Balancing Summer League and Long Course

March 22, 2022

With the short course season winding down and the long course season beginning in April, it's time to start weighing the pros and cons of swimming summer league or long course!

Summer league goes for the months of May & June in Oconee, and May/June/July in Athens, Jefferson, Commerce. But ABSC ALSO offers practice for all groups in the summer. So, how do you choose which one for your ABSC swimmer? Should you do both?

About Summer League

For many of our ABSC swimmers, summer league was their entry to the sport of swimming! It's typically a 6-8 week season depending on where you swim, and because of its nature as more of a recreational league, it's where many swimmers start in the sport.

Summer league teams often have long history and tradition, and they have the added bonus of adding a hometown/neighborhood feel where swimmers swim with a sense of pride with their friends and family. I also love that swimmers from age 5-18 all swim summer league, and it's one of the only sport settings I know of where whole families can be together doing the same competition at the same time! Finally, summer league often places a heavy emphasis on having fun!

About Long Course

What is long course? Long course is the 50-meter, Olympic format. One lap across the pool is 50 meters (rather than 25 yards as in short course season). In USA Swimming, we do short course in the winter months and long course in the summer months. All meets from April on are long course, and some of the ABSC practices are long course (while some are still short course due to logistics). For example, ABSC will maintain it's current practice schedule through the end of the school year, and will then switch to doing some long course practices in the summer.

Some swimmers prefer long course, some prefer short course! Long course offers longer straight-line swims with fewer turns and underwaters, while short course is quicker with double the amount of turns. As a coach, I LOVE long course because it affords us the opportunity to teach swimmers to lengthen their stroke and swim with greater rhythm, timing, and distance per stroke. Swimming long course with success comes with a certain feeling of honor in the swim community as it's a longer-distance style of swimming, in most instances.

So, how do we choose which to do? Keep swimming with ABSC and do long course, or do summer league (which is short course)?

For swimmers aged 10&under, ABSC encourages participation in summer league. If your swimmer doesn't have a summer league team, or they simply just enjoy swimming with ABSC, they are of course welcome to continue with ABSC in the summer! They can also do both! For instance, some swimmers want to swim for summer league but have practice time conflicts and can't attend every day, so they choose to continue training with ABSC alongside summer league.

For swimmers aged 11-14, ABSC is open to whatever you choose! This is really the decision point for many swimmers where they have to choose whether or not to continue with summer league. If a swimmer is in the Dawgs group, they are encouraged to continue with ABSC for the whole summer. If they are in Pups or Superpups, either direction is viable.

If finances allow it, we would encourage swimmers to do both! They could go the route of swimming most practices with ABSC, and doing long course meets, while maybe going once or twice per week to summer league practice and still doing summer league meets. ABSC swimmers aged 11-14, who also do summer league, will typically be some of the fastest swimmers on their summer league teams, so it's fun to go swim summer league and perform well or create super fast relays. And they can do that while continuing to practice with ABSC so they can continue the more aerobic workouts that are much more beneficial to their long-term development. Summer league practices are typically shorter and not aerobic at all, relatively.

"Senior" (15&Over) swimmers are encouraged to swim with ABSC through the summer unless they meet the following criteria:

  • They have the opportunity to practice with ABSC but add in some summer league meets and maybe attend once or twice per week at summer league practice. (Which is not a bad solution given that if they've swum all 9-months prior with ABSC, June and July are complimentary).

  • They can be coaches for their summer league team, and it doesn't conflict with their ABSC training.

That last point is huge. I (Coach Mike) got my start in coaching as a summer league coach while I was in high school. I would swim morning long course practice with my club team, and then drive to summer league practice and coach. This is an amazing way for swimmers to give back to the sport they love, and be the flagbearers/ role models for younger swimmers on their summer league team.

We hope you found this article helpful. ABSC loves summer league and we hope that a large number of our swimmers will participate with summer league for their whole swimming "career."

Go Dawgs!

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