Swim Mom: 6 Tips for Parents About Changing Teams

by SwimSwam 15

September 19th, 2019 Lifestyle, Swim Mom

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

A perfect fit for one family may not work for another when it comes to swim teams. Two reasons for switching teams that help out the entire family are a better location or hours. Some choose to stay with their original club through ups, downs, plateaus and coach changes, while other families make changes several times. There’s no right or wrong, it’s what’s best for your family and swimmer. It’s not a decision to take lightly and it’s hard to come back to a team once you leave.

Here are six things to consider before changing teams:


Who wants the change?

Location and hours may be a driving force that will benefit the entire family. If the change is for other reasons, make sure the move is in the best interest of your swimmer. Are they on board with the move? Are they unhappy in their current situation? If they’re making progress, learning life lessons and enjoying their friends, you may want to think again about the move and the reasons for it.


Have you paid the bills?

Before you leave a team, make sure your don’t owe any outstanding money. If you switch teams and leave unpaid bills, you’re bringing an awkward problem to your new team and coach. It’s also a courtesy to let your child’s coach know you’re leaving. Take the high road forward on your new adventure.


Do your research.

You may hear amazing things about another team. Before you make the move, talk to former swimmers or current parents, without letting them know you’re considering a switch. They may have similar complaints to yours with their team, or ones you’re never thought about.


Don’t expect immediate results.

Making a move may be the perfect thing to spark renewed enthusiasm in your child. It can be exciting and fun to be the new kid. Or, it can be scary and confusing. Usually, when training is changed, improvement doesn’t show up right away. It can take months of a new regimen to see results. If your child improves immediately, it’s probably because of their work with their prior team.


Not every family will be happy.

You may find it surprising that parents you’ve spent long hours with at meets and volunteering for the team, may not understand why you’ve left. They could feel abandoned or hurt. If they’re rude when you see them at meets, there is no reason to respond the same way. Smile, hold your head up, and hopefully someday you’ll be back sharing laughs together and cheering for each other’s kids.


Work on the kids’ friendships.

If your swimmer doesn’t know kids on the new team, you can arrange time for them to get together outside of practice. If good friends are left behind, reach out so those friendships can continue to thrive. Just because they are not on the same team doesn’t mean close friendships should end. It will take more effort than when they were in the pool together six days a week, though.

What tips do you have for swim parents about changing teams?

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

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Rick Paine
1 year ago

Good stuff Elizabeth

A swim family
1 year ago

If my kid is a potential Olympic swimmer, I may consider all the above factors, or may switch to another city. Luckily my kid just likes the remained 90+% kids, works his tail off every day to barely get a A or BB cut, gut feeling is the only factor to consider.

Reply to  A swim family
1 year ago

As a former swimmer and now swim parent, it’s important to be honest with yourself. Based on what you wrote about ‘my kid’, what makes you think he’s “a potential Olympic swimmer”? He can still be very good and get a great deal out of the sport and at at the end of the day those lessons are far more important. Lessons like getting along with others, work ethic, working consistently toward a goal, etc. Oh, and perseverance and not quitting – think about that before changing teams.

Swim Mom
Reply to  Observor
1 year ago

If you read the entire post, he says Luckily his kid is like the 90%+ of other kids that work their tails off for that A or Bb cut.

Northern SwimParent
1 year ago

I will get a bunch of down votes on this but I suspect they will be from coaches and clubs that do not like having swimmers vote with their feet, whether it is a problem with the club or just not the right fit. I do not know why anyone else would have a problem with changing clubs when needed.

We switched clubs 3 times in less than 18 months.

– Our first club we were at for 2.5 years and it was no longer the right club for us.

– Our second club was a large club. We assumed that it was the right club just by its size. We were there for 5 months. It was probably the… Read more »

Reply to  Northern SwimParent
1 year ago

You’re absolutely right – if you’re buying shoes. Membership on an athletic team, and everything that comes with it, is not merely a transactional relationship. “Swimmers vote with their feet” was very telling in your post. Club membership should not be a constant scrutiny of “worth” or judgments. Near-term popularity contests are fabulous – when buying shoes. Investing in long-term development, being part of a team, taking the team seriously, weathering ups and downs, supporting decisions from those in authority (even those decisions that you disagree with), THOSE are the valuable life lessons that kids who club-hop will never know. I’m not a coach, nor a club representative. I’m a parent with two swim kids (teenagers) – in a major… Read more »

Northern SwimParent
1 year ago

I have to disagree with your post.

There is no reason someone should bear with a club for the sake of a life lesson. Our kids will have lots of opportunities for that in their life journey.

While there is a life’s lesson in the continuity of a single club, there is also a life lesson in meeting new swimmers and coaches and new practice and competition approaches.

Ideally, you want to be at a club that best aligns with your swimmer’s and your family’s needs. To do otherwise makes no sense. And for sure, there will be times when we will not agree with something our current club does but that will be same at all clubs. … Read more »

Reply to  Northern SwimParent
1 year ago

“Think Again”, I’m not sure if he is is trolling or just completely unaware of how he is sounding like “that parent.”

1 year ago

Here is my advice for parents, after a decade of age group parenting. Find a club with a good coach that is the cheapest for family budget and let you child enjoy it. Until age 15, nothing matters anyway. Then you will figure out if she or he can be a really really good or not – then based on that decide what to do next 2 years.

1 year ago

” It’s also a courtesy to let your child’s coach know you’re leaving. ”
how else would you let them know?

Swim Mom
Reply to  Sam
1 year ago

If you are on a team where the coach is not responsible for the financial transactions, it’s possible. On a YMCA team, for example, mom might only need to stop by the front desk and fill out a form. Then the coach finds out from them or from the new team when they get the transfer form.

Corn Pop
1 year ago

7) Make sure the new teams’s swimwear suit your kids in cut & style .& your values .of presentation .both in training & competition. .

1 year ago

Jean-paul Sartre in the 1950s once observed that, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Think about that carefully before deciding to change teams. New team, same swimmer. Most swimmers and parents, before changing teams, would be well served to look inward and be brutally honest with themselves about ‘why’ the current team ‘just isn’t working out’. Think about the fact that your current team likely has produced a lot of excellent, happy swimmers – why them, and not you? Sometimes a change is justified, but all too often swimmers and their parents would be better served by staying with the team and making that program start working for them.

1 year ago

This is a far better article on this topic than the previous one.

There is no one right answer for everyone. In any case the swimmers will always be USA Swimming members and as long as they are enjoying swimming, working hard and progressing – no harm done. Just be careful in metropolitan areas, where there is a lot of choice, that you’re not entertaining moving as a way to keep yourself involved in your swimmer’s adventure. Much better to stay put and officiate instead. Or, sit on the board or a committee and help steer the club in the direction you want it to go. Good lesson for your children as well, don’t leave – make what you have… Read more »