their development as they mature?

The NSC Advancement Model

Before we show you how the advancement & development model works for our competitive team athletes, I want to tell you why this model (and the sport of swimming for that matter) is so great compared to most other sports.

  1. It’s transparent - All parties (athlete, parent, and coach) know where the athlete is in his or her development. This also acts as a good way to promote feedback if the athlete wishes to advance.
  2. Every kid gets their chance to advance - There’s minimal subjective evaluation criteria.

Group Structure - How is the team set up?

Our competitive team is separated into divisions by age / grade. We have three separate divisions on the team that are divided by grade with one exception which is Sea Serpents Race (High School Division, Middle School Division, Elementary Division). 

Within each division, we have separate groups and levels within the groups which are sorted by ability. Our groups are as follows:

High School Division = Creature Elite, Senior, and High School Recreational

Middle School Division = Middle School Gold, Silver, and Bronze + MS Recreational

Elementary Division = Elementary Gold, Silver, and Bronze + Sea Serpents Race

Within each group, the athletes are sorted into levels. These levels are often dictated by one’s ability to maintain appropriate practice paces. Consistent training at these training paces often correlate to meet performance. (ie - Consistently training within the Creature Elite 1 training paces means you put yourself in good position to perform at a level which will earn you a Junior National time standard)

Evaluation Criteria - How does my child move up?

Our training system and evaluation model revolve around technique and pace at practice.  While the evaluation criteria get more complex as the child advances through the system, those two indicators provide the backbone for evaluation.

Evaluation Timeline = When can my child move up?

Athletes can challenge themselves to move up at any time. When thinking about the move-up process, it’s best to think about the saying “stand out and fit in”.  If the athlete desires to move up, we first encourage them to “stand out” in their current group. At that point, they are provided the opportunity to “fit in” with the group in which they aspire to train. If they do so for a period of two weeks, they are moved into the group.

Does my child’s advancement at practices transfer to results at meets?

Yes. Although nothing can guarantee a result, consistent training within select levels often translates into achieving select time standards.

Elementary - system is too young for our elementary division swimmers us to say definitively what it will translate to

MS - Gold 1 (SRS), Gold 2 (13-14 AGS), Silver 1 (11-12 AGS), Silver 2 (13-14 Divisional), Silver 3 (11-12 Divisional)

HS - Creature Elite 1 (NCSA / Junior Nationals), Creature Elite 2 (SRS), Senior 1 (13-14 AGS), Senior 2 (Divisionals 15+), Senior 3 (13-14 Divisional)

The Typical Career Arc for a Competitive Swimmer

Having a fair understanding of what you can expect to see in your child’s career regarding their development makes you a more informed parent. When thinking about what may lie ahead, consider the chart below. DISCLAIMER - Athletes are humans. Not all humans are alike; therefore, it should be expected that not all athletes' progress will follow the same arc.

What Can You Expect & Things to Consider

Here are a few general expectations as they pertain to the typical development of a young athlete

  • Prepubescent athletes should see a steady rate of progress by and within each season.
  • It should not be a surprise if your child sees rapid development as they progress through puberty.
  • Many girls see large time drops between the ages of 11 - 14 due to puberty. This is why you see the largest drop in time standards for girls in 11-12 & 13-14 age groups.
  • Many boys see large time drops between the ages of 13 - 16 due to puberty. This is why you see the largest drop in time standards for boys in the 13-14 & Senior age groups.
  • As athletes get older and their training demands grow, it is not unusual for them to experience fatigue throughout the season and at competitions resulting in fewer time drops during the season.
  • There are many factors other than puberty that play a vital role in your child’s development and rate of progress. They are: motivation, practice attendance, coaching & training, sleep, nutrition, etc.