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Old 04-06-2011, 05:37 PM
 
Location: 500 miles from home
27,237 posts, read 15,024,326 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaneMom View Post
Ringo 1 ...

Appreciate your comments. The problem is not the sport, my kid likes swimming and is very good at it even though he did not come up through the club system. He's worked really hard and has achieved some pretty neat things on what would most people would consider an elite team. I don't have a problem with rigorous workouts, I have a problem with rigorous workouts on the schedule I describe.

I think you're right, if your son had to get up EVERY school day at 4:50 AM to make a 5:15 AM practice then go to school all day and practice again from 3:00 to 5:00, 5:30, sometimes 6:00 PM and he did that 7-1/2 months out of the school year... he would probably not enjoy his swimming experience nearly as much. That is where my son is at. I think that any normal, rational person would agree that 13-1/2 hour days for almost the entire school year with no true fall or winter breaks, because of practice and competitions is just too much.

(Side note to the above: I did mention that these kids are EXPECTED to teach swim lessons for club and that then adds another hour and a half or so to their 13-1/2 hour day several days a week. Just wanted to make sure that everybody understands this whole scenario fully. I have absolutely forbidden my son from doing that ever again during the school year.)

Because USA Swimming is the governing body over clubs, I simply believe that it is their duty to have some kind of check and balance system in place for the protection of the athletes. That's all. I'm not going to keep saying the same thing over and over. Just food for thought. I am speaking with those at the highest levels nationally about this issue. They do not disagree that what I am describing is excessive. In fact they agree, but their solution was to suggest finding another club for summer season. I SUGGEST, that they, as the governing body for this sport, exercise their power and authority to set limits for clubs to follow. If they run the sanctioned events and they set the limits, then things cannot get out of control. A simple check and balance system since it seems some clubs, parents included, have gotten far too caught up in the winning and lost focus of the kids. In the quest for success, winning, scholarships, etc., even the parents have lost sight of the things that are truly important.

We've all heard of student athletes suffering life altering injuries and even death. For what? A game? A sport? I bet if you talked to a parent who lost a child because of their involvement in sports and they had the opportunity to go back and do things differently, they would All I am saying here is, let's be proactive. When something is clearly wrong as the scenario I am describing clearly is ... let's be a force for positive change. It will take a huge number of people coming forward to change a system as entrenched as USA Swimming is, but that organization is the key to much of the problem. They have the power to positively impact the sport.

Suggestions for anyone concerned about any of this. Check the American Academy of Pediatrics as to their viewpoint on participation in sports for children and adolescents. Check Psychology Today regarding the negative effects of burnout on student atheles. Google harmful effects of overexposure to chlorine and the phenomenon of swimming induced asthma due to chloramines. Read any of the numerous books on these subjects by reknowned experts. Educate yourself and the more knowledge you have, the more you will question the system and the process.

We will be making changes in our lives as a result of all this. My son has decided on his own to join a different swim club for the summer. He is going to widen his horizons by going out for a different sport and may or may not go back to swimming in the fall. I am a good parent, I've got a wonderful son. Have never really posted something like this out there on the web before. To those who use this medium as a means of improving their lives and the world in general, thank you.

Response to Drover:

To those who like to play the devil's advocate for no specific purpose, I'm not going to play that game. If you cannot see that I am a concerned, involved and intelligent person, then there's really nothing more to discuss or share. Bull's in china factories can do a lot of damage. Constructive comments and criticisms are always welcome and appreciated. Off the cuff thoughtless comments serve no purpose whatsoever.

Hope everyone has a happy, healthy and productive day!
Hey, I'm sure you and your son have done a lot of soul-searching. I've seen lots of kids that were REALLY GOOD leave swimming because they wanted to have a life. It can become too much.

I joke that it's not a sport it's a cult; but I think you could say that about most sports.

I didn't encourage my son to teach either (yeah that's encouraged here too); although I think this would be a good learning experience for him; he did not have any study halls at the beginning of the year and that extra hour away would have killed his grades.

He's coming up on his junior year and I think that he needs to focus on his academics and simply just be the best swimmer he can be ~ within his own limits and practicing a sane and rational amount of time.

