Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
It’s exciting to watch your child race after weeks or months of hard practice. However, the competitive atmosphere can bring out some less than positive traits in parents. Here are my tips for how to behave at meets to make the experience better for you and your swimmer:
- Volunteer for timing right away. It’s a small thing that helps the person rounding up timers —and it’s the best seat in the house.
- Your swimmer should sit with their teammates, rather than with you. I’ve seen a few families sit by themselves, across the pool from their team. Swimmers have fun hanging out with teammates. Remember, a happy swimmer stays a swimmer.
- Let your swimmer find out his own heat and lane. If they miss their event, they’ll learn from it.
- Bring healthy snacks and water. If your swimmers are coming back for finals, make sure they stay off their feet and rest.
- Cheer for other swimmers on your team. Not just yours.
- If possible, let your swimmer stay to watch all the races. We had one coach insist no one left at finals — until all our swimmers were done. It made the distance kids feel good to have teammates supporting them.
- Stay positive and supportive, even if the meet seems to be going on forever. Years go by quickly, and you’ll miss these meets.
- Don’t go behind the blocks if there’s a sign saying, “Swimmers Only.”
- Don’t coach your swimmers before their race, or tell them what they need to work on after they swim.
- Don’t tell your swimmer when it’s time to warm up or go to the blocks. Trust me. They will figure it out.
- Don’t wait behind the blocks holding your swimmer’s towel while they race — unless he or she is in 8 and unders.
- Don’t hover behind your swimmer, eavesdropping while they talk to their coach.
- If your swimmer is on a relay, don’t leave because you want to head home. You’ll crush the spirit of three other swimmers.
- Don’t let your anxiety transfer to your child. If you’re overly nervous — like I am — take a walk around the facility and breathe.
What are your dos and don’ts for meets?
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: http://bleuwater.me/.