10 Reasons Why I’m Thankful to be a Swim Parent

by SwimSwam 18

May 14th, 2018 Club, Lifestyle, Opinion

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham


My kids have always been good sleepers. I never had an issue with bedtime.


Homework. Swimmers don’t have time to procrastinate. They often work ahead.


Hard Work. They value working hard. Success came to them, not through raw talent, but through their work ethic.


Accountability. Swimming taught my kids accountability for their actions. Our coach illustrated how attendance affected his senior group in terms of percentages of best times. The numbers did not lie.


Goal Setting. Swimmers learn this skill early on trying for a red or blue time or a JO cut and beyond.


Toughness. Swimming gives kids self-confidence. Swimmers are tough physically and mentally.


Stress. Meets teach swimmers how to handle stress. A former swimmer said her coworkers marvel at how calm she stays while they freak out over deadlines. “Deadlines are nothing compared to being the anchor on a relay at Nationals or standing on the blocks at Trials,” she said.


Friendships. Not only with teammates, but throughout our LSC, and college team. I’m talking about my kids’ friendships, and mine, too! Swimming is a family.


Rewards. My daughter told me that she’s not into “instant gratification.” The whole concept is foreign to her.


Persistence. My kids never give up. On anything. Whether it’s getting into a class that’s full, or landing a show at the college radio station, they will not take no for an answer. Persistence comes after countless hours in the pool, eventually achieving goals.

What are you thankful for as a swim parent?

Elizabeth WickhamElizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog: http://bleuwater.me/.


  1. mamallama says:

    Two things I can think of to add:

    1. Connected to persistence I would add long term goal setting and keeping; learning about delayed gratification versus instant gratification. This past short course season my daughter had severe health issues that prevented her from swimming 100%. We have been able, along with the coaches, to show her instances where swimmers have come back from far more severe injuries/health challenges than she has, with sometimes really long term recovery times. We have had to write off the entire short course season and readjust our expectations completely (which I think has been a great lesson for her as well) and just look forward to bouncing back in LC this summer. She has been able to labor under tremendous physical strain, bad side effects from medications hampering her swimming, etc., in a very mature manner, knowing that months from now (which can seem like an eternity to a teen) she will have hopefully bounced back and made a full recovery.

    2. This next bit may seem silly to anyone who is not in swimming, but something I’ve noticed that I think is tremendous is how kids who show up in swimsuits in front of a bunch of other kids and hundreds of spectators, especially from a very young age, have zero self-consciousness about that. It’s just a swimsuit to them, and that carries over to other parts of their lives as well. And I love how the boys and girls just interact normally with each other on a pool deck, even when they’re wearing practice or competition suits. It’s a great lesson to them. So my daughter puts on a suit and goes to the beach or has swim class for gym at school and while the other girls are anxious and self-conscious and freaking out, my teen has completely normalized the experience. It’s like putting on a suit to go to work. And believe me, that’s a huge hurdle that most girls and women never get over.

    • Totally agree! Only females understand the bathing suit issue and that includes me as well. It’s been my experience that my daughters and their friends didn’t have this problem.

  2. Joel Lin says:

    Great article. I would add this as a parent of kids who have taken different sports paths, swimming and other sports, as a compare statement:

    Kids know success in this sport means signing up for the grind. If you don’t do the work it shows up.
    I love that swimming does not pile on certain anxieties. What do they think of me? What if the cool team I try out for cuts me? What if I don’t play on this club team or play for this prep school and it hurts my ability to get noticed by colleges? It is very disarming to know EXACTLY what the criteria is to be a Cal recruit versus other programs versus having plans to swim at all past high school.
    There is no such thing as Mommy or Daddy or club coach or prep school enablers playing politics to get a kid on the varsity, or make All-American or be nationally ranked. Those are things the kids need to earn, not things Mommy and Daddy can buy for their kids.

    This article should be sent to high school and club coaches in other sports a million times over. Swimming is the closest to the purest sport spiritually and sportsmanship wise.

    • CA Sunshine says:

      So true about recruiting – having gone through swim recruiting vs. recruiting in other sports where there’s more nuance I can definitely say that I prefer swimming’s “raw facts”.

