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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Individual Sportster
6 years ago

Here is one… if your swimmer is a faster swimmer, make sure you encourage your faster swimmer to not be a jerk by making the kids that are slower feel horrible about themselves.

6 years ago

Great advice!

6 years ago

Our swimmer is now swimming at the college level and I really miss my days of joining her in hotels across the country for travel meets (well some cities and hotels don’t’ miss!) . Enjoy the ride while it lasts – being a college swim parent is fun but not quite the same because your swimmer is much more independent!

Crazy mom
8 years ago

As a former swimmer I was surprised when my children followed in my fins. The best thing I ever did for them was to become a meet manager. It requires me to be on the computer throughout the meet so my kids don’t experience my nosiness and unwanted advice! I’ve even offered to continue to run the meets after my youngest goes to college.
One of my favorite memories will always be when my son got a senior national cut and not only did I cry but so did the other swim moms at the meet.

Swim Giggles LLC
8 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! 🙂

8 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
6 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!

8 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
8 years ago

Thanks! You made my day!

8 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
6 years ago

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