6 Tips for Swim Parents About Last Ditch 

by SwimSwam 3

June 13th, 2016 Club, Lifestyle

by Elizabeth Wickham

Every swim season has a last chance or ditch meet. I’ll never forget when my daughter competed with three other 9-year-olds for a final spot on the 10 and under JO relay. That was the first of many “last ditch” meets. How our swimmers react–whether they make the cut or not–depends in part on how we act as parents.

Here are a few tips for parents about last ditch meets:


It’s hard to make a cut at last ditch.

I’ve heard this from coaches and more experienced parents throughout the years. I believe its true, because there’s more pressure on our kids to perform. I’d love to see some stats to find out if this is fact or fiction. Anyone?


Our anxiety will be felt by our kids.

We can try to stay calm. We can be encouraging and not show disappointment. But, despite what we say to our kids, our true feelings will be seen in non-verbal cues.


It’s just another meet.

In the short term, this one meet will give your child rewards for their effort and sacrifice–or be a major disappointment. But, in the big scheme of swimming, it’s one meet and season out of many.


Focus on the process, not times.

Our kids are developing as people and swimmers. They could have a major breakthrough and drop heaps of time, but what if it’s not enough to make the cut? It’s important to remember they’re learning how to handle disappointment, persevere and be a good teammate.


Don’t talk about the money.

Yes, swimming can be expensive. We may be paying for hotels, meet fees, dues and private lessons. Our kids aren’t our employees and they don’t have to pay us back by making a cut. Let’s not make them feel guilty.


Be thankful for this meet.

Our kids are learning to perform under pressure. They are practicing a valuable life skill which will help them throughout their lives.

What are your thoughts about last ditch meets? Do you think it’s harder for swimmers to get their times at last ditch than other meets?

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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John Gilchrist
5 years ago

Number three is tougher with older swimmers who may have to taper to drop time because many teams/coaches only allow full tapers two or three times a year. I.e. its not just another meet, its the last chance to drop time for the next four months. Same thing, but longer perspective and higher stakes.

Agree about number one for younger swimmers (who don’t need taper), but a 16 year old on our team just made an OT cut on June 3 after struggling for several months. Seems he might be a taper swimmer now :^)

5 years ago

I still remember when my son needed to drop 3 or 4 seconds on the last ditch and he wasn’t expecting it and here I am just thinking he’s got a couple more years. And he did! That was the best time of his swimming years. No expectations. Just did his best and try not to expect anything.
Every year after that was painful coz it keeps getting harder and harder to get anymore cuts. With my daughter swimming now, I’ll try to just enjoy every meet and be there as a big supporter without any expectations.
Thank you for this article.

5 years ago

Just be glad that if they’re that close to cuts, they are a good swimmer. I’m so tired of the parents putting pressure on their 14/Under swimmers only to find out in HS they already hit their peak at 14….HS swim is long and frustrating when that happens, and when it actually matters.