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Old 11-29-2010, 07:05 PM
Location: 500 miles from home
27,237 posts, read 15,033,121 times
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My son is a high school swimmer and a club swimmer as well. I'm really struggling with the financial and time aspects of all the practices, meets, traveling, equipment, etc.

Does anyone else think 2 1/2 hours of practice, five days a week; three hours on Saturday; and one 5:30 am extra practice is too much? There are others on the team who do even more.

I worry that he does not have enough time for his schoolwork and seems exhausted all the time.

It seems like a lot to me for a 15 year old kid; who is just trying to fit in; do well in his chosen sport; and most likely will not be awarded any college scholarships.

I know that keeping busy is good; and I don't have anything to compare it with. He seems ok with it; but it's a lot more than we did in our previous state and school. He was a little teary-eyed this evening when he got home at 7:00 with a paper to write; two tests to study for; and a book report due. His social life appears to be non-existant other than his swim team.

Is this normal? Average? Too much? Or just don't worry about it as long as he keeps his grades up and seems (somewhat) happy?
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Old 11-29-2010, 07:33 PM
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I'm not a swimming parent but swam competitively through High School. Based on my experience with the sport, I will not encourage my kids to join a swim team, ever. If they really want to do it, I'll support them but I won't be thrilled.

Our practice schedule was similar and yes I do think it's too much. Are his weekday practices before or after school? Ours were before and getting up that early on a regular basis was exhausting. If I could go back in time I would have tried a different sport that was not so time consuming and competitive.

How does your son feel about it? Does he still enjoy swimming? Are there any other sports that he'd like to try instead?

If he's happy I'd let him continue but I'd also let him know that if he gets burned out or feels that it's becoming too much that you will support him in quitting and/or finding a new sport or activity.
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Old 11-29-2010, 07:37 PM
Location: Chicago
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My brother was on a swim team that used to win the state championship like clockwork. It was, in fact, a huge time commitment. The amount of time they spent training was astounding, so the practice/training regimen your son is putting in sounds pretty familiar. It always struck me as incredible overkill, not to mention unbelievably monotonous to swim back and forth and back and forth for hours. But competitive swimmers are a weird breed of animal -- they actually like swimming laps for hours.

Don't forget the financial commitment of feeding a body that's burning 8,000 to 10,000 calories a day. My mom used to get so mad at my brother for going through an entire box of cereal and a gallon of milk every day in addition to 4 or 5 full meals. She thought he just had no self-control; she didn't understand how much his body needed the nourishment.
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Old 11-29-2010, 07:41 PM
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I think that it sounds about right for high school sports. Whether it is to much for your child is not a question that can be answered here. It is a very individual thing.

Time commitments for football and wrestling are similar to what you describe. Right now the wrestlers are practicing 2.5 hours a day and there are tournaments every weekend.

One thing that your son can do to make himself more efficient is to use every spare minute he has at school to keep up with school work. Instead of taking 7 classes my son takes 6 classes and a study hall. He uses that time to do as much schoolwork during the school day as possible. If practice starts at 3:30 and school ends at 3 the wrestlers use that half hour to get started on their schoolwork. You can see them all sitting on the steps leading to the wrestling room doing some homework before practice starts. That's a good time to do some studying. I realize he probably can't change his class schedule this year but having a study hall is something to consider for next year.

I would talk to him about it and see if it bothers him. If not, I would let him be as long as his grades are ok and he's happy. If he's not happy he should stop swimming. Life is to short to be unhappy.
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Old 11-29-2010, 08:25 PM
Location: 500 miles from home
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Thanks everyone for the insight. Dorothy, the practices are after school but there are two 'extra' 5:30 am practices that they can also do. He does one of those a week in addition to his regular practice. (His coach would like him to do both). I especially appreciate your experiences; before school everyday would be HARD.
I think he was fine; until we went back home for the week-end and he did a couple of his old, more 'laid back' practices and just hung out with friends; things he has little time for here. Then we came back to . . grueling practices and a ton of homework. I will talk with him about burn-out.

Right now, he does not have any study hall; next semester, he will have two! The guidance counseler assured me that happens all the time. So, it is a grind until he can have at least one study hall, which we are both anxiously awaiting.

One wouldn't think that swimming would be so competitive, but it is. If you don't keep up; you soon fall behind.

I'm going to see how the first HS meet goes. He is a sprinter and all this pure yardage and endurance work is NOT helping his times. Personally, I think it's too much for him. He's so skinny; and I cook; make sure he eats good food. But, he's still way too thin.

We'll see. I'm open to trying another sport . . . or anything - journalism club; anything.
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Old 11-29-2010, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Ringo1 View Post
We'll see. I'm open to trying another sport . . . or anything - journalism club; anything.
Another sport is not the answer. My son is a junior and has been on varsity teams in football, lacrosse and wrestling. The time commitment that your son is experiencing is average for high school sports.

