The Rules of Pool: Navigating Etiquette at Swim Meets

Drew McClure
Feb 27, 2019

The following article was written by Andrea Phillpotts, a writer, teacher, and Rapids parent. A Chinese translation is included below.

The parent was huge, easily over 6 feet tall, leaning over the bleacher guard rail and projecting his immense voice across the SFU pool to where his child was racing, peppering it with whistles and chirps.  He wasn’t a Rapids parent and I didn’t recognize him.  I can’t remember what his instructions were to his child but his whole delivery was intense.  Like back away intense.  Not only myself but the other nearby swim parents moved away in variations of “what the heck?” and “I’m staying away from that guy.”  He had me thinking of the rules of the pool and our role as swim parents.

With the Provincials, Swim BC Winter Age Groups, Time Trials, Pass Meets, and Mini Meet swims on our minds, I figured it would be a great time to remind Rapids members of etiquette at swim meets.  Whether your child is competing for fun or the exhilaration of competition, parents are likely to spend hours poolside; understanding the “do’s and don’ts” makes everything run more smoothly.

I contacted a couple seasoned Rapids parents for their input.  Gina McCallum has two daughters in the competitive stream of Rapids and has been with the club for a whopping 13 years.  That’s a lot of meets.

For parents, Gina has some excellent “to do” tips:

  1. Volunteer for timing right away.  Not only does this help out the club but timers have the best seats in the house!  Also, check in at the beginning of a local meet; sometimes extra shifts become available at the last moment.
  2. Encourage your child to sit with their teammates rather than the family; this is great for team bonding and in Gina’s words, “a happy swimmer stays a swimmer.”
  3. Let your child figure out their heats and lanes; if they mess up, it’s a chance to learn.
  4. Bring healthy snacks and water and allow swimmers time to rest before finals.
  5. Encourage all Rapids swimmers and try and stay for the whole meet, not just your child’s events. Everyone appreciates a cheering committee.
  6. Be positive even if the meet seems to go on forever; your child will grow up soon enough and you’ll miss these precious hours!

There are also some things to avoid at meets:

  1. Don’t go behind the blocks or on deck.  This place is for swimmers only unless you’re timing or officiating (see #1, above) Your child can find their own towel and there are trained volunteers available to direct them to where they need to go next.
  2. Don’t coach your child before the race or do the “drive home of doom” where you analyze each and every completed swim to a tired child.
  3. Don’t hover over your child and their coach.  Space is good.  Let coaches do their job. Volunteer or hang-out in the bleachers with the other parents, instead.
  4. If your child is part of a relay, don’t leave early.  This could be devastating to the other swimmers who are left in a lurch.
  5. If you’re overly nervous about a race, try not to transfer this on to your child.  Go for a walk or grab a cup of tea from the concession.  It will do both of you good.

Another parent and past Rapids President, Dawna McIver, is in her seventh season with Rapids.  She confirms Gina’s advice, seeing swim meets as excellent opportunities for growth for kids: “Parents need to be parents; let the coaches be coaches.  The first people that your kid needs to talk to after a swim in the coach.  Feed them and love them, but how to swim… that’s the job of the coaches.” 

The independence that children can get from swim meets can be transformative.  Dawna comments on this, “Part of what we trying to do as parents is allow our kids to be as independent as they can.  It’s important to stand back a bit.  A lot of the practical thingsfor meets (for example dressing appropriately) our coaches are looking after.  [Rapids] is a safe place for my kid to fly away from me …. working on their sense of independence and autonomy.”

And with that excellent advice, I wish you and your child a fun and fast swim meet.  May you and your child both “find your wings.”

And as for that booming parent in that fall swim meet, I hope he finds his peace too.


作者:Andrea Phillpotts 翻译:Lihua He


随着Provincials,Swim BC Winter Age Group,Time Trials,Pass Meets, 和Mini Meet这些比赛的到来,我觉得这是一个很好的时间来思考Rapids俱乐部成员在游泳比赛中的礼仪。无论你的孩子是参与娱乐性比赛还是竞技性比赛,父母都可能在游泳池边度过几个小时。知道什么可为,什么不可为,可有助于赛事的顺利进行。

我咨询了几位经验丰富的Rapids家长。 Gina McCallum的两位女儿在Rapids参与竞技比赛,并且已经在俱乐部工作了13年,经历了很多比赛。














另一位家长同时也是前任Rapids负责人Dawna McIver,在Rapids已是第七个赛季。她同意Gina的建议,认为游泳比赛是孩子成长的绝佳机会:“父母承担家长的责任,让教练完成教练的工作。每次比赛后,你的孩子首先需要与教练交流。培养他们,给他们关怀,但至于如何提高游泳.....那是教练的工作。”

孩子们从游泳比赛中学到的独立性是通用的。Dawna对此评论道,“作为父母,我们努力让我们的孩子尽可能独立。在游泳比赛中,家长保持适当的距离这一点很重要。我们的教练知道如何负责各种具体事项(比如要求队员穿着得体)。 Rapids是一个孩子可以展翅试飞的安全地方,孩子们在此可以逐渐提高他们的独立性和自主性。”



(请注意,本专栏中的所有观点并不代表Richmond Rapids或任何其他机构的观点。如果您有任何故事、观点或问题,请联系

(Please note that all opinions in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the Richmond Rapids or any other organization. If you have any story ideas or questions, please contact