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Parents Roles

Parents...Your Athlete Needs You

A successful swimming program requires understanding and cooperation among the coaches, swimmers, and parents. This relationship can be critical to your child’s successful development on the team. The coaching staff understands your commitment to your child.  The coaches understand that you will always be looking out for your child’s best interests. While the coaches are also committed to ensuring that your child’s best interests are served, their responsibility is to serve each athlete on the team. Your perspective and the coaches’ perspective may differ when it comes to your child’s development. Patience, understanding, and most importantly, communication are the cornerstones of this relationship. With this in mind, please review and consider the following guidelines.

  1. Individuals learn at different rates and in different ways. Some athletes will quickly pick up a skill while others may require more time to learn the same skill. Please be patient with your child and his/her development. Direct any questions to the coach.

  2. Progress is rarely immediate. New team members will always go through a period of adaptation, no matter their age, that may impede immediate progress. This could be caused by greater training demands, a stronger emphasis on technique, or simply nerves. Patience, trust, and communication among coaches, swimmers, and parents will help any struggling swimmer through such a period.

  3. Plateaus can occur at one time or another in every swimmer's career. Plateaus can be both in competition and training. A plateau signifies the swimmer has mastered lower-order skills, but they are not yet sufficiently automatic to leave the attention free to attack newer, higher order skills. It is important to explain to the athlete that plateaus occur in all fields of physical learning. The more successful athletes are those who work through this momentary delay in improvement and go on to achieve greater performance to approach their personal potential.

  4. Swimmers ten years and younger are the most inconsistent swimmers. This can be frustrating for parents, coaches, and swimmers alike! We must be patient and permit these youngsters to learn to love the sport.

  5. Parents must realize that slow development of the competitive drive at an early age is normal and perhaps more desirable than precocious or forced early development. It is important that everyone learn to compete and develop some competitive spirit. It is also important for children to learn to adapt to reasonable levels of emotional stress. The small disappointments we must learn to handle as youngsters prepare us for the larger ones we are certain to experience as adults.

  6. It is the coaches' job to offer constructive criticism of a swimmer's performance. It is the parents' job to supply love, recognition, and encouragement necessary to help the young athlete feel good about him or herself.

  7. Parents’ attitudes often dictate those of their children. A child might not be consciously aware of what is taking place while subconsciously absorbing powerful messages about his/her parents' desires. For example, be enthusiastic about taking your child to practice and meets, fund-raising projects, meetings, etc. – don’t look at these functions as chores.

  8. If you have any questions about your child's training or team policies, contact the coach. Criticizing the coach in front of the child undermines the coach's authority and breaks the swimmer-coach support that is necessary for maximum success.

  9. No parent should behave in such a way as to bring discredit to the child, the team, or competitive swimming. Any disagreement with a meet official should be brought to the attention of the coach and handled by the coach.

  10. Children should swim because he/she wants to. It is natural to resist anything they “have to do.” Self-motivation is the stimulus of all successful swimmers.

  11. The etymology of the word ''competition'' goes back to two Latin words: ''com'' and ''pet ere,'' which means “together to strive.” Avoid ''playing'' your child against his nearest competitor, thereby creating friction within the team and swimming community. Close competition provides two great services for the athlete: it brings out the best in him/her and shows where improvement is needed.

  12. The communication between coach and swimmer is very important. A two-way relationship must exist daily at practice. It is imperative that the coach has the swimmer’s full attention at these times. For this reason parents are allowed to watch practice only from the stands in the pool area. They are NOT permitted to participate or instruct. Parents who attempt to coach their child during a practice may be asked to leave the pool.

 

Please leave all coaching to the coaching staff. If you have questions about technique or coaching strategies, we encourage you to arrange a time (NOT during practice) to speak to your child’s coach. Remember, particularly in the case of younger swimmers, that attitude and behavior of the parents in regard to their outlook on the sport has an important effect on the child. In swimming, as in life, nobody can “win” or succeed all the time – there will always be some disappointments. Every child can gain from his experience, whether or not he/she ever wins a single race. The important thing is to keep on striving to do better next time.


Guide to Being a Good Swim Parent

The parent’s primary role is that of unconditional love and support for their swimmer. There are many ways to fulfill this role:

  1. The first is to remind your child that you love them, no matter how they perform either at practice or at a meet.  

    • Support your child’s goals by first allowing them to make goals of their own in consultation with their coach.

