Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham
We’ve all met self-absorbed parents at meets — the ones totally focused on their own children. They never ask how your kids are doing, but instead tell you in great detail every moment of their child’s last few months of swimming. By being interested solely in their own kids, they often miss the big picture of the team experience and being a part of the swimming community.
One of the great pleasures of being a swim parent is sharing the experience with other parents, coaches and officials. We cheer for the newer swimmer accomplishing their first IM without a DQ, or the older swimmer who finally gets that cut they’ve been trying to reach. We’re proud for our team when a relay touches the wall first in a tight race. By looking beyond our own children and cheering for teammates and friends, we become part of the community.
What is meant by community? Here’s a definition:
“1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”
Here are five reasons why it’s important look beyond our own kids and self-interest and embrace our swimming community:
By showing concern and truly being interested in other people, we’re setting an example for our kids. It’s doubtful they’ll grow up self-absorbed if we aren’t treating them like they’re the center of the universe and we empathize with people outside of our family. Kids imitate and learn from our actions.
Noticing those around us.
By letting go of a narrow focus, we may notice other people who could use our help. There may be newer parents struggling with stress during meets, finding the posting board, and knowing when their child is going to swim. There’s so much we can offer to others that may be as simple as a smile or a few encouraging words.
Appreciating your team.
There are many people who make a team and meet work. There’s the head coach, assistants, plus volunteer parents running the snack bar and timing. It’s amazing to watch people coming together to pull off an event for the greater good of the community.
In today’s world, a sense of community is disappearing. We’re becoming more detached from each other due to busy schedules and our technology. Swimming gives us a chance to connect with people face to face and rebuild a sense of community that may be lacking in other aspects of our lives.
Building a legacy.
Not only can our volunteering be a role model for our kids, we’re also building a legacy that newer parens can continue. Team traditions, positive attitudes and focus on team and community will help generations to follow.
Why do you think it’s important to embrace the swim community?
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