Swimmers have grueling schedules between school work and swim practice, let alone trying to eat well and get a minimal amount of sleep. Trying to squeeze in any extracurricular activities can seem next to impossible. However, it is important that they find a couple of activities to engage in, both for their own personal growth and to bolster their college applications.
The list of possible extracurricular activities is endless but there are a few that are often easier to handle with year-round swimming than others. Many college admissions counselors recommend that activities be consistent – in other words, do not join German Club one year, Technology Club another year, then tutor the next year. Instead, get involved in one or two areas and stick with them, preferably taking on a leadership role at some point.
Schools often offer multiple Honor Societies from National Honor Society to Spanish Honor Society to National Technical Honor Society and many in between. These groups often meet at school and sometimes even during the lunch period which makes it easier for swimmers to attend meetings. Requirements vary and usually involve some community service hours, but are often not as rigorous as other clubs.
Coach Summer League Swimming/Swim Lesson Instructor
This is a natural fit for many year-round swimmers – as long as they enjoy working with kids. From a schedule standpoint, it is highly desirable as it usually takes place in the summer when there is no school.
Coaching or teaching lessons offers the chance for swimmers to share their talents and help younger kids. It can be done on a volunteer basis as to earn some spending money. The kids love to learn from teens and look up to them as they are “fast”. This is also an activity that is consistent with your swimmer’s other activities so it is valuable on a college application.
Tutoring is typically very flexible which makes it easy to fit in with a grueling practice schedule. Sometimes it can even be done during lunch if the student being tutored attends the same high school. If not, the tutor can arrange a convenient location and a convenient time to meet. Tutoring often counts as service hours for honor societies if done on a volunteer basis.
My son tutored students in Physics and Spanish during lunch at school in both his junior and senior years. He earned service hours for National Honor Society and it fit well into his schedule.
Church Youth Groups
Youth groups often meet weekly on Sundays which should only conflict with swimming if there is a meet. It is a chance to socialize and to participate in community service activities.
Animal shelters sometimes need people to come in and just play with the animals while the staff or full-time volunteers complete other work. This can be scheduled on a one-time basis without requiring a regular commitment, even during school breaks or days off.
Special Interest Groups
There are many special interest groups, both through school and in the community, that are flexible and allow members to attend whenever they are available. These could include computer groups, ethnic food groups, music, the arts, or almost any other option you can imagine. Your swimmer should explain his schedule when inquiring about the group to make sure it is truly flexible enough.
My son participated in a robotics league all four years of high school. It was very difficult to juggle the schedule but his teammates knew his schedule constraints up front and they scheduled their weekly work sessions on Saturday afternoons. He was not able to make it on swim meet weekends but everyone understood. His team unexpectedly made Super Regionals his junior and senior year, then Worlds his senior year, which required time off school and swimming to travel. We scrambled to find pools in the cities we visited so he could practice and his coach was not thrilled but it all worked out. I was hesitant about him taking this on but he was determined and it forced him to become better at both time management and negotiation. It is amazing what they can work into their schedules if they are motivated! He loves robotics and will possibly pursue a career in this area so it was certainly worthwhile activity for him.
It is important for your swimmer to not become overwhelmed with extracurricular activities as they are often exhausted and stressed on a regular basis! If they find an activity that allows them to follow their passion, it is all the better as they will enjoy it more and hopefully learn from it. Keep in mind, there is life after swimming.
Michelle Lombana is committed to helping parents like herself whose children want to swim in college. When she’s not looking for extracurricular activities for swimmers, she can be found at www.collegeswimmingguide.com.
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