6 Tips on How to Be a Happy Swim Parent

by SwimSwam 17

August 17th, 2017 Lifestyle, Opinion

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

I’ve read some stories from softball and soccer parents about how happy they are when the season is finally over and they no longer have to drive their kids to practice and games. One mom blogged about how happy she was because life was finally back to “normal.” As swim parents, we don’t have that luxury. We don’t have a “season” of swimming like other sports parents. We have short course and long course seasons and a couple-week break. We definitely don’t have a “normal” schedule for our families. I wanted to tell the softball mom blogger that she’d never cut it as a swim mom.

One of the happiest moments as a swim parent is when our child drops time. We’re happy when our swimmer reaches a goal of a coveted Age Group, JO, Sectional or Junior cut. It’s easy to smile when our kids are elated, right? We also need to be encouraging when things aren’t going so swimmingly. I truly believe that if we enjoy the process, our kids will, too.

Here are my tips on how to be happy as a year-round swim parent:


Don’t treat each meet like it’s life or death.

There will be good meets and bad meets, good swims and less than stellar ones. Don’t get too caught up in the moment, but look towards the big picture.


Don’t compare your swimmer with teammates.

It’s easy to wonder why your kid isn’t making the same progress as their friends. All kids are different and they learn and develop in their own time. I promise that comparing your swimmer’s times with others will not make you happy.


Cheer loudly for other swimmers.

Being enthusiastic for your child’s teammates will help you focus less on your own kid. Spread positive energy on the pool deck and encourage other swimmers’ success.


Invite the team over to your house.

Some of my favorite swim mom moments were having the entire team over for a potluck, cooking spaghetti for the senior group, or having the girls over to paint t-shirts for a big age-group meet. Make some happy memories.


Get your swimmer to practice consistently.

Your swimmer will not experience success and will be frustrated if their practice is hit and miss. The only way to get better in this sport is to be there and put in the hard work on a daily basis. There are no short cuts.



Busy parents are happy parents. I believe that being involved will give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that you’re giving back to your team and this great sport.

What are your tips on how to be a happy 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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6 years ago

It’s sad to say my son has his last year of swimming. I enjoy every moment of it even though he’s only done it for 4 years. I still have my daughter’s last 5 years and will definitely embrace every moment. Enjoy every time I take her to swim practice and watch how they bond laugh and talk before they get in the water. Enjoy every swim meet, volunteer every home meet. Help my son organize his last few team bonding at home or anywhere they like. And show my daughter to love every moment of being a swimmer!

6 years ago

GREAT ADVICE!! My kiddo and I have a very strong bond that I completely attribute to his years swimming, and me volunteering, having swimmers over for breakfast or pizza, holing up in hotels for travel meets, and being simply PROUD of his drive, no matter what his time was. Being a swim parent was a great time in my life!

Zaira Diehl
6 years ago

I love to read everything about what make me a better swimming Mom.

6 years ago

What kind of PsychoDad would I be if I let these happy go lucky moms rule this comments page. So, here are my 5 tips how to be a happy swim (psycho) parent:

1. Drop your child to the swim meet pool and head to nearest bar to enjoy swimming in single malt.
2. Pretend you did not notice out of town meet announcements on the swim club page.
3. Encourage your child to skip Monday night practice so that you can watch Monday Night Football.
4. Buy second hand swim suits for your child
5. Avoid other swim parents like Donald Trump questions about foreign policy

Reply to  PsychoDad
6 years ago

My husband of 3 girls couldn’t agree more with your sarcasm

Reply to  PsychoDad
6 years ago


6 years ago

My tip:

1. Make friends with other swim parents ~ you’ll be spending LOTS of time together. A cohesive team is a happy team and happy swimmers are fast swimmers.

About Psychodad’s (#1) comment above, LOL! We love prelim/finals meets for this reason. A group of parents often find a sports bar to kill a few hours between prelims & finals session.

Mr G
Reply to  A-SwimMom
4 years ago

You drive your children to back to the pool for finals while intoxicated? At least we knew PsychoDad was joking.

6 years ago

I love you – and your articles. They are the best! Thanks for all you do for us swim parents!

Elizabeth Wickham
Reply to  Vicki
6 years ago

Thanks! You made my day!

6 years ago

Don’t know every single time, how much time they need to drop for a higher meet standard. Sometimes it is just nice to cheer your kid on, knowing he is doing well. If he wins the race but doesn’t hit a harder time standard, so what! He still won his race and should be happy! And so should you!

Becoming an official was the best thing I could have done. It gave me a chance to become friends with parents of swimmers from other teams, it gave me a different social group that the one at our own pool, it made me NOT focus on my kid as much. When both my kids were swimming on a club, it took… Read more »

Sane Swim Parent
Reply to  Antonia
4 years ago

A big thumbs up on being an official. It makes the meet go a lot faster, you’re not sitting in the stands surrounded by crazy, and you get to meet people outside your own team. Started officiating a couple of years ago, and so glad I did!

Swim Giggles LLC
6 years ago

Right now I’m a part-time coach. I really enjoy it. I let other coaches coach my children, but when they enter high school, I’ll look into the official side for the meets. Please don’t make me just sit there! Happy swimming! 🙂