4 Swim Parent Tips About Team Loyalty

by SwimSwam 21

March 15th, 2016 Club, Lifestyle

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

My kids have been disappointed when close friends left for another team. Our club experience hasn’t been perfect, but through the ups and downs, we stuck with our team. I’m curious why loyalty is important to some, but not to others. If we value loyalty, we will want our kids to be loyal, too. We want them to succeed, but also to be part of a bigger picture—adding to our community, not taking from it.

Has team loyalty taken a swan dive in the swimming world? In a few youth sports, it’s not uncommon to start each season on a newly assigned team, with new teammates and new parent volunteer coaches. Under those terms, team loyalty is difficult to develop. Fortunately, swimming is different, with families making a commitment to a team and coach for years—rather than a season.

Helicopter parents, who are overly focused on performance, may look for the next shiny medal on another team. Their kids may switch teams several times, only to discover the new team is not producing the results they hoped for. Plus, the move may be disruptive to children’s friendships, schedules and progress.

Here are four tips for parents about team loyalty:


Parents teach loyalty to their kids through their actions.

Do we stand by our extended family and friends? Do we offer help when they’re in need? Do we truly care about other people in our lives? Do we stand with our team and teammates, even if there is a problem? Remember, our children learn from our actions.


Do your homework before joining a team.

Look at joining a team the same way you’d select a school or neighborhood. Doing research before making a commitment—and not signing up because it’s the closest, or the biggest—will help with team loyalty. You want a team where your child has a chance at success, feels at home, and can grow as an athlete and person. You don’t want to switch teams because you didn’t do your homework first.


Don’t jump ship at a moment’s notice.

By staying with a team and trying to work through issues, we are role modeling how to work through problems—rather than running away when times get tough. Yes, there are good reasons to leave a team and find a better situation. But, I’m talking about small issues, like whether a coach thinks your child is ready to move up, or if they missed a certain cut or relay. Maybe you had a disagreement with a board or coach’s decision. Working through difficulties has benefits and teaches life lessons.


Loyalty isn’t as important as it once was.

These days, we have less loyalty to our employers, and vice versa. Loyalty seems less valued in our society than it was for our grandparents. However, I believe that loyalty is important for our children and their future. Loyalty will help them make commitments, be respectful and dedicated in relationships, schools and careers.

What do you see as the benefits of loyalty to a swim team? Do you agree that loyalty is not as valued as it once was?

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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Real Talk
5 years ago

In a world of coach owned teams focused on profits not kids and board run teams with parents who dominate the culture the idea of loyalty for most is the same a lepracons. It would be nice if I found one, but they aren’t real.

Reply to  Real Talk
5 years ago

Agree, most parents just do not know better or do not care. Buyer beware. If a team is bottom heavy it typically means they are focus on profit. Look for team that has very good senior relay team.

Reply to  Agree
5 years ago

Typically it doesn’t mean they are focused on profit.. Look at the structure of USA Swimming and realize there is a tremendous number of swimmers on the lower third..

Having great senior relays could mean great long term development, but it has nothing to do with loyalty. A great senior program could mean they have a great senior coach and kids have changed to that program as a result. if they are home grown, that’s one thing, but one cannot do a generalization based on meet results.

You are better off looking at how a team acts around each other at meets, particularly in terms of cheering/watching races, interaction, respect for each other/coaches/strangers. More can be said about the citizens… Read more »

Fa. cruz
Reply to  Agree
5 years ago

Love this articule. As parents we are teaching more than how to swim.

5 years ago

It’s what I teach my children everyday, to stay loyal even if sometimes it’s hard. As for our team we are blessed that we kept our loyalty through these years. In bad times, tough times and good times we stayed loyal for the sake of our children.
Great article Elizabeth!

5 years ago

I wouldn’t stay in a job that made me miserable, so why would I expect my child to spend their only childhood swimming for team they don’t like?

Reply to  Coachy
5 years ago

No one is asking that, but like life there are times where you have to work out problems. I would assume you are married, at the first sign of struggle are you going to get a divorce? No, you work things out because you don’t want to get divorced, correct? Just changing because something doesn’t go your way is no way to handle decisions, it teaches nothing and doesn’t prepare them for real life. There will come a time in life where you cannot simply walk away from a problem, like the marriage example.

