by Elizabeth Wickham
Have you ever heard that swim parents should act more like grandparents? This nugget of advice comes from Mike Koleber, Head Coach of Nitro Swimming, one of USA Swimming’s Gold Medal clubs. I agree with this idea—especially at meets. For example, my dad—a grandpa—approaches swim meets very differently than I do. I believe that if I could adopt his outlook, I’d be calmer and happier at swim meets.
Here are my observations of how grandparents act at swim meets and what we can learn from them:
Happy to be there.
Grandparents are thrilled to be a part of their grandkids’ lives. They are content to sit back at a meet and watch. You rarely see a grandparent pacing up and down the pool deck. They enjoy the entire spectacle of the crowds, watching little ones try to swim fly, and are thrilled to watch their grandkids race. If they can get a few words in with their grandkids to tell them how great they’re doing, it’s a bonus.
Not focused on results.
Grandparents are more removed from the competitive aspect of meets than parents. They see the big picture and realize this is a tiny slice of our lives. They aren’t overly concerned if it’s a best time or a win. They’re proud no matter what. It’s a win-win for them to share in the experience and see their grandkids participate in a healthy activity.
Won’t challenge officials or coaches.
In my 15 years on the pool deck, I’ve seen a few parents confront officials or coaches. Not very many, mind you. But, I’ve never seen a grandparent do that. Have you? They would never think of criticizing the coach or try and coach their grandkids themselves.
Loves the snack bar.
My dad looks at a juicy hamburger from our snack bar as a treat. It’s part of the experience of swim meets that he genuinely looks forward to. How many parents have that attitude? Or, do we think, “Not snack bar food, again?” Grandparents find joy in the little things.
You can read more advice from top swim coaches in the latest issue of SwimSwam Magazine. To subscribe to the magazine, click here: http://swimswam.com/magazine/
In what other ways do you think we should we be more like grandparents at swim meets?
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.