We're coming up on long course - that will begin at 6:00 am (of course he has to be driven there) and they will have a second practice in the afternoon. I worry about HOW I'm going to get him to and from since I do actually have to work

I will do everything I can to support him ~ as long as he continues to be happy with it and not a stressed out mess. As much as it takes from him; it also seems to give him something he needs.

I struggle with it too ~ because as good as he is; he is NOT going to be an olympic swimmer and any college scholarship would NOT be at a Divison 1 school. He is realistic about that. So why are we spending most of our life at one pool or another? Ya got me.

I worry too about how skinny he is. All my family talks about how thin he is and I cook for him; he eats; he eats snacks . . .

I have a love/hate relationship with his chosen sport!

Best of luck to your son in whatever path he chooses. I love to hear from other swim parents because it's hard on the parents too.

Keep us posted!
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Old 04-07-2011, 05:52 AM
 
6 posts, read 7,467 times
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Former Californian, really appreciate the support, and your opinion does matter to me. My son comes first, before the sport. His health and well-being are my top priority. How anyone can think that 13 to 13-1/2 hour days of practice and school is a healthy schedule is beyond me, but apparently there are quite a few out there who do.

Standupandbecounted, appreciate your comments as well. You did not indicate if your grandson gets up at 4:50 AM to practice before school five days a week and then if he practices after school for 2-1/2 to 3 hours four days out of five... in addition to Saturdays. That is a huge factor. Having had one of the best attendances on the team for the past two years, he does not oppose working hard and rigorous workouts. I think most doctors and mental health professionals would find such a schedule to be excessive and unhealthy for adolescents and young adults. Having lost a beloved nephew at a young age as the result of falling asleep at the wheel mid-day going back to forth to community college on a daily basis, I think proper rest is of paramount importance. To expend the type of energy that the sport of swimming requires AND put in those kind of hours is double jeopardy. A healthy individual, physically, mentally, emotionally with well rounded interests and highly developed social skills is my top priority. All I've been saying is that goal is difficult to achieve in swimland. We've worked it out, finding a nearby club that approaches things in a healthier way, offering practices six days a week, 2-1/2 hours a day, but clearly stating it is at the disgression of the swimmer as to how often they choose to attend... that they realize homework, other sports, family activities are all important, too. Quite honestly, my son willl probably attend every day, because he does have a wonderful work ethic, but this schedule will allow him to get his rest AND enjoy some of the summer and his other interests of golf and tennis without dragging through the days. It was a tough decision as he will be competing at the club level against his own team members. He'll probably catch a little flack from the guys over his decision, but ultimately, both he and I know that it will be better for him. This was his decision and it was a hard one. He had to choose between staying with his team and suffering through that grueling schedule or standing up and doing what was best for him. I am extremely proud of him, always have been, always will be.

Again, hope everyone has a great day!
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Old 04-07-2011, 06:44 AM
 
613 posts, read 807,510 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaneMom View Post
Glad to see someone else out there in swimland questioning the amount of time and energy going to a "sport." My son swims in high school and we did not come up through the "club system." The amount of time and energy going to this sport is beyond what I consider healthy and is definitely leaning to obsessive and unhealthy. Our practices are Monday through Friday 5:15 to 7:00 AM AND after school Monday through Thursday from 3 to 5 or so, (Friday afternoons off! Yippee!). Saturday mornings for several hours, too. It was bad enough during season, but that ended about five weeks ago and now club is starting up. The above mentioned schedule is what was required during the season and is what is being pushed for the swim club spring/summer season as well. Tried looking at USA Swimming to see what the rules are, but it does not appear there are any rules as to how much practice is too much. Shocked to see there are no rules. Spoke with the state swimming officials and there are rules as far as high school competitions, but the club system appears to be a way to get around the rules that have been put in place for the health and well-being of the student athletes. Whole thing seems skewed to me. What are we thinking as parents? When my son first got into this sport we had a lot going on and quite honestly it's only after a couple of years of this that you can kind of take a step back and see how bizarre it is. I have other children who have participated in other sports and trust me, I can safely say that no other sport is as demanding as swimming is. That includes, girls softball, girls tennis, boy's soccer and boy's football for a very dominant and reknowned parochial school team. The football came close, but even that was not as crazy as swimming. I have driven my son to and from every practice for two years. This is a very unbalanced sport which allows little downtime for the athlete or their parent(S). Anytime something is so off balance it is rarely good. USA Swimming needs to set some rules regarding what's allowable for practices and they need to do it with the young athletes in mind.
Every swim club differs in their requirements, and it does sound like your son's club is VERY rigorous. Are all these practice sessions actually mandatory? My dd's swim club offers practice for her level 2 hours a day 6 days a week. She just turned 12, so she practices at most 4 days a week. However, 6 days are available and she would be able to attend all 6 days if she wanted to, but it is not required. In fact, at her age, her coaches would probably discourage it.

