One Tip for Swim Parents – Enjoy the Process

by SwimSwam 16

November 19th, 2014 Club, College, Lifestyle, Opinion

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

NC State Parents-TB1_8192-I’ve noticed that swim parents — myself included — get way too caught up in the moment — especially at swim meets. We are thrilled when our swimmers drop time and win races. It’s so exciting! Is there a better feeling than watching your swimmer come from behind and touch the wall before everyone else?

It’s disheartening to watch your swimmer swim slow, come in last, or not get a best time. My daughter plateaued for a year and a half several years ago. It was tough to go to meet after meet when she wasn’t getting personal bests. She stuck with it and managed to break out of that plateau, but I’m telling you it was a hard 18 months.

Even though her times weren’t improving, it didn’t mean she was at a standstill. Her character was growing. She learned how to handle disappointment. How to persevere. Sometimes the bad swims are the ones where our kids learn the most. I’m not a coach, but I’m hoping her coaches saw improvement in her strokes and ability to focus and work hard.

Evan Pinion will swim for Tennessee next year.

Evan Pinion will swim for Tennessee next year.

My tip of the week is to slow down, let go and enjoy the process.

Don’t compare your swimmer with teammates or competitors. They make progress in separate events and they grow and mature at different times. Why on earth compare your swimmer’s 50 free to her teammates and wonder why your swimmer isn’t as fast? It’s okay for your child to be competitive and push themselves by racing teammates — but parents — stay out of it!

Enjoy this unique experience we’ve been granted. Be a supportive swim parent through the ups and downs. Trust me. Your swimmer’s time will come. You’ll discover your time as a swim parent races away all too quickly.

Elizabeth WickhamElizabeth 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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6 years ago

Good thing the late Al Davis wasn’t a swim parent. “Just win baby!”

6 years ago

Great article with lots of accurate info

6 years ago

Fun to watch the progress. The coaching team can make all the difference in how you child improved.

6 years ago

Being a swim parent is tough. Every child’s performance is quantified by their times and you can’t ignore it. You can try to put on a big smile, but it’s not easy to hide the fact that your child came in last and has the time of the 2 age group below. Luckily, things have turned around for my child and swimming has become a positive experience.

Reply to  Allen
6 years ago

Allen.. I’ll tell you what I tell my 9 year old. When you race, you have only one real opponent, the clock. I try to focus on work ethic and technique. Encourage the kids and make sure they’re working hard and doing what they’re told. The times will come.

Reply to  SailfishDad
6 years ago

Looks like you didn’t see my last sentence where I said things have turned around and swimming has become a positive experience. It has become a positive experience because my son has learned to love swimming and enjoy the hard work to become a better swimmer. Before, he swam because we wanted him to try it as his first sport. Now it’s his choice to swim and work hard at it.

swim mom
6 years ago

Totally agree. Even Olympic athletes don’t win every race every time.

6 years ago

I get the impression that some of the parents who commented before me completely missed the point of the article. What do you want your kids to get out of swimming? Is it really completely dependent on them swimming fast, or not finishing in last place? Is swimming only a positive experience if they are winning, or scoring ribbons/medals? At my kid’s club, there are 14-year olds that have slower times than some of the 10-year olds, but they come to practice, work hard, and enjoy their friends & being part of the team. Maybe if they keep at it, they can swim on the JV team in high school, and it will be one of the best experiences of… Read more »

swim mom
Reply to  Ferb
6 years ago

I agree. It’s all about perspective. Take a swim meet our family went to just last weekend. A tiny little 7-year-old girl was swimming 100 fly for the 1st time ever. Honestly, none of us were sure if she’d be able to make it the whole way without getting DQ’d, but her coach was great and said, “The only way you’ll know is if you try.” My kids and a bunch of their other teammates from their practice group went over to cheer her on. She didn’t get DQ’d and it wasn’t the fastest butterfly, but a huge win nonetheless for that little kid. She had a huge grin on her face all afternoon. It was great watching the kids… Read more »

B Parent
6 years ago

My kids swam for 15years. My daughter started near the bottom of the pack. She learned how to persevere, time manage, team spirit, volunteer, and how to be coached. She also ended up swimming 5 years at University, 3years as team captain, long after the natural talent early winners had dropped out. Most of her University team mates went on to do professions such as engineering, physio, dental, dietitian, pharmacy. That is where the time management helps.

6 years ago

Yeah I think some folks don’t get it. You really only race yourself against the clock. You are just trying to improve. Who cares if you are last or not. If you are working hard and put in the time eventually the time drops will come and those are the best. Sure there are times when you don’t drop for a long time. Many swimmers can’t handle that and drop out. The kid the keeps at it and keeps putting forth the effort eventually wins in the game of life.

I say this all the time. I respect any kid the gets up on the block meet after meet. Because when you step up on the block you have… Read more »