Posted on 04 August 2012.
Hi, should my highly competitive 10 year old take a break from swimming?
What are the benefits of taking say 4 weeks off in the winter season, contrasted with swimming all year with only a couple of short one week breaks? Would a shorter break of say two weeks be better than 4?
She doesn’t want to stop swimming – she loves it and wants to train as much as possible as she thinks that will help her swim faster.
She normally trains 4 times a week for swimming. She plays and trains for netball and basketball many times a week and runs once a week most weeks as well, so she is pretty fit.
Where can we find out more information about how much training she should be doing?
Thanks for your help. Leanne
Hi Leanne, Each swimming coach may have a different thought of when swimmers should have a break and for how long.
My personal thoughts are that children aged 10 years should have a minimum 6 - 7 weeks off a year to allow their body to recover from the training and assist it to grow and develop without the requirements of daily training. This can be taken in different ways however I would encourage at least one period each year of a minimun 3 weeks off and then possibly a couple of 1 to 2 week breaks during the year. Other coaches have had great success by giving swimmers shorter periods of rest more often, so there is no set rule. If a swimmer has a break for 4 weeks, I would recommend having a swim in week 3 and then a couple of swims in week 4 to gradually get back into it and make sure they dont lose too much feel of the water.
On top of this, there may be times when your child is sick during the year and it is important that they recover fully from any sickness so that their immune system can cope with the training that they are doing. This may mean missing a few sessions and then gradually getting themselves back into training over a one week period.
If you haven’t already, I would suggest buying Swimming for Parents as this book will answer many questions you will currently have and will have in the future about your daughters swimming and her progression in the sport.
The Swimming Expert
Posted in Coaching, Questions, Squad Swimming
Posted on 29 June 2012.
Hi, my daughter is 7 in November 2012. We think she may have the ability to be a competitive swimmer when she is a little older if she is still enjoying swimming the way she is now (she is very keen to). How do we go about this? Where is a good place to start? Any pointers gratefully received.
She is physically strong and is tall for her age. She has been in swimming lessons for a number of years and has progressed very quickly. She has received many compliments from experienced teachers about her ability.
In the last 6 months her stroke and speed in freestyle and backstroke has taken off. Her father and I enjoy sports including swimming but for recreational purposes.
She loves swimming and says that she would like to go to more classes and continue to improve. We live south east Melbourne.
Thank you. L
You are very fortunate that you have a daughter who loves swimming so much at such a young age.
The best way to start (and sorry for the self-promotion) would be to read a copy of www.SwimmingForParents.com. This book will provide you with so much information on how to assist your daughter over the coming years and is a book that you can read over and over again as your daughter moves through different ages.
The key for your daughter at this age is to work on her technique and skills as a priority. The technique she develops in the next 4 years will stay with her the rest of her life. If she can develop sound racing skills, including correct starts and turns in each stroke and for the individual medley she will be off to a great start.
When she turns 7 it may be worth her progressing into a little mini squad that swims twice a week for one hour and provides an introduction to competitions. Without seeing her swim though her teacher / junior squad coach would be in the best position determine the correct timing for this next step.
The Swimming Expert
Posted in Coaching, Learn to Swim, Questions
Posted on 07 May 2012.
I’m 12 years old and I want to become an Olympian swimmer.
How many hours should I be training a week and what should i be eating??
Thank you Nat:)
Hi Nat, Thanks for your email. To become an Olympian is a great goal to strive for.
As far as training is concerned most strong 12 year olds around the world would be doing 5 to 8 sessions per week. Each session would normally be either 1 1/2 or 2 hours.
Alot depends on the background you already have with swimming, that is, how many sessions you were doing as a 9, 10 and 11 year old. Coaches like to use what is called ‘progressive overload’ to help swimmers improve. This is where the number of hours you train increases each winter and summer season and so does the volume you do and the intensity that you swim.
What should I be eating, is one of the most common questions asked by swimmers and parents. I would highly recommend you get mum or dad to have a look at the Nutrition ebook that is available for sale at www.NutritionForSwimmers.com. The information in this ebook will answer all your questions and even provide you with some charts that you can print off and put on the fridge to give you deas for breakfast. lunch, dinner and snacks throughout the day. It is been written specifically for swimmers.
The Swimming Expert
Posted in Nutrition, Questions
Posted on 18 April 2012.
Hi, My daughter is 10 and has competed since she was 8 with good times in all strokes especially fly and free. She has had about 2 months off as a result of Osgoods Schlatters and then an accident with her pony. She is now worried her times will not be as good as her friends in the squad and they will all move to the next squad without her. Is there anything specific she should be doing on returning to training as the coaches have just said do what you can. Thanks CS
Hi CS, The situation you find yourself in with your daughter is very similar to the one many swimmers come across during the junior swimming years. From my experience if a swimmers aged 10 years has 2 months out of training, it will take them a good 2 months to get back into the full swing of training again. Whilst their short term performances may not improve a period of 2 months out of the water due to injury or illness will make no difference in the long term.
The advice you have received from the coaches sounds pretty good to me and I encourage your daughter to keep working on her skills and fitness at each training session and she will be fine.
In regards to friends moving up squads, this will happen to every swimmer at some time and I strongly encourage your daughter to keep doing the work that her coaches are providing her and I am sure she will also be considered for a move to the next squad when she is ready.