I know some clubs in my area, at the senior/high school level ARE required to make a minimum numbers of practices per week as at that point they only want kids who are serious about continuing their swim career into college and serious about competing. My daughter's club is not like that. Some kids stick with our club because they enjoy swimming, yet do not want to make it a major part of their life. Others move on and join a different swim club because they have decided to make that commitment.

There are those that would argue that 4 days a week, 2 hours a day is excessive for a 12 year old. I have never pushed my daughter to do more than she can handle. In fact, the weeks where we are only able to make practice twice she actually becomes less focused on her school work. So far, swim has been a VERY positive experience in her life.

I guess the point I am trying to make is there are other options. Is every practice mandatory? Is your son unhappy with the schedule? Have you looked into other clubs where the program is not so rigorous?

If you and your son are not happy with his current club, just find a different one. But if your son IS happy with his current situation, why not support him in his efforts? After all, he could be finding other ways to fill his idle time, many of which are not positive.
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Old 04-07-2011, 06:54 AM
 
11,614 posts, read 19,707,814 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wsop View Post
Is your son unhappy with the schedule?

If you and your son are not happy with his current club, just find a different one.
I think the two question/statements above sum up the issues. What is rigorous for some kids is fine for others. My son has a 14 hour day during football season and he thrives on that schedule while others find it to much and cannot deal with it.

I think that the difference between football and swimming is that football has a defined season. While his schedule of his schoolwork, high school practices, and youth practices (he's a coach) might seem like to much to some, he loves it. I am not sure he could keep up the schedule for an entire school year.
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Old 04-07-2011, 11:16 AM
 
Location: SF Bay Area
1,390 posts, read 2,316,147 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wsop View Post
Every swim club differs in their requirements, and it does sound like your son's club is VERY rigorous. Are all these practice sessions actually mandatory? My dd's swim club offers practice for her level 2 hours a day 6 days a week. She just turned 12, so she practices at most 4 days a week. However, 6 days are available and she would be able to attend all 6 days if she wanted to, but it is not required. In fact, at her age, her coaches would probably discourage it.

If you and your son are not happy with his current club, just find a different one. But if your son IS happy with his current situation, why not support him in his efforts? After all, he could be finding other ways to fill his idle time, many of which are not positive.
My son is also a swimmer, participating in both high school and club swimming. At his level it is mandatory to attend practice 8 sessions per week (two in the AM before school, 5 during the week and one on the weekend), and competition in swim meets is expected. (However, there is a different schedule during the high school swim season). Swimmers who can't/won't attend all practices are moved into the next lower group (which offers practice six days a week, but only four days are mandatory).

Sometimes finding another club isn't the answer . The swim clubs in our area all offer similar schedules for high level swimmers, so moving from one club to another wouldn't change anything. The only way to change practice schedules to one that is less demanding would be to swim with a lower level group.
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Old 04-07-2011, 11:47 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twins4lynn View Post
My son is also a swimmer, participating in both high school and club swimming. At his level it is mandatory to attend practice 8 sessions per week (two in the AM before school, 5 during the week and one on the weekend), and competition in swim meets is expected. (However, there is a different schedule during the high school swim season). Swimmers who can't/won't attend all practices are moved into the next lower group (which offers practice six days a week, but only four days are mandatory).

