Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham
It’s that exciting time of year when our swimmers get to reap the rewards of months of hard work. “What is championship meet season all about? It’s a celebration, it’s supposed to be fun,” said Tim Hill, head coach of the SHARKS Swim Club in Friendswood, Texas. “Positive energy and attitude can have a good impact—even when someone has a disappointing swim.”
According to Hill, championship meet season is about celebrating with teammates and friends. “After months of preparation, it’s time to step up to give your best effort without worrying about the outcome, making time standards or beating so and so,” he said. He sees success when his swimmers get out of the pool and know they put forth great intensity and effort. He enjoys “watching swimmers when they finish a great swim or effort. They struggle to get out of the pool or touch the wall and can’t stop smiling.” He recommends taking one race at a time and learning from each one. “The process is the fun part of the journey.”
Here are five tips for on what parents can do to help their children have fun during championship meets:
Focus on effort over results.
If we focus too much on performance and don’t realize it’s a process with ups and downs, we may put too much pressure on our kids. One of the causes of performance anxiety in kids is not wanting to let their parents down.
Support your kids with nutritious foods and plenty of sleep.
Understand that if your child is on taper, they may be bouncing off the walls, but they need to rest and get plenty of sleep. We also can make sure they’re hydrating well and provide recovery food and drinks like chocolate milk after swimming.
Things can happen out of our control.
Life like swimming, doesn’t occur in a straight line. There are bound to be ups and downs. We aren’t 100% in our jobs or relationships every single day, and our kids won’t necessarily be 100% at every meet, either. It’s disappointing to have your child get the flu during the championship meet, but sometimes those things happen.
Cheer for your team.
College conference meets are so much fun for parents because we come together as a team, cheering for each other’s kids. There is less focus on the individual and more on the team’s score at college meets. I think age group championship meets could benefit from more focus on the team, too.
Don’t question the coach’s taper in front of our kids.
Parents may worry their child isn’t getting enough attention from the coach or they may question the taper. But we shouldn’t bring up these concerns with our children, because they could lose confidence. So much of swimming is between the ears and we don’t want them to doubt their coach or themselves. After the meet is over, if we still have questions why something happened, we can go directly to the source and ask the coach.
What other tips do you have for swim parents during the championship season?
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.