What Type of Swim Parent Are You?

by SwimSwam 8

February 07th, 2018 Swim Mom

by Elizabeth Wickham

I believe swim parents are some of the greatest parents ever. Swim parents sacrifice, encourage, cheer, and go out of our way to lend a hand—wherever we’re needed. We come in all sizes, shapes and personalities. When you look around the pool deck, you’ll recognize a variety of parent types. We’re most likely a combination of a few or many.

What type of swim parent are you?

The Yeller

Have you heard that swim parent who screams, screeches or yells? You’re at a meet and you recognize that voice from the parking lot. They can’t help themselves from screaming one-syllable words: “Now!” “Kick!” “Go!” “Race!”

The Pacer

This parent can’t sit still. On deck, they pace up and down their child’s lane. In the stands, they’re standing up, sitting down, walking up and down the bleachers.

The Organizer

If you want to know when to time, ask this swim parent. They’re easy to spot because they carry a clip board. While getting a timing assignment, they’ll sign you up to volunteer at the next meet, verify your swimmer’s t-shirt size, and take your scrip order—all in one brief conversation.

Nervous Nelly

This parent can be found hovering around the heat sheets. They’ll be staring anxiously, waiting for their kid’s event to be posted, an hour before a race.


You know every swimmer belongs to someone, but you’ve never seen this parent at practice or a meet. They’re too busy to volunteer and other parents take their kids to three-day meets, out of town.

The Coach

You’ll observe this parent before and after each race talking with their child about breathing patterns, having a stronger kick and not crossing over. This parent gets their child “pumped up” for every swim.

Never Happy

You hear grumbling after their swimmer wins their heat and gets a best time. Their expectations are so high that their child can never make them smile.

The Comparer

They compare their child’s times with all the swimmers on the team, on other teams, and swimmers from the previous five years. They have memorized not only their child’s times, but the competitors’ times as well.

The Reader

This parent has their face buried in a book and only surfaces to watch their child swim. You’ll be ignored if you try to engage them in a friendly chat. Their body language says, “Stay away!”

The Laugher

This parent is having too much fun! You’ll find them in the center of a circle of swim parents, their laughter ringing through the air. You can’t help smiling when you’re near.

What other swim parents do you see on the pool deck? What combination of swim parent types are you?

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.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

The “ownership” parent. What needs to be done?…officiate every meet/ session cause there are never enough officials, bake 200 servings of brownies for the concession stand every meet, make breakfast casseroles for the hospitality room, wash and sanitize the volunteer shirts, set up and tear down, furnish the team kitchen with necessary equipment. Skip vacation because your team is hosting a big meet. Use vacation days to transport/ chaperone team travel meets. Own the responsibility of being part of the team and filling in wherever the need is to make it happen for the kids. If I expect my kids to give 110%, then I better set the example of giving 150%.

8 years ago

The Termite. These are normally 3 or 4 parents that sit together at practice and meets. Never happy with anything to do with the club, coaching ..or their swimmers performance – which is usually blamed on the former 2 – complain all session. Solely intent on eroding the fabric of the club from the inside, usually, and not caring about, being within earshot of all close by! Funnily enough, they never are unhappy enough to want to leave though! What a shame for the remaining members!

8 years ago

I’m the Yeller/Organizer. Always cheering my daughters but their team as well. I’ve also been the head parent to do all the little things for team such as help the coaches organize parent timers for each meet. Loved every minute of the past 10 years and think I encouraged her to do their best. I am fortunate to be able continue my ‘yelling’ for the youngest in college this fall. <3

Jeff Denton
8 years ago

I’m the one timing a lane all day. Always.

Swim Mom
8 years ago

What kind of parent am I? I get up four mornings at 4:30am, the two other mornings at 6am, drive 3 kids with different schedules to their swim practices, then go to work. How about the exhausted parent who just wants to sit and take a nap?

Reply to  Swim Mom
6 years ago

They call that “swim taxi”

8 years ago

This has been covered before, by Olivier: http://swimswam.com/8-swim-parents-see-local-swim-meets/ . Some of the comments from that thread are priceless. You’ve added some new ones that are right on the money, though. Keep up the good work!

8 years ago

This is so funny! I see each of my swim mom friends in all of this! My husband definitely is the READER. He goes to swim meet and he will forget to bring snacks and water but he will never forget his book. I have to send him a text to make sure he won’t miss the kids event. I’m definitely The LAUGHTER ????… I like spending time with my swim mom friends!