Sometimes finding another club isn't the answer . The swim clubs in our area all offer similar schedules for high level swimmers, so moving from one club to another wouldn't change anything. The only way to change practice schedules to one that is less demanding would be to swim with a lower level group.
But I think the operative words here are high level swimmers. This usually equates to those swimmers who are dedicating themselves 100% to swimming, and yes, this often means many hours of practice per week and mandatory swim meets.

I get the impression the OP does not want this for her son. I don't know what her son wants. If her son does not want to dedicate himself that fully to swimming, that's ok, but I don't see why they don't either find a club with less requirements, or if that's not possible, swim at a lower level. Barring even that, her son could just opt to swim during the high school swim season.

Why complain about the time commitment when there are other options?
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Old 04-08-2011, 06:24 AM
 
6 posts, read 7,467 times
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Default Hopeful for best possible experience for all swimmers

Okay, so I've stirred up some stuff here. If you've read what I've written more recently, you will see that is precisely what we did, find a swim club that was more flexible. HE was not happy with the upcoming summer schedule. HE wants to enjoy other things, the pleasures of summer, get his first job, etc., maybe even relax for an hour or two here or there and do some reading. I don't think every minute of every day needs to be filled with structured activities. It's okay to relax.

The up side to his decision to join another club is he gets to stay in shape for the high school season, but do it at his own pace without any weight of guilt hanging over his head if he misses a practice here or there. After all, it is summer vacation. (As you will recall, there are no winter breaks in this sport.) This will be among the last summer vacations of his life.

The down side is, we have to travel farther and he is not going to be with his team members, in fact he will be competing against them. I don't think he should have had to make that choice. As a business that deals in children, it should be the first and foremost priority of USA Swimming to ensure that it is as positive experience as possible for each and every one of their more than 300,000 members. To expect that all 300,000 kids in this program train at the pace of an Olympic athlete is not healthy in any way. Every club should offer it's members the lattitude to choose the level at which they desire to pursue the sport. Lots of people have said, "Hey, just change clubs." My point is, we shouldn't have to, even though that is ultimately what be is going to do this year.

Side note: Had a phone conversation yesterday with someone at the regional level with USA Swimming and he completely understood the issue. The issue to us honestly is that we shouldn't have to choose between our home swim club and another club on the basis of these mandatory practices. Seems there is no delineation between the high school team and the club team, yet when you talk to the state athletic officials, they draw a clear line between high school and club sports. Club in our program is merely a continuation of the high school program. If that's what it is and everybody knows it, then we shouldn't bother calling it a club sport. Oh wait, couldn't do that, because that would be breaking the state rules. HOPE EVERYONE SEES THAT PICTURE VERY CLEARLY.

Here's an interesting FYI: For every Olympic level swimmer in this country, there are approximately 6,000 to 7,0000 others who will never achieve that highlest level of achievement. Those kids and their parent (that's all of us) literally fund and support the USA swimming program through their participation in the club program and their volunteerism. I'm okay with that, GO USA! I just think that there should be options. We didn't have any options within our program. He may pay a high price for this mutiny, but it was his only choice, because the system of clubs, which are under the name and jurisdiction of USA swimming, did not offer him any other choice.

Appreciate everyone's input on this. I have expressed my opinions to the highest levels of executive management at USA Swimming. I am hoping that they willl rise to the occasion and make some positive changes. When I started this journey, t hought limiting practices was the best choice. Through conversations with many people, all of you included, I came to realize that would be counter-productive to the main goals of USA Swimming and those atheletes who choose to pursue this sport to the highest level. However, by ensuring that all club participants are offered the option to choose the level of training they partipate in during club, then the kids and parents can actually make choices within their clubs instead of having to find a new one. To me that is a win-win situation alll around.

SaneMom bugging out, mission accomplished, I've now laid it in the hands of a higher power. They will do whatever they are going to do and we will wait and see how it all plays out in the long run. In the short term, we're good and we hope each and every swimmer out there in swimland has the best possible experience with the sport that he or she can.


