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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Chris Brown
5 years ago

Bring a very good book to read as you will be there a long after everyone else leaves. Know that the event is seeded fastest to slowest and hope for an early heat. Know that your child needs a long warm down. Know what is like to be the very last to leave a pool

5 years ago

The best words you hear at a meet are:
I got someone to count for me

Reply to  Osd
3 years ago

And the worst words you hear, “I’m gonna stay and count for….”

5 years ago

Be on a first name basis with the officials and have deep conversations during the 1500 and for parents who cheer for all the distance kids no matter what team, because they just know– we are all in this together.

Kirk Nelson
5 years ago

Get used to meet cleanup starting while your child is in the water. Claim a folding chair otherwise it will probably get put away!

Reply to  Kirk Nelson
5 years ago

Better yet, volunteer for cleanup. You’re going to be there almost until the end anyway, and you can get a head start on emptying garbage cans during the heats when your kid is not swimming.

5 years ago

Gotta say, I love that pic of Ledecky. Shows her grit.

5 years ago

Is Katie Ledecky making a Blowfish face at the camera?

5 years ago

Number one should be: My child is ALWAYS hungry. No matter what, he/she need something between the teeth!!

5 years ago

Trying to coordinate and pack the right kinds and amounts of food to make sure your swimmer can perform from from 7 am (if they have other events) to 6 pm.