The 8 Swim Parents You See at Your Local Swim Meets

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!

SEE ALSO:

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beachmouse
7 years 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
7 years 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… Read more »

swim coach
7 years 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
7 years ago

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

RTS
Reply to  hschler
7 years ago

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

Off I. Cial
Reply to  hschler
7 years ago

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

Swimmom
Reply to  hschler
6 years ago

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

my2swimmers
Reply to  hschler
6 years 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
Reply to  hschler
6 years ago

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

anon
Reply to  Mom2boys
6 years 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
Reply to  anon
5 years 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
Reply to  hschler
5 years ago

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

DH1967
Reply to  hschler
5 years ago

Too funny, that is why I became an official, interesting to know other officials feel the same way. Its safe on deck!

Jennifer
7 years 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
7 years 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… Read more »

Peace Out
Reply to  strkswim
7 years 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
Reply to  Peace Out
7 years ago

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

Coach
Reply to  strkswim
7 years 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
Reply to  Coach
6 years ago

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

point your finger and 3 points back!
Reply to  Coach
5 years ago

The funny thing is we all did something…lol…the point is we r just proud of our kids. I know I have cheered loud and sat there quietly and a tomatoes faced day because my kid decided to socialize rather than line up and get on the block for a race! We ALL have the stereotypes.

STRKSWIM's Kid
Reply to  strkswim
7 years ago

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

Dan
Reply to  strkswim
7 years 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
Reply to  strkswim
7 years 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
Reply to  Red
7 years 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.… Read more »

Off I. Cial
Reply to  strkswim
7 years ago

What I find offensive is your lead sentence.

mcmflyguy
Reply to  strkswim
7 years ago

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

likeswimminglikecoachinglikeswimcoaching
Reply to  strkswim
7 years 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
Reply to  strkswim
6 years 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
Reply to  strkswim
7 years 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
Reply to  strkswim
6 years 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
Reply to  strkswim
6 years 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… Read more »

liquidassets
Reply to  MindoMom
6 years 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
7 years ago

Definitely type 2 here.

Sprintdude9000
7 years ago

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

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

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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