3 Reasons to Give Young Swimmers A Rest

Photo Courtesy: Azaria Basile

By Dr. David Geier

Two parents recently brought a 10-year-old swimmer to my office for evaluation of a shoulder injury. Fortunately, she had a mild condition related to overuse that would resolve with some rest and some daily exercises. The parents then informed me that rest was not an option. Their daughter was supposed to compete in several state and regional meets over the next few weekends. She also needed to ramp up her training to compete well in her events at those meets.

1. The physical demands of daily training

An adult swimmer’s body cannot withstand the same physical stresses day after day without rest. A growing child lacks the muscle strength of adults and even adolescent athletes. Young swimmers need even more time to rest. Taking some time off from a year-round sport is helpful, but kids need rest during the season too.

2. Physical and emotional toll on young athletes

Daily practices and swim meets take a toll on kids physically, and it can wear them out emotionally too. Burnout is one of the key reasons young athletes quit playing sports, and physical and emotional exhaustion can lead to burnout over time.

3. A few days of rest each week

Coaches and parents, consider giving your swimmers two or three days each week to rest their bodies. Allow them to catch up on schoolwork and spend time with friends. If a child worries about conditioning, let him lift weights or get cardiovascular exercise out of the pool.

As kids get older, their bodies will develop, and they will mature emotionally. They will be better prepared to withstand the time and physical commitments of competitive swimming.

Editor’s Note: Dr. David Geier is an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Charleston, SC. For more information on swimming injuries and other injury treatment and prevention topics, please go to Dr. Geier’s website at drdavidgeier.com and follow him on Twitter (@DrDavidGeier).


  1. avatar

    Resting does help you improve your overall performance as does special routines. Better to develop for the long term than burn out a young swimmer.

    • avatar

      All true….but the truth is most swim coaches treat their swimmers like the poor greyhound…they don’t even believe parents when they inform them of injuries…..

  2. avatar

    Resting helps develop a swimmer as does routines. Better to plan for the long term and not burn out young talent.

  3. avatar
    Jason V

    I think there are ways to keep our kids active and rested without getting them burnt out. It takes creativity, cross training, and constant goal setting.

  4. avatar

    It only takes a coach or parent to understand that age group swimmers need more rest or fewer yardage at each practice to enjoy swimming more and actually swim faster. It’s the adults who need to change.