The Swim Parents I Couldn’t Understand

by SwimSwam 50

February 20th, 2018 Swim Mom

Courtesy Elizabeth Wickham

During my childrens age group years, there were always a few parents that I didnt 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,wed 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 didnt understand that my enthusiasm for swimming wasnt felt by each and every swim parent on deck. But it most definitely wasnt.

Here are six things parents did or said that surprised me:

ONE

After years of sitting with a swim parent at meets and practices, I was surprised when she said,Thank God were done with club swimming and my daughter can swim for high school only.

TWO

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 dont have time for this.

THREE

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 cant remember what the tickets were used for, but people would time to collect that little piece of paper.

FOUR

One family didnt 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.

FIVE

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 wasnt getting the attention they deserved. The coaches were extremely patient and I admire them for that.

SIX

One of my friends from the childrens elementary school was briefly a swim parent. Shed drop her boys off at the pool and say, I cant stand to watch them swim. Im 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.

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cbswims
3 years ago

The ones who think they know more than the coach.

The funny thing is, the ones who may know more than the coach know better than to act that way – and – the ones who act that way make themselves look bad and sadly do a disservice their kids, it perpetuates an ‘I know best’ mentality.

S. Kloss
3 years ago

Ohhhh, this is the “all swim parents are bad and all swim coaches are amazing” author. Swim coaches at the age group level, are not widely known to be the sharpest tacks in the box, but a small minority are indeed committed and very hardworking.Typically these are young people, former swimmers, who haven’t found their career path yet and are looking to earn a few extra bucks to pay the rent. At the other end of the spectrum are older swim coaches that are often dead set in their ways, sometimes for the good with proven programs and sometimes for the bad because they consistently fall head of heels for their latest 10 and under wonder and abandon the rest… Read more »

Mr. King
Reply to  S. Kloss
3 years ago

I’m sorry that your experience with age group coaches was not a positive one. Our kids were fortunate enough to work with a fantastic age group coach. He taught our kids about hard work and having fun at the same time. He expected a lot from our kids, but never took himself too seriously. My kids love the sport, and they loved swimming for him. Thanks to his energy and enthusiasm, both of our kids had a great start in the sport and they continue to do well at the college level. Thanks, Mike Chapman!

Shouldawouda
Reply to  S. Kloss
3 years ago

Remember one parent who’s talented daughter was invited to Colorado Springs for a long weekend of training and getting to meet others at her level. Mom did not understand the value and she never got to go. Opportunity missed.

Swimmer!
Reply to  S. Kloss
3 years ago

I agree to an extent, but coaches should not be giving nutritional advice aside from very very basic advice (eat healthy, more veggies, don’t eat a lot of junk food, etc.)

FoodCoach
Reply to  Swimmer!
3 years ago

That is just blatently wrong. If improved nutrition can help a swimmer’s performance, it is well within the bounds of a coach to work on that with their athletes.

Swimmer!
Reply to  FoodCoach
3 years ago

…to an extent, yes. Improving an athletes nutrition can be done with basic tips; however, prescribing specific eating plans for improved performance is out of bounds for a swim coach. For the safety of the coach and the athlete.

Keto is the latest trend. Want your 12 year old’s club coach telling them to go on a keto diet?

Swimmer!
Reply to  Swimmer!
3 years ago

It goes the same with weight lifting. Yes, weight lifting is extremely beneficial for swimmers. But do you want a club coach who is not certified teaching your kid the barbell snatch?

I am speaking about liability. Coaches need to be careful about how they go about giving out advice, especially regarding diet. The more specific you get, the more in trouble you can be

Swimmer!
Reply to  Swimmer!
3 years ago

Or if I as a coach were to give out a specific caloric restriction/maintenance/surplus for a swimmer, it would be completely out of bounds

Anonymous
Reply to  Swimmer!
3 years ago

I couldn’t agree more. My age group coach would frequently come to our weight sessions and give me instructions that were completely opposite to what our strength coach said, and usually wanted me to go faster, even if it meant sacrificing technique. Also, in terms of specific nutrition plans, I also believe it can involve the coach, so long as it is actually fact-based and healthy. My coach was generally good with this, especially reminding everyone to drink water and to eat enough.

Swimmer!
Reply to  Swimmer!
3 years ago

Not sure why the downvotes. This stuff needs to come from actual dietitians or doctors. A club swim coach should not be giving their athletes dietary advice, other than extremely basic information.

AKF
3 years ago

Judge ye not…..is a good motto in swimming.

