SwimMom Musings: 5 Things I’ve Learned Being a Swim Mom

Courtesy of Swim Mom Donna Hale

I have been a swim mom for as long as I can remember.

Early mornings, wet towels, and broken goggles have been mainstays of my life for more than 13 years. It has been a journey of self discovery not only for my swimmer girl but also for me. Honestly I could not repay her for the joy she has brought us. Most days it is totally worth it. Honestly the lessons I have learned watching her forever changed my own life. Here are just a few of the important ones.


Courage manifests itself in many ways.

Have courage. Swimming can be an unforgiving sport. If you post a horrible time it’s there for all to see. You can’t hide from failure. It’s what you do next that defines you. She’s shown me how to never give up on yourself even under struggles and setbacks.


Be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.

It reflects your character. It can be hard to be the only member of the team not dropping at the big meet. A good teammate celebrates the success of others. When you spend about 16-18 hours a week swimming back and forth between the lane lines, not counting dryland, it can be emotionally devastating to struggle. But this teaches you to appreciate success all the more.


Hard work pays off if you are patient.

In the end there is no substitute for being there every day. If you choose to dedicate yourself to something, do it with your whole heart. Sure there are people who can succeed even if they skip practice, hide in the bathroom, or disappear during the tough sets. That’s just the way it is. But they will never be their personal best. You have control over your choices. Be your best.


Remember why you swim.

There’s a great quote from a famous soccer player about looking back on how and why you started competing. Embrace the little girl who fell in love with the sport years ago. Swim
for her.


Inspire others and share your love of the sport with those who follow.

It’s your obligation. Somewhere in the stands or at your summer pool, the little ones are watching. Be a role model. Coach. Congratulate. Care. There’s no greater gift you can give the sport than to nurture that love in others. If that is your only legacy, it is more than enough.

Donna Hale has been a swim mom for 12 years as well as executive of several nonprofit organizations. She volunteers regularly for her daughter Hannah’s USA Team The Potomac Marlins, summer team Burke Station Destroyers, and Lake Braddock Swim and Dive Bruins.

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Susie Bernardi

In two days, we will leave for my son’s last college conference swim meet. I too have been pondering these exact sentiments for some time now. There is no doubt in my mind that swimming has given my son (and his parents) a gift he can never repay. A truly awesome sport that we will deeply miss. From one swim mom to another, I thank you for this article.


Great article. I know many swim parents that should read it, especially #2.


Why does one athlete have success and another not? Sometimes its genetics, sometimes its work ethic, sometimes it’s coaching, sometimes it’s drugs, sometimes it’s nutrition or rest at an appropriate level and sometimes it can’t be specified. I’ve heard ” it’s luck” from some athletes and as a coach of 35 years I have heard this more than once. My definition of luck is a bit different than that expressed by the disgruntled. I think luck is when genetics, coaching, rest, outstanding nutrition, work ethic and desire all come together at one time and produce an outstanding performance. When as a coach you witness this it is a truly exhilarating experience and often not recognized by those fans who may… Read more »

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