Are You a Supportive or Overly-Involved Swim Parent?

by SwimSwam 30

June 12th, 2018 Club, Lifestyle, Opinion, Swim Mom

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

There is a fine line we parents walk on the pool deck. We want to be supportive of our kids who love swimming and pursue the sport. But, where do we cross the line from being supportive, to being “overly involved?” Look around at a swim meet and see if you can spot “those” parents. Then, take a look in the mirror and check to see what kind of swim parent you are.

Here are seven “Dos and Don’ts” to test yourself to see if you’re a supportive parent, or an overly involved one:


  1. Cheer for your child and other swimmers, too.
  2. Talk to parents from other teams.
  3. Say thank you to officials after a meet.
  4. Accept your timing assignment with a smile.
  5. Ask your swimmer after a race, “How did that feel?”
  6. Get your swimmer to practice consistently.
  7. Meet with your swimmer’s coach if you have any concerns.


  1. Only cheer for your own swimmer.
  2. Give other teams or certain swimmers the evil eye.
  3. Argue with the official after your swimmer gets DQ’d.
  4. Refuse to time, because you have more important things to do.
  5. Wait at the blocks for your swimmer to finish his race, so you can give your critique before he talks to the coach.
  6. Get your swimmer to the pool AND record their practices so you can review them later at home.
  7. Tell everyone on deck how your kid’s coach isn’t paying enough attention to your swimmer.

What type of swim parent are you? What other tips do you have for parents to be supportive—rather than overly involved?

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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Swim Mom
5 years ago

I would add the following:
1. Don’t run around with a clipboard and laminated charts of time standards and your child’s best times. It makes you look obsessive.
2. Don’t expect your child to swim best times at “regular, in-season meets”. That’s not realistic, especially as they get older. Your child can tell if you are disappointed.
3. Don’t sit and watch practice every day and critique the coach to other parents or to your child.
4. Don’t sit around and brag on your child’s accomplishments OR sit and complain during meets. People won’t want to sit with you. Swim meets are long, and it’s much more fun to sit with a pleasant parent who is interesting and fun.

5 years ago

I have to learn DO’s #2 and #3…

I need to understand how other parents can be so happy of their swimmer’s race and here you are with your swimmer who just had a bad race. I need to understand that my child is working hard and her time will come to shine with hard work, dedication and trust in our coach.
Thank you for a great article.

Reply to  SwimMom
2 years ago

You raise a good point – just because other parents are being/acting a certain way doesn’t mean it’ll be good for you to do so!

Reply to  SwimMom
2 years ago

Over the many years of watching meets I’ve learned so much. I think it’s best not to have much of a reaction at all. You wouldn’t be “sad” or “mad” or ecstatic after your child’s Piano lesson so why react so much to a sport? It’s your child’s extracurricular activity. Not their job to please you. It’s really made me sad over the years to see so many parents show major disappointment after their kids’ Races. Really upsets me. They’re kids. If they have big goals, support them. But most kids just want to have fun so let them. They’ll still gain a lot of positives from the sport. Find your child’s unique talent and praise them for THAT not… Read more »

5 years ago

I really could of used this weekend!