      I agree with Joel Lin that there’s a real authenticity to swimming which creates a sense of ownership for swimmers. There’s no room for arguing that parents didn’t get the right video clips of outstanding plays, etc. We would tell our swimmer son from an early age that it was his name on that Meet Mobile app, not anyone else’s. And while we could do our best as parents to instill the character traits he would need as an individual and teammate, the times he posted would be largely up to him – his commitment to the sport and willingness to be coached.

      Times in any given event are easily comparable to what a college program already has and what that team might realistically need. Just because Cal might not have a need for the times your kid can hit, the good news is that those same times might be a perfect fit elsewhere where your swimmer can develop further and be happy doing it.

    • SwimGeek says:

      The ultimate objective/fair sport

  3. When my girls were competing at the club level there seemed to be a shared respect between males and females that we don’t normally see in athletics that separate the sexes or in the non athletic junior and senior high population. Theirs nothing like “we’re in this together” to bring on that respect.

  4. Dana Connell says:

    Thank you for adding the comments about self-consciousness and male/female respect. I have three daughters who swam from age 5 and into college. When younger parents ask me about swimming these are two things I site most. Particularly the body image for females. Our society is so focused on model-like bodies and yet these kids put on their uniform and excel in their sport. It’s not about their body but it’s about their time in the pool, their form on the flip turn or their start off the block – technique and time, not what society looks for on the beach.
    I also stress the team and family of male and female athletes working together for the team. I can’t think of any other sport where both sexes matter in the team standing. All other sports are divided. This teaches females how to interact and stand side-by-side with males and teaches males to respect females as athletes and equals. These skills will serve them both well in their adult lives. Swimming is the only sport where your individual performance matters just as much as your team. A swimmer contributes on both levels.
    The final point I would add is how important the swimming community is during those transition years from elementary school to middle school, middle to high school, and high school to college…even college to career. We live in a large community and my daughters transitioned very well. When my oldest went to HS (3400 kids) she came home commenting on how she was comfortable in the HS when senior swimmers spoke to her in the hallway because they knew her from club. The same was true when my girls entered college – having a built in family called a team makes all the transitions much smoother when the team has your back it makes the move much easier. When one of my daughters went to college – she commented that if she didn’t have the swim team her freshman year she would have been crying in her room.

  5. SwimMom says:

    #2… Procrastination
    My son gets his work done but he’s a number 1 procrastinator

  6. jman says:

    mine is clean kids and equipment after practice on the car ride home vs. the stench of hockey and soccer, etc.

    • KDC says:


      During swim season, I know that the kids are going to get wet and clean at least 4 times a week, more for meets…..and now my 10yo is staying at the pool to shower with a friend, so I don’t have the argument when she gets home about getting in the shower.

  7. Sean McGonigal says:

    All of these are very true. I just wanted to add that my children have elite core body strength due to swimming. My son is also a football player. He at 162lbs could easily handle 225 plus OL players. He’s one of the strongest players on his team of which has been in the top 25 in USAToday in high school football teams. My 2 swimmers are both strong beyond their natural size.

  8. Lisa Dibbayawan says:

    It keeps my teenage boy out of trouble. We live in a country where it is easy to drink & cheap to take drugs. Try turning up at training at 5.30am with a hangover. My son trains rather than party.

  9. Anne Lane says:

    Goal Setting!!!!HUGE life skill. They will hard this for theirvguture success.

  10. Vera says:

    To #8 I would add that due to the high number of hours swimmers spend in the pool, they develop strong friendships with their teammates. Swimming is a high “parent involvement” sport. So swimmers are generally good kids. In the teen years, peers have a huge influence.

  11. Charity Weaver says:

    I love how swimming had taught my daughter team unity, they are ALWAYS there for each other inside & out of the pool. They lean on each other, count on each other & support each other through all aspects of friendship. Swimming had taught my daughter dreams, goals & how to achieve them one start, one turn, one Lao at a time.

  12. Jodikayjones says:

    Swimming is a family, a support system, and the pool is alwas there to allow my daughters to work through pain, heart ache, and troubles. It is a supportive, unending hug for swimmers in good and bad times!!!!

Leave a Reply

Name will be published. Email address will not. By commenting you agree to our Terms of Use & Privacy Policy.

Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!