Treasurer: Todd Lipkin: 541-556-2544, email@example.com
THE SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE NEW SWIMMING PARENT
...and some good reminders for the regulars!
Congratulations! You just joined a swim team. The following are some
observations from a former new swimming parent.
Helpful Links- Concussion information for parents and athletes http://www.usaswimming.org/. Free sports training for parents http://www.praesidiuminc.com/.
Necessary Stuff: Suit and Goggles
The basic items needed are a racing suit and a pair of competition goggles. Going to your local sporting goods store or paying the equivalent per inch of fabric as Tokyo real estate for a first suit is not the way to start. Your team usually will sell you a team suit at cost, or you can check out invitational meets where vendors are set up with reasonable prices. Also, don't be afraid to ask a returning parent -
they are a source of good tips.
It’s best to have two suits. One to wear at practice and one to wear at meets. The practice suit will get worn out and become slow, but the meet suit will stay snug and fast. When the meet suit wears out, it can be used as the practice suit.
You must have goggles for practice and meets! Two or three pairs are important because they tend to break at the wrong time.
Goggles protect the eyes from chlorine and help your child see underwater. There are many types and styles. It tends to be a matter of personal choice. The longest lasting goggles are those with rubber like gaskets. A good pair has soft gaskets that conform around the eye sockets. "Swedish" style goggles (a hard plastic goggle that sits inside the eye socket) are not recommended for beginners. For first time swimmers who have difficulty with rubber gaskets, a pair with foam gaskets might work. Anti-Fog goggles have a coating that reduce fogging. The coating degrades with time, but your child will have lost his goggles way before then. For those goggles without the coating try dipping them in water or applying a little saliva before putting them on.
Get a swim cap for long hair, a swim bag and chlorine shampoo. A latex cap is the cheapest though the most difficult to put on for the new swimmer. A lycra cap is softer and easier to use. A silicon cap is easy to pull on and gives more protection than a lycra cap, but is much more expensive than either the latex or lycra. Swim bags have lots or mesh compartments to separate the wet from the dry items. Chlorine shampoo helps to remove the chlorine from your swimmer when their hair starts to look like Tina Turner’s and they begin to smell like a swamp creature. Using it on suits also helps.
The First Meet
Start with a swim bag the size of your child, stuff it with everything you normally would take to practice and then double this. Also include warm clothing for your child. Pack light snacks and drinks for your swimmer. Your coach will probably have more to say about eating on the day of a meet. Don’t forget a change of clothing for yourself, indoor pools can be extremely warm.
Arrive 15 minutes before warm-up to allow time to change and find a home base. Give yourself plenty of time and take a map.
If you have non-swimming brothers and sisters going, pack some creative fun things for them. Remember a pool can be a dangerous place, so keep an eye on them at all times. Don’t forget snacks. Otherwise, after numerous trips to the snack bar for candy, you wilt have to detox your child after the meet.
Can’t stop without a message. Good sportsmanship starts with you; cheer your child and your team. Remember that improvement and personal
accomplishments are more important than winning.
Competitive swimming programs provide many benefits to young athletes. They develop self-discipline, good sportsmanship and time management skills. Competition allows the swimmer to experience success and to learn how to deal with defeat, while becoming healthy and physically fit.
As a parent, your major responsibility is to provide a stable, loving and supportive environment. This positive environment will encourage your child to continue. Show your interest by ensuring your child’s attendance at practices, and by coming to meets.
Parents are not participants on their child’s team, but contribute to the success experienced by the child and his/her team. Parents serve as role models and their attitudes are often emulated by their children. Be aware of this and strive to be positive models. Most importantly, show good sportsmanship at all times toward coaches, officials, opponents and teammates.
Be Enthusiastic and Supportive
Remember that your child is the swimmer. Children need to establish their own goals, and make their own progress towards them. Be careful not to impose your own standards and goals. Do not over-burden your child with winning or achieving best times. The most important part of your child’s swimming experience is that he/she learns about himself/herself while enjoying the sport. This healthy environment encourages learning and fun which will develop a positive self-image within your child.