BGNole97
3 years ago

The passive aggressive swim parents who do everything they can to try and sow discord on a team, and then move from team to team because THEY aren’t happy (they never will be unless their kid is setting world records at age 10, 11, or 12), regardless of how much fun the kid is having or how many friends their kid (usually an only child) has on the team(s). These parents usually spout that “it’s all about the kids” when in reality it’s all about them. These parents usually shout to their kids from the stands to remind them to “kick kick kick” just before their event and go absolutely nuts when the kid wins the 5th of 10 heats… Read more »

Rachel
Reply to  BGNole97
3 years ago

Those parents are really annoying. On my team, those were the ones who would continue to watch practice even when their kid was in middle school (which in my opinion is far too late.) Our coach ended up making a rule that parents couldn’t come to the older kids’ practices because it was so distracting. Thankfully, all those parents have since switched teams. I always felt bad for their kids, though. They had so much pressure and never got to stay in one place.

s w i m
Reply to  Rachel
3 years ago

There is nothing wrong with parents wanting to watch their child’s swim practice (given that they are not distracting and/or interrupting). Parents are the ones paying for the program, after all.

malleesmom
Reply to  s w i m
3 years ago

Our club is 40-minute drive. I sit in the stands and read….a lot LOL.

Yozhik
3 years ago

It would be interesting to know what your children and coaches of your children think about usefulness your super social activity around the pool. My children didn’t care at all considering that what we are doing is just for our personal entertainment. They didn’t mind to see their parents happy. The coaches politely but firmly asked us not to visit any practice sessions and remain on the stands during meets and not to interfere with their job. The most annoying people were members of the board who indisputably knew what is good and what is wrong for everybody around including other parents, children and coaches.
What do you think gives you rights to be so opinionated about circumstances and… Read more »

dude
3 years ago

there are bad parents, but there are bad coaches, too. The mantra “trust your coach” is terrible advice. Trust your coach after your coach has earned your trust.

Yozhik
Reply to  dude
3 years ago

In most cases you don’t have options and have to accept what you coach you have. Even you feel hundred percent more knowledgeable and experienced than the coach of your child your unwelcome advices will not do any good.
It is like visiting primary physician: you know about yourself and your health problems much more than he/she. You’ve read about your issues, cure and remedies onlookers need hundreds time more than he/she had read during all his/her years in medical school but you schedule the visit anyway. Why? Because you need to trust someone.
Trust the coach of your children. It will only make good to them. Unless they are really talented in swimming and need to be… Read more »

Yozhik
Reply to  Yozhik
3 years ago

One has to think twice before putting something in writing on public site and has to read three times of what has been written before clicking on ‘submit’ button. Because Autocorrect NEVER sleeps and can easily catch you off guard playing jokes with you 😀

K2no
Reply to  Yozhik
3 years ago

I literally laughed out loud at your comment about your family physician. You underestimate your doctor’s education. Possibly you underestimate the credentials and knowledge of your child’s swim coach as well?

Esther W
3 years ago

This is coming across as judgmental of parents who are nonswimmers and/or don’t love to hang out in a hot, stuffy pool 10-plus hours a week. Competitive swimming has its own culture, and this culture is unfamiliar, and perhaps even anxiety-provoking, to the many American adults who are nonswimmers.

It doesn’t mean that someone is a bad parent if they’re glad to have more free time for their family once their child stops club swimming. Everyone has different priorities and different personal preferences. Maybe it’s better for a family to spend that Saturday afternoon growing vegetables or playing board games or being with grandparents or teaching their kids how to be handy around the house.

My husband didn’t grow… Read more »

BGNole97
Reply to  Esther W
3 years ago

Seriously? “Anxiety-provoking” to be a timer? You push a button. Twice. You need to do more than that to heat up a meal in a microwave oven.

Weak sauce excuse.

writestuff
Reply to  BGNole97
3 years ago

You never timed for Ryan Hoffer at a meet. He moved so fast and there was so much water churned up, it was challenging to see when he hit the pad. Anxiety-provoking no, self-imposed pressure yes, to do a good job and give him and every other swimmer the most accurate time I could.

Mardo4
Reply to  Esther W
3 years ago

Thanks Esther! This is me^^. I am totally there for my kid whatever they want to do but this is their sport…doesn’t mean I have to “get it” or live for chlorine fumes to love and support them.

applesorangesandbananas
3 years ago

I am no longer allowed on pool deck. Everyone is happier, most of all my kids.