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