The 8 Swim Parents You See at Your Local Swim Meets

  186 Olivier Poirier-Leroy | January 08th, 2016 | Featured, International, Lifestyle, Masters

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers. Sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by clicking here.

There’s at least one at every swim meet.

That parent.

The one you purposely avoid, the one you rue having to make small talk with. This parent comes in many forms and shapes, and not only is a parent for someone on another team, but is also often a parent from your club. Sometimes this parent is you.

While some of the following swim parent stereotypes may infuriate and annoy us, they also provide some amusement and entertainment when our own kids aren’t in the pool.

Here are 8 different swim parents that grace the decks at our local swim meets–

1. Cpt. Obvious. Exuberant, loud and shrill, this parent’s version of cheering runs the gamut of things that are all too apparent—

“Pull harder!”

“Kick harder!”

“Swim harder! Swim faster!”

On behalf of swimmers (and nearby spectators) everywhere: Uh, yeah, thanks. Note that when stating the obvious volume is key and necessary to earn this ironic title. Sometimes a simple “Go!” is more effective than “Pull harder than your contemporaries in the lane next to you who also appear to be swimming at a rapid pace in the hopes of gaining same objective as you!”

2. The Chin Hair Puller. Quiet, thoughtful and analytical, this parent is quietly judging, counting, noting, judging, always judging, but keeping their thoughts to themselves. They know their kids’ competition splits and stroke rates by heart and are quietly plotting the rest of their kid’s season while the rest of us are just wondering when that snack tray is going to make the rounds again. Look for a copy of Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” nearby.

3. Ari Gold. This parent is part authority figure, part business manager. They know for a fact that their kid is going to the Olympics. Which one? All of them. They have one eye on their smartphone seeking out prospective endorsement deals and the other on potential areas where the brand (a.k.a. the product, the money, the swimmer) can vertically integrate. The parent-agent is frequently locked in a daydream of the potential millions their 7 year old is bound to make.

4. Mr. Positivity. Even though their kid just had the worst swim of their life, this parent is so aghast at the thought of his or her kid losing self-confidence that they will sugar coat it until the very end. “It’s okay Timmy, no one saw your suit come off! Or your DQ! And I am sure that no one would ever to think about posting the video on social media! You’re still my sugary honey bunny to me! Love you!” Positivity is good and great, but sometimes levity instead of faux optimism can be just what is needed to defuse a crappy swim.

5. The Shrieker. Otherwise calm and composed, this swim parent seems to lose all sense of dignity and shame the moment their child hits the water. This shrieking is usually on full and slightly embarrassing display when the athlete re-watches their race later on a friend’s iPhone, insuring the well being and use of mute buttons everywhere.

6. The Tomato. It’s understandable—it’s difficult not to get wrapped up in the awesome intensity that is a kid swimming laps back and forth. But for the tomato, this face-exploding experience borders on evidence for mandatory anger management. The rage materializes in a vein-popping redness that causes sunburns at a distance of ten feet, severe burns within 3 feet. Approach with caution if child has swum below expectations. Is a known cause of jeez-it’s-only-a-sport-man-itis with passerby.

7. The Nail-Chewer. It’s amazing this parent still has thumbs. Or hands, really. Quiet and reserved, they extoll their anxiety via chewing what is left of their thumbs. (Advanced nail-chewers typically graduate to the pinky and index fingers when the thumb nail is “not in the game.”)

8. The Stopwatch. A coach’s nightmare. Will generally walk away after their kids’ swim mumbling about how they coulda, woulda, shoulda coached their kid to a better time. Seems to know better than coach, often gives contradictory advice, and is frequently caught peering over coach’s shoulder at stroke rate, splits and so on for not only his or her swimmer, but also the competition.

Any other swim parents you see on deck at swim meets? Let us know in the comments below!

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186 Comments on "The 8 Swim Parents You See at Your Local Swim Meets"


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beachmouse
2 years 4 days ago

My mother was the Colorado Whisperer for her uncanny ability to keep just about any ancient timing system functional and acceptably accurate long past its normal expiration date. There were a few teams that paid her to keep coming back to run their meet timing systems after her kids were gone for the local scene because she could nurse it through to the bitter end of the session.

John
2 years 4 days ago

“The Ex”- a parent who was a swimmer as a child. The least competitive and least accomplished ex-swimmers are normally the most vocal of this group. Their 2-3 years of country club swimming has given them more wisdom than most coaches gain over the course of an entire career. The Ex also has magical ability to still improve on their best times: “I went a 1:10 100 IM when was 10 years old”. Same parent speaking a couple months later, “My 100 IM time was a 1:06 when I was 10 years olds”.
The Ex can comes in the form of a former NCAA All-American who never talks about swimming and avoids the pool at all cost. He is often the target of many of the above parents who seek out his opinion on their child’s potential.

Lisadmonroe
1 year 4 months ago

I am the ex who can’t stand to be in the stands. I breeze in and out in perfect time just to see my daughter swim. My best times vary depending on the point I am trying to make. Eg: I couldn’t break a minute for 4 yrs, then went 58.0. Reality: best time 1:01

swim coach
2 years 4 days ago

8a. the parent-“coach.” the parent who has their child come to them for critiquing before and after a race, before the the swimmer goes to the coach. when the swimmer doesn’t perform, the parent-coach blames the actual coach, even if the parent-coach gave the bad advice. and when the swimmer performs well, it’s all the parent-coach’s advice.

hschler
2 years 4 days ago

You forgot the parent that becomes an official so as not to have to sit in the stands with parents mentioned above!

