Red Flags: When to Find A New Club

red_flag2_bayrak1-300pxAt some point, you may wonder if you should leave your swim club for a new one. That’s a very personal, family decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are many reasons to make a change.

My family has switched clubs—a few times—and we never regretted it. Despite the naysayers, you can leave a team and find happiness at another one. Here are some situations where leaving is in the best interest of your swimmer:

  • Favoritism. Let’s be honest, we all have favorites. I like some friends, family members, and co-workers better than others. This is normal. But when you join a swim club you are paying for a service. All kinds of things go south when a coach does not give equal time to their swimmers. It damages the coach-athlete relationship and over time it will be irreparable. At one club, a coach gave undivided attention to children whose parents paid for private lessons on the side. He watched those children like a hawk during practice and at swim meets, while the others were basically ignored. Equal and fair treatment of swimmers should be the rule, not the exception. If I pay for a service then I expect to receive it. Or my money walks.
  • Group dynamics. Sometime people just don’t mesh well. And that’s okay. Bullying among teammates, aggressive parents, disinterested coaches, all of these things can create a poor swim club environment. If your child starts dreading interactions with individuals at practices/meets then ask your swimmer about it and reevaluate your situation. Sometimes a child will tell you directly what is happening, or you will notice a change in their behavior. If there is a problem, work with all of the parties involved to try addressing the issue. If you can’t find a solution that satisfies you, it might be time to find a new club.
  • Questionable coaching practices. There are a lot of things coaches do that I don’t understand. This is their area of expertise, and I respectfully stay out of their way…until I see something that flies in the face of common sense. Like what? Dryland sessions that were so intense in the length and degree of physical activity that kids were vomiting, yet the activity continued. A coach sitting in his car while swimmers pushed it around the parking lot as part of their dryland “workout.” Verbally degrading and pitting one teammate against another as a way of “pushing them” to do better. Sadly, I could share add a dozen more examples. Ego-tripping coaches, lack of child development knowledge, and antiquated training techniques are mentally and physically dangerous for children. Period.
  • Long commute to/from the club. There are only so many hours in the day. If your commute to swim club practice is very long it can cause all kinds of issues. Your swimmer might have difficulty maintaining relationships with their friends, completing homework, getting enough rest, and trying new sports/activities due to time conflicts. Not to mention you will probably be the primary driver for several years so you are vested in this, too. Really discern if this situation is doable long-term. I know from personal experience that a long commute won’t get any easier over time. Not to mention the cost of gas and tolls adds up quickly!
  •  Environmental issues. Yes, something in the pool water or an indoor pool area can be making your child sick. Asthma and allergy triggers abound in a moist, enclosed space, especially if there is poor ventilation. This can bring about nose, throat, and lung irritation, which might lead to repeated doses of antibiotics. Many young swimmers who have a reaction to an environmental issue at their swim club end up with an asthma diagnosis. Away from the pool area they are perfectly fine, but while swimming they have to take daily medications–so parents beware.  Additionally, when pool chemicals are not properly balanced, swimmers can experience severe itching, redness, skin lesions, rash, or scales/crust on their skin. If you see a connection to a health issue and your child’s practice location, follow your instincts, see a doctor, and in some cases it might be best to switch clubs. Your child’s long-term health should be your first priority.

Ultimately, you will know when it’s time to join a new swim club. Don’t let other families convince you to “hang in there” or stick it out for one more season. Do what is in your family’s best interest and all of you will be happier and healthier.

Did this article help you decide it was time to find a new swim club?



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