Ask Swim Mom: What Do I Say When My Child Misses Their Cut?

Dear Swim Mom,

I need some advice on how to handle a certain situation.

My daughter is now nine. She needs to hit a qualifying time to be in our big meet coming up. She missed it this weekend by a few tenths of a second in several events.

She’s really put on brave face, but it does sting her a bit to be the only one in her group of friends that hasn’t qualified, yet.

She’s a little discouraged at the moment. She’s a hard worker and never misses practice. Her coach said she always gives 110%. But now she’s down in the dumps that her hard work didn’t translate to a qualifying time.

Just wanted to know what’s the best thing to tell her and pep her up.

Thanks for any advice,

Agonizing Age Group Mom


Dear Agonizing Age Group Mom,

Thanks for your question. I feel for your daughter and you! We experienced something similar when my daughter was nine. The girls in her age group were competing to be on the relay for our So Cal Junior Olympics meet, which was their biggest meet of the season. The four with the fastest 50 free times at the “last ditch” meet would be selected. The entire season our daughter was first or second fastest and at that one meet she was fifth! She was crying in the warm down lanes until everyone left the meet. My dad had gone to the meet with us and he chastised me for putting her in such a competitive sport and pressurized situation. I don’t know if my personal story helps you, but I definitely relate to what you’re going through.

I found through the years that when my kids tried too hard, they would miss their cuts by fractions of seconds. One of our favorite coaches told me that our kids had to be having fun to swim fast. He said that when they tried too hard, or thought too much, they tightened up and didn’t swim as well as when they were happy and having fun.

Make sure your daughter is having fun and isn’t too focused on times. At nine years old, they need to have fun to stick with it. Sometimes missing a goal can be fuel to try harder the next time. Reassure her that there are many more big meets in her future and that if she keeps working hard, she will see results.

If she doesn’t make it to the big meet you can treat her to a fun activity that day, or even go to the meet and cheer on her teammates. Also, be sure to tell her from time to time that you love to watch her swim.

Good luck!

What advice do you have for Agonizing Age Group Mom?

If you have a question for “Ask Swim Mom,” please email Elizabeth Wickham at [email protected] and your question may be in an upcoming article.

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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James Ash
2 years ago

Fantastic advice. Going to the meet to cheer the relay team on she didn’t make is huge! It just might make the difference for them getting any medal at all or a meet record. And they will never forget her for it.

JOSEPH / coley
2 years ago

Tell them you didn’t make the cut because you didn’t train hard enough! please stay off the video games
do other sports and stay athletic. the cuts are for average swimmers not above average swimmers

Reply to  JOSEPH / coley
2 years ago


Joseph Condorelli
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Braden that’s not nice lol

2 years ago

The mom needs to show some initiative and taper her daughter on her own by holding her out of a few practices. All the parents do it

Reply to  Taa
2 years ago

27 people didn’t get your humor..