RTS
2 years 4 days ago

Exactly! I’ve been an official for ten years and love it.

Off I. Cial
2 years 4 days ago

Swim parents are the reason we have volunteer officials! An escape route :). Go blue

Andrew McDonald
1 year 6 months ago

I know several of them.

Swimmom
1 year 4 months ago

I have been an official for 4 years, and plan on staying on deck, those stands can get ruthless!

my2swimmers
1 year 4 months ago

Yes! ! Officiating keeps me on deck with best view of the pool and away from drama/criticism about coaches or other parents in the stands.

Mom2boys
1 year 4 months ago

SOOO correct!! The pool deck is the best place to be! I HATE the stands.

anon
1 year 4 months ago

I preferred to sit on deck and watch the events instead of sitting with the Team parents and was criticized by the coach for doing so.

W3T
4 months 18 days ago

Parents don’t belong on the deck unless they are doing a job that requires them to be there (officiating, timing, etc.). If you are sitting on the deck doing nothing, you are a distraction and are doing nothing that will help your child.

GO TIDE
4 months 18 days ago

I’m the parent official so I don’t have to be Parents 1-8!

Jennifer
2 years 4 days ago

The Whistler-possibly kin to 8a. parent-coach. Usually these folks sit behind me and choose to whistle in my ear through the entire breaststroke race.

strkswim
2 years 4 days ago

A few are missing:

1. The “before dawn and after dusk chauffeur”
2. The “short order cook”
3. The “banker with funding for training, suits, meets”
4. The “academic counselor who helps with studying”
5. The “wellness facilitator” who handles illness, Dr. appointments, PT
6. The “volunteer” (timer, official, meet marshall, hospitatilty, computers, posting, set up, clean up) who,wthout there would be no swim meets

Unless Mr. Poirier-Leroy was independently weathy at age 8 and hired people to perform all the above services, his success was contigent on the love and support of the very people he is making fun of above (and the very people he is trying to sell his product too. Good luck with that.)

Shame on Swim Swam for publishing something so offensive.

Peace Out
2 years 4 days ago

STRK

You’re serious about this being offensive? You’re a wet blanket. You must have seen a bit of yourself in each one of the writer’s list of parents. And, I guess you are one of the parents who wants to give each child a medal or ribbon even if they come in 24th out of 24 swimmers just so their feelings don’t get hurt?

FaceMelter
2 years 3 days ago

The STRKSWIM. That swim parent that is a hybrid of all swim parents, #1-8

Coach
2 years 4 days ago

Offensive?? Everyone in this country is so offended about everything… it’s absurd… It’s tongue and cheek on a PG level… Get over yourself.

mcmflyguy
1 year 4 months ago

i’m offended… your comment should be rated pg-13

STRKSWIM's Kid
2 years 4 days ago

You come across to me as the tomato. Someone I wouldn’t want to be around after I swim.

Dan
2 years 4 days ago

Maybe the “takes credit for their kid’s accomplishments as though it’s their own” parent? This is all great stuff, but I think it falls into the realm of stuff you are supposed to do as a parent.

Red
2 years 4 days ago

This makes me laugh. You take things way too seriously. Get over it. All parents cheer loudly or whistle or encourage. They want the best for their kids. But to say this is offensive you are too higly strung.

strkswim
2 years 4 days ago

You all are mssing the point entirely. What I find offensive is that an athlete whose success was dependent upon parental support, who is aiming to make a career on that very sport would belittle the same parents who were part of the community that contributed to his success. Maybe they were not HIS parents (but he seems to have a very good grasp on these folks) but they were the timers behind his lane, the officials running the meet and on and on.

My kids are long gone from this sport but ran the spectrum of summer league to National team. we could care less about their achievments. What mattered to us was supporting their goals whatever they were. The knew that and still appreciate our support.

It is and always will be offensive to belittle those that support the infrastructure of a sport.

Off I. Cial
2 years 4 days ago

What I find offensive is your lead sentence.

mcmflyguy
2 years 3 days ago

I’m offended, because i’m not on this list. I demand an apology.

likeswimminglikecoachinglikeswimcoaching
1 year 11 months ago

i think you may have been looking for the “parentofswimwam.com” which is totally different than the “swimswam.com” site…this site is for “swimmers” & “swammers”

JoeMomma
1 year 4 months ago

Guys, STRKSWIM’s comments are narcissistic. He / she alone is responsible for their child’s athletic accomplishments, much like Psychodad is responsible for his son’s perfect backstroke and eventual Olympic team spot.

Swammer
1 year 11 months ago

That’s ok, we can just categorize you as the “special parent” because apparently you are special from any other parent. The article is a joke so laugh.

AntiPC
1 year 4 months ago

Lighten up, Francis! If this fun little write up hurts your poor little feelings, I’d say that you get your feelings hurt a little too easily.

