It’s spring break! Finally, the months of March and April have arrived and depending on your location around the country and school schedules, chances are sometime in the next two months your kids have a week off (or at least a long weekend). What does this mean for swim practice?

For swimming, March and April is a time for both championship meets, and transition between short course and long course season. Depending on your swimmer’s level, he or she may be doing short course meets all the way up to or even past the first long course meet of the season. For younger swimmers, chances are there is about 4-8 weeks of downtime between seasons. So what should you do in that time, and more specifically, with the week of vacation? The short answer: it depends. If you’re unsure what to do during down time, here are a couple scenarios to consider…

If you’re off school but staying local: Most teams will try to take a one week break in this time and coordinate it with local school schedules. If there are a lot of different school schedules and spring break is different for everyone, the coaches may still hold practice for those that will be around and encourage the swimmers to take their break according to their schedule. Whereas a lot of families take vacay during this time, the reality is that a lot of parents can’t take time off work and have to either tough it out working from home with their kids all week, pay for a babysitter or a spring break camp. My recommendation – if your swimmer is off school but just hanging around home all day, it can’t hurt to send them to practice so they have an outlet for all of that extra energy (and therefore can’t use it to drive you crazy). If you can find a camp that gives them a lot of activity then a break from practice is okay – after all it’s a break for you too to get to stay at home and take a week off from being a taxi service. If there’s no practice that week and they’re going stir crazy – try your local gym. It may have a pool they can go “play” in in the evenings. This will give them a break from practice but allow them to still sleep at night…

If you’re going on vacation: If you’re planning on going out of town for a vacation (yay!), taking a break from the pool is fine, especially if your swimmer is done with meets for the season. Whether you’re heading to the beach or the ski slopes or just visiting family, it will be enough activity to tire them out and release all that extra energy they usually use up in school and at practice.

If you’re going on vacation but the season isn’t over: If you have an older or more advanced swimmer that still has an end of season meet coming up they’re training for, there are some options for them to stay in the water during vacation:

  • Option One: Search for a local gym or YMCA with a pool and call ahead. Ask if there is a fee you can pay for access just for the week. I’ve done this in several cities while I’m traveling and most places are happy to accommodate for a small $10 or $20 fee. Remember to get workouts from your coach before you go. The upside: you can fit workouts around your vacation schedule. The downside: It’s hard to train on your own, and your swimmer may feel lazy or unmotivated going this route.
  • Option Two: Reach out to local teams and ask if your swimmer can practice with them. Most teams again are happy to accommodate an out of town swimmer if you call or email the coach ahead of time. You can copy your swimmer’s own coach on the email or even ask them to call on your behalf. Just be aware you may have to pay a small fee (around $10) for insurance purposes. The upside: Your swimmer may have more fun swimming with a team and meeting new people. The downside: You’ll be at the mercy of the local teams schedule, and it may cramp your vacation plans.

The bottom line: Breaks are okay! Do not feel guilty pulling your swimmer out for a week, I assure you they earned that break and they will get back in the water feeling refreshed (and yes, maybe a little out of shape). With long course season right around the corner, they’ll have plenty of time to get back in the groove. The most important things to remember here are to plan ahead and always always always talk to your swimmer’s coach about the plan.

Have a great break! 🌴

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