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How Far Should Young Children Swim?


I have a 8 year old girl and a 9 year old boy.

They get entered into galas having to swim 800m as well as 200m IM, 100m freestyle, up to 7 or 8 races at a time. Is this very good for them?

As a parent I would like to ask the question, at what age is it healthy/unhealthy to make kids swim such big distances so young?

Thanks AJ


Hi AJ,

Seven to eight races in a single day is a lot for a young swimmer, especially if there are one or two longer distance swims in there.

“Is this good for them?”  It really depends how they cope on the day.  To me the number of races seems a bit excessive for this age group and in my coaching experience I often found 4 to 5 good quality races would be the right number.

In regards to young children swimming 800m swims, I believe this is fine and so long as they are using correct technique, will be beneficial for them over time.  I’m not sure they need to do them all the time, as swims like this can also have the opposite affect and turn some children away from swimming – especially those who just like to race short distances or have short concentration spans.

The other benefit of doing a few 800m races is that those swimmers who practice on a regular basis will often perform better and see improvements in their times than those swimmers who turn up for practice irregularly and do not always put in a solid effort.

Some swimming coaches would even argue that children at a young age should only be allowed to race 200m events upwards because the 50 and 100 metre events can often reward the early developers who are stronger  at a young age, whilst the distance events reward the children who put in a consistent effort at practice.



The Swimming Expert

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