MindoMom
1 year 4 months ago

#9. The Stick Up the *** parent. See STRKSWIM. All parents here, buddy, do everything you listed and have a sense of humor to boot. Umm, it’s called BEING A PARENT – it’s in the job description. I know I make an idiot out of myself at a meet because I’m proud and excited for my kid and I’m okay with that. In fact, I had a coach come up to me after my kid swam at a major international meet this summer to tell me that the coaches got a kick out of my cheering abilities, and as I told him, “Hell, it’s not for her, it’s so I don’t have an aneurysm sitting quietly in the stands!” My kid loves it and knows it’s for fun (operative word), so it’s all good… Life is too short, relax!

liquidassets
1 year 4 months ago

Hey if it’s just cheering too much or too loud then that’s fine. In fact, I think there could be more energy like that at meets; although with the very long age group tip meets, I know it’s hard to sustain for 10 hours! ;-

PsychDad
2 years 4 days ago

Definitely type 2 here.

Sprintdude9000
2 years 4 days ago

“The Tomato” aka the “Arnie on the surface of mars” parent

2 years 4 days ago

Think you kind of forgot about the parent who pays the bills, provides taxi service, doesn’t talk about swimming at home unless their swimmer brings up the subject, the parent who expects their swimmer/s to own their sport – the parent that allows the coach to coach, their swimmers to swim – the parent that allows their swimmer to have a healthy, positive and personally successful swimming experience….. at meets and at practice…. I just described almost everyone in our parents group…. don’t assume that they don’t care about swimming – just because they have a healthy perspective on the sport!.

redbirdfan
2 years 4 days ago

That would be the elusive “Dream Parent”. the best kind to have on your team, but not as entertaining to make fun of online!

Dan
2 years 4 days ago

My parents were this way, and I really liked it. They didn’t know much about swimming and let it be between me and my coaches. I always felt bad for the kids whose parents were overly involved, always talking about their times, cuts they were trying to make, etc.

Uxbridge Jim K
2 years 2 days ago

I prefer adults you row beside you every inch of the Chokopi Mile and give you the appropriate feedback at the end…. Thanks for your time and effort Mike and I hope things are well!

PAC12BACKER
2 years 4 days ago

Isn’t No. 1, Cpt. Obvious, and No. 5, The Shrieker pretty much the same type?

Hoosiermama
2 years 4 days ago

There is an even darker side…the parent that has developed an unhealthy hatred for the competition. They are joyously happy when some poor kid has a bad day and verbally bashes the kid and his/her parents.

Dave Bott
2 years 4 days ago

The Al Bundy. The former swimmer who has no problem exaggerating about how “great” they were in their hay day.

shanmac_swim
2 years 4 days ago

The “Psycho-Parent” who is on pool deck for each and every practice and provides gels, red bull, etc between every race to their 7 year old swimmer who always happens to be wearing the latest expensive performance suit!

mcmflyguy
2 years 3 days ago

you could call that the sugar daddys/mommys? get it? lol ya I know pretty lame.

ScotsFan78
2 years 4 days ago

What say you @cwilli208?

mamallama
2 years 4 days ago

Well, someone has already come up with the Whistler, so my variation will be the “Bronx Whistler”…one year at Junior Olympics in the Bronx, this woman with a teen boy swimming (you’d think she would know better, but no) stood up in the “no standing” area where the entrance feeds out into the balcony overhang, and whistled relentlessly, in matched syncopation with her son’s strokes. It was absolutely ear splitting and painfully piercing. It was impossible to even talk.

And every time a person (usually another parent) would politely approach her and ask her to stop or even hold it down (and occasionally pointing out that there was no way her son could even HEAR her), she would turn and scream at them to F-Off.

All I can think now is, poor kid.

Been there, seen that!
1 year 11 months ago

Ah yes, the joys of busy meets at Lehman. Place always was a circus for those big meets!

anonymous
2 years 4 days ago

I see the meme of implicitly criticizing the parent who tries to coach their kid cropping up here. Usually this is propaganda from USA Swimming as they want to make their member coaches’ lives easier. Often, however, it is the “parent coach” who keeps the coach on his toes and does a lot of good work to improve his child’s swimming.

ChestRockwell
2 years 4 days ago

If this is sarcasm, it is the single best comment in the history of swimming websites.

gator
2 years 4 days ago

Chestrockwell is right – on!! Even parents that actually are USS coaches generally do a lousy job coaching their own children in my experience!

swimm
2 years 4 days ago

At my club we have multiple coach parents. All their children are amazing swimmers- making state, zones, and national teams. But only one or two actually coach their own children on a regular basis

Coach and Parent
2 years 4 days ago

I coach at a huge club. We have at least three parents who are volunteer or paid assistants, many for the workout group of their kids. I’ve never seen one coach their kid’s lane or provide feedback at meets. Every single time we ask the other coaches to take their lane and provide the feeback. The coach/parent is toxic often. The parent coach you refer to rarely has the interest of the team at heart and most often jeopardizes the success of their own child and the team.

QRK Coach
2 years 4 days ago

This type of “parent-coach” is every real coaches nightmare.

pricklychip
2 years 4 days ago

“Parent Coaches” were the reason I stopped coaching after Athens. Leave coaching to the coaches and the parenting to someone else.

Allen
2 years 4 days ago

Unfortunately, the vast majority of age group coaches are not very good at what they do. I let my son tried swimming and be coached by the coaches, and he was in the bottom 1% in his first year. I decided to take matters into my own hands and coached my son in the off season by watching Youtube videos. He became the top 1% overall in the conference the following year. Then I stumbled upon Dr. Brent Rushall’s works and find it so much easier to get kids to swim faster. So many of the kids have been swimming for more than 5,6 years, but they can’t streamline properly or swim with a high elbow. There’s a lot of bad swimming out there!

coach
2 years 3 days ago

Good for your kid… but I would venture to guess his conference meet is pretty slow (comparatively)…

Allen
1 year 11 months ago

I think the time standards for the team and league is very slow, but the coaches and other parents do not think so. The league records are usually AAA or AAAA standards.

