Six Thoughts For Swim Parents About Best Times

by SwimSwam Contributors 9

November 22nd, 2016 Lifestyle

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

This weekend, I wore a neon vest and volunteered for the Piranha Swim Team’s Thanksgiving BRW meet as a deck marshal. Although I no longer have a swimmer on the team, I swim masters and several of us volunteered for a couple of hours walking around the deck telling kids “don’t run” or “that lane is closed.”

While volunteering, I overheard several parents wondering why their kids weren’t getting best times. Although it’s best not to focus on our swimmers’ times, in reality, it’s hard not to.

Here are a few thoughts about best times for parents of older kids:


When your child is in high school, they will not drop time each swim, especially early in the season—unless their name is Katie Ledecky.


Don’t compare their times at a November meet to their championship meet last season. A better comparison would be how they swam at the same time the year before. You may see some improvement.


Some kids only swim fast at their target meet. They will not drop time without a tech suit and a taper.


Many kids hit a plateau and it’s tough on them. Our concern won’t make it any better but may make it worse. Swimming off events or focusing on technique may help your swimmer break through a plateau.


Volunteer at the meet. You’ll do something good for the community and have fun. You’ll be too busy to worry about times.


Enjoy watching your child having fun with their teammates in the warm-up lanes or under the pop-up tent. You may see a breakthrough moment. Maybe your swimmer will overcome race anxiety, or maybe you’ll notice your teenager reaching out to younger swimmers on the team.

What are your thoughts about parents and best times? What do you focus on besides the times?

Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club elizabeth-wickhamteam 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.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Debra Merritt
6 years ago

Great article..thank you! I hope every parent reads it!!!

6 years ago

Yes it is true! Difficult not to dwell on times. I am so happy about volunteering and seeing the friends she’s made outside of school. When a girl at school was bugging her my daughter said “it’s ok mom, I’m going to swim it off”.

6 years ago

So very true ! It is tough to watch at times though ☹️️. But I’m sure it’s far tougher for our kids !

6 years ago

My daughter had her worst experience this weekend at a swimmeet. While checking her heat and lane she overheard 2 girls talking and pointed at her name. Seeded last with a LC time one of the girls said “I feel sorry for her, she’s too slow. I don’t want to be her” and started laughing. My daughter was hurt and wanted to cry. She swam the last heat, got her best time and finished 4/10. She even swam with one of the girls who made fun of her and beat her.
I wish for sportsmanship for these age group because best times does matter. If she gains and has a bad swim she goes straight to the warm down… Read more »

Reply to  SwimMom
6 years ago

This is something she will face throughout life both in and out of the pool. People will make an ignorant comment and never know that they are in the wrong. Best practice is to giggle with the girls and say, “Ha! They seeded me with my long course time! I should be able to beat that!” She accomplishes two things: corrects the error without making the girls feel dumb and manages the situation by diffusing the conflict. She develops a great life skill and hopefully these girls learn a lesson.

Adrian Pineda
6 years ago

How can parents control their anxiety and competivness …specially if they are good Age groupers??? I try to leave everything to the coach and be quiet …But mmmmm

6 years ago

My daughter has joined a new team this year after a 2 year hiatus from swimming. It’s nice to see her having fun, cheering on her team mates and focusing on other things than her times! At only 10 she left a team that was too intense and focused on times and meets other than nurturing the other side of sports like friendships and love of healthy body and sportsmanship. As coaches it’s important to build relationships within the team and have activities in and outside of the pool especially for our little ones!

6 years ago

#3 me

Tim Foley
6 years ago

Great Perspective!