Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
Swimming is a great sport for building character in our kids. As supportive swim parents, we rearrange calendars and vacations to accommodate the swim schedule. What do we get in return? I’m not talking about college scholarships, but how does being a swim parent make us a better person?
- Discipline. We take our kids to practice all the time. Monday through Saturday—and for meets, Sundays, too. We also drive in the wee hours for practices.
- Volunteering. We step out of our comfort zones and take on new roles to help our team. Mine included asking businesses for donations—plus public speaking at parent meetings. You jump in and do what needs to be done. Volunteering makes us good citizens and role models for our kids.
- Less is More. We learn that the swimming pool is a place to step back and let our children figure things out for themselves. Sometimes, it takes a coach to give us a hint to do so.
- Patience. Swimming teaches us to be patient. We wait at practice. Wait for kids to finish their showers. Wait for best times. Wait at swim meets to watch our swimmer swim for a few minutes.
- Good sportsmanship. By cheering for other swimmers, we can model good sportsmanship for our kids. Also, by watching a few parents, we learn how not to behave.
- Humility. No matter how proud we are of our kids, we learn there are faster, more talented swimmers. Once you start going to meets, you find out about faster meets with more swimmers. It never stops. A record holder—at any level—will get that record broken.
- Appreciation. I’m impressed with how hard my kids work. They work to achieve goals without immediate success. I wonder if I could have been a student athlete?
- Community. Is there a stronger community than swimming? Swimmers and swim parents are family.
What have you learned as a swim parent to make you a better person? Please share.
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/.