21 New Year’s Resolutions for Swim Parents

by SwimSwam 17

December 29th, 2016 Club, Lifestyle

Courtesy of  Elizabeth Wickham

As a swim parent, I’ve made my share of mistakes. Through the years, I’ve evolved and hopefully improved. For example, I am not the same swim parent today that I was 10 years ago. I still get nervous at meets, but I no longer compare my kids to other swimmers. I enjoy each moment as a swim parent, knowing that I won’t be in this role forever.

The New Year provides a golden opportunity to reflect on our swim parenting skills. Are we adding to the swim experience—or detracting from it? Here’s my list of 21 New Year’s Resolutions for all swim parents:


I will get my swimmer to practice consistently and on time.


I will talk positively about the coach and team to other swim parents.


I will sign up to volunteer at meets early and often.


I will not compare my child’s times with other swimmers.


I will not show my frustration when my swimmer has a bad swim.


I will cheer, not coach my child.


I will reach out to newer swim parents and be a positive role model.


I won’t rehash swim performances on the drive home from a meet.


I will let my kids mature and take charge of their lives.


I promise to not helicopter and hover at practices and meets.


I will praise my swimmer for good sportsmanship.


I will provide healthy food at meets and at home.


I will let my swimmers find their own heats and lanes.


I will cheer for other swimmers on our team.


I will not use bribery to motivate my child.


I will encourage my child’s effort and not focus on performance.


I will not engage in gossip on the pool deck.


I will not automatically take my child’s side if there’s an issue with the coach or teammates.


I will not stand behind the blocks while my child races.


I will not impose my goals on my swimmer.


I will subscribe to SwimSwam Magazine and read SwimSwam.com to become a better informed swim parent.

What is on your list of New Year’s Resolutions to be a better 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.

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5 years ago

EXACTLY RIGHT AND TRUE!!! I will post this on my swim bag (mom has swim bags too ?).

I hope all my swim moms and dads will read this.

Happy New Year! Great NY resolutions too.

5 years ago

I will not hold my breath.

5 years ago

I certainly allow my child to live her own life, now if I can find GOOD clubs that will do the same by not requiring a middle schooler to practice 5 times a week plus dry land in order to swim with them. #PracticeWhatYouPreach

Reply to  GoldenB
4 years ago

That actually isn’t all that much…

5 years ago

Love this! Thank you

5 years ago

Goldenb has it right. Our wonderful club had the kids getting up every day of their break to practice from 6:30 till 9am then back to practice from 2 till 4. Oh and New Year’s Eve is a special am practice to finish the year on a happy note. 6am till 10 am. Sure wish my xmas breaks would have been this much “fun” when I was a teen. Teens love getting up at 5am. I love having them drive in the dark on icy streets too. Are there any sane clubs in this sport?

Age Group Dad
Reply to  Realswimmom
5 years ago

If your club training schedule seems “insane,” you are probably in the wrong training group (or possibly in the wrong club). I wouldn’t waste my children’s time, let alone my own time, pursuing optional activities in ways they don’t enjoy.

There are many clubs in our area (greater Washington DC) with training groups who practice 1-3 times per week and some of those groups don’t even hold winter training at all. There are also multiple levels of swimming in the sport (summer league, school teams, YMCA, etc). Your range of options might depend on where you live, but most sports in most places offer pyramids with lower levels of competition available for casual athletes.

A swim coach
5 years ago

Really?? 5x a week and you are whining? Did you ever think (or realize) that it’s a “good” club because your swimmer has to go to practice? And are they forcing you to be on the team? If you don’t want your swimmer to do the work than why swim for a program that expects the work? And what does your swimmer think? Do they want to go to holiday practice? Do they want to go 5 times a week? because if it’s what the swimmer wants, why are you bitching? And if it’s not what the swimmer wants to do why are they doing it? And why are you paying for it? Mrs. Wickham’s post is spot on. It… Read more »

8 year veteran dad
5 years ago

This advice is like the old adage, but slightly modified, “Parents should be seen not heard”. I have for the most part followed this advice, but I really am not so sure it has served my swimmer well. I had watched my kid’s times stagnate from AA to B times over the course of 2 years with a 3+ practice per week winter program. While I had a speaking relationship with the winter coaches, I did not bring it up with them and there was no analysis and no advice from them. I did have a solid relationship with my summer coach. When pressed, she said it was time for the kid to go to a better swim program/team before… Read more »

Reply to  8 year veteran dad
4 years ago

I agree with you, it seems that being a good swim parent, in the eyes of some coaches, is a matter of staying out of the way as much as possible, and accepting whatever the coach does without comment. I understand why many coaches feel that way, knowing how disruptive even one parent can be. But this is thoroughly unrealistic, and omits the fallibility of coaches. God gave me these children; the coach is only guiding them in one aspect of their lives.

If your child has dropped from an AA swimmer to a B swimmer, shame on the coaches for not discussing it with your child. You were right to seek out other avenues.

Reply to  8 year veteran dad
4 years ago

Maybe coaches get too much credit for success and too much blame for failures. Thats my theory just like with the President of the usa. Also I have heard stories of the effort some kids put in at practice and I think it may shock you how little some kids try/train…ex skipping dryland, always sitting on the wall cause they dont feel well or going the bathroom 3x a practice etc. A coach is only going to affect performance by a certain amount so you should be open to the fact that your kid could be swimming close to his capability. If a kid is putting forth real effort and already in the water 5 days a week and swimming… Read more »

4 years ago

Maybe your kids aren’t that good. Or they don’t care and make you think they do.