I'm a Swim Parent...Now What?


Article Written by Joel Lauritzen Paid Guest Writer for TheSwimmingLife.comCongrats You’re a Swim Parent
Being a swim parent is part fun and part crazy.
It takes a special love of a parent to sit in 90 degree pool stands to watch your son/daughter swim three to six events that last a combine five to 15 minutes while you are there between three to four hours per session. The life of a swim parent can be absolutely crazy, but it’s absolutely worth it.
While I have been around the sport of swimming for about 25 years (between being a swimmer, sports writer, an official and coach) only five years of this time is as a swim parent. While still young, here are some tips I have learned in my short amount of time:
DQ’D: The dreaded disqualification. This happens to every swimmer at some point. Sometimes it seems unfair or you do not understand why this is happening. This is an extremely teachable moment for kids and sometimes there will be some tears with this. It’s tough as a parent but the goal is to teach how to swim each stroke correctly, this can also help the swimmer know what they need to work on in practice. Sometimes you might think the official is wrong or you saw someone else do the same thing and they weren’t dq’d. I will explain that in a different article about the role of an official. Focus on your kid, cheer them up and know that it happens to everyone and continue to work to be better. A line from a veteran swim parent told me when their kid was young and got disqualified, their kid asked what that meant? He told them, “It means after the meet we are going to DQ.” You talk about a way to brighten your kids mood after getting disqualified, that will do the trick.
Once a swimmer is in the water they can’t hear – I will say this, I have no problem yelling and cheering on your kid or your team, but know this, they can’t hear. They cannot hear your voice or you in the stands. Most likely they can’t even hear their own coach. If you see your coach not jumping and down for your swimmer, yelling at the top of their lungs, that is ok. The swimmer most likely can’t hear or see them. Most swim coaches know this from experience and when they are on the pool deck for 12 hours a day, conversing a little energy is not a bad thing.
Dinner time is interesting – Most swim practices for age group kids happen between 5-8 at night otherwise known as dinner time. It took us years to figure out what works for us and every family is different. We end up using crock pot or cooking dinner earlier in the day and heating it up after practice. We tried eating for a couple of weeks before practice, it was not a pleasant practice. Every family is different see what works for you. Some veteran swim parents might also have great meal ideas.
Your team website is full of helpful information – Every swim team’s website has helpful information about swim meets and everything from practice goals to aids for parents. Take advantage of this information, it’s usually really good stuff.
Every swimmer reacts differently to nerves – Being nervous happens to everyone. Realize your swimmer or swimmers will react differently to calm nerves. Some will be quiet and be ready to race way before their event. Others like my daughter like to talk and talk and well talk to everyone before racing. Whatever gets them relaxed works. I thought my daughter just did this because she wasn’t paying attention, finally she told me when she gets nervous she tries not to focus on the race and talking to others helps relax her. Every swimmer is different.
Talk to veteran parents – This is one is big. I will sit at practice and talk to parents who have been in the swimming parent scene for a while. They are full of knowledge and take advantage of this. They have everything from good snack tips to the best hotels to handling situations that come along with swimmers.
Swimming is an amazing sport, you can help make it pleasant and enjoyable for others.
One last note from Coach Kyle; no matter what the outcome of your swimmer's races or meet, there are two amazing phrases that you can say to your swimmer that will help reinforce and strengthen their love and determination in this great sport..."I love to watch you swim" and "I am proud of you"
Looking forward to great Spring/Summer Season!