6 Things I’d Do Over as a Swim Parent

by SwimSwam 14

July 25th, 2016 Club, Lifestyle, Opinion

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 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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Just Another Opinion
6 years ago

All great points.

6 years ago

I would like to do over my swimming from I started. I am only 13, but I didn’t take swimming seriously until 2015 September and have yet to qualify for State Champs individually. I didn’t do a summer season before this one, and only did one spring season. And the spring season, my attendance was like 2 days a week, plus no dryland. I sucked at swimming. If I could take it back… well, I’m a loser. Let’s see what happens next season 🙂

dumb mom
6 years ago

This makes me smile….I look back and see how innocent and dumb we were as parents. One parent asked me what we feed our swimmer to make her fast. She was under 10. I said she likes Pop tarts and fruit loops for breakfast. I didn’t understand until so much later that mom was asking for food tips from me. Went to the state age group championship meet and couldn’t find our swimmer in the heat sheet….another nice parent told us..”.your swimmer is here..” then proceeded to introduce us to circle seeded heats. that summer the kid won the 10 and under 50 state title in her best stroke.. We’re now at the complete other end…finished with college NCAAs and… Read more »

Ruby Khalid
6 years ago

Thanks for sharing. It is informative for parents indeed.

Gail chin
6 years ago

I did enjoy it all. So did the kids! In their 40’s and still swimming. One still competitive!

6 years ago

Don’t forget Number 7 – Take child out of swimming and put him/her in music classes.

Swim Mom Yo
6 years ago

I see too many kids, urged by their parents and some coaches, especially 10 and unders and 11-12’s, who equate winning with fun. These are the kids who give up the sport at 11-12 or 13-14 because they don’t win, therefore, it’s not fun anymore and that’s sad and not the kid’s fault. It’s the parents and coaches who fail to keep it in perspective that these are children with growing bodies and growing minds. Let them be kids, coming in second, fifth, tenth, is awesome. An 11 year old is not the swimmer or the person they will be at 15.

Swim Mom
6 years ago

This is a great list! I agree that we can all enjoy the ride a little more and focus less on performance. One great thing I learned from other parents, as a new swim parent (we started late), was to take a long view and focus more on progress and development. So when my kid was one of the slowest on the team, they helped me celebrate each time drop the same way we celebrated the fastest swims on the team.