10 COMMANDMENTS FOR SWIMMING
by Rose Snyder
1. Thou shalt not
impose your ambitions on thy child. Remember that swimming is
your child's activity. Improvements and progress occur at different
rates for each individual. Don't judge your child's progress based
on the performance of other athletes and don't push them based on
what you think they should be doing. The nice thing about swimming
is people can strive to do their personal best and benefit from the
process of competitive swimming.
2. Thou shalt be
supportive no matter what. There is only one question to ask
your child after a practice or a competition - "Did you have fun?"
If meets and practices are not fun, your child should not be forced
3. Thou shalt not
coach thy child. You are involved in one of the few youth
sports programs that offer professional coaching, do not undermine
the professional coach by trying to coach your child on the side.
Your job is to provide unconditional love and support and a safe
place to return at the end of the day. Love and hug your child no
matter what. Tell them how proud of them you are. The coach is
responsible for the technical part of the job. You should not offer
advice on technique or race strategy or any other area that is not
yours. And above all, never pay your child for a performance. This
will only serve to confuse your child concerning the reasons to
strive for excellence and weaken the swimmer/coach bond.
4. Thou shalt only
have positive things to say at a swimming meet. If you are
going to show up at a swimming meet, you should be encouraging, but
never criticize your child or the coach. Both of them know when
mistakes have been made. And remember “yelling at” is
not the same as “cheering for”. You also may want to
consider being positive anytime you are around the pool.
5. Thou shalt
acknowledge thy child's fears. A first swimming meet, 500 free
or 200 IM can be a stressful situation. It is totally appropriate
for your child to be scared. Don't yell or belittle, just assure
your child that the coach would not have suggested the event if
your child was not ready to compete in it. Remember your job is to
love and support your child through all of the swimming experience.
Most of their fears are one’s you have given them.
6. Thou shalt not
criticize the officials. If you do not care to devote the time
or do not have the desire to volunteer as an official, don't
criticize those who are doing the best they can. You too can be
trained to be an official in an afternoon.
7. Honor thy child's
coach. The bond between coach and swimmer is a special one, and
one that contributes to your child's success as well as fun. Do not
criticize the coach in the presence of your child, it will only
serve to hurt your child's swimming.
8. Thou shalt be
loyal and supportive of thy team It is not wise for parents to
take their swimmers and to jump from team to team. The water isn't
necessarily bluer in another team's pool. Every team has its own
internal problems, even teams that build champions. Children who
switch from team to team are often ostracized for a long, long time
by the teammates they leave behind and are slowly received by new
team mates. Often times swimmers who do switch teams never do
better than they did before they sought the bluer water.
9. Thy child shalt
have goals besides winning. Most successful swimmers are those
who have learned to focus on the process and not the outcome.
Giving an honest effort regardless of what the outcome is, is much
more important than winning. One Olympian said, "My goal was to set
a world record. Well, I did that, but someone else did it too, just
a little faster than I did. I achieved my goal and I lost. Does
this make me a failure? No, in fact I am very proud of that swim."
What a tremendous outlook to carry on through life.
10. Thou shalt not
expect thy child to become an Olympian. There are 400,000
athletes in USA Swimming. Only 2% of the swimmers listed in the 10
& Under age group make it to the Top 100 in the 17-18 age group
and of those only a small percentage will become elite level, world
class athletes. There are only 52 spots available for the Olympic
Team every four years. Your child's odds of becoming an Olympian
are about .0002%. Swimming is much more than just the Olympics. Ask
your coaches why they coach. Chances are, they were not an
Olympian, but still got so much out of swimming that they wanted to
pass the love for the sport on to others. Swimming teaches
self-discipline and sportsmanship; it builds self-esteem and
fitness; it provides lifelong friendships and much more. Most
Olympians will tell you that these intangibles far outweigh any
medal they may have won. Swimming builds good people, like you want
your child to be, and you should be happy your child wants to