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When Will My Child Be Ready to Move Up?

A young swimmer wearing a yellow swim cap and goggles is swimming in a pool. Blue lane dividers are visible in the water. The text underneath reads, "When will my child be Ready to Move Up?" in bold white letters on a dark blue background.


Hi there, it’s Mike. I want to talk a little about swim team and how you know when it’s time for your child to move up to it. This is probably one of the most common questions we, as parents, ask. What I want you to know, from a parent’s perspective, from observing my kids, from owning a swim school, and from being a former Olympic coach, the answer always varies.

The most important thing to consider when discussing moving up is, is your child asking you for more swimming? That’s a good sign and one you want to pay attention to.

The next thing to consider, and equally as important, is the quality of their skill execution. I look at this as a stair step. When they first move into a new level, about 25% of what we ask them to do, they actually do it with the quality we expect. As they move up through the levels, that percentage grows higher and higher to where they are overall executing their skills at a very high level.

They are following instructions, they are enjoying themselves, and that’s when you know its close. They are swimming at the front of their lanes, they are swimming with the other kids instead of focused on doing their own thing.

These are signs you want to look for to indicate when it’s time to move up. Of course, there is a competency and quality of movement that goes with swimming that is important, so we want to make sure the skills are progressing, as well. Our teachers do in-water coaching as we believe watching underwater really gives your child the advantage to operate with higher quality strokes.

The second question I am often asked is, “When should my child start participating in swim meets?” The answer to this is when they get excited about them.

Try to make the challenge of swim meets smaller than what you think your child needs. If they are a little timid or nervous about swim meets, maybe go and simply watch the swim meet. Go the first time and swim just one event, get the otter pop, and say hi to the coaches. Do the team cheer and on your way you go.

Our swim team environment is great because it’s fun, relaxed, and its time commitment is less than a club program so that you are able to really take advantage of a fun, quicker experience and then can go on with your life outside swimming. Club swimming is a much bigger commitment financially, time-wise, and skill-wise.

What I want you to think about is smaller commitments at swim meets allows your child to feel very successful and, most of all, have a great time. It’s all about the otter pop, the racing, meeting cool people, and having fun.

I’ll see you around the pool.