by Elizabeth Wickham
We sign our kids up for swimming for many reasons, like water safety and physical fitness. Along the journey, we recognize side effects—chlorine-bleached hair, extra loads of towels to wash and huge appetites.
Of course, there are other side effects: learning time management, perseverance, humility, respect, goal setting and more. Whether it’s being named team captain, teaching newbies to swim, planning an intra squad meet or just being a good teammate, leadership opportunities are floating around the pool.
Here are five leadership traits learned through swimming:
ONE – Confidence
Mastering new skills, swimming in meets, and handling school work and a year-round swim schedule builds self confidence—which is crucial to leadership. Self confidence isn’t built when everyone gets a participation trophy. There’s an aura of self confidence among swimmers that not everyone has.
TWO – Character
Swimmers know their own strengths and weaknesses. They know what happens if they cheat in a hard set or skip practice. The results are based on a clock. It’s a harsh sport where excuses don’t cut it and character is key.
THREE – Competition
Competition can be a daily occurrence in practice as well as big meets. Competition is the motivating and driving force to be better and to strive for improvement. Leaders are highly competitive people who want to win.
FOUR – Teamwork
I’ve heard over and over from soccer and baseball parents that swimming is an individual sport and our kids are cheated from participating on a team. Did they miss watching the Olympics and how excited the entire team was for individual swimmers—or relays? There’s plenty of teamwork to go around on the pool deck. Getting along and cheering for teammates are slivers of the teamwork our kids experience.
FIVE – Respect
Our kids learn to respect their coach, teammates and the process. It’s a sport where kids respect each other for talent, hard work and success. In return, they learn what it takes to be respected.
What other leadership traits do your kids learn in the pool?
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.