Mark Cianciolo
1 year 11 months ago

Although this could very well have been your reality, it is not permanent. It is not long term. I am willing to bet your son was about 9-10 years old. I have been there and done that and it does not last. 12-13 at the most and they will not listen to a single thing you have to say, regardless of what you think your relationship is now….it won’t last. I am not telling you what to do, or that you are or were wrong, just letting you know what will happen with almost 100% certainty, let’s just say I have been there.

Allen
1 year 11 months ago

I assume from your post that you coached your own kid and it didn’t work out. Will you share how and why it didn’t work out? Thanks in advance.

Mark Cianciolo
1 year 11 months ago

Allen,

This is a very long subject, and it is still evolving every day.

First. I am sure it has to do with that age when all children are trying to find themselves.

Second. When you the parent is in a constant critique mode (what it takes to coach them at a high level) they will start to resent you. You cannot be a parent and a coach during the swim practice for a teenager. This works for some at the early ages, when they just want to please you, but when they get older it is a whole different story.

This is just the 101 version to your question, you will be more then welcome to contact me if you would like to discuss in greater detail the level that I was trying to coach my daughter and all of the pit falls it creates.

My daughter has been trained under two legendary coaches with a combined experience of almost 90 years. Both of them told me the same thing. I am not here to tell you what to do, or that you are wrong. That is not my style. I let everyone be who they are, but if my experiences can help someone else….I am more then willing to share.

[email protected]

Swimmer
2 years 3 days ago

I was a recently a competitive swimmer for about 13 years and eleven of those years were with USA swimming. I can guarantee that it is 99% of the time better to let the coach do the coaching. The parents are there to support their kids not to coach them. It creates all kinds of psychological problems and blocks when it comes to swimming. I know many parentes who try to coach their kid and tell them things to do that contradict the coach. Little do they know, is that the coach don’t tell their kids to do somethings for specific reasons. I teach swim lessons now and I have a first hand experience in seeing what bad advice from the parents can to do a kids stroke. Yes, some kids don’t develop their stroke to a parents satisfaction, but in those circumstances I would say to find a new team or a new coach that will work with your kid the way they need to be worked with.

Neukay
2 years 2 days ago

Well said 🙂 I have at times cringed when I see a parent-coach or an ex-coach approach one of my swimmers at a meet to tell them what they “should do”. It is interesting that this advice is never given to the swimmer when I am close by. I spend hours with the swimmers analyzing strokes and gauging their mental “game”. At times what they need to do isn’t the “obvious” as seen by a parent from the stands or by his coach from 2 years ago. An athlete, especially a teen student-athlete, has week-by-week social and emotional changes that affect their in-water performance. It’s not always just the stroke or timing…

lilymom98
1 year 4 months ago

The first thing i was told when my daughter started swimming almost 8 years ago was that she’s mine when she’s dry and the coach’s when she’s wet. Best advise I’ve ever gotten!

Anonymous
2 years 4 days ago

I sat next to a #5 for a full 9 hours last Saturday!! Not only shrieking for her own kid but her kids entire team. Sometimes 3 of them in the same race!!

Coach
2 years 4 days ago

You forgot “The Spreadsheeter,” which is often a derivative of The Stopwatcher. I was advised the other day by one of these that he/she keeps times of other kids on their spreadsheet as a comparison.

Oh, and how about The Videographer. This is the parent that tells you they should be allowed on deck because they are filming their kid for video analysis at home later.

ChestRockwell
2 years 4 days ago

Yeah man, that iPad you are holding up is surely to give excellent angles on what you need to see from 40 feet + 3 lanes distance.

SwimBob
2 years 4 days ago

There is the TigerMom on a rival team that we see at dual meets, league and state every year, a combo of 1, 5, 6, 7, and 8, she only wants perfection. And if she doesn’t get it, there is hell to pay. Sadly, it’s her kids that pay. We’ve seen it for years now, berating her kids after a swim, often leaving them in tears. She has a ten foot cloud around her that nobody wants to wade into. Don’t worry, it’s not just swimming, said behavior apparently is just as common in soccer, music, everything she signs her kids up for. Never have seen their dad show up for a meet, must not be allowed to go.

liquidassets
1 year 4 months ago

…Or he’s too embarrassed by her to show up! And it can go the other way too with TigerDad on deck and mom hiding at home… 😉

love2swim
2 years 4 days ago

The FastClique parent: This parent is sure to position him/herself with the clique of fast parents. Their kid may be fast so “in” automatically or may be “medium” so they have to strategize and schmooze FastClique parents. Parents of “slow” swimmers will not fit in, no matter how glowing their personality. The FastClique parent holds breath during swims and prays their kid will hang on to his/her successes so they can continue to be accepted by this group. This parent cannot imagine life not as a SwimMom/Dad and lives for weekend meets.

