Courtesy of Donna Hale
As we all know, the most important people our child encounters in their swim journey are teammates and coaches. The coaches are there to teach, and to bring out the best in every swimmer. And teammates should be there as supportive friends through the ups and downs of a swimming career. But what about parents? What is the role we play in this swimming lifestyle we embraced so many years ago. What makes an all-star swim parent?
1. All-star parents first and foremost teach kindness. Kindness matters most of all. This should extend to teammates and opponents during all stages of a swimmer’s journey. In order to teach kindness, we must be role models. And it is not always easy. It starts with us. As the saying goes, in a world where you can be anything, be kind.
2. An all-star parent teaches sportsmanship. We taught our daughter at four years old that every race should conclude with a handshake. Win with grace. Lose with dignity. Frankly, nothing else is acceptable in our sport. Parents you must do the same. Don’t let whether your child loses to or beats another swimmer change how you behave. Your swimmer is watching you.
3. The best parents teach their kids that swimming is a team sport. When teammates succeed it makes everyone better. Team spirit matters more than the score. More than winning. When you are creating memories it is imperative that the destination does not overshadow the journey. We all want our kids to be superstars. Not everyone can. But every swimmer can cheer for others, make practice fun, and help create lifetime memories. Parents we too should be held to this standard.
4. All-star parents teach resilience. The clock is the ultimate judge of a great swim or a mediocre performance. Once a swim is over you can’t get it back. Swimming is about moving forward through all the moments that define an athletic career. Sometimes all you say is try again tomorrow. The clock does not define you. But how you respond does. Winners never give up.
5. Finally great swim parents remind their kids that character matters — all the days of your life. If you are blessed with a gift then you are responsible for passing it on. Though my swimmer is now in college, her Club Team taught her this. Share your love of swimming with others. Treat teammates and opponents with respect. And parents you must do the same. Your children are watching.
Donna Hale has been a swim mom for 14 years. Her daughter is a freshman swimmer for the Davis & Elkins Senators.