What to Know Before Your Child Joins a Swim Team

Having your child join a swim team offers them so many benefits and rewards if they seek them. However, it’s not a one-sided sport. Your swimmer might put in the time at the pool, but parents play a large part in the sport, too!

In swimming, your child relies on you to help them succeed. And not considering these 4 things can cause surprises along the way. 

Related article: 5 Things to Know Before Joining a Swim Team

Most parents will admit that they wished they knew certain things before their child started to swim. I know my parents would’ve liked a heads up that my practices were at five in the morning! 😉

Luckily, they took it in stride and they learned alongside me as we navigated the new sport.

While everyone will have different experiences, these four things seem to catch most new swim parents off guard.

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Cost of Swimming

Swimming, like any sport or hobby, costs money. No matter if your child swims on a summer league team or a club team. You’ll find that you have to pay for something. At a minimum, you can expect to pay for a swimsuit, cap, goggles, and towels. 

However, if your child approaches you with the desire to join a swim team, be prepared to pay for some costs upfront and along the way.

Swim teams have annual and monthly dues that you’ll have to pay. You’re also expected to cover the cost of fees for each race they swim at a meet, including any travel for that meet. And let’s not forget the cost of gear, equipment, and racing suits!

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In total, you can easily spend thousands each year on the sport. We don’t say this to discourage you or your child from joining a swim team. Rather, to bring awareness of the cost now before you get too involved.

Swimming is an investment though. What you put in today for your child can benefit them later if they get a scholarship for swimming later in life.

We should also note that swimming is not without cost-effective tips. You can read more about these tips and suggestions in our other post Budget Swimming: Cost Saving Hacks for your Family

Swimmers can Join a Team at any Age

When it comes to your child joining a swim team, anyone over the age of five can typically start. 

Please note that this does vary by team and it’s important that you double-check with the coach before making plans.

This means that even if your child is in high school and wants to join a team for the first time, they can still try out. We won’t guarantee that they’ll make a level with their peers if they don’t have any swim experience, but don’t let that stop them or you.

It’s not uncommon to see older swimmers join a team and work their way up quickly. If, of course, they put their mind and effort into it 🙂

Related Content: What Age Should my Child Start Swimming?

We know swimmers who didn’t join a swim team until they were in high school and have found success in the sport. We’re not saying success like this is guaranteed, but you’ll never know if you don’t give them a chance!

Swim Lessons Differ From a Swim Team

Although your child can join a swim team at any age, we should point out one thing. Joining a swim team is not the same thing as taking swim lessons.

Yes, we’re a big advocate of everyone learning to swim. No matter if that’s with a private instructor or going through a swim school. It’s a life-saving benefit that no one should go without. 

However, if your child cannot swim yet, they need to start swimming lessons first before joining a team. Swim lessons give your child the basics they need to make it across the pool. Making it across the pool safely is the first thing the coach will test any swimmer trying out for a team.

That said, if your child cannot swim or can barely swim, please look into swim lessons first. The team itself might offer lessons internally or they can refer you to an outside swim school.

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It’s not that the coach wants to turn you away. Rather, it’s for their safety.

Swim lessons focus on smaller groups or individual swimmers. During that lesson, the instructor solely focuses on 1-4 swimmers at a time. 

Compare that to a swim team where most basic level groups can have many people in a lane. The coach might watch over a group of 4 swimmers per lane. And they won’t be able to watch one person all the time.

If you’re not sure about your child’s skill level or if you should have them take lessons first, please consult the coach. They’re best suited to assess their skills and determine what will work best for them.

Time Commitment

Swimming takes time. It’s a time commitment for the whole family, not just your swimmer.

One thing you need to know as you’re considering the sport is the time commitment on your end. Swimming isn’t a sport that you can start and stop on a whim and hope to succeed. 

Your child might be the swimmer. And they might be the ones putting in the work at the pool. But they rely on you as the parent.

Related content: 8 Things Every Swim Parent Should Know

It’s driving them to and from practice. Sitting through their practice until they’re done. Or, driving home only to come back again to pick them up. It’s waking up with them at 4:45 in the morning for a 5:30 practice.

Yes, this depends on their level and swimming ability. But even at a basic level, you can expect 2-4 practices a week. 

If you want your child to compete at a high level, they have to put in the time to do so. And so do you. That means two practices a day for several hours each practice. It means long Saturday workouts.

Add that up over a week and you can expect your child to be at the pool for about 4 hours if they have two practices a day. For you, that means potentially eight trips to drop them off and pick them up in a day. 

And that’s not even taking into consideration the time spent at swim meets.

Swim meets can last anywhere from a few hours to an all-day affair. Just as easily, they can take one day or can span over several days.

When your child looks to start swimming and wants to join a team, consider the time that you’ll have to commit. It’s early morning and late nights, and hours at the pool. Not considering this can lead to frustration and a waste of money.

In Closing

Yes, parents play a large part in swimming. However, please take our advice with a grain of salt. Everyone has different teams and experiences, and what each family wants from the sport varies.

Based on where your swimmer wants to go in the sport, some of these might not apply.

And that’s okay!

One secret swim parents need to know is that they’re not the swimmer. Let them do what makes them happy and works for your family. You can’t swim their practice or race for them. Only they can do that.

If you take away anything from this, take away that. 🙂

As always, to happy swimming!

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Bonus Content:

New Year’s Resolutions for Swim Parents: Thinking about making your New Year’s resolutions yet? Consider some of the following New Year’s Resolutions for Swim Parents!

Healthy Swim Habits for Parents: As a parent, it’s easy to want to get involved in your child’s swimming. But it’s important to develop healthy habits as a swim parent. (coming July 13)


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