Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
While we’re on vacation, I’m going to swim Masters with a team in the town we’re visiting. I’m nervous about it. What if it’s way too much yardage? What if the swimmers are way younger and faster? Why did I think this was a good idea? My anxiety is ironic because in the past when we went out of town, I had my kids swim with other teams all the time. I never considered that they might be uncomfortable or nervous. In fact, I thought it was good for them in terms of their growth to meet new kids, learn from new coaches and be out of their comfort zones. I guess it’s my turn now for growth.
In spite of a couple of less than perfect experiences, they made life-long friends with a coach and swimmers—and they got their workouts in.
Here are four tips for parents to make your children’s experience easier:
Finding a team.
If you’re going out of town, ask your coach for a recommendation of a team to train with. If your coach doesn’t have a connection, look up teams on USA Swimming’s website. If there are several in the area, I check to see if any are bronze, silver or gold medal clubs.
Email the coach.
Let the team know in advance when your kids will be visiting. I also let them know my kids’ times or level, so the coach knows what group would be a good fit. There will be less confusion for your family if you already know the team’s practice schedule. Some teams charge for visitors while others do not—another good thing to know in advance.
Follow the team’s rules.
I embarrassed myself when I took my kids to a big team in Orange County, CA and sat myself down with a book in the bleachers. It was against this team’s policy to have parents on the pool deck. If I’d done a little homework, I would have known that. Also, I’ve seen visiting parents talk to coaches or correct their kid’s technique–during practice.
Embrace guest swimmers.
I asked my kids what they thought about swimming with other teams while we were vacationing. They had good and bad experiences. Two teams they disliked because the swimmers never spoke to them. On a team that welcomed them with open arms, they made lifelong friends with several swimmers and the coach. I know their experiences taught them to be friendly and welcoming to swimmers who visit our team.
What experiences have your swimmers had when they drop in with other teams during vacation?
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.