Swimmers rest or swim holidays
The Swimming South Africa levels championships earmark the end of our swimming season every year. Training resumes 2-4 weeks later, depending on the club and the coaches. It is a time to rest.
This year, we forced Monica to rest for a full 30 days. April is also a change of season for us with colder weather setting in – our autumn. Swimming in the home pool is ruled out as the water gets too cold. Our home routine continues, with music and school.
How we learned about the importance of rest and young swimmers.
When Monica was 3-years-old, she attended some learn-to-swim classes at a local swim school. This was where we met Neville Smith, the retired coach and the founder of Toti swim club where Penny Heyns spent her early days of her career. Neville lives in Australia with his children now. He was visiting South Africa, attending the swim lessons with his grandson. I will never forget how Neville kneeled down next to the pool instructing Monica. His advice to us was to keep her in the water at all times and keep on swimming.
Neville was quite set on rest. He believed that children need the time to grow and develop which takes place during the 30 day period between end March and first of May of every year when the new season starts. Toti swim club, as a tradition, therefore, took a 30-day break every year at the end of the season.
Swimmers rest periods are about more than just meeting up with friends.
This Swimming World Magazine article discuss only 3 reasons to rest a young or age group swimmer. We agree with the 3 reasons listed in the article, but also believe that there is more to the swimmers rest period discussed in the article.
We are quite set on rest at least 2 days a week and that includes weeks where we swim meets on Saturdays and Sundays, a break in December and then the month rest in April every year. It would be the ultimate if we could actually take a holiday / vacation in April every year, but that is not always possible.
Before the break in April this year, we weighed and measured Monica. This is important as we need to ensure that she does not pick up too much weight during the holidays as physical activity is not as much as when she swims. On 1 May, upon return to the pool, we weighed and measured her again. She grew a whopping 4,6 centimeters in the month when she did not train to reach a height of 1.5 m at the age of 9! She gained 1.5 kg in the same period of time even though we maintained our lifestyle.
We use the rest period for the following:
- Reflect on the past year and set goals for the next swimming year. Monica actually writes her own goals down and we laminate it which then goes onto a board in her room to remind herself of her goals throughout the season.
- Family activities – we use the time to go for walks on the beach, play board games, build a puzzle, bake some cupcakes!
- During the break. we also prepare for the coming winter and this normally includes new clothes as Monica grows so fast. We sort out cupboards and donate the smaller clothes to worthy causes.
- Spending time playing Xbox games, read a book and sleep whenever she feels like it.
This short list just cover a few of the topics. Except for the swimming goals and set times for discussions, we do not talk about swimming or the year ahead. To us, during the month of rest, the swim box is closed and the fun box opens. It is time for the swimmer to rest.