Ask Swim Mom: Why Tear Down a Team After Leaving?

by SwimSwam Contributors 11

February 20th, 2019 Lifestyle, Swim Mom

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

Dear Swim Mom,

Recently a family left our team and has been badmouthing us and the coach. If we decided to switch teams, we’d move forward with our decision and not look back. I don’t think these parents understand that they are hurting our swimmers including my own kids. Why do some people think it’s okay to tear down the team after they leave? I get that they’re making a different decision than us, but why not let it go at that?

Thanks for any help,

Troubled Team Player

Dear Troubled Team Player,

I think you make a good point about moving on with your life if you choose to switch teams. I honestly don’t know why some parents take actions or spread gossip that is harmful to their former team. Maybe it’s to justify their decision. Switching teams can be a difficult decision to make and some parents second guess themselves. Pointing out problems about their former team may reinforce their choice and make them feel better.

I don’t have advice for you on what to do about the family who left, except take the higher road. That’s really all we can do. Focus on your own family and team and enjoy your children’s experience. It all goes by so quickly. If you think there are valid reasons why a family left, maybe you can work to improve the situation, making your team better for everyone.

When a family does switch teams, as parents we shouldn’t badmouth the prior team. Our kids have friends on the old team—and who would want to harm their children’s friends? Second, what if the new team isn’t a good fit? What then? Will families be able to come back or did they burn their bridges? Third, swimming is a small world and we’re all in this community together. Spreading gossip or rumors isn’t a good look and doesn’t help anyone in our sport.

That’s why I believe it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a move. We may have reasons that justify a move like a long commute or inadequate coaching. If your child is unhappy with their current team, what will make them enjoy swimming with a new team? Hopefully, parents are making decisions that are in the best interest of their kids and not because of their own desires.

If there is a problem serious enough to make someone want to switch teams, please address it with the coaches or board. Give the team a chance to respond to the issue before giving up on them.

It’s a good idea to talk to former swimmers or current parents from the new team, without letting them know you’re considering a move. You may hear similar complaints or problems such as pool time, coach stability, etc. If you do decide to switch teams, be sure to tell your coach first. Plus, pay any money you owe to the team you’re leaving. Understand that there will be hurt feelings for a lot of your kid’s friends and families who are staying behind.

If everyone respects decisions and isn’t judgmental, then it can be easier for everyone. Keep in mind you may not know the whole story of why someone left. Remember, you’ll be seeing the family and swimmer at meets in the future.

What advice do you have for families leaving teams and those parents staying?

Do you have a question for “Ask Swim Mom?” If so, email Elizabeth Wickham at [email protected] and your question may appear in an upcoming column.

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 on deck with the dad of a family who moved from our current club two years ago. He is still so bitter about the circumstances that led to their move it was all he could talk about. Swimming is so expensive in terms of time, money, and emotional commitment that it can be hard to let bygones be bygones. Perhaps talking about, and being told, hey well great you found something that is better for your family is all he needs. It most certainly doesn’t affect me. Or my kid, who are at the “old club”. It’s a pretty objective sport. The clock doesn’t lie. I’m sorry that he carries this still, but I don’t really see impact… Read more »

Ice Age Swimmer
1 year ago

Guilt. Ego. Lack of gratitude.

1 year ago

More often than not, when a “swimmer” leaves one team for another, it’s not the swimmer that’s making the decision—it’s the parent/s. The parent/s–needing someone to “blame” for their kid not dropping time, not qualifying for the big meet, or not being on a relay–start blaming the coach. The kid–who may not be progressing simply because of not being that into swimming anymore and/or not putting in the effort at practice, or their early growth spurt isn’t such an advantage anymore–is perceptive and realizes that the coach is being “blamed” for their lack of progress instead of themselves, so the pressure from mom and dad is off! Now bad swims turn into bad meets and perhaps even an entire bad… Read more »