    • Remember that this is your son’s or daughter’s childhood and not your own: Recognize their dreams and support their ambitions, but don’t create them for the child.  

    • Make sure that your child is having “fun!” If this isn’t fun, then why do it? If they are not having fun, find out why or ask the coach to find out why.  

    • Do not let your child’s performance affect your attitude towards them. If your child swims poorly it will not make them feel better to see disappointment in their parents. Before they race encourage them to have fun and after they race tell them you love them. Simple words can have a drastic impact on a child’s outlook.  

    • Do not pay your child or provide material rewards for swimming well. Children must learn that doing a thing well is worthwhile in its own right. Through swimming, they should earn respect because of their commitment and not money for their accomplishments.  

    • Understand that swimming can be daunting, especially to new swimmers or younger swimmers. A fifty meter pool looks awfully long to an eight year old! If your child is afraid to swim an event remind them that the coach would only suggest it or enter them in it because they believe in your child.

  2. It is imperative that your swimmer believe you support the coach, even when you disagree with him/her.  

    • Disagreements are natural and when they exist everyone wants resolution, but there is a time and a place to discuss disagreements. The pool deck is not the place to argue or confront the coach about any disagreement. All coaches are available away from the pool deck and will respond to either email or telephone calls.  

    • During practice a coach’s attention must be focused on the group. If you wish to meet in person with your child’s coach, please schedule a time to do so; do not arrive at practice assuming that either the coach will be available to meet with you or that it is the appropriate time and place to meet.  

    • Support the coach by understanding they do have a life outside of the pool. This sport requires long hours of work. Respect the coach’s desire to go home to his/her family after practice.

  3. Support the team at practice, at away meets, and at home.  

    • Supporting the team means everything from making sure your child wears team apparel at meets to volunteering your own time at any of our home meets. Do not leave it to others to do this work. Our team extends beyond the coaches and swimmers and we need everyone’s involvement to be successful.  

    • Supporting the team also means being a positive influence at any meet from the sidelines. There are often instances where parents from opposing teams do not get along, which only creates more tension for the child. We want each swimmer to be a good sport, which means we need our parents to be good sports.  

    • In order to support the team, one must be an active member - beyond just dropping your child off before practice and picking them up afterwards.  

    • Attend parents meetings.  

    • Volunteer at meets, time trials, and team events.

    • House out-of-town swimmers at home meets.

    • Become an official  

    • Pay all bills promptly and in full.

  4. Be punctual for practice and meets and plan for your child to spend the entire practice at the pool. It is disruptive to have a child arrive late or leave early. It also diminishes the value of teaching a child the value of commitment.

  5. Do not coach from the sidelines or stands.  

    • Leave the racing strategies to the coach.  

    • Allow the coach to discuss technical issues with the swimmer and do not second-guess them either with or in front of your child. If you have questions, please discuss it with the coach.  

    • Do not compare your child to anyone else on the team. Your child is unique, wonderful, and full of potential. Remember that everyone achieves potential in different ways and at different times.  

    • Don’t time your child from the stands. There are enough timing devices around at meets and at practice. When a parent times from the stands, it simply adds pressure on the child.

  6. Do not criticize officials. Most officials are parents just like you, committed to their children and committed to their sport.

  7. Winning is NOT everything. The most important things a child can do in a race are:  

    • Have fun!  

    • Try to employ the coach’s technical instructions and racing strategy.  

    • Give their best effort and RACE!  

    • Congratulate the other competitors no matter what the outcome.

  8. Encourage healthy eating. Make smart eating decisions for your child and for yourself. Your children will emulate the people they respect and love most: their parents. Allow their desire to swim to make a positive influence on your own life and health by using it as another reason to make good eating decisions.

  9. Stay informed by reading all e-mail communications and regularly checking the team website.


Parent Responsibilities

Located at the end of the team handbook are:

Appendix A “Terms and Conditions for Participation”

Appendix C “Parents’ Code of Conduct

Appendix D “Service Hours Obligation Policy”

Appendix E “Fundraising Obligation Policy”

Please read all of these forms carefully.  By registering, you are agreeing to and will be held accountable for the terms of each of these contracts.