Maturation Part 2 – “Self-Selection”

A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Michael Conaton:

Last article was about physical maturation.  It stands to reason that early developers may be able to swim faster when they’re relatively bigger and stronger.  And we also argued that the comprehensive Badger approach of learning, loving and excelling was a practical way of accommodating both the early and later maturer.  We concluded with the observation that kids mature and matriculate through the Badger program at different rates and ages, by design.

Moving up through the groups at Badger and ultimately learning how to excel often happens in conjunction with what I’ll call your swimmers’ “self-selection” and enhanced dedication to swimming.  The article attached this week was on the USA Swimming website a few years ago.  It is in the form of Q&A and, right on point, addresses questions related to climbing the ranks within a swimming program.  Questions like:

“What type of commitment is necessary for a higher level of swimming?”
“Are morning workouts necessary?”
“Is my child sacrificing too much?”
“What does it mean to say the swimmer controls 80% of her training?”

Interestingly, the article is entitled “Training for Older Swimmers”. USA Swimming wrote this for “Senior Swimmers (13 & Over)”. Remember per last week’s missive, depending on physical and mental maturity this could be 13, 12…even younger? It’s not unusual or necessarily inappropriate for Kip and John to want some girls to train more at an earlier age, for example, as we all should know that generally females may mature physically earlier than males.

I still remember the day when our kids came home and said Kip wanted them to move up to John’s group.  They weren’t sure if this was good or bad!   What it means is the coaches believe your swimmer is physically ready to train more and push their bodies to excel (more on that later).

The article attached suggests that it helps when the kids are mature enough to step up their focus and dedicate themselves to harder and harder training…mental maturity, if you will. Because the sport of swimming is especially tough, the kids have to be self-motivated at a certain point.   For what it’s worth, our kids played and enjoyed different sports growing up which I believe actually contributed to their physical development and enabled them the perspective to be able to self-select ultimately into the sport that THEY wanted to pursue.  This happened at different ages for our kids. As parents, we were all about trying to get them to follow through with commitment but some days, you know life was just too short. We definitely had our moments of tears and dragging heels before some practices when they were a lot younger.  It tests your parenting skills for sure. They definitely missed a couple practices in the early days! What’s wrong with a mental health day every once and while to keep everyone fresh?

Comes a time though when the kids have to commit and want to do it themselves. I’m not saying not to push as that is our job to get them to the pool, but don’t be so hard on yourself parents…you can only push so much.

There’s no question there are the Phelps and Ledeckys of the world that train long and hard and swim fast at a young age and go on to become Olympians. If a kid self-selects that early and can physically and mentally train productively, all the power to them.   But it’s OK too if it ends up being a longer process…both the physical maturity and the self-selection.  I know it’s a recurring theme of mine, but I think it helps the kids (and parents!) to always think long term and trust in your coaches who know when it is time for your swimmer to be moved on and pushed a little harder. See article here.

Thanks for your input. mikecbadger@gmail.com.


Michael Conaton, Badger Swim Club Inc. and Badger Swimming Inc. accept no liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

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