Yes, it’s that time of year again… the smell of chlorine and sunscreen, raccoon eyes under little kids eyes from their goggles being too tight, the cheers and those familiar words… take your mark, it’s summer swim team time!
My swimming career almost ended before it even got started. My mom was at her wits end with battling my brother and me about taking swim lessons and learning how to swim. Yes, we were THOSE kids. You know them, the ones who scream bloody murder when water touches them and yells embarrassing things at the top of their lungs while the parent sits there pretending that it is not their child! So my mom came up with this brilliant idea to put us on our neighborhood summer swim team. This should work right? I’ll tell the kids it’s not lessons, it’s a TEAM. I will trick them into learning how to swim. First day of practice, there was no fooling my brother and I, water was water. Lessons… team… still something we were not interested in. My first swim meet I hid behind a lawn chair almost the entire time. No one told me they used a starter’s pistol to send you in for your races! Loud noises were not my thing… my worst nightmare, water and now a starter’s pistol!
Now I should probably tell you what I do for a living. I have been a professional swim coach for about ten years now! That’s right, the sport I wanted nothing to do with, I now do professionally. Clearly I got over the whole water thing. Mom bought me a set of ear plugs to dull the noise and the rest is history! Swimming is the best thing that could have ever happened to me. No, not because it has now provided me with a career. Anyone who has ever coached knows you do not go into it for the money! Swimming helped shape who I am. Swimming is one of those rare sports where it is as much individual as it is team. The values that it teaches you are life lessons. My sense of independence, my organizational skills, my drive and focus and discipline are all a direct result of things I learned from the sport of swimming.
Although I would not advise getting your child involved in swimming quite the way my mom did, I would encourage you to get your child in the water. There are so many different kinds of aquatic programs out there to help you get started. Swimming lessons are a must. Your child needs to be water safe- the younger the better with this! Once your child is water safe, I highly recommend getting involved with a summer swim team. Nothing fosters enthusiasm better for the sport than summer league swimming. It is roughly 6 weeks of great summertime fun. Kids enjoy the competition and cheering with their friends and parents love it too! Most neighborhoods in the Charlotte area have pools associated with them and if your neighborhood doesn’t, most pools welcome non-neighborhood residents onto their team. There are leagues all over Charlotte, Huntersville, Concord and Mooresville. The camaraderie and life skills that swimming has to offer are unbeatable. It is also a great sport to keep your child conditioned for other sports they may play. Oh, and they do not use a starter’s pistol anymore at swim meets!
Six years old is probably a good age to start … your child needs to be comfortable making it from one end of the pool to the other (approximately 25 yards) however there’s no age minimum so if you’ve got a little fish on your hands, this might be a good opportunity for them.
Summer swim teams are a great way to get your child’s “feet wet” in the sport. If you find swimming is something your child shows interest in beyond a 6 week program, Charlotte is home to one of the largest year-round swimming programs in the country. Year-round swimming expands on the introduction they learn on a summer team and further develops those skills in year round programming. SwimMAC Carolina is a great place to start when deciding how to get involved in swimming beyond the summer time. They have programming available in North and South Charlotte, Huntersville, Davidson and Concord all year long.