If this seems a little daunting, please bear in mind that we are always happy to answer any questions you may have about joining, so do not be put off if you are not sure about something.
Depending on the number of inquiries we receive in a period, we may invite your child to a trial with other hopefuls, or we may invite them to join an existing squad we think may be a good fit for them for a session to see how they get on, subject to available space. Your child is not committed to joining simply by attending a trial session.
Although children do not start formally competing until they are 9 years old, we generally accept children ages 7 – 10 into the club to start their training. Unless they are exceptionally talented, or are transferring from another swimming club, children older than this are more likely than anything else to spend their time attempting to play catch up with peers who have had years more experience. The standards of swimming at competition rise rapidly in the early to mid teens and it would not be appropriate to encourage children into this unprepared or fill up spaces intended for promising younger children.
A condition of membership of the competitive training groups is that a child must have attained or be actively working towards their Swim England Stage 9 (Swimming) badge in mainstream swimming lessons (or equivalent STA/other award). Many children will join whilst working on their Stage 7/8/9 badge and maintain dual membership of the club and a local swimming school while they are working towards their Stage 9. Please inquire if you have any questions about this, if we are able to assess your child as already being of Stage 9 standard this may not be necessary; it is intended to ensure they have been taught all the core skills they will need, not as a hoop jumping exercise.
Children wishing to join should be able to confidently demonstrate all four competitive strokes without serious underlying flaws. It is not expected that children, particularly younger ones, will have all the competitive skills (racing dives, tumble turns etc.) fully formed on joining. They should be able to confidently demonstrate precursor skills such as standing dives (from a diving block) and forward rolls in the water however – these should be addressed within their swimming lessons. It may be worth emailing your child’s swimming school to see if their instructor has any helpful comments about their swimming from a competitive perspective, although it should be noted that not all instructors have expertise in competitive swimming and will not be primarily considering your child’s swimming from this angle.
Sessions for younger swimmers are an hour long each, so your child should be able to maintain a good level of stamina for that period, although at this stage they will still be primarily focusing on polishing their skills and technique as they build up to more energy intensive sessions.