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Old 04-08-2011, 09:10 AM
 
613 posts, read 807,510 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaneMom View Post
Okay, so I've stirred up some stuff here. If you've read what I've written more recently, you will see that is precisely what we did, find a swim club that was more flexible. HE was not happy with the upcoming summer schedule. HE wants to enjoy other things, the pleasures of summer, get his first job, etc., maybe even relax for an hour or two here or there and do some reading. I don't think every minute of every day needs to be filled with structured activities. It's okay to relax.

The up side to his decision to join another club is he gets to stay in shape for the high school season, but do it at his own pace without any weight of guilt hanging over his head if he misses a practice here or there. After all, it is summer vacation. (As you will recall, there are no winter breaks in this sport.) This will be among the last summer vacations of his life.

The down side is, we have to travel farther and he is not going to be with his team members, in fact he will be competing against them. I don't think he should have had to make that choice. As a business that deals in children, it should be the first and foremost priority of USA Swimming to ensure that it is as positive experience as possible for each and every one of their more than 300,000 members. To expect that all 300,000 kids in this program train at the pace of an Olympic athlete is not healthy in any way. Every club should offer it's members the lattitude to choose the level at which they desire to pursue the sport. Lots of people have said, "Hey, just change clubs." My point is, we shouldn't have to, even though that is ultimately what be is going to do this year.

Side note: Had a phone conversation yesterday with someone at the regional level with USA Swimming and he completely understood the issue. The issue to us honestly is that we shouldn't have to choose between our home swim club and another club on the basis of these mandatory practices. Seems there is no delineation between the high school team and the club team, yet when you talk to the state athletic officials, they draw a clear line between high school and club sports. Club in our program is merely a continuation of the high school program. If that's what it is and everybody knows it, then we shouldn't bother calling it a club sport. Oh wait, couldn't do that, because that would be breaking the state rules. HOPE EVERYONE SEES THAT PICTURE VERY CLEARLY.

Here's an interesting FYI: For every Olympic level swimmer in this country, there are approximately 6,000 to 7,0000 others who will never achieve that highlest level of achievement. Those kids and their parent (that's all of us) literally fund and support the USA swimming program through their participation in the club program and their volunteerism. I'm okay with that, GO USA! I just think that there should be options. We didn't have any options within our program. He may pay a high price for this mutiny, but it was his only choice, because the system of clubs, which are under the name and jurisdiction of USA swimming, did not offer him any other choice.

Appreciate everyone's input on this. I have expressed my opinions to the highest levels of executive management at USA Swimming. I am hoping that they willl rise to the occasion and make some positive changes. When I started this journey, t hought limiting practices was the best choice. Through conversations with many people, all of you included, I came to realize that would be counter-productive to the main goals of USA Swimming and those atheletes who choose to pursue this sport to the highest level. However, by ensuring that all club participants are offered the option to choose the level of training they partipate in during club, then the kids and parents can actually make choices within their clubs instead of having to find a new one. To me that is a win-win situation alll around.

SaneMom bugging out, mission accomplished, I've now laid it in the hands of a higher power. They will do whatever they are going to do and we will wait and see how it all plays out in the long run. In the short term, we're good and we hope each and every swimmer out there in swimland has the best possible experience with the sport that he or she can.


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Don't you think you're being a little bit ridiculous about this? USA Swimming does not OWN these swim clubs. They are owned and run by either of 3 entities: 1. Private, i.e. Coach Owned, 2: Parents, i.e. Parent Governed and 3. Institution Owned, i.e. YMCA, etc.

As a consumer, YOU get to choose which club you would like your child to be a part of, and considering it is quite expensive, shopping around for a club that meets your child's needs is paramount. If your child belongs to a Coach owned club and you and other parents are unhappy with the program, then just take your money elsewhere. Similarly with an institution owned club. If your child belongs to a Parent Governed Club then you have a choice of how the club is run by electing parents onto the Board of Directors whose goals meet those of the majority of parent members.

USA Swimming does NOT dictate how individual clubs are run.

Honestly, I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill.