Some of the specific things she can do in training is focus on her stroke technique, keep practising her skills like starts, turns and finishes, and rebuilding her aerobic fitness.
If you would like more advice on how you support your daughter’s journey in competition swimming go to www.SwimmingForParents.com.
Posted in Butterfly, Freestyle, Questions
Posted on 06 April 2012.
Hi Gary, What is the best way to improve my daughters reaction time off the blocks, she is 10yrs old and seems to be overly cautious when doing her starts Regards Diane
Hi Diane, There are a number of different ways that children can improve their starts.
The first way is to practice them correctly and regularly. Your daughter needs to make sure she is getting into the correct position when the starter says “Take Your Marks’, with one foot forward and one foot back for a track start or both feet at the front of the block for a grab start. The toes of the front foot / feet should be curled over the front of the block and the body weight should be forward so that the centre of gravity sits over the front of the block (but not too far forward so they feel like they are going to tip in). On the starting signal she need sto push hard off the block as soon as she hears the signal, making sure that the toes are the last part of the feet to leave the block.
Some exercises that your daughter can do to improve her reaction time include:
- skipping on a regular basis
- practicing burpees so that she learns to jump out, jump in and jump up all as part of one exercise
- practice on the starting block by going into the take your mark position and then when someone claps their hands together she jumps out as far as she can
- the same as the one above, but diving out as far as she can.
The Swimming Expert and author of Swimming for Parents and Nutrition for Swimmers
Posted in Breaststroke, Butterfly, Freestyle, Questions
Posted on 19 March 2012.
Hello my name is J and I have an enquiry about swimming for young children. I live in the country and I have two children ages 4 & 6 and both have been doing swimming lessons for the last two years. Both children are very strong swimmers but the swim programme they are in never seems to place them in the appropriate lessons for their skill. My 6 year old is in a class two levels below her ability but because there aren’t any places in lessons she is meant to be in, she stays in the same class. With my 4 year old there are 6 children in the class and he probably spends half the class sitting at the edge of the pool whilst other kids with less ability get more attention from instructors.
I have looked into private lessons for them both but they are not offered where I live. What would be my next step in ensuring they get adequate swim lessons to further develop their potential? Is it suitable to put at least the 6 year old into a club where she will receive adequate training, and how old do children need to be before they can join a squad?
I look forward to your response. Regards J
Hi J, Thank you for your email. You have asked a number of complex questions so I will deal with them one at a time.
If your 6 year old is still in a class two levels below her ability you need to ask the supervisor at the swim school to assess her and if she should be up one or two levels, ask when a day and time may be available to help her progression. Ask also if they have a waiting list for current customers for the class level she needs to go into.
With your 4 year old, 6 children in a class is not uncommon. There is a large demand for swimming lessons in every area throughout Australia at the moment and many swim schools have maximum numbers of 5 or 6 pupils in a class. It may be worth mentioning to the supervisor your observations that they spend alot of time on the side as there are ways swim teachers can teach multiple children at the same time for some of the class.
Depending on what your local club offers, your 6 year old may be still young yet to take part in club squads and I would recommend a focus on moving her up a group or two in the swim school first to ensure she learns all the skills required to be a squad swimmer later on.
You may have already done a few of the things I have listed above and I would encourage you to follow them up again if this is the case.
Posted in Learn to Swim, Questions
Posted on 19 March 2012.
Hello, I am 57 yo and would like to join a swim squad for my age group. I used to swim competitively as a child in the country. Do such squads exist? if so, could you recommend one to me. Regards Libby, Ivanhoe, Victoria.
There are a number of Masters Swimming programs in Victoria, Australia that may be suitable for you Libby. Swimming is a very popular sport and health& fitness activity for men and woman of similar ages to you and with a competitive swimming background you would really enjoy it.
Information on Masters Swimming branches in each State can be found at www.swimclub.com.au and if you contact Masters Swimming Victoria, they will be able to assist you with clubs and squads in your local area.
Posted in Masters, Questions
Posted on 15 January 2012.
Gary Barclay talks about the correct hand entry in backstroke and what can happen if your hand does not enter in the correct position.
Hi my name is Gary Barclay, and today we’re going to have a look at backstroke. We’re going to have a look at one of the most common problems in backstroke, which is the position of the hand entry.
Now ideally, the hand is going to enter right in line with the shoulder and enter little finger first. However, what we find one of the most common problems in swimmers is that the hand overreaches so the hand goes back behind the head, or the hand enters a little bit too wide there.
We’re going to have a look at what happens when you do that. Now when you overreach behind your head, it makes your body snake down the pool. So if you see a swimmer doing backstroke and they’re snaking down the pool, quite often it’s because their hand entry goes in behind their head. It’s called overreaching, and sometimes it may be from over-rotating.
The best thing for a swimmer to do there is to enter a little bit wider so that their hand doesn’t enter in line with their shoulder. And on the other hand, if you have a hand entry where the hand enters too wide out to the side, the best thing for the swimmer to do there is to make sure that they are coming up right in line with their shoulder and that they enter in little finger first there. That’s what we’re looking for.
So there are a few hints for you on the hand entry in backstroke.
Posted in Backstroke, Videos