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.

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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