Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
After being a swim mom for 15 years, I thought I knew everything there was to know about swim meets. Then, I decided to take the big plunge and dive in. After swimming US Masters with my kids’ club team for eight months, I swam in my first meet.
I’m not a former swimmer. In fact, I had very little swim experience—one summer in 10 and unders. My favorite stroke was sidestroke—which was a whole lot easier than fly.
This past year, I went from not being able to breathe in freestyle, to working on all four strokes. I learned how to dive off the blocks and flip turn during the past two weeks. I fought nerves all week, but the day finally arrived.
Here are 11 things I didn’t know about swim meets until I dove in:
Swimmers are super friendly.
I had great conversations with complete strangers, from ages 18 to 74. We were in the pool together, varying shapes, sizes and ages. We were in it together.
Team spirit and camaraderie.
The 20 of us Piranha swimmers cheered and encouraged each other. Our age group parents and kids timed and worked the meet, cheering for us, too. I felt more team spirit as a swimmer than as a parent.
It’s stressful to swim in a meet.
I was wracked with nerves, but honestly, it was easier than watching my kids swim a difficult event.
Diving is fun.
Who knew that I’d find it exhilarating—that feeling of soaring off the blocks. The first time I practiced a dive, I wobbled and worried about if the official said, “stand.”
It’s easy to lose your shoes.
With going in and out of the warm up/down lanes, going to the blocks, my flip flops were just as lost as my kids’ flip flops used to be. I finally found them—behind the timers in my lane.
Pack more than one towel.
My one towel that I take to practice was not enough for a meet. It was soaked by the time I finished. Come on! As a swim mom, I knew that!
Leaky goggles are a pain.
I need to figure out how to get my goggles not to leak. I lost my contacts each dive.
You never know who you’ll see.
Keep your eyes out on the pool deck at a US Masters meet. You may recognize swimming legends or coaches, like Jim Montrella who was cheering for his wife Bev.
Every swim parent should do it.
Parents will benefit from learning how to swim, joining masters and swimming in a meet. Swim parents will gain a new appreciation for what we expect our children to do.
No one prepared me with how sore I would be the next day—especially my shoulders and back. My daughter scolded me, “Mom, did you warm down enough?”
There’s something to be said for getting out of your comfort zone. I’m proud after taking the plunge and doing something completely new—something I would never have imagined a year ago.
What do you think swim parents gain from going off the blocks? Should it be a requirement for
all swim parents to compete in a meet?
Elizabeth 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.