Courtesy Elizabeth Wickham
During my children’s age group years, there were always a few parents that I didn’t “get.” We were an overzealous swim family and once both my kids decided they wanted to be year-round swimmers, we dove in. We were supportive in any way we could be. If there was a fundraiser, my kids would compete to raise the most money. If we had a “bring a friend day,” we’d bring a carload of kids to the pool. Pretty soon my days were filled with an overabundance of swim mom things, like organizing banquets, year-round swimmer gifts, and writing newsletters and press releases.
There were other parents who viewed swimming as a burden and would rather be anywhere than at a swim meet. I didn’t understand that my enthusiasm for swimming wasn’t felt by each and every swim parent on deck. But it most definitely wasn’t.
Here are six things parents did or said that surprised me:
After years of sitting with a swim parent at meets and practices, I was surprised when she said,”Thank God we’re done with club swimming and my daughter can swim for high school only.”
As a board member, I had to ask a family to make up work for not helping the required hours at a meet. The mom readily agreed to help distribute flyers to local schools. A week later, I handed the flyers to the dad. He barked at me and said, “No way! We don’t have time for this.”
We always needed timers at both club and high school meets. Getting some people to time was impossible. We motivated people to time by giving them a ticket after their shift. I can’t remember what the tickets were used for, but people would time to collect that little piece of paper.
One family didn’t sit with the team and were across the pool from the rest of us. The meet manager had to track them down for their shifts to work at meets. Maybe they were the smart ones.
I remember watching more than one parent argue with the head coach about why their child needed to be moved up to the next level group. Or, that their swimmer wasn’t getting the attention they deserved. The coaches were extremely patient and I admire them for that.
One of my friends from the children’s elementary school was briefly a swim parent. She’d drop her boys off at the pool and say, “I can’t stand to watch them swim. I’m out of here.”
What have you seen swim parents do or say at the pool that surprised you?
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.