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Swimming - how much is too much?

(50 Posts)
SeriouslyAnnie Thu 29-Oct-15 13:04:35

My son, who is nearly 11 has been swimming with a club for 2 years, he loves swimming and is really happy with the club.
It's a small friendly club and he currently does the maximum amount of sessions which add up to 5 hours a week.
He's doing quite well and has multiple county times, however his heart is set on regionals. He has asked to join another club which is far more competitive, and the squad they'd like him to join would require him to be swimming 11 hours a week, including 2 mornings before school and land training.
I know many children do this, it just seems an awful lot for a 10yr old.
Is it really worth it just to knock off a few seconds to get the times he wants? I'm worried he will stop enjoying it.
How do children cope with such intense swim training?

FannyFanakapan Thu 29-Oct-15 13:21:34

my DS is a swimmer. He was expected to do 14 hours a week plus 3 hours landwork. It was too much - we just could not arrange it with little ones in the house , plus he was exhausted.

I personally felt that 8 hours (4x 2 hour sessions) at 11 was more than enough. (WIth the caveat that some 12 year olds are 6ft tall, and they may well be able to keep up that punishing pace a lot earlier.)

Even now, 8-10 hours is enough - he swam in nationals last season. From next year, he is expected to do 16 hours a week plus 3 landwork.

My son was pushed too hard at 11/12 and ended up with a very serious shoulder injury that required many months of physiotherapy.

COaches are not always aware of the limitations of pre-pubescent anatomy and developing bodies. I would proceed with caution and gradually increase the amount of swimming he does.

Ancienchateau Thu 29-Oct-15 13:24:04

When I was his age, in addition to normal lessons, I was doing 2 hours of extra training every night plus spending the whole of Saturday and usually one week night at competitions. I was very keen to begin with, like your DS, but as I got older, I started to really resent it. When it got to taking it to the next level age 15, I jacked the whole thing in. I don't have any regrets. I just didn't want to give everything else up in my life to focus 100% on a national level. Many children will though and as long as your DS is enjoying it currently, let him go for it and time will decide if he wants to stick with it.

greenhill Thu 29-Oct-15 13:26:05

Other 10 year olds are presumably doing this tougher regime, it might be worth checking the new club out yourself, ask parents how long their DC have done it for and whether other children drop out due to the change of pace. There will be testimonials on the swimming website, but they'll be positive.

Presumably if he bores of it, he will tell you. You have said just how much he loves swimming and has his heart set on regionals, will he be disappointed if he's prevented from moving on, as he obviously feels ready to do so?

I suppose the real questions are: are you prepared to drive him to all these lessons? How will it fit into your family life? Will it make him tired for school? Will it be worth it for you, as a family, if he drops it after a short time?

SeriouslyAnnie Thu 29-Oct-15 14:55:47

I know very well that this particular club has many swimmers drop out because they cannot keep up, and they stop enjoying it. However they also have some incredible swimmers.

My main concern is him giving it all up. I'd rather he stayed at County level until 18 than do really well now and quit completely in a few years. He doesn't think like that though so I feel I should encourage it while he's so keen.

The club he is with works perfectly for our family as my 7yr old Dd also swims at the same time. A new club would mean Dd sat poolside for 2 hours, 2 or 3 nights a week. I'm not really sure how it would work out until I gave it a try.

I hadn't even considered the possibility of injuries, he's very small for his age so it will be tough on his little body.

One other question, what do you do about food when swimming early mornings?

Thanks for all the replies, I've lots to think about

LemonBreeland Thu 29-Oct-15 15:06:42

DS1 is 12 and also swims. He currently does 5.5 hrs a week. He could join the county squad and that would add 3 mornings but at this stage no land training.

I am lucky in that DS1 is happy doing the current amount of swimming. It is hard with sport like this where you are expected to do more nad more hours.

My concerns would be injuries, I think 10 is too young for that level of training, and also I think that a balance with family life is important. I have 2 other DC and I ma not running a family of 5s lives around 1 child. That is unfair on everyone else.

I think you should tell your DS that you do not want to commit to that level at the moment but agree to review it in future.

LemonBreeland Thu 29-Oct-15 15:08:17

DS1 does do one early morning swim atm. He eats a small breakfast before then has a sacond breakfast afterwards. The pool is near Grannys house though, so that makes it easier for us.

mrsplum2015 Thu 29-Oct-15 15:16:25

My dd is nearly 11 and a synchronised swimmer. She trains 12 hours per week, I think 3 land and 9 water, and sadly (for me) still does 2 other sports too....!

