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Patience with Young Swimmer


My daughter is 9 years old and has shown potential for swimming from a young age.  She is very tall for her age, very lean and long (her legs go up to her armpits!!).  She would be described as gangly.

She is having a weekly 1 hour “squad” lesson with a very competent teacher.  Over the last few weeks I feel her skills are deteriorating – she seems to be struggling to get her breathing right with freestyle (when previously it was very reasonable) and her backstroke (which used to be flawless) seems to have deteriorated.

My question is really whether it is common for kids to go backwards before they go forwards?

I realise that one hour a week is probably not enough but it is all we can manage right now.  My aim is for her to be a competent swimmer and to ultimately enjoy swimming, as well as to assist her lung function as she has asthma.  I’m keen to encourage her, however I’m feeling completely frustrated.  Her instructor has told me to persevere as she potentially has the right physique to be a good swimmer.

I look forward to your response and appreciate very much any further suggestions.   We live in Tassie.

Best wishes Kylie


Hi Kylie,

Often as children grow they will go through periods where they will lose coordination or feel awkward in the water.  This will happen on and off as they grow up, especially between the ages of 9 and 18 years.  So yes, it is common for children to go backwards before they go forwards as they grow and develop, and yes this can be very frustrating for a parent to watch.

When she begins swimming twice a week, which I would recommend she do as soon as possible, you will notice an improvement in her swimming after 8 to 10 weeks and she will become more consistent with her strokes as she develops a better feel of the water.

By the description you give of her body, it sounds look she has some good attributes that will assist her to be a strong swimmer as she gets older.  Be patient as her coordination may take some time to develop but when it does, and she gets some strength into her body she has every chance of being a competent swimmer.

At the risk of self-promotion, may I suggest that you get a copy of the Swimming for Parents book.  You will particularly enjoy the sections on ‘Athlete Development’ and ‘Female Development’.  You can access the book at www.SwimmingForParents.com.

I hope this helps Kylie and let me know if you have any other questions.

Regards Gary

The Swimming Expert

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