6 Things Parents of Non-Swimmers Don’t Understand

by SwimSwam Contributors 5

November 07th, 2016 Lifestyle, Opinion

By Elizabeth Wickham

I was criticized more than once by parents of non-swimmers and teachers because of my kids year-round commitment to swimming. Arent you worried that your kids lives are too narrow? they asked.

No, actually, I was not. Did these parents think my children’s lives were restricted to a 2.5-meter lane between two lane lines? Yes, my kids did make sacrifices. But, I think that is true of anyone who has a passion. Life is full of choices. These parents and teachers didnt understand the numerous benefits my kids gainedand how swimming made their world bigger. Whether or not my kids swam was their choice. How much commitment they put into it was directed by them.

Here are six things my kids gained by swimming and why swimming didnt narrow their lives:



Coming from a small school, my kids developed friendships with swimmers from schools all over our valleywith kids ages six to the senior swimmers on their team. At club meets, they made friends from all over the state. They met swimmers from throughout the country at big meets. In college, there’s an opportunity to become friends with international swimmers.



Weekend meets meant exploring new towns and cities. My kids learned about cities by their pools, parks and local restaurants. My daughters swimming took her away from Southern California to Washington, Texas, North Carolina and Mexico.


Time Management and Goals

Hours in the pool, school, homework plus balancing volunteering and a social life meant my kids learned better time management skills than non-swimmers. They had to. They also learned about short-term and long-term goals from their coaches.



My kids learned that every practice and race would not go as planned. They were in a safe environment where they could fail, pick themselves up and dive right back inoften using a bad race to fuel success the next time around.



Whether it was ultimate frisbee for dry land, sharks and minnows after practice or endless games of speed under the pop-up tent at meets, the kids had a blast. Even early morning practices can be fun when it’s a shared experience with friends.


Activity for Life

I dont think non-swimming parents realize that swimmers have a sport they can pursue for the rest of their lives. They can enjoy camaraderie similar to club and college teams when they join masters. Plus, theyll stay fit and healthy for life because of this wonderful activity called swimming.

Do you find that swimming enriches childrens livesor does it make it too narrow?


Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, elizabeth-wickhamfundraiser, 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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4 years ago

I can totally relate!
I get criticized a lot for making my kids swim all year and limiting social life. Little do they know it has been a part of my kids life, they DO NOT like to miss practice. Little do they know our kids have social life around swimming, before and after practice, during swim meets and most of their best friends are from the swim team.

Annette Erskine
Reply to  SwimMom
4 years ago

I am lost for words that anyone would think a child is limiting their lives by swimming. NEED say no more because all benefits are well covered by all the above.

4 years ago

Same here. It was my kids choice to swim and to put the effort forth, not mine. And I echo all of Elizabeth’s points. Through middle school and high school it was the friends at the pool that mitigated some of the drama at school. Not that there was never any drama at the pool, but the breadth of friendships forged with kids from other towns went a long way toward helping to keep them happy. Now that one is swimming in college we are quickly seeing the benefit for him of the camaraderie on the team. Not disparaging in any way those kids who pursue multiple activities, but for mine the focus has paid many dividends.

4 years ago

I have been critzed many times over many years by non swim parents and teacher including a head teacher for my child being a dedicated swimmer and I totally agree to all the things stated. Especially when my daughter achieves high grades at school which I partly think is because she has to efficiently manage her time to complete her homework and has done for the past 6 years. To swim has always been her choice not mine but the head teacher along with other teachers accused me of forcing her to swim.

Michelle Lombana
4 years ago

You cover some excellent points. There is no doubt my son learned time management due to the rigors of his year-round swimming schedule. He also knows how to set a goal and to give everything he has in order to attain it. And, even more importantly, he knows how to pick himself up and set new goals if he does experience failure.

These skills have also helped my son transition to college as a Division I swimmer. Many of his fellow freshmen are struggling to learn how to manage their time as they balance classes, studying and a social life. He has been through it all before.

Also, waking up for early morning swim practice all those years… Read more »