Of course in competition all that counts is time, for performance competitors in swimming that is. Since I have been lamenting since the last two posts of mine that it is not straightforward to determine swimmers’ performance potential by age, I have read this article about Ruta Meilutyte, that she had already broken 11 Lithuanian women’s’ records when she was only 15 years of age. At the age of 17 she became the first and the only swimmer in history to win all available junior and senior international swimming championships at least once. Now swims for a new elite program in the USA.
If a swimmer becomes successful so early, it is much easier to stick to the sport and continue the time-consuming training rather than if success comes later.
In Britain the exam schedules and legal requirements for pupils to attend school until age 18 often leaves parents little choice but to remove their children from swimming clubs to attend school and spend extra time studying.
But I think that it is important for youngsters who enjoy swimming a lot to allow them to continue in the sport, even if in a reduced capacity. Swimming can be important for people’s general happiness and how their brains function, especially when the love of swimming is in the DNA.
For just about any sport, training during the teenage years is the foundation for early adult sporting success but unfortunately our education system leaves pupils little choice but to surrender sport in favour of education.
I think our education should be more flexible and allow sporting activists to delay taking GCSE or A-levels at a later date.
Because those who develop slower into the sport and are not likely to continue in the face of educational pressures can develop within their own pace. Funders also tend to fund more willingly if sporting success comes early and if funding is given, then it is easier to stick to the sport but this continuation can only come in conjunction with remaining in education till the age of at least 18.
Swimmers are encouraged to attend universities with swimming clubs attached but that also requires early taking of GCSE and A-levels.
I think people should have more freedom to get educated at their own pace and be allowed to take exams later in life without losing entitlement to free education.
Why not give people education vouchers that they can exchange whenever they want. Of course a basic education is extremely important for youngsters, so that they can make informed decisions for themselves but anything further should be left for people to take at their own pace.