Ask Swim Mom: Should Kids Miss School For Meets?

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.

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1 year ago

Obviously if it was a regular thing it would be an issue.

Kids I coach miss one school day a year for state championships.

My attitude has always been that it is really a non issue and missing a single school day to allow your child to pursue their swimming goals isn’t a big deal.

If it was a regular occurence my opinion on that would likely change, and if a family strongly opposed my stance I wouldn’t bother pushing the issue.

Parents who rely on coaches to make these decisions on their behalf are kidding themselves.

1 year ago

A day here and there for a big meet worked to my swimmers benefit because it motivated them to communicate with their teachers and do get ahead work on the prior weekends. They would eat, nap, and do some light studying in between prelims and finals and also study on the plane or in the car. At the end of the day, I believe they did more than most of their classmates who were in school on that missed day. It also sets them up for college sports where missing class depending on the travel schedule could happen 2 times a month etc in-season. But it’s up to the parent and child at the end of the day. If a… Read more »

Reply to  Swammer
1 year ago

Best. Reply. Ever.

1 year ago

If the schools were actually teaching the kids every day maybe it would matter. The reality is that there are tons of wasted school days where the kids do next to nothing so until they fix that I’m okay with missing school for just about any good reason you have. My youngest.took the exit exam and skipped senior year cause she was so bored with high school.

Reply to  Taa
1 year ago

Downvotes for denial

Reply to  Taa
1 year ago

It sounds like your student athlete(s) are either pretty young or not taking a rigorous course load. My daughter is in the highest level classes and has spoken to her teachers about missing class, getting the work done early, etc. We spoke at parent-teacher conferences about her concern for missing days. Her teachers overwhelmingly agreed that missing school for high level meets and college visits was extremely important to her individual growth and achievement of her goals. It’s a decision our family made though, from a young age. There were times she or some of her teammates missed sessions due to something critical at school, and people understood.

Reply to  Taa
1 year ago

That’s a massive generalization and an insult to a lot of hard-working teachers. That was the reality for your student, doesn’t necessarily translate into other’s experience. Maybe an engaged attitude instead of “bored”, involvement in other activities could have made her HS experience worth sticking around for. That being said, I am fine with a student missing occasionally for a meet or any other personal reasons.

1 year ago

We’re so glad our son’s Div. 3 college team and (Midwest) Conference schedule their training/events around key academic dates.
They’re on a trimester system with the first one ending before Thanksgiving. Then, while other students are on a 6-week break, the team returns to school Dec. 1 to train intensively for two weeks and goes on a training trip to Florida before Christmas. So, no academic conflicts during heavy training load in December.
Meets are typically on Saturday. The one home meet scheduled on a Friday is after all classes are done for the day.
Most special swim training sessions are Tues. and Thurs., since students have most of their classes M-W-F.
Conference Championships (3 days)… Read more »

1 year ago

They shouldn’t, but do they have a choice?!

1 year ago

If the kid is keeping up, academically, and they don’t miss school regularly for other things, it should be fine. I’ve had plenty of kids who miss for sectionals and junior nats and are also great students.

I had a swimmer a few years ago who had never missed a day of school, and there was some district recognition on the line if you had perfect attendance from k-12 grade. As she got into high school and qualified for sectionals, her family had to deal with the dilemma of whether she would swim all of sectionals and forgo the chance to have perfect attendance at school. Her guidance counselors made a huge deal about it and tried to pressure her… Read more »

Reply to  sven
1 year ago

Bravo on the delivery. The end of that 2nd paragraph slays hard.

The Importer AND Exporter
1 year ago

Ultimately it’s a matter if understanding your swimmer’s goals in and out of the pool, being realistic about potential outcomes (i.e. there is a point in time when it’s pretty obvious your kid isn’t going to swim for Texas or that swimming doesnt come with full rides for everyone), and finding the appropriate balance of school and other activities.

Also 100% agree with other commenters who stress that YOU NEED TO BE THE PARENT. Trust but verify with your coaches and work to understand their motives, and be willing to say no on behalf of your swimmer. Our current coach is a swimming above all else type who couldn’t care less about academics (scheduling morning practice over school time… Read more »

1 year ago

Of course it’s up to the parents but it makes me wonder, why are they scheduled on school days? Are other sports scheduled on school days as well? I know High School sports require kids to leave early on some days but rarely miss a full day. Our team has 4 or 5 travel meets that require missing a day (or 2 for Champs). Like others said, missing a single day is not big deal but missing 4/5 or 6 seems like a lot. Why don’t they just do them on Sat/Sun and have fewer events? Would save parents a bunch of money on hotels too!

Reply to  Kswim
1 year ago

Yes, other sports are scheduled on school days. Almost all of them, in fact.

At the last school I coached at, swimming was strongly encouraged to not have any meets on school days. Other teams would routinely miss Fridays, sometimes Thursdays and Fridays. Theatre kids missed a whole week of school before their annual musical.

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

For young kids? I should’ve made the distinction about age in my post. I feel like everything about swimming can change in High School (more practices, morning practices and missing school for meets), I’m just not sure it’s necessary to have young kids miss school for a meet

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Curious to know what sports you refer to and whether we’re talking during the day or at night.

Reply to  Kswim
1 year ago

My son’s middle school (6-8th grade) will have in-school basketball games and all the kids get out of class and go watch the game, usually 2-3/season. I believe he will only miss one day of school for a swim meet.

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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