I absolutely love this little blurb on the USA Swimming website.... I'll let you read it and then I'll let you know why!
10 & Under Article
Use link or read article below:
Several years ago, USA Swimming looked at 10 & Unders who were ranked in the Top 16 and followed the likelihood that they would still be ranked once they were in high school. This is what we found:
Ranked Top 16 as a:
10 & Under Still Ranked as 17-18 11%
11-12 Still Ranked as 17-18 21%
13-14 Still Ranked as 17-18 36%
15-16 Still Ranked as 17-18 48%
Moral of the Story: A 10 & Under can survive and thrive...but 50% of the top swimmers develop AFTER Junior Year in High School. If you have age-group athlete, make sure you emphasize fun, participation in a variety of sports and activities, including unstructured play and skill development and that there is a long-term progression plan. Discourage early specialization in one sport or one event.
My bottom line- it's NEVER too late. Do you see that??? Junior year in HIGH school.... BUT those who start developing early get the whole package- the love of the sport and atmosphere, the character building skills, the family and sportsmanship. EMPHASIZE FUN- don't make them choose one sport or event..... after all they are only kids for so long ! :)