One of the great aspects of belonging to a Swimming Club is the opportunity for the club to provide training and competition experiences to assist all swimmers to become both independent and interdependent.
Independence is very important in society today and there are many ways that swimmers can learn to become independent. Swimmers should take responsibility for packing their own swimming bags, ensuring their bathers, cap and goggles are in and ensuring they have a towel. Swimmers aged 8 years and over should be involved in writing their own entry cards (with support from their parents) and taking responsibility for communicating with their coach.
Club swimmers will attend a number of meets throughout the year aimed at different squad levels. One of the purposes of these meets is to assist club swimmers to become more independent, to learn to travel and compete with their coach in support and cared for by Team Managers. Many of these experiences will be remembered for life by the swimmers and will help them to grow into well-rounded adults.
At the Australian Age Championships each year, swimmers who travel with their club team will often cope extremely well with living together and competing at a high level. At this level, some parents experience separation anxiety and still feel as though they need to provide food and advice to their children.
It is vital that swimmers experience independence throughout the season so that both the child and the parent know how to respond at larger more important meets, especially when the swimmer is travelling as part of a team. Once swimmers are selected on State or National teams, parents are not able to be there 24 hours in support of their child, so it is important that these experiences occur throughout the season and are reinforced at National level meets so that the swimmer becomes an independent athlete.
Interdependence is at another level altogether. To be interdependent a swimmer must first be independent. Swimmers will then have the opportunity to share the load of expectation at training and at meets with each other and their coach. Relays are a classic example of a team of swimmers working interdependently. Coaches and swimmers who work together, with the swimmer choosing to complete each training and competition requirement with enthusiasm, is another example. A third example is swimmers training together on a daily basis and working both against and with each other so that they all improve.
I encourage all swimmers to become more independent in relation to their swimming training and competition and for parents to realize how important it is to let go at times and allow your child to gain the experiences they need if they wish to take the next step in swimming and in life.