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Too Much Swim Training for a 12 year old Girl?

QUESTION:

Hello,

Our daughter is 12 1/2 years and currently trains with her swim team 16 hours a week; approximately 4 hours of that is land training.

She enjoys swimming and to-date has not complained about the 4:40am wake-up, or late night swims. Her school grades are good. She has had no injuries.

We fully support the team and her coach, but my husband and I are concerned that she is training to much for a 12 years old with a growing changing body.

We would be very grateful to hear your thoughts.

With kind regards,

SH

ANSWER:

Hi SH,

There are many 12 year old girls around the world who are training 6 x 1 1/2 to 2 hour swimming sesions per week and completing  at least 2 x 1 hour of land traing each week, so what your daughter is doing is not unusual.

Having said that, it is at the higher end of training loads for 12 year old girls and while I believe this is absolutely fine, you just need to monitor her health, injuries and enjoyment levels over time and look for any signs that she may not be coping.  It sounds though, like she loves the sport and is a very accomplished swimmer.

I know for families who have grown up outside swimming, training this often seems like it is alot, and while it is, it is not unusual either in many good programs around the world.

I have actually written a book called www.SwimmingForParents.com that you may be interested in as it answers questions like this one, and many others.

Regards

Gary



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3 Responses to Too Much Swim Training for a 12 year old Girl?

  1. Janet Wishart April 11, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    Hi, I’m writing from England where my son swims. He’s 10 and currently does 6 swimming sessions per week (11.5 hours). I always wonder if it’s too much as he doesn’t have any free time to play with friends. He also does rugby on a Sunday, but that is much more relaxed and almost fun! On top of the training he has competitions once a month which take up the whole weekend. I get that there are potential olympic swimmers in the squads and they have to do this to get the best kids, but I do worry that it is too much. My son loves the competitions and the comradery, but training is tough. It is also quite a ruthless sport; you can be picked to represent the team one minute and dropped the next. It’s a hard lesson for a 10 year old!

  2. Andrew McDonald May 6, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    My son just finished his 2nd short course season and has now aged up to 12 and starting his 2nd long course season. He trains 5 days a week for 2 hours—15 min of that is dryland each day. So he swims 10 – 1.25 = 8.75 hours a week and does 1.25 hours of dryland. By contrast, we drive 30 minutes (min) each way 5 times a week, which is 5 hours a week driving for me and 5 hours a week sitting in the car for him.

    In his first season was 8th as 10 year old boy in the New England SC Age Group Championship. In his 2nd season as an 11 year old boy he finished 2nd in the New England SC Age Group Championships with 4 gold medals and NE top times—he was top 6 in SC in 9 events. He was top-20 Nationally for 11 year old boys in 5 events.

    He is a big kid for his age, but he also works as hard as anyone I have seen and has incredible poise and attitude fir his age—a coaches dream in any sport. To reach this level in less than 2 years he had to “catch” kids who had been swimming since age 6-8. Some had been top 6 NES for several years already.

    The point is that I can’t see a benefit to have him train much more than he is doing already at his age. He is a technique focused athlete who only even looks at his times at the championship meets. 8 hours of swimming a week already has him closing in on the Nationsl top-10. Actually, he was a top-10 briefly!! His goals are about strokes and long-term success with a love for the sport. He has plenty of time to work up to 12, 16, or 20 hours a week in the pool. Why risk injury or burnout, and time to study or be with friends for some extra “glory” as a kid?

    Best regards!

    • Gary May 10, 2014 at 2:07 am #

      Hi Andrew,
      I would agree with your sentiments near the end of your post in regards to how much work your son is doing. We really want children to still be enjoying the sport at 16 to 18 years and beyond and to do too much at a young age affects their enjoyment and participation in the sport later on.
      Regards Gary

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