Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham
As swim parents, swimmers and coaches, we know the importance of a good club team. I’m not sure every city manager or parks and rec department fully understand swimming and how a team enriches the fabric of their community. In my years as a swim mom and Masters swimmer, we’ve gone to city hall more than once to express the importance of keeping the pool open or to gain support for our team. Education and promotion of swimming throughout the community to non-swimmers and city staff can only help make our sport stronger.
Here are four ways a swim team impacts a city:
Life and death.
Swimming saves lives. According to the USA Swimming Foundation, “drowning is the 2nd leading cause of unintentional injury death, with the highest rates among children ages 1-4.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states “every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.” Swim teams help make kids and adults water safe with learn to swim programs.
Swim teams help their city by supporting the swim facility with long-term, year-round rental fees. When a team hosts a meet with close to 1,000 swimmers, those kids aren’t coming to town on their own. You’ll see mom and dad, and possibly siblings and grandparents, bringing closer to 3,000 or more people to stay in hotels, explore activities and dine in restaurants. A team that hosts successful meets can bring in millions of dollars to a city over time. The meet may be the first introduction for many families to your city and pool. If they have a great experience, they’ll tell their swim friends and come back.
Obesity in adults and children is at epidemic levels in our country. Keeping kids active is one of the best ways parents can impact the rest of their lives to be healthier. Swimming is one of the best exercises because it works our hearts and lungs, is low impact and builds strength because of water’s resistance. A swim team will teach children through adults how to swim, improve, and keep everyone motivated. It’s so much easier to work hard in the pool with a team rather than all alone. Plus, it’s a sport we can enjoy forever.
A swim team can open doors for kids to get into college. One of our former coaches who moved from Peru as a child said being on a swim team made it possible for him to go to college. Whether it’s earning a swim scholarship or opening a door, swim teams can propel student-athletes to find their spot in college.
What are other reasons why cities should support their swim teams?
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.