NewSwimParent
3 months 21 days ago

Bahaha! You nailed this!

love2swim
2 years 4 days ago

The VideoTaper: This parent brings the Ipad as well as backup video taping apparatus to all meets (and sometimes practices). Never misses a race and carries several backup chargers and cords. This parent *always* video tapes his/her own kid and sometimes the competition or kids with excellent technique. I’ve also seen these same parents later become officials so they can be closer to the action, and hand off the videotaping to a well-trained spouse.

The VideoTapers want to learn as much as possible about the sport (often, they were not swimmers themselves, because parents who were swimmers remember days with no video and are laid back about taping races) so they can “review tape” with them after the meet (or practice). They may also watch YouTube videos on swim technique and all televised competitions are recorded and reviewed with the swimmer.

NewSwimParent
3 months 21 days ago

How about The Crusader, the one who POUNCES on Parents 1-8, and also pounces on The Videotaper when they occasionally bring a video camera to tape their kid at their kid’s request.

James
2 years 4 days ago

I realize this post is primarily meant to be humorous, so I won’t get to bent out of shape!

But I do see real problems with the parent -coach. Even ex-NBA/NFL players will readily admit they are reluctant to coach their kids too much. Doesn’t mean that they can’t drop the occasional recommendation or tip; just that their role is not to make a clone of themselves but a unique individual.

love2swim
2 years 4 days ago

Pretend-to-not-be-Competitive SwimParent: This is the one who acts all aloof / flighty and says things like, “Oh I don’t know my kids times!” or “I have no idea what state qualifying times are” etc. However, this person outs themself at some point when they pull up their kid’s best times spreadsheet on the phone, or have the icon on Ipad for state qualifying times. They not only know their own kid’s times, they know the other kid’s times too. The concentrate quietly during their child’s swim, and add the time to the spreadsheet when no one is looking. This parent is also an expert with Meet Mobile and USASwimming Times Search.

LOVEMYSWIMGIRL
2 years 4 days ago

Oh yes…know this one intimately.

SwimBob
2 years 4 days ago

Honey? 🙂

SwimBob
2 years 4 days ago

Guilty, though I never pull up the spreadsheet at a meet.

swimfan
2 years 4 days ago

Ha! We have one of these that pretends not to know her daughter’s times, and claims her daughter doesn’t know her own times. But then when another kid makes a Zone time, she will congratulate them, “Wow your kid made a Zone time!” immediately after swimming, with no time to look it up. The girl outs herself similarly. Oh and the mom is THE most competitive one on the team but claims everyone else is “too competitive”.

Andrew McDonald
1 year 6 months ago

Michael Phelps’s mom has always claimed she has no idea what his times are are anything. Perhaps that is part if the reason for his swimming success. I’m not sure her lack if knowledge about his swimming carried over into other parts of his life as a kid. Wait… There were no other parts of his life. Perhaps that’s why he is still a kid at 30. It’s easy to judge everyone else. Parenting is the most judged profession in the world.

bobo gigi
2 years 4 days ago

I presume that momma Andrew belongs to the first category.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yf70D1EdDFQ
She looks happy at the end of the race. 🙂

swim dad
2 years 4 days ago

I officiate or time (because of the other parents). And, after the meet is done. Ask my child how was the meet? Let them chat about it. They need the coaches input not mine.

CraigH
2 years 4 days ago

My mom was so oblivious to everything at meets. She would stay in the stands smiling. Most of the time she would be happy I swam but had no idea how I placed, what my times were, etc. Was I the only one who had a parent like this?

swimcoach
2 years 4 days ago

I’m with you right here. They went to the occasional meet. Never traveled to one with me or to see me – other than 3 or 4 college meets. I never knew that they even knew how I was doing until during a real slump when I was 15, they asked me if there was anything they could do to help me out. It wasn’t that they didn’t care. My swimming was mine. I have a ton of brothers and sisters. Almost every one of us played a sport in college. It was ours. I never once stepped on a block wondering whether or not Mom or Dad would care how I performed. I never realized how lucky I was until I started coaching.

THE Other Hulk
2 years 4 days ago

SWIMCOACH, I couldn’t agree more. My parents have no clue whatsoever about swimming, and I have been involved since 1996 as a swimmer or coach.

They were my biggest fans, they were so supportive and let swimming be mine. I hope I can be half the parent they were someday!

swimtroll
2 years 4 days ago

From my own experience I can tell that type 8 can be cured by losing the stopwatch and being too cheap to spend another $60 on a new one. But it is a little bit harder to lap count and process split times in head. Although it is not PC, there is another type, those who beat their kids at the meet when they don’t swim fast enough. And USA Swimming is not pro-active enough to get rid of them.

Jason
2 years 4 days ago

As a parent of three competitive swimmers it is a little concerning that it seems the best type of parent (by the comments left so far) is one that shows no active involvement in their child’s activity? Have we gone so far the other direction that being involved is negative? I care deeply both about my kids feelings about the sport and but also about their personal success and times. Maybe too far one way or another at times but it has always been a family affair. I hope the hands off approach is not the only way to be a good swim parent.

Shanmac_swim
2 years 4 days ago

Agreed – I think that total “hands-off, whatever makes you happy” parenting in relation to any aspect of a child’s life is just making the child shoulder all the responsibility. There is a fine line between parental guidance and parental “pushing” – it is good to show at least some interest and knowledge in what they are doing.