It is hard and she has spates of being exhausted, ie falling asleep at the drop of a hat. But she is fit, strong and happy so at the moment I don't question it too much.

I am not sure though why your 7 yo will be poolside more? I have always maintained that none of my dc will be run ridiculously around the others. I have a 2yo and 7yo and no one ever has to manage more than an hour sat watching another (try to avoid any hanging around where possible) . With synchro I even try and avoid the younger ones having to come for all the transport as that is 8 lifts per week of varying distance!

mrsplum2015 Thu 29-Oct-15 15:18:06

Ps re food we just fit it where we can. Most sessions are evening so it involves serious food after school, usually cereal or bread based with an egg or some cheese then a late supper on return.

FannyFanakapan Thu 29-Oct-15 15:30:39

Re food..ds has something light and carby - cereal bars and a weetabixdrink (bfast I think they are called) and then has milk and a sandwich or three after swimming.

thoroughlymodernmillie Thu 29-Oct-15 20:17:26

My DD is 10 and does about 11 hours per week. She has been doing that for about a year and a half. She has all county times but is too young for regionals To be honest I do worry about how much training she does as some days she looks knackered. I always give her the option if she looks tired of having a night off. Before morning training she has a shake and a breakfast bar after training it's normally eggs.
I would say that five hours training a week may not get him regional times and for county times in the coming years he will probably need to do more hours. Most kids at that level and age seem to be doing 10 hours or more.
It's a sport where if you want to take it serious takes a massive commitment from not just the kids but parents as well

Youarentkiddingme Thu 29-Oct-15 20:30:09

My ds has just started swimming with a club. He was swimming half hour a week with local leisure centre but club turned up recruiting. He was keen. He currently does just 2x30 mins a week but I know boys his age that do 50m 10 sec faster (!) are doing between 5-12 hours a week. In fact writing it down my ds didn't do too badly at all - he did club champs 2 weeks after joining and was racing boys who've been there years and train up to 10 hours a week more!
Ds hasn't been asked to join a squad. If he does the first stage of squad means 4 hours a week.

I would let your DS train for regionals if he wants. But you do need to look at what club he's in if the current one doesn't offer more than 5 hours a week.

NewLife4Me Thu 29-Oct-15 20:44:05

OP, I know it's completely different but I have same problems with a musical child i.e is it too much.

I'm beginning to have the attitude suggested by Anchien
Let them go for it and they'll let you know if it becomes too much.

SeriouslyAnnie Thu 29-Oct-15 23:34:07

Thankyou I will stock up on shakes and cereal bars.

My Dd will need to be at the pool as my husband works evenings, I don't have a choice but to take her with us.

I do believe he could continue at County level on 5 hrs a week, the club has many county swimmers doing that amount of training as well as several regional swimmers, just not at age 10!

I think I'm just going to try it out, and if it doesn't go well, hope that his old club will be happy to have him back.

Youarentkiddingme Fri 30-Oct-15 08:23:29

Could your DD transfer clubs too? Would she be able to manage training the same number of hours as she does now if she did?

SeriouslyAnnie Fri 30-Oct-15 09:40:45

We looked into it, but the group she would be in trains on the same days as she already does, so it wouldn't make any difference, in a few years it would be an option through.

mrsplum2015 Sat 31-Oct-15 06:27:57

But why do you need to be there? Surely all parents can't afford the time as the children old enough to be unsupervised? I drop my dd off and collect her, as similarly my dh isn't always around and there's no way I could sit there with a 2yo, often past her bed time. The club has an emergency procedure and my phone number. Luckily we are now less than 5 mins from the pool. It used to be an hour round trip which made the travel extremely arduous.

Brioche201 Sat 31-Oct-15 12:07:12

As a parent of gymnasts I laugh at the idea of 11 hours aa week for a 10 year old being a lot!

exaspero Sat 31-Oct-15 12:12:16

Dd3 does a sport that involves swimming. Coach says twice a week perfect at 9. Any more is too much as by the time they are 14 they will have burnt out. Obviously all children are different and gymnastics is one of those sports which young children seem to train a lot very early.

