Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
In few weeks, it will be that time of year when you’ll find yourself sitting in the stands at the season’s biggest meet. Your swimmer has been working for months and you’ve been doing your part to get them to and from practice on a daily basis—all in preparation for their target meet.
Some parents have kids who swim fast all year long and those kids get PBTs randomly throughout the year. Others of us see fast times only at “shaved and tapered” meets and we wait in anticipation to see how the taper and months of hard work pay off.
Here’re five things to think about before the big meet:
Keep expectations in check.
I’ve read that parents overestimate their children’s abilities and may have expectations that aren’t realistic. When we have too high of goals for our kids, they may have an excellent meet, but we don’t understand how good it was. Our swimmers may feel like they’ve let us down when they’ve done really well.
Don’t pressure your kids.
I used to talk to my kids about a big meet the week leading up to it. I’m sure my constant asking, “What’s your goal time?” “How are you going to race?” or “Do you see who is seeded ahead of you on the psych sheet?” wasn’t helpful. My constant worrying and asking questions put pressure on my kids. If I could redo those days, I’d stay quiet and listen.
Stay in control of the roller coaster.
Our emotions may run up and down during a target meet and be more exaggerated than during smaller meets. Don’t get too down if they don’t drop time or don’t make it back to finals. Remember all the good stuff they’re gaining by swimming and what a great experience this is for them.
Trust the process.
Encourage your child to trust their coach and work hard. If they’ve done the workouts, put in their best effort, and their coach has prepared them well, your child can be confident of a successful meet. Parents should relax, enjoy the process and feel confident, too.
Have fun and treasure the moment.
Sitting with your fellow swim parents in the stands, watching close races, and cheering on your child and teammates is an exciting part of being a swim parent. Have fun, don’t stress, and treasure the meet as though it’s the last. In no time at all, you’ll be at your swimmer’s last meet. Enjoy each step along the way.
What do you think parents should keep in mind at the big meet?
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.