This summer, my girls age 8 and 9 decided they wanted to participate in the recreation center’s swim team. Actually my older daughter asked to do it, so my husband and I decided our younger daughter would do it too. The swimmers on the team are boys and girls ranging in age from about 5 to 15 years old. The two coaches are swimmers from the local high school.
So far it has been a wonderful experience. We weren’t sure what we were getting into, but after several weeks of practice and a few fun competitions our kids are hooked and so are we. The swim team lasts all summer long and is non-competitive, which means the kids don’t have to compete if they don’t want to and the kids aren’t timed on their swim strokes.
If the swimmers do want to compete, there is a fun type of competition on the weekends which is fast-paced and everyone gets a ribbon. Each weekend one of the recreation centers in the county holds a swim meet. The kids compete with other swimmers from the different recreation centers. The competition includes races from the four swim strokes: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. The coaches line up six kids and say go and the kids do one lap of the swim stroke. As soon at the child finishes the race and gets out of the pool, they receive a ribbon for whatever place they came in.
It’s quick and so far the meets have lasted just a few hours. Each week, the kids have improved in their strokes and their self-esteem has improved. The first meet my kids did they didn’t want to do all the strokes because they were just learning them. By the second week, they decided they would give it a try and compete doing all the strokes they didn’t think they were as good at. The two of them ended up winning a first and second place ribbon in those events. They were really excited and it was a great lesson for them to try something new.
It is exciting to watch the other boys and girls competing. Most of the kids are pretty happy because no matter what they get a ribbon. What’s nice too is that the parents of the other swimmers are encouraging all the kids, not just their own. Maybe it’s because we aren’t at a real competitive level right now, but it is very refreshing to not have parents being nasty when the kids are racing.
My husband really gets into the meets. He videos the girls races and is so excited to share the videos with their grandparents.
I did some research on the benefits of swimming and found there are quite a few. I knew that it was good exercise and easy on your body. You can lose weight doing it and it’s great for your muscle tone and strength. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that two and a half hours a week can reduce the risk of chronic illness and it can also improve a person’s mental health.
With all these great benefits and the fact that my kids actually like to go to swim practice, I think we made the right choice for this summer’s activity.
***If you would like to find a summer swim team. Here are some of the pool location for Summer Swim Team at Recreation Centers
North Greenwood (next session July 7-21)
900 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave.
Pool Phone 727-462-6276
Ross Norton Pool (register anytime)
1426 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave.
Pool Phone 727-642-6025
Long Center (next session July 7-21)
1501 N. Belcher Rd.
Pool Phone 727-793-2320
Clearwater Beach Family Aquatic Center (next session July 7-21)
51 Bay Esplanade
Pool Phone 727-462-6020
Morningside Pool (next session July 7-21)
2400 Harn Blvd.
Pool Phone 727-507-4064
Seminole Recreation Center (no openings)
9100 113th St. N
Pool Phone 727-397-6085
Skyview Pool (only one space in 5-7 yr old age division)
9040 54th Way N, Pinellas Park
Pool Phone 727-541-0777
Southwest Pool (need to go to pool to see if any openings)
13120 Vonn Rd., Largo
Pool Phone 727-518-3126
After summer session there are competitive swim teams in the area including: West Florida Lightning Aquatics (WFLA) at Largo, St. Petersburg Aquatics (SPA) at St. Pete and Clearwater Aquatic Team (CAT) at Clearwater and the Bardmoor Aquatics Team (BAT) in Largo.