Two Top Tips for Age Group Swimmers and Parents

by SwimSwam 20

October 25th, 2014 Club, Masters, Opinion

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

As an overly-involved swim mom for close to 15 years, I learned many lessons from our age-group years. Here are my top two tips to pass along to swimmers and parents.


Never lie to your coach. Reinforce to your child to never lie to their coach.


Respect the planning that goes into a year-long swim calendar and schedule your vacations accordingly.

The lying sounds obvious and ridiculous, right? Your child never lies. You never lie. But, you’d be surprised. Even if you truly fall in the category of the family that never lies, others do lie. What happens when your child is asked by another swimmer not to tell why they missed practice? Or, what if your child knows that a teammate is at Disneyland and not sick in bed and the coach asks her point blank where that swimmer is? It all comes out in the end — so avoid this embarrassment — and never, ever lie. When the coach finds out the truth, which inevitably will happen, your swimmer will lose credibility. How does he or she get that trust back?

The second tip is also a matter of respect. If your swimmer is a serious year-round swimmer, there will be a certain point in their career when you can’t take off whenever you want. Time-wise, it’s usually around the age of 12 or 13 for girls. Perhaps a little older for boys. I bet you didn’t know that the coach has training cycles and plans out an entire year’s practice in advance — sometimes plans 2 to 3 years out or longer? I bet you didn’t realize that when you go visit Aunt Sally for a week at Christmas you may be missing a huge workout week that is setting up your swimmer for success for the rest of the season? Respect your coaches and their training cycles. They actually put in vacation weeks during their year’s plan. It’s so much better for your swimmer to have your family’s calendar and the team’s on the same page.

My two cents worth. What advice do you have for successful swim parenting? If you have a tip, please post it below.

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6 years ago

These are the best, really? C’mon we got more…. My advice, after 10yrs of this so far, is to never be overconfident. Many the SwimParent of the champion 10yo or 12yo has been disappointed in the former superstar’s lack of progress in high school. Be nice to the other parents, not just the ones in the FastClique. Otherwise, karma will come and the FastClique may drop you when your child isn’t making the top relays (yes, it will happen, and yes, THOSE parents do get shunned because it was never about their character, only about how fast their kid was – note the past tense). Reach out to the NewParents. The ones at the swim meet that don’t know what’s… Read more »

Reply to  swimfanhere
6 years ago

How true regarding the Fastclique and the new parents

Reply to  swimfanhere
6 years ago

That includes swimmers transferring in from another team. SwimParents, be welcoming to them. The kid may be faster than yours, or not, but he/she is not a “threat” to your child’s position or popularity. That is the beauty of the individual sport. Another friend for your child is a good thing. It’s not about you, SwimMom/Dad…the kids are good, now just take it down a notch and let them enjoy the sport!

Sam Swim
6 years ago

Let me be clear…I don’t believe for one second that missing a single week of practice at age 13 in the winter will mess with a swimmers success in the summer. Not for one second. And I also believe that if my swimmer wants a week off “just because” at that age, than that’s fine too. The only way this holds water with me (see what I did there) is to respect the actual meet/tournament schedule. We don’t want to miss regional’s for a trip to Universal Studios if they have qualified. Spending a week with “Aunt Sally” may help the athlete stay focused and motivated.

6 years ago

I fully agree with #1. The bond between coach and swimmer is based on trust–from both directions. As far as #2 goes, I guess you’d have to define “serious” swimmer. I swam age group starting in 1969 and continued for eight more years. I also swam in high school. When I swam, I worked as hard as anyone on the team. I swam at the state level, but never qualified for levels beyond that. We lived in West Texas and every year, my family would travel to Canada to spend 4 to 6 weeks with my cousins on a lake in the woods. We shared the unstructured adventures that kids today don’t seem to have. I know this was frustrating… Read more »