How To Become A Competitive Swimmer

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Becoming a competitive swimmer is a lifetime process; it takes dedication and commitment to the sport. It takes years of practice, honing skills, and taking direction from coaching to make it into the Olympic pools.

The most important thing to remember is to start early, swim often, work out with a trainer, and eat healthily. Your body is the machine that will need to be taken care of to achieve the level of success desired by the swimmer in question.

Man swimming with hands wide open - Becoming A Competitive Swimmer.

When Do You Need to Start?

The best time to start is to begin swimming as a child and learning to love the pool as a baby. There is a natural confidence that comes with knowing how to do things as a child, a confidence that never leaves you as you get older.

This will set the young swimmer up for success, leading to natural abilities that can be sharpened and improved as they age. The first goal is to get the interested youth into the pool and have them focus on making the High School team first.

Then aspirations can grow to college and Olympic levels but focusing on attainable goals first is vital.


For How Long Do You Need to Train?

Training will take a lifetime for most competitors. But, if you follow the lives of Marcus Spears or Michael Phelps, they were in the pool as youngsters swimming around with confidence.

As a youth continues, a parent’s most important role is to provide the opportunity for that child to get into the pool and to meet with adequate coaching.

This relationship will need to be carried through the adolescent stages and high school years until the up-and-coming swimmer finds a high school coach or similar to help take them to the next level.


Man swimming with hands wide open - Becoming A Competitive Swimmer.


When is the Latest you Need to Start?

There are always outliers, even in the most controlled science experiments and studies. One such athletic outlier is when a teenager switches sports and becomes brilliant at it.

There are many times this has happened; a power forward in basketball decides to play football and gets drafted into the NFL. Or a soccer (Futbol) player utilizes that footwork training to become a professional center in the NBA.

These freak outliers in athletic prowess come primarily from the athletes themselves and the drive that motivates them to compete at higher levels. That fire inside that propels the athlete forward and burns inside all the way through to retirement and beyond.


Are you Supposed to be in an Educational Competition?

This is an interesting question; the answer is no; there will be routes to the Olympic pool that do not involve the high school or collegiate teams. But, of course, this route will be more expensive, starting by purchasing coaching and training access for the aspiring athlete.

Then, there will be nationwide traveling requirements. In contrast, to high school and the scholarships route, this will be all out of pocket and reserved for the wealthier families.

In this writer’s humble opinion, the best route is to compete in High School and college. Then, if you do not make it to the Olympics, at least you have the education to fall back on.


How Can You Find Sponsors?

This portion of the swimming athlete’s career should take place after amateur status is removed. This, however, is now an evolving concept as NCAA colleges have been in discussions with athletes over amateur and professional status while in school.

The first sponsor you want to hook on should be a scholarship from any four-year college or university. Though not ‘officially a sponsorship’ in words, in principle, you represent the campus while competing in college.

The scholarship will pay for your education, room and board, and all equipment needed in and out of the pool. Once the professional status is established, the next step would be to secure an agent-like representative who knows where the sponsorships are.


Final Thoughts on Becoming a Competitive Swimmer

A swimmer will need to start young and maintain that love and passion for the activity. Like with any profession, the sooner you begin, the more likely a person is to develop professional skill levels.

The beaten pathway to athletic success goes through academia, starting with High school sports and continuing into the collegiate ranks. Doing so increases exposure to the world and those involved in the sport.

Winning in high school and college are sure bets to getting professional attention and securing a future in competitive swimming. But, overall, it takes time for an athlete to perfect their skills and then learn to execute at the highest levels.