Twenty-two percent of girls drop out of sport by the time they reach adolescence, says a report on The Status of Female Sport in Canada. Although the social, emotional and physical benefits of sport are well documented, the report suggests that girls feel influenced by social pressures from parents, guardians and peers. “Specifically, peer influence, lack of social support, encouragement, positive role models, self-confidence and money are the top reasons why adolescent girls say they stop participating in sport,” the report suggests.
At BSSC, we are lucky to have watched our adolescent programs grow over the past few years. In 2017, we had two teams for 11-12 year olds and four teams for 13-15 year olds. Our participant numbers increased by 125% from 2016 to 2017.
Our Recreational Coordinator Grace Lockhart believes it’s because of the supportive team environment that our swimmers get to be part of. “Outside of the athletic part of synchro, our swimmers learn how to be part of a team and communicate with others,” she explains. “Since teams are mixed ages, 13-15 or 16-20 etc., swimmers make friends outside of their grade and learn to grow socially.”
Monique Garon is currently a coach and competitive masters swimmer with the club. She joined the club as a 12-year-old on what was then, a Tier 3 team. Now in her 20s, she recently competed in the 2018 UANA PanAm Masters Championship in Orlando, Florida where BSSC’s team finished fourth overall. During that time, Monique only missed one season as an athlete on BSSC’s roster. Although she was still a coach, she said that she missed the time in the pool and only felt partially connected to the club.
School tuition, car payments and job commitments are reasons that have made continued participation as an athlete challenging for Monique, but she said that she continues to swim because the sport and the club are familiar and comforting during a time in her life when there are many changes, and because she loves the sport and the people she interacts with.
“Sport is important to me because it continues to teach me how to commit, work hard and pursue success,” Monique said. “It is an organized way to get exercise, but it does so much more than that. Working on a team, especially in a sport [like synchro] teaches you so much more about other people, problem solving and conflict management.”
“More than anything else, I participate in sport because they’re fun,” Monique adds.