Less Is More in Swim Parenting

by SwimSwam Contributors 6

December 04th, 2018 Lifestyle, Swim Mom

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

I’m reading a funny book with great ideas called “Bare Minimum Parenting: The Ultimate Guide to Not Quite Ruining Your Child.” Although I haven’t finished it yet, the main point I’ve gotten so far is not to be an overachieving parent. The author James Breakwell explains that you can save a lot of time and energy by not trying so hard and not being competitive with other parents—and your kids will turn out just fine.

If you take that approach and transfer it to the swimming world, you may find the same results. Your kids will be happy, well-adjusted, self-sufficient and swim about the same or better than if you are overly involved.

Here are seven tips to try the less is more approach in swim parenting:


Our kids don’t need the best suit ever made at age 10, regardless of what other families are buying their kids.


We can be students of swimming technique to increase our own knowledge, but we don’t have to critique our children’s strokes.


We can talk about things other than swimming with our kids. Our homes do not have to be swimming 100 percent, all the time.


We can allow our kids to interact with their coach. We don’t have to be on deck everyday asking questions or for a review of what they need to work on.


Our kids don’t have to be on the biggest team to enjoy swimming or with the most famous coach to have a great swimming career.


We can help our kids’ teams wherever we’re needed—without taking over, becoming president, and putting in more hours than everyone else. Our kids will still respect us and the pool will be their space, instead of ours.


You don’t need to know the times from every race and for every other swimmer to be a great swim parent. The times are only one part of swimming. They offer a snapshot of our children’s progress in swimming.

In what other ways do you think that less is more in swim parenting?

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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Swim Parent
2 years ago

Actually, as the President of our club team, I would say that number 6 should be removed. We already have a difficult enough time getting parents to be involved and volunteer to work meets and donate time and/or items. For clubs to be run well, we need more parent involvement from more parents, not less.

Reply to  Swim Parent
2 years ago

I think the point was meant not to deter volunteering but being mindful of how it impacts your athlete. There are lots of ways to be involved that are behind the scenes allowing for your swimmer to have their space and be self sufficient(if that is a concern).

Reply to  Swim Parent
2 years ago

I like #6. These parents exist at every club…they think they are powerful because they have important jobs and a direct line to the coach. I’ve seen parents way overstep in this role, talking down to other parents, making assumptions, and treating some swimmers as second class citizens because they aren’t yet as fast as the head volunteer’s kid (gotta love it when they pass them at age 16). Parents, this is you, if you served in a head role and made swimming your entire life.

2 years ago

We consider one of our important tasks to be making sure our son has fun. He works hard and we know it. So we just make sure he’s doing all the socializing and activities outside the pool so that everything is not about practice and meets.

2 years ago

#8- if you’re writing an article for SwimSwam you are probably the parent you are talking about not being.

Mama Coach
Reply to  Guy
2 years ago

We face the predicament of being coaching parents. It all started when we had no coach, no pool, no club in 2013. We are also a self-confessed swim family. Having said that, we have rules. Coach at pool and Mom and dad at home. We have boxes. Swim box open, swim box close. We understand that parents are also passionate about the sport and it is needed. But we do recommend closing that swim box and what happens at the pool, stays at the pool. If we can do it, swim parents can too.