THE SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE NEW SWIMMING PARENT
You just joined a swim team. The following are some
observations from a former new swimming parent. With luck, some of
musings might make some sense.
Necessary Stuff: Suit and Goggles
The basic items needed are a racing suit and a pair of
Going to your local spoiling goods store or paying the equivalent
per inch of
fabric as Tokyo real estate for a first suit is not the way to
Your team usually will sell you a team suit at cast, or you can
check out invitational meets where vendors are set up with
reasonable prices. Also, don't be afraid to ask a returning
parent-they are a source of good tips.
It’s best to have two suits. One to wear at practice and one to
wear at meets.
The practice suit will get worn out and become slow, but the meet
suit will stay
snug and fast. When
the meet suit wears out, it can be used as the practice suit.
You must have goggles for practice and meets! Two or three pairs are important
because they tend to break at the wrong time.
Goggles protect the eyes from chlorine and help your child see
There are many types and styles. It tends to be a matter of
The longest lasting goggles are those with rubber-like gaskets. A
good pair has soft gaskets that conform around the eye sockets.
"Swedish" style goggles (a hard plastic goggle that sits inside the
eye socket) are not recommended for beginners.
For first time swimmers who have difficulty with rubber gaskets, a
pair with foam gaskets might work. Anti-Fog goggles have a coating
that reduce fogging. The coating degrades with time, but your child
will have lost his goggles way before then. For those goggles
without the coating try dipping them in water or applying a little
saliva before putting them on.
Get a swim cap for long hair, a swim bag and chlorine
shampoo. A latex cap is the cheapest though the most difficult to
put on for the new swimmer. A lycra cap is softer and easier to
use. A silicon cap is easy to pull on and gives more
protection than a lycra cap, but is much more expensive than either
or lycra. Swim bags have lots or mesh compartments to
separate the wet from the dry items. Chlorine shampoo helps
to remove the chlorine from your swimmer when their hair starts to
look like Tina Turner’s and they begin to smell like a swamp
creature. Using it on suits also helps.
The First Meet
Start with a swim bag the size of your child, stuff it with
everything you normally
would take to practice and then double this. Also include warm
clothing for your child. Pack light snacks and drinks for your
swimmer. Your coach will probably
have more to say about eating on the day of a meet. Don’t
forget a change of
clothing for yourself, indoor pools can be extremely warm.
Arrive 15 minutes before warm-up to allow time to change and find a
home base. Give yourself plenty of time and take a map.
If you have non-swimming brothers and sisters going, pack some
things for them. Remember a pool can be a dangerous place, so keep
an eye on them at all times. Don’t forget snacks. Otherwise,
after numerous trips to the
snack bar for candy, you wilt have to detox your child after the
Can’t stop without a message. Good sportsmanship starts with
you; cheer your
child and your team. Remember that improvement and personal
accomplishments are more important than winning.
Competitive swimming programs provide many benefits to young
athletes. They develop self-discipline, good sportsmanship and time
Competition allows the swimmer to experience success and to learn
how to deal with defeat, while becoming healthy and physically
As a parent, your major responsibility is to provide a stable,
loving and supportive environment. This positive environment will
encourage your child to continue.
Show your interest by ensuring your child’s attendance at
practices, and by
coming to meets.
Parents are not participants on their child’s team, but
contribute to the success
experienced by the child and his/her team. Parents serve as role
their attitudes are often emulated by their children. Be aware of
this and strive to be positive models. Most importantly, show good
sportsmanship at all times
toward coaches, officials, opponents and teammates.
Be Enthusiastic and Supportive
Remember that your child is the swimmer. Children need to establish
goals, and make their own progress towards them. Be careful not to
impose your own standards and goals.
Do not over-burden your child with winning or achieving best times.
important part of your child’s swimming experience is that
about himself/herself while enjoying the sport. This healthy
environment encourages learning and fun which will develop a
positive self-image within your child.
Let the Coach Coach
The best way to help a child achieve his/her goals and reduce the
natural fear of failure is through positive reinforcement. No one
likes to make a mistake.
If your child does make one, remember that he/she is still
learning. Encourage his/her efforts and point out the things he did
well. As long as he gave his best effort, you should make him/her
feel like a winner.
Ten Commandments for Parents with Athletic Children
Make sure your child knows that, win or lose, scared or heroic, you
him/her, appreciate his/her efforts, and are not disappointed in
This will allow him to do his best without fear of failure. Be the
his or her life he can look to for constant positive
Try your best to be completely honest about your child's athletic
ability, his competitive attitude, his/her sportsmanship and
his/her actual skill level.
Be helpful but don’t coach you child on the way to the pool
or on the way back, or a breakfast, and so on. It’s tough not
to, but it’s a lot tougher
for the child to be inundated with advice, pep talks, and often
Teach you child to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be "out
there trying," to be working to improve his/her skills and
attitude. Help your child to
develop the feel f or competing, for trying hard, for having
Try not to re-live your athletic life through your child in a way
pressure; you fumbled, too, you lost as well as won. You were
you backed off at times, and you were not always heroic.
him/her because of your lost pride.
Don’t compete with the coach. If the coach becomes an
authority figure, it
will run from enchantment to disenchantment, etc. with your
Don’t compare the skill, courage, or attitudes of your child
members of the team, at least not within his/her hearing.
Get to know the coach so that you can he assured that his/her
attitudes, ethics and knowledge are such that you are happy to have
child under his/her leadership.
Always remember that children tend to exaggerate, both when
and when criticized. Temper your reaction and investigate before
Make a point of understanding courage, and the fact that it is
Some of us can climb mountains, and are afraid to fight. Some
of us will
fight, but turn to jelly if a bee approaches.Everyone is
in certain areas. Explain that courage is not the absence of fear,
means of doing something in spite of fear or discomfort. The
job of a
parent of an athletic child is a tough one, and it takes a lot of
effort to do
it well. It is worth all the effort when you hear your youngster
parents really helped."
Officials are present at all competitions to implement the
technical rule of
swimming and to ensure that the competition is fair and equitable.
Officials attend clinics, pass a written test and work meets before
being certified. All parents are encouraged to get involved with
some form of officiating.
Timers — operate timing devices (watches or automatic timing
record the official time for the swimmer in his lane.
Turn Judges — observe from each end of the pool and ensure
that the turns and finishes comply with the rules applicable to
Stroke Judges - observe from both sides of the pool, walking
abreast of the
swimmers, to ensure that the rules relating to each stroke are
The positions of Stroke Judge and Turn Judge may be combined into
position called the Stroke and Turn Judge.
Relay Takeoff Judges - stand beside the starting blocks to observe
exchange, ensuring that the feet of the departing swimmer have not
with the block before the incoming swimmer touches the end of the
Clerk of the Course — arranges the swimmers in their proper
heats and lanes.
Starter — assumes control of the swimmers from the Referee,
directs them to
"take your mark’ and sees that no swimmer is in motion prior
to giving the start
Referee — has overall authority and control of the
competition, ensuring that all
the rules are followed; assigns and instructs all officials, and
questions relating to the conduct of the meet.
If your child is disqualified (DQ’d) in an event, be
supportive rather than critical.
For beginning swimmers, a disqualification should be treated as a
learning experience, not as punishment. A DQ alerts the swimmer and
the coach to what portions of the swimmer’s stroke need to be
corrected. They should be considered in the same light as an
incorrect answer in schoolwork. They point out areas which need
The DQ is necessary to keep the competition fair and equitable for
competitors. A supportive attitude on the part of the official, the
coach, and the
parent can also keep it a positive experience for the DQ’d