Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
When your swimmer is working towards a goal, sometimes it takes more than one season to achieve it. I remember when my child made her first Junior National cut she said, “The ninth time is the charm!” Her team was cheering for her, parents included, and she got a lot of high-fives. We went out to dinner as a family and let her pick the restaurant. When the kids were very young, we celebrated with a stop at Dairy Queen when they finished a meet without a DQ.
It’s such a great time to acknowledge that hard work and dedication does pay off—when your swimmer finally gets that cut they’ve missed previously by 1/10th. On the other hand, they may have more races ahead and creating too big a deal out of their success may be distracting.
I asked several parents if they celebrate their child’s accomplishments and how do they do it.
Celebrate as a team.
After the championship meets are over, it’s fun to get together and relax as a team. I remember our team going to the beach after Junior Olympics with kids playing in the waves and parents chatting together on the sand. Many families were tired and wanted to hit the road home after a long meet, but the memories of celebrating afterward together were worth the delay.
Celebrate in your own way.
One mom with four swimmers said the self-satisfaction of accomplishing goals meant the most to two of her kids, while one enjoyed a small tangible reward like a coin for his coin collection. Another swimmer said her parents didn’t make a big deal out of her best times, and her celebration was qualifying with her team to get to go to the Olympic Training Center, New Jersey and LA Invite. Some parents give material rewards, but hugs and saying how proud you are goes a long way.
Celebrate the success of others.
One dad, whose daughter made a sectional cut this past weekend, was impressed when another swimmer bought his daughter a bag of candy to celebrate her success. We can encourage our kids to be great teammates and be thoughtful like that, too. Many swimmers congratulate each other by posting to social media.
Celebrate as a family.
Take time to be together and create memories. Now that the pressure is off, do something you never find time for like a family hike or playing together in the pool. Go to a movie as a family or cook your child’s favorite meal. Swimmers work so hard and we need to let them know we appreciate and respect their effort.
How do you celebrate the success of your swimmers?
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.