With that said, I am glad your son has found a happy medium, because in the end that is what is most important.
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Old 04-08-2011, 09:51 AM
 
6 posts, read 7,467 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wsop View Post
Don't you think you're being a little bit ridiculous about this? USA Swimming does not OWN these swim clubs. They are owned and run by either of 3 entities: 1. Private, i.e. Coach Owned, 2: Parents, i.e. Parent Governed and 3. Institution Owned, i.e. YMCA, etc.

As a consumer, YOU get to choose which club you would like your child to be a part of, and considering it is quite expensive, shopping around for a club that meets your child's needs is paramount. If your child belongs to a Coach owned club and you and other parents are unhappy with the program, then just take your money elsewhere. Similarly with an institution owned club. If your child belongs to a Parent Governed Club then you have a choice of how the club is run by electing parents onto the Board of Directors whose goals meet those of the majority of parent members.

USA Swimming does NOT dictate how individual clubs are run.

Honestly, I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill.

With that said, I am glad your son has found a happy medium, because in the end that is what is most important.
Gee WSOP, appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts, but admit I do not understand your viewpoint or your vehement defense of what I clearly see as a flawed process. Kind of brought to mind Shakespeare's famous line, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Am struck by your knowledge of the inner workings of the club system and so wonder if perhaps you have some sort of vested interest in having USA Swimming NOT set any guidelines on this issue. I understand that there is some kind of financial reward for certain levels of club performances and if someone were an owner and there were some bucks out there on the line for performance, then I could see where they would push these kids, all of them, as hard as they could towards that goal. If that's the case, that's not good, because once again... these clubs are businesses who's main commodity is children.

These kids are like little pieces of raw material that go into this system and then are molded into all different manner and level of swimmers. We have the sprinter assembly lines, the breast stroke assembly lines, the backstroke assembly lines, etc., etc. As the process goes on year after year, some of the "product" becomes more conditioned and of higher value. This at the same time that some of the very good "product", kind of falls off the belts, because they either cannot keep up with the rigorous pace or choose to do otherwise. The point here again for the final time is... when someone is in the business of children, they should have some higher moral and ethical requirements in place than someone who manufactures toilet paper. If you choose to be in the business of children, then you need to put the physical, mental and emotional needs of children first.

If USA Swimming does not dictate how these clubs are run, perhaps they should. I know if my name were on a business or used in connection with a business, then I would certainly care how that business operated, because it would be a direct reflection on me. Same for them. I think they should be concerned AND I think they are now concerned about the issue I have placed before them. The ball's in their court. I think, I have opened up an important dialogue here with parents and with USA Swimming as to how things operate. I think that as a parent, citizen and consumer all of what has transpired is a really positive thing. My son and I had a problem to deal with, we approached it in a logical way, did some research, checked our options and dealt with it.

Thank you WSOP and everyone else for the good thoughts about it all. That's it for me, I'll stop posting here, because I don't have anything else to say on this subject. There are lots and lots of things happening in this world that deserve attention, this was only one of them. Hope everyone keeps fighting the good fight and continues to research, learn, share thoughts and make a difference. Change can happen, but not if there is not acknowledgement of a problem. All I tried to do was shed light on something I perceived to be a problem. The powers that be may or may not adjust their policies on the basis of my input.

Happy Day!
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Old 04-08-2011, 05:44 PM
 
Location: 500 miles from home
27,237 posts, read 15,024,326 times
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It IS true that in most other sports ~ you cannot participate in the Club version at the same time as you are a part of the High School team.

Most other parents (with kids in other sports) are quite suprised that my son is able to practice and compete (depending on your state) with his Club team AT THE SAME TIME as his high school team. This makes for quite the busy high school season! But the kids who swim high school only ~ usually can't complete with the Club kids. Why? Because the Club kids practice so much more.

Right now, I'm completely happy with my coach driven team (as opposed to parent driven~don't get me started). I'm happy because my son is happy.

Do sometimes I wish that he had more time for real life, instead of just burying himself in the water so to speak? You bet.

BUT, I always go back to this . . he could be doing so much WORSE things with his time.

So I agree with some of the points that sanemom is making. They spend an insane amount of time in the pool is what she's saying. And that's the truth!
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