9 Things Parents of Distance Swimmers Know

by SwimSwam 23

June 15th, 2018 Club, Lifestyle, Swim Mom

by Elizabeth Wickham

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 WickhamElizabeth 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.


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Tall Paul
5 years ago

They may know what a feeding pole is.

5 years ago

Incur the “wrath” of the coach / committee who doesn’t “get it” that you have to travel for Distance Swim opportunities even if the Team is not attending that Meet, because Distance Seims are like hens teeth. Hard to find.

Distance Gal
5 years ago

Can’t forget about having to go to the “‘midday” sessions

5 years ago

Getting the joy of watching events that require deep strategy and provide much more enjoyment to watch than a sprint. Honestly, I cannot understand the fascination with sprint events in any sport – over too fast, and, when you do get a surprise winner, it’s often not really because one swimmer has a dramatically better swim.

Caveat: watching Caleb Dressel does not apply to the above as he is so far ahead of the rest.

dj albertson
5 years ago

Great read! All true!

L Neuendorf
7 years ago

Since we usually have to time for our own child, we get the “thrill” of getting to ring the bell for the last lap! …it’s the little things that make it worthwhile. : )

7 years ago

TEN. Your swimmer’s practices may be twice as long as teammates, perhaps 2×8-10k a day…70-90k or more a week! And tapers are minimal.

ELEVEN. Your swimmer may practice many many laps alone, be there for them.

G Szablewski
7 years ago

How about the heartbreak you feel when you know after the first 200 that the swim is not going to be a good one, yet they have another 15 minutes+ to swim?