6 Tips for Swim Parents on Why Swimmers Quit

by SwimSwam 65

May 27th, 2017 Club, Lifestyle, Opinion

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

Every year, tens of millions of kids sign up for sports in the United States. Several studies say that 70 percent of these kids will quit playing sports by age 13—and never play again. I wonder what the numbers are for swimming? And worldwide? I doubt it’s much better. Take a look at your swim team. You may notice less swimmers in their last years of high school than in younger age groups.

Why do kids quit swimming? The number one reason: “It’s no longer fun.” Kids would rather do something else. A former coach told me he lost many high school swimmers once they started dating or got a car.

Here are six parent tips on why kids think swimming is no longer fun:


Kids want to be with their friends.

If they don’t have a few close friends on their team, it can be hard. Maybe their close friends moved or switched teams. Teammates can help make practice fun. Hopefully, team bonding is encouraged and there are fun activities that bring teammates together.


Too much parental pressure—or not enough!

Parenting is a balancing act. We cannot be overly, emotionally invested in our kids’ performance. Yet, we have to be interested enough to get our kids to practice and meets and watch once in awhile. I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum and either one can take the fun out of swimming for your child.


The drive home.

I’ve read countless articles that say the ride home from a competition can be the reason why kids quit. Parents may rehash what their children did well and what they need to work on. They might criticize the coach or officials and blame them for less than stellar results. Experts recommend letting your kids have some time to let their own thoughts sink in. You may want to say something like, “I love watching you swim,” or “What did you like about today?” What worked for us was blasting our kids’ favorite music all the way home and inviting their friends for the drive, too.


Not getting any better.

If your swimmer is comparing themselves with teammates, he or she may feel they aren’t good enough. It’s only natural that kids will compare. They are in the lanes with their teammates and competing with them at meets. Kids are all different and they improve at different ages. But, it’s hard for your swimmers to stay passionate if they don’t believe in themselves.


Too much homework.

Not all kids can handle four to five hours of homework or more per night, practice every afternoon, plus a.m. practice. Some kids thrive with a demanding schedule, but it’s not for everyone. It all depends on the child. I enjoyed teachers who understood kids have busy lives and did all their work in class. Too bad there aren’t more teachers with that attitude.


The coach.

Your kids may lose a coach they connected with. Or, your swimmers may think their coach has favorites and they aren’t one of them. Coaches can lead the way to success and help your swimmer improve, but as one of my kids’ coaches explained, “You swim because you love it. You cannot let a coach determine how you feel about swimming.”

At some point, our kids will decide if swimming is their passion, and if it is, nothing will keep them out of the pool.

Why do you think swimmers quit at age 13 or older?

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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4 months ago

I can completely relate to all of this (including this thread, as well). I am someone who is also older than 13 and speaking from experience, once I hit 13, I stopped liking swimming. I wanted to do more socially, academically, and other things in other areas and swimming was preventing me from accomplishing this. I do still swim and I REALLY want to quit. I swim 6 days a week with meets with my club, along with meets with my school. The problem is that I have asthma and swimming is said to be the only thing that helps improve my asthma. I feel as if I’ve lost all motivation and all love for this sport. I feel pressured… Read more »

I have a love hate relationship with swimming lol
4 months ago

This is a VERY old thread, but i can definitely relate. i’m turning 13 soon, and i already have 6 days a week, plus dryland, as well as the bi-monthly meet which puts me up to 7 days a week twice a month. I feel tired, and not as much passion for the sport anymore. I’d like to do it less, or take a break and come back later. the worst days are morning ones for me, and i almost never leave practice feeling refreshed or ready for the rest of the day. I feel the pressure to succeed and make my parents proud, specifically from my grandparents and my dad, and as much as i dont want to let… Read more »

Pieter van der Bouwijn
4 years ago

I know this is an old thread but I wanted to add my reason for leaving my swim team. I started puberty when I was eleven, and I developed pretty quickly. By the time I was thirteen I had very hairy legs and hair in my underarms. Like all the other boys I shaved to go along with the gang, and because our coach made such a big deal out of it. I think he enjoyed the shaving parties we had a little too much but that’s not the reason I left the team. Shaving didn’t make any difference in my swimming because I’m not all that fast, but I have great endurance. What really bothered me was that after… Read more »

Niamh Hope
4 years ago

I am a swimmer and 13 years old and the reason I want to quit is because I don’t know if I have the same belief in it as I did when I first started – 7 years old. I am finding it hard to know if I want to quit because I feel I will miss my friends but also it has been a big part of my life.

13 Year Old That Lost Love For Swimming
4 years ago

Honestly, another reason why kids quit swimming is because, they just dont have a passion for it anymore. The kids dont enjoy being at practice or dont have the drive to even attend. Personally this is my issue. I have only gone to 1 practice in 3 weeks, and ive really enjoyed these 3 weeks. I still love swimming, but not competitively. I dont want to have to go to morning practice 3 times a week and afternoon 6 times a week. I just want to do swimming for my high school twice a week, so i stay fit and can still do the sport ive been practicing for 5 years. Personnally i dont go to practice anymoe because i… Read more »

Mum of a 11 year old swimmer
4 years ago

I have a daughter and over the last few weeks she has being saying how she hates competitive swimming and everything to do with it , should I let her quit because I don’t want to teach her that she can quit when she wants

Gabi (teen swimmer)
Reply to  Mum of a 11 year old swimmer
4 months ago

this is a REALLY old comment but to be honest, i think you should. I dont know if commitment is an issue for her or not, but if quitting isnt a consistent behaviour then i would think about it too much, and if it is, then id still let her quit; physical overexertion isnt how you prove a point regarding commitment, and you could still talk to her about being reliable and committing in a separate situation. hopefully you dont need this 4 years later lmao

Dan D.
5 years ago

I love swimming, but if there’s one thing that sometimes makes it really hard to love the sport, it’s excessive homework. I totally understand the importance of some homework, but excessive “busy work” drives me crazy. I’m a highschool Junior and I take dual enrollment classes at a local college to earn college credit. The homework assigned by the college is nothing compared to some of the monotonous filler work that my highschool classes assign. There’s no point for this kind of excessive homework. In fact, the jury is still out about whether or not homework is effective! A lot of studies suggest that homework is pointless.

5 years ago

Why I feel as though I should quit swimming is because I wasn’t built for the sport my body is absolutely not made for swimming, I have a small torso small feet small hands with not even a big arm span