Swimming is a great exercise for children to foray into competitive sports as it is one of the safest and it provides the most holistic physical education. Moreover, competitive swimming can teach them sportsmanship, discipline, and how to be goal oriented, early on. Before children can start competitive swimming however, there are certain things they need first.
Children need to know the most basic skills of swimming before they can start training to compete. These include the essentials of aquatic acclimation: knowing how to breathe in the water, how to float, how to manage their sight, and of course, how not to swallow pool water.
While very young children can already learn how to move around in the water, competitive swimming may require more maturity for some. Children who compete need to have developed mental skills to keep up with training exercises, follow through with workouts, and take coaching cues. They also need emotional maturity in order to be able to handle criticism (some coaching styles are stricter than others) and the effects of possibly losing in competitions. It’s important to make sure the child is prepared in these regards because, if they have bad experiences while they’re not mature enough to handle them, they may get traumatized and regard swimming with negative stigma.
Once the child is emotionally, mentally, and physically ready to compete they can start training. This usually starts with them learning the 4 basic competitive strokes, namely the freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly stroke. They can join training pools in their school, find swimming clubs in their communities, sign up for a higher level of swimming lessons or look for local swimming leagues. After gaining experience from small competitions, they can move onto bigger local competitions such as the Milo Little Olympics.
When children learn how to swim competitively, they are investing in skills that they can use, as they get older. Being immersed in the swimming world will give them the benefits such as maintaining a physically healthy lifestyle, being part of a team, and, who knows, maybe eventually being able to compete in the Olympics.