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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5 years ago

“Just hold your breath, it’s only 25 yards!”

5 years ago

If you are a swim parent reading this YOU ARE TOO INVOLVED!!!

5 years ago

Unfortunately this is the obvious. Not to minimize the importance of stating it though. Thank you!

Reply to  Anonymous
5 years ago

Yes, but the best thing swim parents can do for their kids is to nail the basic and the obvious – and leave the minutiae to their kids and their coach to take care of.

6 years ago

We should have dos and don’ts for coaches. Yes everyone knows nightmare parents who will tear a team apart. But the fact is for every one good coach who takes care of his athletes there are probably 10 bad coaches.

Reply to  Mikeh
6 years ago

Sorry, not buying this. My kids have been swimming for 9 years, and saying there are 10 “bad” coaches for every good one just is not my experience. If that truly is yours, then perhaps you need a new club.

Reply to  SwimFan
5 years ago

Totally agree. I have been around this sport for my entire life. Almost every coach I know has gotten into it because they love watching young people grow and succeed. If this person has really had 10 bad coaches for every one good one, maybe they need to look in the mirror and see the one common denominator.

6 years ago

I’d change #3 Don’t to “Talk to the officials, ever”.

Coach of Many
6 years ago

I am a parent of my kids on the swim team. One thing I like to do is hand them their Gatorade bottles in between sets. The coach doesn’t seem to mind. I also make sure they are in bed by 7:30 every night and drink a glass of milk. They are doing very well, and they are so close to making Olympic Trials. My two boys are 15 and 17, so they swim about 8,000 yards a day. I take them to the pool in the morning to get an extra 2,000 in so that they hit 10,000 every day. Gotta stay motivated!

Sane Swim Parent
Reply to  Coach of Many
6 years ago

LOL! Sadly, we do have a few families like this.

James Cline
Reply to  Coach of Many
6 years ago

They will be perfectly prepared for the real world with that 7:30 bed time! LOL

Reply to  Coach of Many
6 years ago

I’m thinking this comment is meant to be sarcastic?

Reply to  Coach of Many
5 years ago

I really hope they were joking

Reply to  Coach of Many
5 years ago

Most parents should realize their child has a very small chance of making the Olympic team. So it should be all about fun and making memories.

8 years ago

I am overly involved…but in a different aspect. I official every meet we go to and I am on the board. I would rather watch but love watching all the kids swim…not just my own. I get a front row seat but I don’t get to cheer. My kid can’t hear me anyway.

Reply to  Natasha
5 years ago

Becoming an official was the best thing. It kept me busy during meets. I usually found a way to watch my kids swim, but gave me a reason to watch other kids from other teams swim, too. Sometimes if I wasn’t able to watch my kids swim, I’d just ask them on the way home, “How’d it go?”–and they’d tell me! Amazingly, the world didn’t end just cuz I didn’t see it. Being an official allowed me to learn a lot more about the intricacies of the strokes and the sport in general, and being involved on our team’s leadership and in the LSC gave me an idea of how much volunteer work goes into organizing and running meets. I… Read more »

push & turn
8 years ago

I agree with almost everything you just said. I do cheer and watch other swimmers races, however I know my swimmer does not like it when immediately aftr swimming race that did not go as expected other parents tell her ” good job.”

Also: Coaches sometimes are nor aware of deck protocol and go ahead insulting the officials in from of their swimmers after a D.Q.