By Elizabeth Wickham
Do you ever look back and think, I wish I could have done that differently? Don’t get me wrong, I love being a swim parent and truly believe that signing my kids up for our local club, the Piranha Swim Team, was one of the best things we’ve done for them. But, I wish I knew 15 years ago, what I know today.
As a swim parent, I’m proud that we stuck with our team during ups and downs. My kids learned to never give up through tough times—whether it was an illness, a plateau or learning what a new coach expected. They learned technique and how to be good teammates. Plus they are physically fit—which I’m sure will be a part of the rest of their lives.
So what would I do differently? Here’s my list:
Too much focus on performance.
Sometimes, I get too caught up in big meets and best times. I wish I could have kicked back, relaxed and enjoyed the little moments more.
Stay out of parent drama.
Like most sports today, where you find a bunch of enthusiastic and involved parents, there’s bound to be some drama. As a board member, sometimes I had to address it head on. If I could do it over, I wouldn’t take sides or get involved.
Realize everybody is different.
Not every swimmer has the same drive or goals. Not every family is going to focus their lives around the pool. It’s okay for some kids to skip practice and have other interests besides school and swimming.
Listen to my kids.
Instead of expressing my opinions and thoughts, I wish I’d stepped back and listened more. I would have discovered earlier that my son enjoyed swimming, but his passion was somewhere else. Driving to practice and meets would have been an ideal opportunity to stay quiet and listen.
Not compare my kids to others.
When my kids were young and new to swimming, it was common for us to compare their progress to other swimmers. Things that seemed so big at the moment, were only a fleeting moment in time.
Enjoy every moment of the process.
The years go by so quickly. The friends made with other parents, coaches and officials are ones to treasure. Enjoy it all.
Looking back, is there anything that you would do differently as a swim parent?
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.