Two Tips for Parents about Swim Meets – Swim Mom Wisdom

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

A coach once told me that his favorite swim parents are the ones who jump in and help–wherever they are needed–and don’t expect anything in return. Keep that in mind, especially at swim meets.

Here are two small things that can make a big difference:

Tip One:

When your team is hosting a meet–sign up early and often!

If you’re not on a mega-sized team that has parents waiting in line to volunteer, filling volunteer positions can be a major undertaking. Our team has a parent volunteer who fills all the jobs, signs up every family on the team and tracks their hours. Don’t create extra work for her. Volunteer right away.

Many teams require a minimum number of hours per family, per meet. Some families work every hour of the meet–from preparation months ahead–through tear down. Then, a few parents work a two-hour slot like it’s a major inconvenience and they’re too important to be bothered.

If you have the time, do more than the minimum. You’d be surprised how a few extra hours will improve the morale of your fellow parent volunteers and help the meet run smoothly.

Tip Two:

When you are at an away meet–say thank you!

At meets, things can and will go wrong. The coffee may be cold at 7:30 a.m., the check-in line may be too long or the weather may not cooperate. Please, don’t take these things out on the hosts. If there are rules for parents not to go behind the blocks with their swimmers, don’t insist to a volunteer parent wearing an orange vest that you have to get behind the blocks. Accept that every meet won’t run perfectly and realize volunteers are parents, too.

At the end of the meet, take a moment to say thank you to someone on the host team, an official, or administrator. The people running meets are usually former swim parents who love swimming and choose to stay involved. A few kind words at the end of a meet can have a positive impact and brighten someone’s day.

Remember–this is all about the kids. By volunteering and doing a bit more than asked, you’re setting an example for your children. Look around your pool deck. You’ll notice that swimmers who stick with this great sport through their high school years and beyond have parents who jump in and help wherever they can.

Elizabeth WickhamElizabeth 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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Sunday Tomlin
5 years ago

Thank you Elizabeth for a great article… Saying “Thank You” during and after meets goes along way. Love my swim team and will always go above and beyond to help this team have successful swim meets. We have amazing, hard working families that always asks “what else can I do?” Really appreciate it.

5 years ago

The biggest shock to parents at meets is that their kids can and do get themselves to their blocks for their races. If they miss a race, well then they learn pretty fast how to get there on time next time. Parents, let kids make mistakes and learn from them. Meanwhile, volunteer at every meet and cheer from the sidelines while you help out. I agree that modeling good leadership and team effort is necessary to the success of every swim meet. Please leave your anxiety, entitlement and negativity at the gate, and just enjoy being part of making the meet a success.

Donnen Purificacion
5 years ago

Thank you Elizabeth for another great article. We all can relate to this. I wore an orange vest just last Friday night and I got lucky I encountered some great respectful parents. The next day I was head timer and sitting next to the deck Marshall who was talking to this mother holding a banana insisting on going to her son to give the banana. Refused to follow our poor deck Marshall and went ahead and walked past her towards her swimmer. Came back few minutes later with a banana and said “my son didn’t want a banana.” Well, her son was ready to swim! Didn’t apologize, just walked past her. I am blessed I belong to a great swim… Read more »