>My 10 year old is a maniac about swimming. He loves it so much I can't
>keep him away from swim practice. He's been swimming competitively for
>about 1.5 years. His idea of fun is an 800 IM (yuck)! His times aren't
>great, but he's got A times that continue to drop.
>Does anybody have any experience in how to keep this wonderful enthusiasm
>for such an excellent sport without burning him out? Cross-training in
I think giving him the choice of other sports is important. I played
soccer until I was about 14 and then I played tennis, all the while swimming
with a park district team. Swimming was always real fun for me. I've been
able to swim since I was about a month old and I started training when I
was ten. I started to become good when I was twelve (to my surprise) and by
the time I was four***, I realized I would be a top swimmer. But
participating in other sports gave me a good break from swimming, let me
meet more kids, taught me other training techniques and fired me up to swim
(because I realized that swimming was clearly my sport).
So letting the child decide is real important, of course you could
provide suggestions for other activities too. I can also tell you about
what happened to my brother. He started training when he was only 5! Too
early as it turns out. He was incredible. He was having fun and could
beat people two to three years older than him. But he was burned out by the
time he was eight. After being miserable for quite some time, my parents
finally gave in and let him do other stuff.
He played soccer, baseball, basketball and most recently volleyball.
He had fun but he realized, like I had, that swimming was his best sport. As
high school approached my parents wanted to get him swimming again so I told
them to let me handle it. After many conversations with him, he realized how
fun high school can be if you are a top varsity athlete, so he started full
time training the summer before his freshman year.
He didn't like training at first (who would?) but as soon as the
high school season started, he was hooked again. He now loves it and is
having fun again. He got best times again by November and by early January
he was beating my end-of-the-year freshman year times in freestyle and IM.
He made state in the medely relay (I was an alternate my freshman year) and
now he is approaching my sophmore year butterfly times (my best stroke) and
his medely relay is favored to win state this year (granted a :55 ***-
stroker helps :-) ).
I wrote all this to show you how letting the child do what he/she
wants to do is important. Who knows, if my parents had let my brother stop
swimming when he first wanted to, maybe he would have returned earlier and
be even faster now ... we'll never know. So ask your child what he wants
to do and listen. If he only wants to swim, let him do it and if he wants
to do something else, let him do that too. He'll get the most out of things
that he is happy with and forcing a child to do something that he is really
unhappy with (not including eating vegetables) could cause severe problems
in the future. Another way to look at it is that a child might work harder
at something (like swimming) because it was their idea, not their parents.
My brother and I are examples of that. It was my idea to join a team and
I worked hard for myself, not anyone else. My brother was put on the team
by my parents and I doubt he knew what he was being put into at the time.
He lost interest but now that he decided to swim, he is working
much harder than before, while enjoying it.
Hope this helps, sorry it's so long.