Monday, December 31, 2012

In the Deep End

There seem to be a lot of parents who don't just want their kids to be able to swim, but want their kids to swim competitively. Maybe it's because the parents swam on team, or they got a rush watching the Olympics, or because it offers individual competitive opportunity for the kids to score some hardware for the trophy case at home.

Whatever the reason, I've seen more than a few kids moved to competitive swimming well before they've developed good mechanics. They don't effectively transfer energy into propulsion in the water. Their flip turns have all the grace of an octopus unfolding a lawn chair. They might come out of the starting blocks well, but they fade fast. Worse, the emphasis in team on endurance over mechanics reinforces the poor muscle memory of their strokes. If they ever hope to be competitive, they'll have to un-learn a lot of poor swimming mechanics - or take up a different sport entirely.

I hope she swims on team. I hope she likes the competitive aspect just as much as she likes being in the pool. But before she goes into a competitive situation, she's got to have developed the mechanics that will allow her to compete effectively. A good swimmer can become a great swimmer with refinement and endurance. A poor swimmer will never improve without mastering the fundamentals.