First "Real" Meet As A Swim Parent? Read On...

First Timers: Welcome to your first USA Swimming meet! We hope that this is the start of a long and successful journey. We know that there are a lot of moving parts when you arrive at your first “real” swim meet.  Here are some quick tips to help you adjust:


  • Your Child Will Miss An Event At Some Point - It happens to us all. I remember missing a few when I was a young swimmer. It’s part of the process of gaining responsibility. We will help you and your swimmer write down the event numbers on their arm. Please bring a sharpie. While we don’t celebrate a missed event for many reasons, we do understand it happens. When it gets to be an ongoing issue, we will take steps to rectify the situation.

  • Think Process, Not Outcome - Swimming is a timed sport. It is very easy to get caught up in the, “did you get a best time?” mindset. We are looking more for growth as an athlete rather than simply focusing on personal best times. Sometimes it’s better to get a slower time, but master a new skill, than it is to get a slightly better PR with the less than the best skills. Best times will come. Children are very good at picking up signals. If they are only appreciated when they break a best time, they will always strive for approval by seeking best times. That doesn't work long term. Start now by praising their effort, not their place or outcome. It will be a big help when they hit an inevitable plateau later in their career.

  • Be their Biggest Fan, Not Their Coach - We are fortunate to have staff with a lot of experience. That's great for you as it frees you to be their biggest supporters. Resist the temptation to get into too many technical issues with your child. I remember my Mom always had one question for me after my swims, “Did you have fun?” came out of her mouth a thousand times. That was also followed by, “ I LOVE to watch you swim”. My parents did not have a stopwatch, they didn't know my times and they let the coaches coach. How did that work for me? Well, I am still on deck! 

  • Different Strokes For Different Folks - People mature and learn in so many ways. Resist the temptation to compare swimmers; especially within the team environment. The fast 10 year old today may be past later as the “slower” swimmer his or her age matures three years from now. The tides may turn again a season later. Comparing your child to others will make the experience less enjoyable for everyone over time. I can tell you this with certainty. If a swimmer does the work over the course of their career, they will have success. They can rise to their potential and enjoy a good career. Obviously, we all have different gifts. Enjoying what you have been given is one of the keys to real happiness in the pool and out...but I digress.

  • Communicate - Feel free to talk to your coaches. We are here for you. If you have a question or request, let us know. If you are not quite sure about how something works or why we have your child doing a certain skill, ask us. We believe that it takes all of us, working together, to give each swimmer the support they need to excel. When in doubt, ask

  • Celebrate! - We go to a meet a month. Make it a fun, family event. We would go out for a special treat at the end of each meet when I was a swimmer. My wife even made special plates for the kids to use on competition days. The ways you can have fun with these events are endless. If they see you having fun, they will have fun. I know, it can be hot, stuffy and cramped at meets in Florida. When you learn to simply go with it and have fun, all of that goes away...and your kids will perform better. Happy swimmers are fast swimmers. Swimmers take their cues from their parents and coaches. Know that will be up and having fun with them on deck too!

I could go on, but this is a good starting point. Please keep in mind that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I have been involved in this sport for over fifty years. I have seen it from nearly ever vantage point possible. As a parent, I can tell you that this is an incredible sport, filled with some amazing people. Our goal is for you and your swimmers to have the best possible long term experience. We want everyone to be happy, healthy and fast! Swimming can take you many places; even if you don’t make a National team. My best advice? Enjoy the goes way too fast!

Have fun at your first meet!