Shoutout To My Swim Parents

Let’s pretend that instead of me typing this, I am walking behind a live news reporter mouthing “hi mom and dad!!” on national television. While I quite literally would not be on this earth without my parents, I also would not have found the success I had in swimming without them. So, I decided that it was due time that I gave my parents a little shoutout. Here are a few little stories of things that my parents did for me that I, quite frankly, could never repay them for.

When I was probably about twelve years old, I moved up to a new practice group. I had been challenged in practice before this, but this was the first time I had been in a practice that was for truly dedicated, competitive swimmers… and it was hard. It was hard enough that when my Mom came to pick me up afterwards and I got in the car I cried. I’m not a crier, but I cried to my Mom on the way home that I didn’t think that I was good enough, that I couldn’t do it. My Mom looked at me, and said that it was going to be hard, but if I loved it enough to work for it, I could definitely do it. I showed back up at practice the next day, ready to go. I swam for ten more years after that conversation in the car, and I had many many more hard seemingly impossible practices. The difference? From that day on, I knew that I was capable.

I definitely did not realize this when I was younger, but my parents spent so much time in the car heading to a pool. Whether it was to pick me up from practice or driving to a meet, I literally could not have gotten to practice without them. I know they were happy the day that I got my drivers license and could drive myself to morning practice. My Dad actually taught me how to drive at 4:30 a.m. heading to morning practice. I’m pretty sure that only a swimmer could say that.

Let’s talk about food. I ate so much that on days I had two practices and school I had three different lunch boxes with food packed to take with me (breakfast, lunch, and snacks). What can I say, swimmer’s stay hungry ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . I usually tried to get all of this food together the night before, but on the days that I forgot, you know who was up at 4:15 helping me pull it together? That’s right, even when I could drive one of my parents might still get up to help me gather my feast for the day.

My parents assumed the roles that many swim parents get to take on, the role of volunteers. My Dad learned how to run the clocks when I was probably 8 years old, and he worked them at meets I was at from summer league to high school all the way to my college meets. You can actually still find my Dad at a swim meet from time to time working the clocks, even though he doesn’t have a child swimming in them anymore! Not trying to flex (yes I am) but he even worked the clock at a U.S. Open meet this past fall. If my Dad wasn’t there working the clocks, it would not have even mattered how fast (or slow lol) I went in a race because it would not have even shown up on the scoreboard. My Mom on the other hand has probably worked just about every other role at a meet except officiating. If you needed someone, my Mom was there. She also was on my club team’s board for about 10 years, so she’s worn many different hats (swim caps?).

Two words… Tech suits. My summer lifeguarding funds were not nearly enough to fund these babies, so my parents added these incorporated these into the budget every year or so. I am very very grateful for that. I am also grateful that after the first painful pinchy experience, my Mom never helped me put one on again 😉

Though I could never really hear when I was submerged in a race, I loved knowing my parents were there cheering me on. Whether it was in person, or they were watching online, knowing someone is cheering you on can give you that little extra umph for a race. My Mom had a tendency to try to record a race but get so excited that the video would be far too shaky. Those are really the best videos.

One of the things I am most grateful for, is that my parents never forced me to swim. Now, we had a couple conversations of “you committed to this season, so you need to finish it”, but I always knew that if I truly did not want to continue swimming, I always had a way out. Knowing that I was at swim practice because I wanted to be, not because I was being forced, helped me become a better swimmer. Since I wasn’t forced to be at practice, I actually wanted to be there. I missed very few practices because of this, and I was able to spend every day working to get a little bit better. Having this autonomy while also having an incredible support system truly shaped me into the swimmer I became. The only time either of my parents really made me do something for swimming, it was my senior year of high school. My Mom told me I needed to go on this one recruiting trip to a college that I didn’t want to go on… Well, long story short, I ended up loving it and going to swim there, so everything really does work out in the end.

These are just a few of the many, many things that I could talk about how my parents shaped me both as a swimmer and a person. I think it is important to note, that I was lucky to also have people in my life that I would consider my “bonus parents”. Among many, I will always be so grateful to the parents of my college roommate. When my parents couldn’t make it to a meet in college, they were always there to cheer me on and feed me. There are so many more people that I could add to the list of bonus parents, and I am so incredibly grateful to have had so many people cheer me on, they each deserve a shoutout of their own. So, whether it be your actual parents, or a bonus parent, use this as a sign to tell your swim parents thank you.

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Mark Nedza
1 month ago

Bringing back memories of getting at 4:15am so we could hit the water at exactly 5:15am. I think about all the years our coach was there every morning with few exceptions. When Coach Pete was late (rarely) or didn’t make it because of snow or sickness (almost never) we were thrilled to death! And, getting pulled over at 4:30 in the morning and the policeman looking into a car full of sleeping kids. Yeah, I don’t know how our parents did it, but the did. 👍

1 month ago

This is a beautiful tribute to your parents, but also to ALL parents who had children that were swimmers!

Ferry Princess
1 month ago

What a lovely piece of writing!! Your parents sure raised you right – congratulations on your successes in the pool and out!!

About Mary Northcutt

Mary Northcutt

Mary is a former 6-time All-American swimmer at Carson-Newman University. She technically was a 50-freestyler, but her favorite events were relays. She wrapped up her swimming career at the 2020 Division II National Championships in March. Since then, she has recently started her first year of Physical Therapy school at …

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