If your child is miserable, then clearly there is something to that. If you look inward and have honest conversations and the only option to change… Read more »

Reply to  coacherik
5 years ago

COACHERIK, interesting analogy & one that cuts to the heart of the inherent conflict of interest that exists between the swimmer/parent unit and the club/coach unit. The likening of swim clubs to marriage underscores the common lack of understanding on both the part of parents & clubs that they are indeed involved in a fee for service relationship, regardless of whether it is coach-owned team or a team with a parent board. Clubs should strive to provide high value service, parents…you get what you pay for.

Reply to  MarriedWithSwimmers
5 years ago

This is why it is so hard when a coach leaves for another team. If there are multiple teams in the area you are not abandoning the community or sport, you’re simply choosing to spend your money for a different service provider. The grass is not always greener, but staying with an underperforming team that isn’t producing high level swimming and undervalues your kids is a horrible decision. This isn’t marriage this is AT&T vs Sprint. If your phone service, bank, restaurant experience, our grocery store goes down hill, no one thinks you should stay out of loyalty.
It’s difficult because there are kids involved, but we should teach our kids other important lessons about when to leave, how… Read more »

Mom of a swimmer
5 years ago

I agree 100%. We have 3 good swim clubs all within an easy drive. One is one of the biggest in the country and people are constantly asking us when we are going to switch. We are happy where we are, my daughter is doing very well and mostly we are loyal. For sure some coaches are better, I question some decisions they make, but all in all I believe in being loyal!

5 years ago

Usually I enjoy articles by this author, but I do not care for the tone of this one. To state that people do not value loyalty because they change teams is unfair and simplistic. As a parent of four swimmers who just changed teams, I can assure you that we value loyalty. There are legitimate reasons to change teams. Teams can change over time as coaches come and go. With our team, there was turnover of the coaching staff, less discipline and the discontinuation of a dryland program that led my older swimmers to ask to change teams. It was not a decision made lightly after being with the team for 6 years.

People also get into swimming not knowing… Read more »

Reply to  swimmermama
5 years ago

“Yes, there are good reasons to leave a team and find a better situation.”

Voice of Reason
Reply to  swimmermama
5 years ago

I agree with swimmermama– we were with a team for 4 years– it was great while it lasted, but then it wasn’t. The coaches only paid attention to the kids who paid for private lessons, my child was bullied by a few swimmers and was ready to quit the sport. My child is a very talented swimmer, but was MISERABLE with the team. We shopped the other teams in town and he found one team and said to me, “thanks for taking here mom, I now remember why I love to swim.” He is with his new team, shredding time and blissfully happy. So for you to say that switching teams is “disloyal” is rude and out of bounds. Every… Read more »

swim parent
5 years ago

We were really happy with our team, but then the head coach eliminated all of the fundraising and fees went up by 30-40%. In addition, they changed their policy so that one had to pay for an entire season (LC or SC) in full with no refunds if you left part way through the season, even if it was for medical reasons. So we switched because of economics, as have other families.

5 years ago

I agree loyalty is important to teach and see. Unfortunately the world of sports and free agency teaches youth something different. Additionally Corporate America doesn’t demonstrate loyalty either and so it goes. We do the best in these times to help the kids understand what loyalty is and can mean.
That being said, I do not think switching teams means you aren’t teaching loyalty. Swimmermama hits on most of it but I’d add that making the decision to move to a new team needs to be something that keeps the swimmer motivated and happy. It has to be the right time and circumstances. We have two children who swim and after 7 years on one team moved to a… Read more »

Reply to  swimparent101
5 years ago

I agree with your comments, and have seen many families changing teams hoping to look for the next shiny thing, while others made the change after much thoughtful consideration. Change teams for the right reasons and think about what you’re trying to get out of it for the entire family. A long time ago, I heard a great point “The grass isn’t always greener, they just use different fertilizer.”

5 years ago

Great article and discussion, one that needs to be addressed with any sport that children participate in. Team or club CULTURE may be a better description than loyalty, as culture plays a significant factor in determining your loyalty ( a strong feeling of support or allegiance) to the club. I am sure you can point to situations in life when you were loyal to a team, friend, brand or even a TV show when the outcome did not go the way you anticipated or wanted, but you stayed loyal.

I have watched parents make decisions to change programs based on predetermined metrics that they believe support the decision to move to another program. Team culture killers that influence these decisions….gossip,… Read more »

Reply to  SinkorSwim
5 years ago

Sinkorswim…. Best comment on this thread. As a coach of 25+ years and the parent of three swimmers and a baseball player… You nailed it!