Ask Swim Mom: When The Thrill Is Gone

by SwimSwam Contributors 7

August 14th, 2020 Swim Mom

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

Dear Swim Mom, 

With all the changes in swimming this year, my son has lost interest to return to swimming. Our local pool reopened but they don’t allow teams to practice. So if my son is going to swim, it’s on his own with workouts from the coach.  

I thought taking a break would make him more motivated than ever, but he said he doesn’t know if he still wants to swim. I’ve tried to ask why, but he just shrugs his shoulders. He is starting high school this year, although the first month will be remotely and we don’t have word on if there will be high school swimming or not.

How can I motivate him to get back to the pool? Any advice you have will be appreciated.


—Seriously Concerned Mom


Dear Seriously Concerned Mom,

This has been a tough time for the swimming community. Hopefully, in a few months, things will seem more normal with your team being allowed to practice and your son will want to return to swimming. I think it’s all the uncertainty and not swimming with a team that is causing your son to lose motivation. Also, doing workouts on his own is hard for anyone. Friendships with teammates and the relationship with a coach motivates many swimmers to keep them going. Maybe he can invite one of his teammates to workout at the same time?

I’ve heard from other parents that their children don’t want to return to the pool because they are afraid they are too out of shape and won’t be as fast as they used to be. That is a fear that is real. Maybe you can talk to him and explain that it will take time to get back to where he left off, but getting back in shape may be quicker than he thinks. He might even find that the break from swimming will help him out mentally. When he returns, he may love swimming more than ever.

His feelings are completely understandable and valid. You have to accept what he’s going through and love him at the moment, how he is. Interest in his sport may come and go and come back stronger at another date. Or, he might find motivation in another area of his life.

Motivation is internal. We can’t motivate our kids, but we can inspire them. We can give them resources, support and a healthy environment. But in the end, it’s our children who are motivated, we can’t do it for them. We can offer unconditional love regardless of what they choose to be passionate about.

What advice do you have for Seriously Concerned Mom on how to help her son want to return to the pool?

If you have a question for Ask Swim Mom, please email Elizabeth Wickham 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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1 year ago

I was a B1G swimmer. My oldest swam in college. My youngest lost her fire in March of her sophomore year. She told me at Spring State she needed a break. I made her stay active just in case. She had been swimming since she was 5. I assumed she’d go back. I signed her up for a rowing camp. She fell in love. Her love grew into desire and ability and now she’s a Div1 top 20 rower.
Sometimes letting them drive is the best thing.

1 year ago

At that age, the answer really is simple (and the same as suggested in the article is longer terms). Force them back, and guarantee they either never return immediately or you kill their love of the sport and pretty much ensure burnout.

Or let them take their path, and they will either take a new direction in life, or find their way back to the pool on their own with a renewed love of the sport that will carry them for years.

1 year ago

Personally I don’t see any of it as fear of uncertainty for my daughter. She is now a college freshman, swimming for a D2 school. She enjoys college practice but really would not be disappointed if there wasn’t a season this year, and is questioning if she will swim next year at all. This was NOT how she felt pre-Covid. What she did realize through Covid shut down was that swimming was no longer fun. Somewhere along the way, coaching focused more on performance and expectations, goals and outcomes from a season rather than the fun and social aspects of swimming. Don’t get me wrong, those things need to be important. But there needs to be a balance. When the… Read more »

2 years ago

From a coach’s perspective almost 100% of our kids are faster now “in-season” than they were in March. I hated the quarantine, but many of our kids did drylands as offered and that additional strength and athleticism is paying off. The initial 3-4 were easing in and then we made the most of 90 minute practices for our senior kids. So for any kid worrying about speed, it is there and it will come back if they are patient through the first few weeks of feeling weird and out of shape.

Reply to  swimfl
2 years ago

I would agree from a boys standpoint. For the swimmers that are still in high school or younger and don’t lift weights, I don’t necessarily agree.

No one
2 years ago

At that age, I insisted the kids participate in some athletic endeavor. He’ll likely pick the pool and if he doesn’t, forcing it won’t work.

2 years ago

Completely agree with the moms here. I have a rising senior, and although our club team has been able to practice in small groups throughout the pandemic, not having March championships has hurt the recruiting process. Compounding the problem is the remote learning, constant cancellation of standardized tests and no in person communication with college coaches. I know I’m preaching to the choir here on this site. We’ve been so incredibly blessed to have so many professional athletes hopping on calls, doing podcasts and providing ideas that it’s kept my swimmer inspired. The club team is planning to have an intrasquad meet, and I’m hoping that having a chance to race will help further. I found one of the ideas… Read more »