If your child has recently expressed an interest in participating in competitive swimming, you may be unsure of which types of teams would be beneficial for their growth. There are three categories of swim clubs: Parent-governed, coach- and institution-owned. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, which we will detail below:
Many successful competitive swimming programs in the United States are owned by a coach or a private entity. This type of team is good for a young swimmer who plans on competing at the college level in the future. There is consistency in coaching and team leadership and more opportunity for swimmers to participate in high-level competition. Swimming in a coach-owned club can be expensive and due to the price, some parents are less likely to volunteer or take on additional duties for the team.
Entities like schools, community centers or organizations like the YMCA or Boys and Girls Clubs run their own swim teams. Due to their affiliation with the governing body, teams usually have more access to pool facilities. One downside is that participation fees are sometimes higher and are often unable to be negotiated.
This is the most common type of youth swimming organization. Parent-governed teams are classified as 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, and as such must be led by a board of directors that is usually made up of team parents. Typically the coach will handle all of the work that takes place in the water, while a parent volunteer will take care of the business-side of the operation. Some of the most problematic aspects of this type of structure include high turnover of leadership and coaches and the dependency on fundraising revenue to pay for meets and new racing swimsuits.