LOVEMYSWIMGIRL
2 years 4 days ago

It’s just for fun! I’m VERY INVOLVED in my child’s swimming…it literally consumes 90% of my time just like the rest of you, but if we have to be able to laugh at ourselves. I know which one I am & I’m not changing. Lighten up!

WestCoach
2 years 4 days ago

Nope…this is the parent who quietly watches from the timers chair. Smiling. Knowing that their child is learning self-efficacy and accountability regardless of what their parents think or feel during their competitive interests. That parent simply gives their kid a high-five (no matter the result) and says, “I love watching you swim!”

Formerswimcoach
2 years 3 days ago

I doubt that it was a case where those athletes’ parents had no active involvement in their child’s activity. It was probably a case where the child was given the freedom to swim and interact with the coach. The parents were probably involved in timing or officiating, or running the concession stand, they helped them get to practice when they should, but didn’t insert themselves into the swimming process itself. They went to meets and provided support in having towels, and food and snacks, excited when the swimmer was excited by a swim and empathetic when the swimmer was not happy with a swim.

Joel Lin
2 years 4 days ago

Swim parents are angels dropped down from heaven by comparison to other sports. Up at 5am, sitting in the sun in some God awful suburbia and looking at a TGI Fridays menu 25 weekends a year? How about a list of why all swimming parents should be sainthood nominees.

Thank you Moms and Dads.

Wondering
2 years 4 days ago

Has the Mama Hawks been listed? These are the moms to watch every move their child makes on the pool deck and freak out if they don’t see their child. They will try to gain access to the deck to check on their swimmer not knowing that sometimes bleachers and other swimmers will block their view. A close cousin to the Mama Hawk is the Mama Eagle who must escort their child to and from the pool deck. it doesn’t matter to the Mama Eagle that all swimmers will exit through one door and it’s impossible to get lost.

donviti
2 years 4 days ago

all the years I swam and now 30 years later thinking back, I can honestly say that I don’t remember ever hearing any of the yelling. Water apparently is not a good conduit for sound.

I will have to keep that in mind when my five year old hits the water

And yell even louder

PsychoDad
2 years 4 days ago

Okay, it is well established that most of us parents are psychos. How about coaches? When will we see article like this about incompetent coaches, coaches that do not care, coaches that favor best swimmers because they make them look better, etc. Unless it is given that coaches are saints?

I know that behind most successful athletes there are parents that pushed. I also know that many very talented athletes gave up because their parents “were saints” and did not get involved. Most what coaches comment on here is plan BS.

CoachD
2 years 4 days ago

As many people have already mentioned, they had great swim parents growing up. I know I did. Not all parents are psychos. In fact having been a coach now for 10 year I’d say that in my experience most of them are not. This article was written to be funny and provide a few laughs. Don’t take it too seriously.

And no. Not all coaches are perfect either. There are some who are incompetent, some who don’t care. There are some who do indeed play favorites. No one said anything about coaches being saints. This article was about the parents, which is why there was no mention of parents.

“I know that behind most successful athletes there are parents that pushed.” – there were also great coaches behind them that motivated and guided them.

“I also know that many very talented athletes gave up because their parents “were saints” and did not get involved.” – if they gave up because their parents weren’t involved then that’s a poor excuse. Now if the swimmer gave up because their parents didn’t love them / care about them, that’s something different.

“Most of what coaches comment on here is plain BS.” – untwist your panties. Good lord.

SMH
2 years 4 days ago

Here’s one I bet you don’t see often: the parent who gets his kids’ high school coach fired because he doesn’t think his kids are getting “what they need.” Ouch.

Mark Cianciolo
1 year 11 months ago

Coach D,

I for one laughed my butt off over this article, it was funny and true. I found at least one sentence in each one that I have done or do…..it is the ones that cannot admit this or laugh at this that are in more trouble.

No one…..has ever mentioned the percentage of high ranking kids and the involvement of the parent. I have never seen USA Swimming ever mention this. I know for a fact it is very high. Officials, board members, office assistance, meet managers, ect ect, over and over the last names of these people are the names of the kids you see mentioned on that teams web page for achievement. Board members being one of the highest I believe, followed by officials.

Fluffy
3 months 15 days ago

Hello from two years later. I think it’s more the other way round – kids give up because they just get over their parents pushing them. You can’t make a kid want to get up super early.

Disinterested parents will never stop a kid who really wants to do something. If they’re up for it, they’ll always find a way to get to where they want.

Disinterested parents is just an excuse from the kids. Nothing wrong with them not wanting it enough either. I’d rather that and they continue to love swimming recreationally/for fitness over getting so over it they can’t stand going near a pool. Sure they won’t be champions in the pool, but they never would be if they weren’t really into it anyway.

ChestRockwell
2 years 4 days ago

You deserve your own number on this list.

ChestRockwell
2 years 4 days ago

Here is a glowing example of an athlete who was pushed by his psychodad!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Todd_Marinovich

1 year 4 months ago

Anyone who will travel 3 hours to and back from an event that contains exactly 2-3 of actual participation is most certainly certifiably insane…see you in the psych ward! See this shirt for the Mom variety (lol)

http://chlorinegear.spreadshirt.com/swim-mom-definition-ring-neck-A100383734/customize/color/71

Anonymous
2 years 4 days ago

Well said.