Let the Coach Coach
The best way to help a child achieve his/her goals and reduce the natural fear of failure is through positive reinforcement. No one likes to make a mistake. If your child does make one, remember that he/she is still learning. Encourage his/her efforts and point out the things he did well. As long as he gave his best effort, you should make him/her feel like a winner.
Ten Commandments for Parents with Athletic Children
1. Make sure your child knows that, win or lose, scared or heroic, you love him/her, appreciate his/her efforts, and are not disappointed in him/her. This will allow him to do his best without fear of failure. Be the person in his or her life he can look to for constant positive reinforcement.
2. Try your best to be completely honest about your child's athletic ability, his competitive attitude, his/her sportsmanship and his/her actual skill level.
3. Be helpful but don’t coach you child on the way to the pool or on the way back, or at breakfast, and so on. It’s tough not to, but it’s a lot tougher for the child to be inundated with advice, pep talks, and often critical instruction.
4. Teach you child to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be "out there trying," to be working to improve his/her skills and attitude. Help your child to develop the feel f or competing, for trying hard, for having fun.
5. Try not to re-live your athletic life through your child in a way that creates pressure; you fumbled, too, you lost as well as won. You were frightened, you backed off at times, and you were not always heroic. Don’t pressure him/her because of your lost pride.
6. Don’t compete with the coach. If the coach becomes an authority figure, it will run from enchantment to disenchantment, etc. with your athletes.
7. Don’t compare the skill, courage, or attitudes of your child with other
members of the team.
8. Get to know the coach so that you can he assured that his/her philosophy, attitudes, ethics and knowledge are such that you are happy to have your child under his/her leadership.
9. Always remember that children tend to exaggerate, both when praised and when criticized. Temper your reaction and investigate before over-reacting.
10. Make a point of understanding courage, and the fact that it is relative. Some of us can climb mountains, and are afraid to fight. Some of us will fight, but turn to jelly if a bee approaches. Everyone is frightened in certain areas. Explain that courage is not the absence of fear, but a means of doing something in spite of fear or discomfort. The job of a parent of an athletic child is a tough one, and it takes a lot of effort to do it well. It is worth all the effort when you hear your youngster say, "My parents really helped."
Officials are present at all competitions to implement the technical rule of
swimming and to ensure that the competition is fair and equitable. Officials attend clinics, pass a written test and work meets before being certified. All parents are encouraged to get involved with some form of officiating. Timers — operate timing devices (watches or automatic timing systems) and record the official time for the swimmer in his lane.
Turn Judges — observe from each end of the pool and ensure that the turns and finishes comply with the rules applicable to each stroke.
Stroke Judges - observe from both sides of the pool, walking abreast of the swimmers, to ensure that the rules relating to each stroke are being followed. The positions of Stroke Judge and Turn Judge may be combined into one position called the Stroke and Turn Judge. Relay Takeoff Judges - stand beside the starting blocks to observe the relay exchange, ensuring that the feet of the departing swimmer have not lost contact
with the block before the incoming swimmer touches the end of the pool.
Clerk of the Course — arranges the swimmers in their proper heats and lanes. Starter — assumes control of the swimmers from the Referee, directs them to "take your mark’ and sees that no swimmer is in motion prior to giving the start signal. Referee — has overall authority and control of the competition, ensuring that all the rules are followed; assigns and instructs all officials, and decides all questions relating to the conduct of the meet. If your child is disqualified (DQ’d) in an event, be supportive rather than critical. For beginning swimmers, a disqualification should be treated as a learning experience, not as punishment. A DQ alerts the swimmer and the coach to what portions of the swimmer’s stroke need to be corrected. They should be considered in the same light as an incorrect answer in schoolwork. They point out areas which need further practice. The DQ is necessary to keep the competition fair and equitable for all other competitors. A supportive attitude on the part of the official, the coach, and the parent can also keep it a positive experience for the DQ’d swimmer.
