7 Swim Sayings for Swim Parents

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

Have you noticed that swimming lingo works its way into other areas of your life? As a swim family, we often used analogies from the pool when we talked with our kids about schoolwork. If our kids were close to finishing a project, or studying for an exam but were tempted to give up or quit, we’d say, “But you’re under the flags!” If non-swimming families heard this, they’d probably think we were nuts. At least we didn’t hold a stopwatch and time them at their chores.

Here are seven expressions swim parents use in everyday life that relate to swimming:


You’re under the flags.

This is a great saying when your kids are near completing something—whether it’s a science fair project or class. You’re trying to tell them not to ease up or take it easy. They’re almost done, so go for it.



Keep on kicking.

Never give up is what this expression is all about. You’ll make progress in the pool with a strong kick. In life in general, if we keep on kicking, we’ll make progress, too.



Keep your head down.

Staying focused and out of trouble can be accomplished by keeping your head down. By lifting our head in the pool, we may get a breath of air, but our body will sink and it gets harder to swim. In school or work, sometimes we have to keep our heads down to get the job done without distractions.



Can’t make withdrawals until you make deposits.

This is an expression we used in swimming to tell our kids they needed to put in the hard work before they reaped rewards. Think of every practice as a bank deposit and best times as withdrawals. It’s true in other aspects of our lives, too, that success isn’t an accident but the result of much hard work.



Sink or swim.

This famous idiom literally means to fail or succeed entirely by one’s own efforts. In life and the pool, you could get thrown into a situation and what you make out of it is all up to you.



Swim your own race.

Some swimmers go out fast and others are back-halfers. We have to swim our own race and not get caught up with swimmers around us. In life, it’s best if we follow our own course and live our lives without worrying about what others are doing.



Finish strong.

So many races are won by a strong finish, by a fingernail or fraction of a second. Finishing strong is great advice for work, school, and any other endeavor. Finishing is an accomplishment in itself.


What swimming expressions have found their way into your everyday life?

Elizabeth 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: http://bleuwater.me/.

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4 years ago

I have to remind myself daily to practice my own practice. As a masters swimmer I sometimes get a little preoccupied seeing what the next lane is doing and no matter how fast or slow they are only my practice affects my outcomes. Thanks for the reminders of how swimming infiltrates our daily lives.