by Elizabeth Wickham
Watching Olympic Trials, I loved interviews with athletes almost as much as their races. I was especially impressed when swimmers thanked their parents. What wonderful people they are to acknowledge mom and dad during their moments of glory.
I’m thankful to know some of the most amazing swim parents ever. I’ve watched selfless acts, support and encouragement from many parents on deck—from brand new ones to the old guard. Their simple actions of generosity make a world of difference to team culture.
Here are a few amazing things I’ve seen parents do:
Get their kids to practice all the time.
I know one swimmer who missed practice less than five times from kindergarten through high school graduation. Her mom never complained about the busy schedule, sacrifice or the time and money invested. By the way, this swimmer now holds records at her D1 university.
Drive the car pool with a smile.
One parent drives swimmers—even if her child may be sick at home or at a study session. She doesn’t complain or back out, because she made a commitment to other families.
Help out financially.
One family paid for another family’s dues and meet fees because they heard they couldn’t afford it. They didn’t make a big deal of it and kept their gift anonymous. As a board member, I learned about this act of kindness.
Be there for distance swimmers.
As a parent of distance swimmers, I was surprised when someone stayed for distance events, long after everyone else headed home. One family and her kids cheered, timed and lap counted numerous times to our grateful appreciation.
Share knowledge and support.
Many families are eager to help out newer swimmers and parents—especially at their first meet. They are encouraging and genuinely interested in making other swim families feel welcome. This small, but key trait of not being focused only on your swimmer, makes a lasting impact on deck.
Volunteer above and beyond what is required.
A few families step up during meets and work the entire time from set up to tear down, which is truly amazing. One dad, who’s a former swimmer, became a certified coach and has volunteered daily for years long after his kids went to college. The knowledge and financial savings he’s provided to our team is immeasurable.
What amazing things have you seen swim parents do?
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.