The Evolution of a Child’s Passion for the Water: Oh the Places You’ll Go!

Serafina King as a young swimmer. Photo Courtesy: Tamara King serafina-king-baby-swimmer

By Ashleigh Scott, Swimming World College Intern.

Once upon a time, there was a child who developed a particular passion for the water. Playing in the pool was nothing short of a favorite pastime, and the resulting prune-like fingers became a proud symbol of the time spent in the water. Salt water or chlorinated water – it didn’t matter. All that mattered was the necessary minimum of an hour and a half logged daily for the child to be content. Eventually, this undeniable joy for the water begins to generate comments among the child’s friends and family members. The mother of the child’s friend from yoga class says, “Swimming lessons should be seriously considered.” Or Aunt Karen remarks, “It seems as though your little one has a real love for the water. Competitive swimming is definitely in the future!”

Well Aunt Karen, you happen to be right.


Photo Courtesy: Swimming Pool. Children enjoying swimming outside.

The Beginning of A Life-Long Process

Fast forward two months. The mother of the child takes the advice from her close friends and family members, registering her water-obsessed child for swimming lessons. Naturally, the first level is “guppy,” because all four-year-olds must start somewhere. So, every Tuesday and Friday morning, a little parent-child bonding happens as the drive to guppy swimming lessons becomes the event of the week. The child finds a deeper passion for the water than that shown while playing in the backyard pool for hours on end. The instructor is quite impressed with the rapid progress.

To no one’s surprise, the child is moved up to the “dolphin” level. However, this level only lasts about three lessons until the child is bumped up again to “starfish.” Eventually, the four-year-old super starfish is moved up to “shark” with the five- and six-year-olds. The child’s parents cannot help but smile ear to ear every time they watch their child jump into the water, now three times a week.

Eventually, the child’s parents are approached by the head swimming instructor who raves about their child’s undeniable success and keenness to swim. The instructor suggests competitive swimming for the child at the pre-developmental level. This way, the child will start learning the swim strokes at a lower intensity. From there, if the child is liking it and thriving, then higher levels of competitive swimming will become a topic of conversation.


Photo Courtesy: Chasi Annexy. Kids sitting at the edge of the Harlme YMCA pool for lessons.

Telltale Signs of Greatness

At the first level of competitive swimming, the child excels in ways no one ever imagined. Of course, the child’s parents were optimistic of success, but really, they were not expecting these results: placing first in the 25-yard freestyle at the end-of-year meet and winning a coach’s award were the real highlights. On top of success in the pool, the child’s eagerness to keep going was refreshing: a passion for the water not seen by every child.

This was what would be the beginning of the next sixteen years.

The little water-loving toddler is now twelve years old. After working up the competitive groups at the swim club, the same omnipresent passion for the water shines through. Being in middle school while swimming at a more competitive level is challenging, but very manageable for the child. Managing school and swimming will soon become something to juggle and work out on a more intense basis, because the next step in this story, as you may have guessed, is high school.


Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien. A young swimmer taking his mark at the 2015 Mesa Arena Club Cup.

A Child’s Passion Takes Off

Attending a new school, making new friends, and figuring out what type of classes spark interest are a few of the adjustments a young teen faces. Needless to say, high school is an interesting time in the child’s life. However, with new academic and social opportunities comes new athletic opportunities. Now in the highest club team group, the chances for success are never-ending. Every instance the now 5 foot 11 inch “child” comes across is taken advantage of in more ways than one: two-a-day practices, a meet almost every weekend, and very intense training. These are just a few of the opportunities open for the child, and every one of these is tackled with grit and energy. This type of attitude is exactly the type of mentality that could open many doors for college scholarships. And these doors do open.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick. Jordan Wilimovsky preparing for a big race.

The time has come for college recruiting. Not only is this process naturally very intense, it is also very stressful. Deciding which school and team is the right fit are just two components of an important process. Thinking back to the guppy days, the child’s parents cannot believe the track their child is taking. And when the perfect fit of a school comes along, the amazement only continues. What a journey it has been! What started off as a toddler loving the water is now a young adult with the opportunity to swim in college: a truly remarkable evolution. They realize the impact of the early sighting of a child’s passion for the water.

The parents of the child cannot help but smile while they stand in the cheering section at the college championship meet. Proud beyond belief – humbled and amazed – they recognize their child’s accomplishments. How the love of a sport can show so early on in life is fascinating. How the love of a sport can carry you to so many different places is inspiring.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Does this story sound familiar?

From a childhood passion can spring unimaginable opportunities and a life-long love for healthy activities. Recognizing and nurturing these passions is essential for a child’s growth, confidence and exploration.

And while many swimmers do not continue their competitive journeys past college swimming, they pursue a passion that is equal or even greater than their original love for water. Is it swimming? Reading? Writing? It doesn’t matter. Every passion has a story and can take you further than you could ever imagine.

Where will you go with your passions?

-All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Swimmer Fan
3 years ago

Enjoyed reading your article, it is word for word the way it was for our son and daughter who are now swimming college. It is now the family obsession. Funny how innocently it all starts.

3 years ago

It completely describing our life right now

3 years ago

Entirely different story if you have a biased, quietly racist coach.

3 years ago

Spencer Royer