A Letter to The New (and Old) Swim Parent

Sometimes I sit down at my desk, look at my emails and I get one that I am not prepared for. That happened today. Kate Hugo swam for OSHY from the 7th grade through high school. As an OSHY swimmer she had good times and not so good times, some National teams and some hard years. After OSHY she moved on to Carthage College where she had quite a bit of success including a few conference titles and school records.

This last weekend Kate finished her collegiate swimming career. Jeanne, Kate's mom, sat down and wrote this letter to all the parents that are still "doing it", that aren't yet done with being a swim team parent. 


A Letter To The New Swim Parent

As my daughter’s 14th season of swimming comes to a close I can’t help but think back and wonder was it all worth it?  A swimming family makes so many sacrifices.  Driving to 6am practices, sleeping in hotels most weekends, spending a lot of money, losing family dinners, and sitting on bleachers in a hot pool for too many hours to count are just a few examples.

I really do think it was the best thing that happened to my daughter, however.  In addition to being good for her very strong hyperactive body, it taught numerous life lessons.  The concept of team before self, setting goals that may take YEARS to accomplish, and perseverance top the list.  Dealing with coach changes, new team philosophies, a lot of strong personalities, and continuing to work through all of that to achieve goals. 

I remember as Kate reached high school she was really burning out.  As a young swimmer it is very rewarding because you change one thing or grow an inch and you take off 10 seconds in a swim.  Everyone gets so excited and you come home with a bunch of ribbons.  Later years require a lot more patience.  I distinctly remember her saying “I can’t look at that stripe on the bottom of a pool for one more day.  I just can’t”.  She did step away for a while, but it kept calling her back.

Watching her swim her last event this weekend and gutting it out after being sick all morning I was just in awe.  She achieved all her goals for her season and in her words “I achieved goals I didn’t know I had”.  I know that the lessons learned over these years will serve her well as she enters the workforce and the rest of her life.

So parents, when you are sick of getting up in the dark, washing so many towels, sitting in the bleachers, tired of the “drama” that always accompanies club sports, and having a really hungry kid eating all your food please remember it will help them for years to come.

Jeanne Hugo