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The High School Swim Team Experience

Swimming is certainly one of the best youth sports on the market. With its low-impact cardio and a muscular component (a full body workout!), swimming helps youngsters tackle goal-setting, introduces the idea of “teamwork” both in practice and competition settings, and provides a social outlet. Further, once our young athletes reach the middle/high school age, opportunities for swim team involvement expand from summer recreation and year-round club to also include high school swim team. Here at SwimTopia, we fully believe in the high school swimming experience. This blog covers some of the differences between summer swim team, year-round (a.k.a. “club”) swim team, and high school swim team as well as the perks of swimming for your school!

Summer recreational swimming, also known as summer swim team, is widely popular and known for being a great doorway to the sport. It is recognized for its zany cheers/chants, fun apparel, inclusive atmosphere, and team pride. While summer swim team is perfect for introducing the four swim strokes and exploring the concept of competitive swim, it typically lasts a couple months at most during the summer. This means improvement is more difficult if summer rec is the only avenue in which your swimmer is involved. 

Year-round club swimming is typically a “next step” for swimmers who have found success at the summer rec level. It is far more intensive and runs, for the most part, 12 months a year (with the year split into a short course 25 yards “season” from August through March and a long course 50 meters “season” from April through August). Practices are rigorous and feature targeted technique work and coaches are certified and elite. However, as mentioned, club swimming does not have many (if any breaks during the year), can be expensive, and usually does require a higher level of commitment/involvement.

Lastly, we come to high school swimming in which athletes train with a high school team and represent their school against others at district, regional, and state-wide levels. Though high school swim teams can also be seasonal (some seasons occurring during the fall or winter and encompassing a few months of practice/competition) and might occasionally conflict with club swim schedules, SwimTopia holds high school swimming in high regard. High school swim teams enable athletes to be more fully involved in their schools/communities, build deep friendships that (in some cases) might last a lifetime, uphold traditions, and garner attention from college programs (if this is something of interest). 

Interested in hearing more? Take it from our own SwimTopia staff members (many of whom have been, have, or have had high school swimmers):

  • “[My high school swimmer] said the “team” atmosphere is the best part. You are competing for more than yourself. [High school swimming] also creates a small, close-knit community within a large high school.  Oh, and the team meals and travel meets are so fun!!” – Amy Bedford 
  • “Just keeping it real here, but pretty sure my freshman would say being excused from classes on meet days is the biggest perk. Granted, he has to make up the work. However,  there’s just a feeling of joy when he can come straight home after a meet.” -Paige Hansen
  • “I know that both of my high school swimmers LOVE the team atmosphere. Swimming for a high school is very different than year-round swimming. Year-round swimming focuses more on individual achievements, rather than coming together and winning as a team. The kids love the team Spirit Dinners and cheering each other on at the meets. We have two pools at our facility, so that’s 4 HS teams training at once… it can get REALLY loud in there!  My swimmers love the travel aspect of it, as well.  Some of their most memorable high school swim memories are: going to District, Regional and State Meets, traveling on a bus with their teammates, staying in a hotel, and eating out as a team.” -Megan Hubbard

Interested in high school swim for your young athlete? Reach out to their high school program to learn more about expectations, requirements, and the overall experience. Some teams require try-outs to make the team and, if your swimmer is approaching high school age, it’s always good to know any steps required to make the team!