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Swim Squad based on “Age” or “Ability”


Hi, should swimming training at a swim club be based on “age” rather than on “ability” of the swimmer?

My daughter is a very dedicated and competitive 11-year-old swimmer who thrives on challenges and achievements. She is genuinely getting bored of her training because she does not find it challenging enough to swim with the younger ones (9, 10 & 11 year-olds) and she is not allowed to train with the next age group (12, 13 plus) because she is “only” 11, even though she is both physically & mentally ahead of her own age!

I’ll be grateful for your advise and opinion. Thank you. J


Hi J,

Your question is a difficult one to answer because each club or coach may do this a little differently.

In the Clubs I have been involved in as a swimmer and as a coach over the past 38 years they have all selected squads based on both age and ability.  I have been fortunate to be involved in larger clubs so this has been releatively easy for the club to achieve.  The ages of the squads tend to overlap. eg 10-12 years, 11-13 years, 12-15 years.

It is important that children of a similar age get to train together for their social development, however swimmers also need to be challenged and if they are swimming at a level higher than others in their group then they will probably need the stimulus of the next group up.

This is often more the case with girls as many of them tend to mature at a slightly younger age than boys and they often can crave the opportunity to swim with children slightly older than themselves.

Having said that, the problem that many clubs have is that if they only have 3 squads, there may be one for the 9 to 11 year olds, one for 12 to 15 year olds and one for 16 years and over.  While it would seem easy in principle for a coach to take an 11 year old up to train with the next ‘age group’, this will often cause alot of problems with other swimmers parents who believe their child should also be given the same opportunity.

Hope this has helped and if anyone else has some suggestions, please add a comment below.



The Swimming Expert


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