Ask Swim Mom: Should kids miss school for meets?
by Elizabeth Wickham
Dear Swim Mom,
Do you know why USA swimming, swim leagues, teams, coaches and parents all feel it’s ok to schedule swim meets on school days, with the expectation the kids should skip school and show up? Really appreciate your thoughts on this.
Unexcused Absence Mom
Dear Unexcused Absence Mom,
Meets that take place during school days are usually higher level meets with qualifying time standards. I believe these meets are scheduled during school days due to the number of events and swimmers—and they may last three to five days. Another way to look at your question is should we take our kids out of school for a swim meet?
That’s a personal question that families make based on the understanding and agreement with schools, teachers and coaches. Communication with your children’s teachers and coaches is key. Some teachers are very supportive of extracurricular activities during school days and others are against it. You may get push back from a coach for not attending meets during school days, but you’re the parent. It’s a decision each family needs to make for themselves. I think the students should also have input. In my family, our son’s goal was to be valedictorian and he took a ton of AP classes. Although he swam for more than 10 years, he never missed school for a meet. He met his academic goals but wasn’t accepted to any of his top schools in spite of his achievements. Our daughter’s passion was swimming and she did miss school for meets with the approval of her teachers. She learned to communicate with her teachers, work ahead and was recruited to college for swimming. In college, midterms were scheduled at the same time as the conference meet. Her experience from missing school earlier helped her balance college studies with being on the travel team. So, in our own family we had two kids with different priorities and choices. I don’t think either one made a wrong choice, but missing school for meets didn’t hurt in the long run.
Years ago, we had a family on our club team who would not allow their kids to swim on Sundays because of their religious beliefs. Their kids were some of the fastest on the team and we sure missed them on relays — but again, it was their decision to make. Many extracurricular activities take kids out of the classroom — whether it’s sports, music, theater, etc. Hopefully, you have a school that is supportive if you choose to take your kids out of school for swim meets. What are your thoughts for Unexcused Absence Mom on swim meets scheduled during school
Please email Elizabeth Wickham at [email protected] if you have a question for “Ask SwimMom.”
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.