Elizabeth Wickham, SwimSwam

February , 2020

Dear Swim Mom,

I have an 11-year-old girl who swims competitively. I am finding out that age group swimming is full of new stuff, good and bad.

I want to get your input on the following matter. The first thing that never crossed my mind was the different rates kids grow regardless of their ages. In my observation, the early bloomers seem to be faster than their teammates—even when these early bloomers are younger in age—about six months to a year younger. Is that a correct observation?

My daughter is a much later bloomer compared to these younger swimmers. If my observation is correct, what can she do in the meantime?

I heard that the true speed will show once everyone stops growing, which can be around 14 or 15 years old. Is that correct?

Thank you for any advice you can give me.

—Late Bloomer Mom


Dear Late Bloomer Mom,

I do believe you are correct in your observations. Early bloomers have an advantage, but eventually things even out after differences in growth level out.

My kids were both late bloomers, too, so I understand your feelings. One thing my kids focused on when they were behind growth-wise was technique. Good technique will help out in the long run. Also, a strong work ethic and a desire to compete and swim are things that helped my daughter compete against earlier bloomers and those with more talent. Consistency in coming to practice is so important, too.

As a parent, try not to focus too much on times. It can make your daughter be more focused on times, too. At age 11, it’s important to have fun and love being in the water. Remember there is so much more to swimming than just the times.

I saw some kids struggle after they had rapid growth spurts, too. It’s like they weren’t used to their new bodies and they plateaued or got slower until they got used to their added inches and pounds. So, even when your child grows and catches up to her peers, she may struggle for a bit.

I hope you find this helpful and your daughter sticks with swimming for the long-term. With hard work and passion, anything can happen!


Elizabeth Wickham


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