Ask Swim Mom: Should Meets Be Electronic Free?

by SwimSwam Contributors 9

March 12th, 2020 Swim Mom

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

Hi Elizabeth,

I would like to ask you about your thoughts on swimmers using cell phones during swim meets.

At the beginning of this Winter season, our swim club went ‘Electronic Free.’ As the head swim coach, I have personally seen positive changes. There are some older swimmers and helicopter parents, of course, who challenge the rule. Swimmers may listen to music, which I am not opposed to.

I wanted your thoughts on the benefits on swimmers (or team) being electronic free, reasons why club teams are changing or looking into becoming electronic free during meets and anything relevant to why a team should entertain the thought.

Any information would be greatly appreciated.


Coach Edie

Dear Coach Edie,

I think this is a great topic and it will be interesting to get feedback from the swim community. I recently heard about a team that is looking into becoming electronic free. The issue was some of the team’s tweens taking selfies and photos in the locker room, which breaks privacy laws in some states and facilities. The swimmers were being suspended or kicked off the team and new rules about cell phones are being discussed. An electronic free pool zone would definitely solve this problem.

Our kids started out in age group swimming when smartphones weren’t an issue. Most kids didn’t have them, especially when they were young. The kids sat together under pop-up tents and played games like cards, “Catchphrase” and invented word games. They looked so happy having fun together. As they got older and smartphones became more common, I watched as they sat next to their teammates, focused on their phones, but not communicating directly with each other. Cyberbullying occurred on my kids’ high school swim team—and it was all done through smartphones at meets. I miss those earlier days where everyone looked happier and more like a team.

I asked my daughter if they had rules about cell phones during college meets. She said there were no rules against cell phones, but at dual meets they didn’t have time for them. They needed to warm up, race and warm down in a short period. Plus, she said they were too busy cheering for their teammates when they weren’t in the pool. The only time they used cell phones was during longer meets like midseason or conference meets.

Personally, I like the idea of meets being electronic free with the exception of music. But, I wonder how hard it would be to enforce this? The past 10 to 15 years has seen a dramatic change in everyone’s cell phone usage—for both children and parents. I think it would be great for everyone to be more in the moment at swim meets.

Thanks for bringing up this topic.


What are your thoughts on cell phone use at meets? Do you think banning cell phones at meets would be helpful to swimmers and the team? In what ways?

If you have a question for Elizabeth Wickham, please email her at [email protected]

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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6 months ago

Looking at Meet Mobile on one’s phone certainly adds value. It’s especially useful in immediately providing all the splits, helpful in longer races and relays, and in providing accurate score updates.

6 months ago

I would also like to say that the same thing applys to hs swimming (as college swimming). In high school swimming, since the dual meets are about team scores, you dont even really think about using your phone because of how quick the meet is and how exciting it is to watch your teamates race. I feel in club meets, its more common that kids are on their phone because the meet is really long and a lot of the heats do not have their teammates in the race so they dont want to watch. It’s tough to have kids watch 8 hests of 500 frees.

6 months ago

See it’s cool to see this thread. Our coach doesn’t allow phones during a meet for the fact that while you are playing on your phone you could be cheering for your team. I agree with it because it gets us excited to swim seeing our teammates swimming. And not trapped on social media.