Football practices 3 hours a day M-Th and Sat mornings. Games are on Friday night.

Wrestling practices 2.5 hours a day M-Th and there are tournaments on Fri/Sat.

Lacrosse practices 2.5 hours a day M-Sat unless there is a game. There are 2 games a week.
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Old 11-29-2010, 08:47 PM
Location: 500 miles from home
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Yes, but do those sports have a season? With swimming - there is no break. Training is year-round, non-stop. Winter swim; Summer training and long-course; training trips. OH, and they are all going on a training trip, leaving CHRISTMAS DAY, to be back the last day of winter break. A training trip to Florida. This is something college teams do; I know; but high school?

The most time he has taken off is a week after States last year. And even then, he was afraid, he would lose everything he had gained throughout the year. He was at practice this year, on Thanksgiving Day.

That said, another sport is probably not our answer. It's too late to begin a new sport; he would be too far behind. He ditched soccer long ago for swimming and never looked back.

We'll just have to see how the year goes. Perhaps we'll cut out that one 5:30 am practice and just do the after-schools and Saturday. Maybe he would not look so exhausted.
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Old 11-29-2010, 10:35 PM
Location: Back at home in western Washington!
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Some sports are crazy hardcore. My son started full contact football in the first grade. No flag football where we lived... regular pads, helmets and tackles. The whole community was involved. We lived, ate, dreamed and breathed football year-round. In the first grade, he was doing 5-nights-a-week / 3 hours a night practices. The games were all day on Saturdays. Most nights we packed a "tailgate" style dinner and ate at the practice field... you simply didn't drop your son off for practice and come back 3 hours later to get him. When these boys got into junior high school, they would join both teams (the community ball club and the schools team). School practice was right after school for 2 hours and then they would go directly to community practice for 3 hours. My thought was always that "if they didn't love it, they wouldn't do it". I don't think a boy (or girl) will put that much time and effort into a sport, if they didn't love it and were dedicated to it.
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Old 11-29-2010, 11:05 PM
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If you don't think he will be awarded a college scholarship for his efforts, why not have him drop the club swimming? When my kids played sports at the varsity level in hs, they were strongly discouraged from playing anywhere else by the coaches, who didn't want to deal with schedule conflicts or injuries.

I think the school team is the more important of the two, if a choice is made, as it gives him a core group of friends with a similar interest.
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:16 AM
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As a former athlete turned high school coach of both swimming and wrestling i'll weigh in for what its worth. I actually only coach swimming b/c my gf is the team's head coach and makes me haha.

anyways.....as a football player, wrestler and baseball player in high school i can tell you with any sport in high school its a time commitment. i was in high school in the mid 90s and it was and still is pretty much the same. we had football workouts during the summer 4 days a week for 2 hours a day, then came august through november with practices after school til 7 at night combined with saturday lifting sessions on top of the game that friday night. wrestling was no different and b/c it was individual i think i put more into it off the mat as well. tracking my weight at home, seeing what i could and could not eat, doing cardio at home to burn that last little lb. off or so. then spending 12 hours on a saturday competing to boot. baseball we had early morning workouts that started at 6 am and ran basically til 7:30 am a half hour before school began each day combined with baseball practices for 2 hours after school. high school sports are a time commitment as well they should be IMO for both the players, parents and especially the coaches. you wouldn't believe the number of "young coaches" who get into the biz only to find out its way more time and work then they ever imagined. i guess they think it all happens naturally haha. its a true tri-effort between all 3 groups mentioned.

as far as "crazy" time commitments the elite schools / programs / athletes do what has to be done to get there or stay there. thats why they're elite. is every kid who lives and breathes a sport going to be a stud at it? depends. no guarantees in life. as long as they enjoy doing it they'll be fine.

i had a wrestling coach who use to always talk to us about "living the lifestyle". meaning you don't just wrestle you live the wrestling lifestyle year round.

as a coach based on my high school days i've never been one for these year round do nothing else but that one sport athletes. personally i think it takes some of the fun out of the high school athletic experience, but then again for those who are truly gifted at that sport it can make sense.

the one problem with taking kids out of sports and looking for less time intensive activities is i've seen kids end up having too much free time and get into all sorts of trouble. even really good kids. kids who never in million years would you have thought they'd get into what they did because they reduced their commitment time wise and wound up with extra time resulted in being bored and finding "other activities".

as far as social life goes i know for me all my friends were guys who i played ball with or wrestled with so i knew i wasn't missing anything ha! . not sure if that's the case with the OP. and all the girls i dated in high school were athletes themselves so they knew the score as well haha.
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