SeriouslyAnnie Sat 31-Oct-15 17:42:50

11 hours of gymnastics is very different from 11 hours of swimming. Swimming 6km before school then another 6 or so after school is going to be exhausting especially when sleep is going to be cut short due to timing of the sessions. It's not so much the amount of hours but everything that comes with it.

I can't leave him unsupervised until he is 14.

Brioche201 Sat 31-Oct-15 18:57:46

11 hours of gymnastics is very different from 11 hours of swimming

really?

BackforGood Sat 31-Oct-15 19:29:01

It was at this stage that my ds had to give up, tbh.
It only becomes more, and more.
We are a family of 5, so it seemed unfair ? (unrealistic?) to commit so much time to just one person's interest.
It's not the evenings so much - you presumably can take turns with other parents and just take, or just fetch - but it's a massive commitment to get them to training 2 or 3 hours before school starts 2 or 3 times a week. Then there's the galas, which start coming further and further away, and last for many hours.
It's just not realistic for families where other dc have commitments, as well as the adults, as well as going to work, and all the mundane things in life like shopping and cooking and washing etc.etc.

We went for diversification - triathlon, but what about water polo, or other things like sailing / rowing / kayaking instead?

SeriouslyAnnie Sat 31-Oct-15 21:07:29

Yes your right, the trainings only a small amount of the commitment, next month he has 4 open meets, 2 of which last all weekend, then 3 club champs sessions and another club competition. We don't have a single weekend free. But my son loves the racing so it's not like I'm dragging him to things he doesn't want to do. And in just over a year my Dd will be old enough to do them too.

I did actually think about triathlon, maybe if he finds it all to much I can look into it.

Hopefully the parents are friendly at the new club and I can find someone to take turns with!

And yes Brioche if course it is different. I'm not saying swimming is harder, I'm saying it's different. Obviously there are the physical effects on his body but it's more the exhaustion I'm concerned about. Swimming from 7-9pm he won't be home in bed until 10, then up at 4.45am for 2 more hours swimming. I certainly couldn't do it.

chaletschoolgirl Sun 01-Nov-15 15:40:35

Your ds is obviously doing well on 5 hours a week to get multiple county times. I think there's a lot to think about before deciding whether to take the next step. My ds is 11 and has been squad swimming for 5 years. He has medalled at regionals. He trains 4 times a week (8 hours in total plus a bit of land training). Three are after school and the weekend one means he's getting up at 0415. The pressure is on to do more, but we're resisting it for now!

If your ds moves to the more competitive club and he doesn't do the amount of sessions they require from him, will he be asked to leave? Some competitive clubs 'cull' their squad swimmers on a regular basis to make room for others, ie if they're not doing enough squads or they're not achieving enough regional times. If that happens, how will your ds take it? Will his first club have him back?

Are you in it for the long term or the short term? There is nothing wrong with either approach, but a big increase in hours may bring short term success but at the risk of burning out. I've seen this happen a lot in our club - 10 years doing 12+ hours a week and achieving regional golds but quitting age 11 or 12. We have a massive drop out rate once secondary school starts - and we're not a very big or competitive club.

Many top swimmers (Adam Peaty, Ross Davenport) say they didn't do more than 4 or 5 squad swims a week until they hit puberty. They weren't wildly successful at age group swimming, but stayed with it long term and reaped the rewards.

A big thing to take into account is the move to senior school. My ds started year 7 this year together with the longer days and extra homework and extra-curricular activities this involves. That is one of the main reasons why we're not doing more than 4 squads a week. He is very small for his age and tires easily. Sometimes we drop an evening swim and do a before school one (ie getting up at 0445) and sometimes we do two swims in a day - before and after, but only when we absolutely have to.

It's easy to get caught up in the world of swimming. We still have 10 and 11 year old club swimmers swimming 12+ hours a week, plus intensive swimming courses in holidays and private lessons on technique on top of that. There's no way my ds can compete with that, but I know if we went down that route he would quit due to total exhaustion!

If you're going to move to the more competitive club, I'd be tempted to do it while your son is year 6 and he has less school pressure than at secondary. Good luck with whatever you decide! At least they're super-fit and are doing a sport they can keep up for the rest of their lives!

exaspero Mon 02-Nov-15 10:58:14

Triathlon much nicer imo - better for them to do all round sport as their bodies develop AnD it's partially outside. Couldn't bear to be stuck in a pool for 11 hours a week

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