7 Parent Tips for When Your Swimmer Doesn’t Make the Cut

by SwimSwam 3

May 31st, 2016 News

by Elizabeth Wickham

It’s a tense time for a lot of parents, swimmers and coaches. There’re a lot of hopeful athletes trying for the cut for the next big meet—whether it’s an age group meet or Olympic Trials. Tears, frustration and heartbreak can be seen all over the pool deck and in the stands. Then, there are shouts of “We’re going to Omaha!” and the biggest smiles ever. That’s wonderful and congratulations! But, when our child doesn’t make the cut, we may dab a few tears from our eyes.

Here are my tips for swim parents when your swimmer misses the big cut:


Unconditional Love.

“I love to watch you swim.” It’s true. We do love to watch our children swim—for better or worse. We are their biggest fans. We will love them no matter what happens at any swim meet. Let’s make sure they know that.


Listen don’t talk.

Don’t bring up the meet or the missed cut. Wait for them to bring it up and listen without interrupting. We don’t need to explain our theory of what their coach should have done or what our child could have done.


Don’t rehash.

After our kids miss a cut they’ve been trying for—they probably aren’t up to hearing our rendition of it. Not once, not twice, or the next times, either.


Encourage new goals.

Our lives are filled with disappointments and losses. If a swimmer sets new goals after a failure, they will be on the road to success in swimming and other aspects of their lives. If you don’t hear about new goals, maybe you can share some ideas in the future.


Give them space to regroup.

If it’s last ditch and they didn’t get a cut, a little time off could be a treat. If there’re more meets ahead, maybe an ice cream and hug is in order.


Disappointment is real.

Give your child time to mourn. Allow ourselves time to get over it, too. A lot of family time is tied to achievement and success around the pool deck.



Recognize our kids are in the hunt. They are doing something daily that very few others in the world can do. Be proud and realize that swimming will help them throughout their lives, in so many ways.

How do you support your child after they miss a big cut?

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

Your articles are ALWAYS right on! THANK YOU!!!

6 years ago

I can totally relate! Thank you for this article.
For the last year my son has been trying to get more JO cuts in his age group swim and to at least break a minute on his 100 breast stroke. Since sophomore year that was his goal before he finish senior year. It did not happen. I was hurt and I’m sure he was more hurt with it. He’s worked so hard, and I never understood why. I prayed so hard to ease the pain he’s feeling and maybe something better is planned for my son. We didn’t say anything to him, I guess our presence alone made him feel our love and support. We may never know the… Read more »

6 years ago

Good article – u must have some experience in this .