12 Parent Tips on How to Behave at Swim Practice

by SwimSwam 25

December 22nd, 2016 Club, Lifestyle, Opinion

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

I will confess. I haven’t been the perfect swim parent. I’ve learned from my own mistakes, plus from watching other parents. If you’re an involved swim parent, you’ve seen interesting days on the pool deck, with new parents and more seasoned ones.

Here are my 12 tips on what to do — and not do — during practice:


  1. Keep a case of water in the car. If your swimmer doesn’t drink it all, you will.
  1. Bring snacks for your child to refuel after practice even if it’s right before dinner. A nutritionist swim mom told me for best recovery your swimmer must refuel within 20 minutes of practice. Chocolate milk is a great choice.
  1. Reach out to new parents and those with younger swimmers on the team.
  1. Sit away from the edge of the pool and away from the coach. A head coach told us swimmers got distracted listening to parents gossip when we sat directly behind him. Now, we’re on the opposite side of the pool.
  1. Take advantage of practice time. Get a group of parents walking or start a dryland group. You can always catch up on reading, too.


  1. Don’t talk to — or coach — your swimmer while he’s in practice.
  1. Don’t interrupt the coach during practice. If there’s something you need to say, catch the coach before or after practice, or send an email.
  1. Don’t compare your swimmer to others on the team. There’s no positive outcome for anyone by doing this.
  1. Please don’t videotape your children during practice. They really don’t want to review with you later that night what they’re doing “wrong.”
  1. Gossip is never a good idea, whether it’s about another family, swimmer or team.
  1. Try to avoid causing a scene on deck. Your swimmer will be mortified forever.

What tips do you have for parents on how to behave during practice?

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/

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25 Comments on "12 Parent Tips on How to Behave at Swim Practice"

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Dont: Insert yourself so entirely into your swimmer’s swimming that you make the experience yours/about you. Do: Let your swimmer own their own swimming experience without mom or dad constantly trying to “drive.” Do: Find an outlet for your competitive drive where you are actually doing the competing and not living through your child. My 2 cents as a swimmer, coach and parent.


#13: Why are all these parents even at swim practice in the first place??


Amen to that

I think with the new safe sport rules it may be mandatory for teams to allow parents some visibility into practice.

Yes! Parents, let the coaches coach, the swimmers swim, and enjoy an hour or two of time for yourself! It’s a win-win!

Because of coaches likes these:
Rick Curl
Matthew Carrington
Patrick Fatta
James Henry Martin III
Marissa Thompson
Glenn Christopher Nellis
Paul A. Collins
Chris Johnson
Noah Rucker
Kenneth Fuller

Virtually every other sport allows parents/families/friends/fans to watch practice. Can you cogently provide an explanation why swimming should be any different?

the coach of my granddaughter does not allow parents to stay – they have to leave the premises during coaching sessons.

There are a lot of good coaches out there – I’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to find one who follows Safe Sport guidelines.

On a different note: where is tip #3?

Elizabeth Wickham

Sorry! It got deleted during my editing. But, there are some good tips in comments to take its place.