WestCoach
2 years 4 days ago

I like that the “offended” parents identify with at least one of the 8 so much that they feel the need to justify it. The article doesn’t imply that EVERY parent is one of the 8. The article simply implies that one will find those 8 parents at every local meet.
My parents were totally sane. I swam for 15 years and have been coaching for 15 more. They were immersed in the volunteer aspect of the culture and found swim parents at every meet who did the same. I’m sure they were 1 of the 8 at least once or twice, but came back to earth, for the next meet.

Coach
2 years 4 days ago

How about the Swim Every Stroke of the Race Parent…
The one who swims the race with his/her child but not just that they do it with their head turned sideways on, as if that helps analyse the stroke??!!!
They also encroach into the space of the poor soul next to them, almost knocking them out with their frantic head movements….
And then to finish it off, the kid does a half decent time.. but oh no its not good enough for the Every Stroke Parent.. they just shaken their head in dissaproval!!!!

WestCoach
2 years 4 days ago

Olivier,
It’s fun to bait crazy swim parents into freaking out about justifying their “involvement” in their children’s swimming. How many “sane” parents are scoping around SwimSwam looking for articles about crazy parents…or technique/training innovations…or news regarding swim-celebs who would only be known inside tighter swimming circles?
Keep them coming!

coach
2 years 3 days ago

Ding ding ding… great observation.

Meet grinder
2 years 4 days ago

How about the “Deaf, Dumb and Blind” parents who, despite urgent pleas from the announcer/officials and the meet stopped due to lack of timers continues to sit on their butts, ignoring all evidence that their support is needed.

Mark Cianciolo
1 year 11 months ago

Meet Grinder,
Although this is probably true on every team, what I have also noticed over time, is that their is always a couple parents that go way above and beyond, and they always….always end up broken, jaded, and disgruntled. Some it takes longer, some relatively fast, but in the end, the over working parent always breaks. It’s a shame, I have known a couple that their child’s teams still need them, but they just can’t do it any more because of how much they have given. The parents that do not work, will never change…..but for those that do go above and beyond, you are deeply appreciated, even if no one ever tells you and you are needed by all of the kids.

Cynthia Upton
2 years 4 days ago

How about the dad who becomes a swim official and DQs his own kid? Or the parents who divorce,and when the parents were married the mom always told the dad to back off of children who swim. Then she comes to your meets, and does the same thing she got mad about the former husband doing? Keep in mind that neither parent swam a lap in their life!

referee
2 years 3 days ago

What’s wrong with an official disqualifying their own kids? Did it many times when my youngest was a novice.

Swim Official
1 year 11 months ago

One of the first things that meet refs say to all of us swim officials at the beginning of the officials’ meeting before each session of a meet is that it’s the same set of rules for all of the swimmers…and that it applies to your own kid, other swimmers on your kid’s team, even applies to the adorable little 6-yr-olds who are participating in their own meet.

Yep, I’ve DQ’d my daughter…a couple of times. And you know what? DQ’ing your own kid sucks. Trust me. But the USA Swimming official rule book doesn’t say “except if it’s your child or your favorite kid or ___” (fill in the blank). It’s one set of rules for everyone.

Swim Official
1 year 11 months ago

Oops, meant to say that the rules also apply to the young novice swimmers who are in a meet for the first time….not their own meet for them alone. LOL. 🙂

swimfan
2 years 4 days ago

CoachKiss Parent: This is the one that signs up for every job that enables them to be close to the Coach and/or program Director. This one, usually female, brings the coaches coffee drinks at morning practices so they can go on deck and charm them. The ulterior motive is hoping their kid will be a favorite.

catherine
2 years 4 days ago

How about masters swimmers who used to be ‘real’ swimmers back in the day, and now have kids in swimming? Yes we talk a lot of swimming at home because we love the sport. But I don’t give swimming advice; too much has changed since the late 70s. Instead I ask for stroke advice and race advice on the rare occasion I do a masters meet. I’m always glad to have my stroke videotaped and I return the favour from time to time.
But I think I win the horrible parent award for making my kids do the solstice 100 fundraiser (mentioned on swimswsm a few months ago) when they were all home for last Christmas. Do I get a medal?

swimsweep
2 years 4 days ago

“The Disordered” The coach with antisocial personality disorder is unable to provide direct eye contact. They frequently lack empathy and tend to be callous, cynical, and contemptuous. This coach has an inflated and arrogant self-appraisal and may be excessively opinionated, self-assured, or cocky. They are socially inhibited avoiding anything that involves interacting with others……………like parents.

“The Can’t Stop Myself” The coach with OCD has a preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency. They are prone to become upset or angry in situations in which they are not able to maintain control (Like swimmers times and improvement-or lack thereof) they express anger in an explosive manner with righteous indignation.

“The Coach with Drive” When a relatively attractive parent comes along they cannot control themselves and become involved, providing an additional team benefit. Or when working in isolation for long periods of time alongside other coaches they get a glimmer in their eye and take up with them out of desperate sexual attraction.

The Self- Love Fanatic” The coach with a narcissistic personality disorder often display snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes. Often condescending to others i.e. swimmers and parents.

Coaches should be mandated to get counseling for the above issues……Remember it’s all in fun!!

O_O
2 years 4 days ago

I’m a coach and this doesn’t offend me. I even laughed a little reading, because I definitely know some coaches who fall into these categories.

