As the parent of distance swimmers, my days at meets are decidedly different from parents of sprinters. I’ll admit that I look at them with a touch of envy as they cheer for a 50 or 100. They may experience the same anxiety I do during races, but for them it’s over so quickly! They have mere seconds to watch, while I stress and cheer for more than 16 minutes.
Here are nine things that parents of distance swimmers understand and do:
Arrive a day earlier at meets for distance events—and stay until the last event of the weekend.
Use terms like drafting and negative split.
Invest in a lap counter and pole attachment so you won’t have to lap count on your knees, in the off chance there isn’t a swimmer to lap count for your child.
Get to know on a first name basis other distance parents and help fill timing chairs for each other.
Know that it’s possible for your swimmer to “go out too fast” or “go to their legs” too soon.
Watch the clock during the first few hundreds of a 1650 and know whether it’s going to be a best time or not.
Rarely have a crowd cheering your swimmer—except during finals.
Recognize your swimmer’s stroke across the lake in open water events.
Never have trouble finding a parking spot during distance sessions.
What other things do you experience as parents of distance swimmers that sprint parents do not?
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.