11 Team Traditions I’m Thankful for as a Swim Parent

by SwimSwam 7

January 09th, 2017 Club, College, Lifestyle

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

Through 14 years of my kids swimming, it wasn’t all about best times, or making it to the next level. What kept my kids in the game was the team itself. The team was their family, social life and the place where they hung out daily with their best friends.

With 45 plus years of history, our club has many traditions. New team traditions have popped up and some have faded away.

Here are 11 team traditions that made swimming fun and kept my kids excited about the sport:


The JO Goodie Bag and Send-Off Party

When my kids were newbies—in the 8 and unders—they looked up to older swimmers in awe. Parents and swimmers cheered and applauded kids going off to JOs, Sectionals, Juniors and beyond as goodie bags were handed out during a simple on-deck party. My kids wanted to get their own goodie bags someday. Eventually they did.


T-Shirts and Caps

It was a big deal for my kids to finally earn championship t-shirts and caps. The first cap earned was the “JO Team” cap. The next step was a cap with their name on it. I’ll never forget my daughter’s smile when she wore the “Wickham” cap for the first time.


100 100’s on New Year’s Eve

One of my kids’ age group coaches initiated this grueling set as a yearly tradition. The swimmers bonded and earned bragging rights for surviving it.


Short Course Season Pot Luck

To celebrate the end of short course season, we’d have a pot luck. The coaches talked about team successes and achievements, the board held a quick parent meeting and we enjoyed some great family recipes. Swimmers sat at tables together, away from their parents, enjoying more time to hang out.


Friday Funday

My kids made a mad dash to the pool early Friday afternoons because dryland was ultimate frisbee. The head coach and an assistant coach played along with the senior group and they kept the same teams week after week. They loved it!


Medals and Ribbons Ceremony

When the kids were young, the age-group coach gathered her swimmers and handed out ribbons and medals. Each young swimmer stood proudly by as their coach read off the awards they had earned the weekend before.


End-of-Summer Beach Party 

After the final meet of the summer, which used to be near the beach, we’d have a party with an ice cream sundae bar. Lots of parents would be ready to head home, but swimmers would beg them to spend a few hours with their teammates at the beach.


Annual Awards Banquet

Year-end video, annual swimmer awards and senior recognition are just a few of the things I enjoy about the annual banquet. There’s a lot of effort put in by the coaches, and a chance for the entire team to recognize the team’s accomplishments for the year.


Move-Up Day

One coach mailed letters with a simple contract for our swimmers to sign early in the fall. The excitement of receiving an invitation to move up—along with their friends—was truly special.


Spaghetti Dinner Night

Every month on a rotating basis, a family would host a spaghetti or pizza dinner for their swimmer’s group. They’d watch movies, play Wii or Hide and Go Seek. If the coach dropped by, it was a big deal.


Dive-In Movie

We had one family with a portable big screen and projector who initiated the annual Dive-In Movie. The kids brought air mattresses and inner tubes and floated together as they watched The Princess Bride, Finding Nemo, or other classics.

Looking at my list, it seems a wonder my kids found time to practice. Trust me, they put in hours and hours of hard work, too. Of course, success and achievement were driving factors in keeping them in the sport. The team traditions added fun, plus created memories and friendships they’ll keep forever.

What are your favorite team traditions that keep your kids excited about swimming?

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.

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5 years ago

Our club has none of those traditions and supposedly we are the premier gold level club in the country! Ha

Canadian Swimmer
5 years ago

On everyones birthday that person would bring donuts for the entire group ( Tim Hortons )

6 years ago

One of my favorite team traditions was the team cheer. It’s great to see a bunch of youngers get together before the meet starts and belt out an enthusiastic, fist pumping team cheer.

6 years ago

Sadly, much of this is no longer PC. For every swimmer singled out there are 20 left out and most coaches don’t want the negative feedback from left out parents. I agree it fosters healthy competition among those who care. Sometimes the parents care far more than the kids.

Reply to  Swimdad
5 years ago

so true

6 years ago

Thanks for sharing Elizabeh! It’s never too late to get these traditions started again.
I feel bad for my daughter when her brother’s senior group always have team bonding, beach trips, movie dates and she has none. But, I will try to get these started again. I just hope that our coach will start some of it, like the Ribbon and awards from the last meet and other things to encourage each swimmers to do more each time and how well they did every meet.

NoVa Dad
6 years ago

These are all for our summer swim team which has a great set of traditions to make the summer season the most fun part of swimming for my kids:

1. Awards banquet slideshow/movie.
2. “Swimmer of the week” t-shirts for good performances: the most sought after t-shirt in my house.
3. Getting ‘psyched’ for A meets by dressing up in some theme such as Minions, camo, or cowboys and cowgirls. It’s a mini-Halloween 5 times per summer. The best part is that the coach gets dressed up too with crazy face paint.
4. ‘Most improved’ awards for dropped time and ‘coach’s awards’ that recognize kids that aren’t always the fastest but that are doing all of the… Read more »