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?
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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 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.