Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
Whether it’s a t-shirt, cap or a bag tag, these little things in swimming mean a whole lot to our swimmers. As a swim parent, I will never forget my daughter’s tough competition to make the Junior Olympic relay team in the 9-10 age group. The coach said at “last ditch” with one spot undecided for the relay, whoever had the fastest 50 free would earn that coveted spot. The mom of the girl who won said, “She just really wanted that JO cap!” Of course she did. They all did.
The next season, all the young girls who tried for that relay earned their own JO caps. They wore them like badges of honor at age group meets.
Why are these little things so important to swimmers?
The little items represent hard work and perseverance. It’s not the cap or t-shirt itself that is valuable, but that effort and achievement are recognized.
These small rewards for milestones are an affirmation that our swimmers made it to the next level.
Unlike a medal or a ribbon that may be stashed in a shoe box or drawer, the bag tags from big meets are reminders of accomplishments every time swimmers throw their bags over their shoulders.
Wearing a t-shirt that says “National Team” or “Summer Championship Team” makes swimmers feel that they belong to a select group.
These small rewards are motivating not only to the swimmers who earn them, but for those younger kids coming up behind them. They see the older kids with their multiple bag tags and t-shirts from higher level meets and think, “Someday that will be me!”
What to do with all the t-shirts.
I found it nearly impossible to throw away my kids’ swim t-shirts. After years and years of swimming, that’s a whole lot of t-shirts. My son asked me to make a memory quilt his senior year of high school. Since I hadn’t sewn anything since home ec in junior high, I was doubtful about the project. I found an easy to follow video from the Missouri Quilt Company and I finished my son’s quilt before he left for college. I did the same for my daughter and they do use them and treasure the memories those quilts hold. The good news is there are companies that will make t-shirt quilts for your swimmers, as well.
Why do you think these small rewards are so important to our swimmers?
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.