Article from ASCA (american swimming coaches association) Swim Club News- Parent Edition
I Coach so you Don't Have To
By Kay Lynne Firsching, Head Coach & Owner of St Louis Spirit Swimming
After a recent meet, a parent spoke to me about the conversations taking place in the stands about the swimmers. Some parents talked about everything that their child needed to change to improve. Others wondered why their child was not improving as much as another swimmer on the same team. Others expressed doubt that the coach was doing enough to make the swimmer improve. None of the comments were about whether the child was having fun or noting the improvements that did happen. Did these parents share their thoughts with their child when he or she came to the stands? I hope not. All of these concerns are the purview of the coach. All of these parents mean well. They want their children to be happy and to be successful. They want to help. Sometimes parents help their children so much that the activity, in this case swimming, becomes more about the parents' feelings than the athletes'.
It is important for the young athlete to be able to own her swimming. What I mean by this is that the desire and work and commitment need to come from the athlete. Some parents make the mistake of wanting swimming success for their children so much that there is no room for the child to discover on her own whether or not she wants to do it. Some parents are so busy making sure that everything is taken care of that the child never experiences any failure. If a child never experiences disappointment or failure, she will never learn how to recover from it. She will not know the value of appropriate consequences for her lack of action. She will not be motivated to change.
Parents are in the enviable position of being able to be their child's cheerleader and primary emotional support for swimming. All corrections and instructions should come from the coach. The coach knows what skills and training levels the athlete should be working on.
I had a young athlete on my team for many years who loved to swim. When he became a teenager, he developed some performance anxiety issues and started swimming less well at meets than at practice. Worry became a part of every meet. He worried that he would not be good enough. He worried if he did not drop time at every emet in every event that he was not working hard enough. He worried about his mom's reaction to his performance. That was the key it turned out. Other swimmers told me that this swimmer's mom would tell him after every practice and meet all the things she had seen that he needed to fix. She had spent a great deal of time and effort to understand swimming and wanted to share her knowledge with her child. She wanted to be involved and to help him improve in every way possible. The result - he stopped swimming. It became not fun. He felt like he was a failure even though he had state times and was a leader in his lane. The message he heard with all the corrections was that nothing was good enough. The mother's desire for the swimmer to be really good dominated the swimmer's relationship with his sport. Instead of the swimmer determining the amount of time and effort he wanted to spend improving, he spent his time reacting to his mother. It became about her and not his swimming.
Parents over involvement with their child's swimming even extends to simple things during practice.
Last year, I was in the hallway waiting for all the swimmers to be picked up and a brother and sister from the team were playing in the hall. I asked them where their mom was and they said she had gone back to the pool to get the water bottles they had forgotten. These siblings were 9 and 11 years old.
When will these children remember to pick up their water bottles for themselves? Never. Who would if someone else will do it for you? As a coach, my feeling is that swimmers should be responsible for their own equipment. Parents might want to remind, but they should not do something for a swimmer that they can do for themselves. One of the coach's job is to teach the athlete to be able to take care of herself and her equipment.
All of this is not to say that parents should not have any concerns or responsibilites about swimming. Parents need to get swimmers to practice and meets on time and they need to make sure their swimmers have access to the proper equipment and supplies for their sport. Parents need to reinforce the concept that swimming on a team is a commitment to the team and to the sport and to themselves. If parents have concerns about training levels, skills, or stroke technique, those concerns should be discussed with the coach. The coach is responsible for the long-term development of the athlete and may have a different view of what is happening. Your child's coach knows her as an athlete. Your child's coach knows what your young athlete can do and what she is capable of doing. Let your young athlete have her own relationship with her coach and with her sport. Don't become your child's coach. Hopefully, she will have many good coaches in her life. No matter what, she will only have one mom and one dad. Be the parent.