99% of parents are great, but a few of them are incredibly challenging. Some of them are just kind of funny, like #1 on the list.

mcgillrocks
2 years 3 days ago

To continue:

The Loud Coach: Prone to yelling at swimmers during practices at the slightest goofing off. Often overlap with the coaches that give the hardest sets.

The College Kid: Swam for the same team only a few years ago. Often gets out an iPhone during practices, and received pleas from swimmers to be “one of the guys” and make an easier set. May or may not be so easily swayed.

The 70’s Distance Swimmer: May or may not have swum in the 70’s, but sets are always long and easy, either 10×500 aerobic, or 4x (2×100 free + 4×50 kick + 4×50 drill + 4×50 swim). Hated by sprinters, disliked by 80% of team. Forms a bond with some distance swimmers. USRPT’s #1 enemy.

coach
2 years 3 days ago

Agreed… Sometimes I look around the deck and wonder if I am in the right profession just based on the behavior of my “colleagues.”

Sammy the Swammer
1 year 4 months ago

As a recently minted swammer with thoughts about becoming a coach… please stay. One of the biggest reasons I want to coach is because I see what the coach of my old club team has turned the team I remember so fondly into, and I want to change that. Don’t let these coaches win.

Josh
2 years 4 days ago

We had a really heinous one we called The Drill Sergeant on our team. She was a single mom raising two kids and held them to ridiculous standards. She was eventually banned from being able to watch practices because she would sit with a stopwatch and if her kids wouldn’t hit certain repeats, she would make them do punishment sets when practice was over. Meets were even worse. I can remember the girl, who was 11 at the time, getting a 30 minute lecture from her mom after a 100 breaststroke at a long course meet. The boy actually got really good, scored a full ride to a div 1 school, finaled at NCAAs in the 200 fly and swam at Olympic Trials. The girl, who was about 3 years younger, became rebellious by junior high and would ditch practices altogether. She was ridiculously talented but completely burned out. She hit a Juniors cut in the 200 breaststroke at 14 on about 2 practices per week when she had no interest in swimming anymore.

swimfan
2 years 4 days ago

That reminds me of the “Weight Lifting and Protein Shake Dads” drilling their kids at home. They want their kids to be the strongest and most built in hopes it will contribute in the pool. So they are having their kids lift weights at a young age at home, and drink protein shakes and other energy foods. OH and then there’s the ones whose boys are below average size and are on Growth Hormones…I know several of those…banned substance!

Swimmom
2 years 4 days ago

You would not have a job if not for us. Deal with it.

coach
2 years 3 days ago

Send me your address I want to bow to you… kiss your feet… fan your wind… please oh gracious one…

Realist
3 months 29 days ago

Get over yourself. If you think the level of compensation earned by coaches (on average) can even begin to make up for that kind of attitude and disrespect, than you live in an alternate reality of your own creation…

Crappycoaching
2 years 4 days ago

How about the parent that use to be a really good swimmer than became a really good coach, retired when she was pregnant then helped you succeed in a crappy club because there were no other near by clubs that allowed you to be recruited to a a divison 1 swimming program?

Jg
2 years 3 days ago

Most swim parents would do some things differently if they had another chance. But it is what it is & kids are not going to be better treated out there in the big world after swimming. Mum & Dad won’t always be there .

One day they will be dead & no one will care about your intervals , your races even if you continue . When you clean out their wardrobe & drawers you will find a few of your ribbons &

Really when you look back only parents care . Enjoy it now .

SwimFan
2 years 3 days ago

I am in the category with many Dads that have a sudden interest to take our age grouper to Saturday morning practice when the coach is a pretty twenty something. Dads lined up like birds on a wire – none making any comments about swimming or could even tell you what lane our kid is in.

another swim mom
2 years 3 days ago

I laughed out loud at the KissCoach! A team my swimmers were previously on (We relocated.) had a whole group these moms. There was a definite ringleader, but several moms were in the clique. Other parents even made up a name for the little group of kiss-uppers. They constantly interrupted practices to talk to coaches, but were NEVER able to help during a meet-never timed, worked concessions, did awards–nothing. It worked for them. Their kids were favored.

I think all of us can see ourselves in a few of these at one time or another. We learn as we go. When my first swimmer joined a team, all the moms had spreadsheets. I made one. I no longer have one. I don’t know what my kids’ exact times are, but I do know how to find them if needed. I watch races quietly. If your kids’s best is better than my kid’s, I don’t care. (I also don’t expect you to brag about it.) I’m hoping for life skills on and off deck, not Olympians. There are extremes in every sport and activity.

love2swim
2 years 3 days ago

This is the healthiest perspective I’ve seen! A+

Mark Cianciolo
1 year 11 months ago

My spreadsheet was better! Lol

Marnie
2 years 3 days ago

Wow, i am a dance mum any my child trains 14 hours a week since she was 6. you guys are nuts. Poor poor kids.

coach
2 years 3 days ago

Dance is swarming with idiots… hence multiple TV shows about that psychosis… yeah.. we’re crazy…

swim-like-a-shrimp
2 years 3 days ago

How about the “Groupy Parent”, these parents followed their favorite coach from one team to the next. They show up as the new coaches promoter, immediately infiltrate the stands and spread the word on how great this new coach–and of course their kids–are.

Hmmm
2 years 3 days ago

um, what snack tray?

mcmflyguy
2 years 3 days ago

ya i’m over here saying things like ” you guys have snack trays?”

wpDiscuz

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out.A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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