Whether you're a swim mom or a swim dad, you're probably very proud your child has chosen swimming as their sport of choice. You most likely want to be able to show that you support them no matter what. However, swimming is an involved sport, and when you have other commitments such as pets, other children and work, being a good swim parent can mean your life becomes even busier.
The swim parent lifestyle includes early morning practices, weekend swim meets, fees, event chaperoning and carpooling, among other responsibilities. In return for their own commitment, most parents want to get the best from their swimmers without pushing them too hard. Follow this advice for parents of competitive swimmers to know how to best support your child's goals!
10 Tips for Swim Parents
This swim parent advice could help you connect better with your children and help them love the sport that they are in.
1. Encourage Accountability
Accountability means your child takes ownership of their responsibilities, which means keeping track of their own gear, meets and practice schedule. Younger children may not be able to do all this independently, but encouraging them to follow through on their commitments can help build accountability.
You can also encourage them to set personal goals and evaluate and track their own workouts to instill a sense of control regarding their own swimming style and progress.
2. Take the Good Days With the Bad
As a parent, you have to control your own emotions and feelings when your child is playing any sport. Even if you swam and have a deep connection to the sport, recognize that your child is different from you. They may swim to have fun rather than to compete with others.
Through their good days and bad, you should show the same unwavering support and encouragement — showing your disappointment to your child on their bad days can make them feel even worse. You also cannot fall into the trap of thinking your child’s performance is a reflection of you. As long as you offer plenty of support and encouragement, you will be an awesome swim parent.
3. Set the Standard for Good Sportsmanship
How you react to your child's performance sets the stage and trains them for how they should react. Good sportsmanship is paramount in sports, and showing respect for other players, coaches and officials is essential. Fighting the coach's or official's decisions does not set a good example. Instead, you should set an example of sportsmanship and self-control for your child to follow, even if you are disappointed or upset.
4. Moderate Your Expectations
Swim parents are amazing at sacrifice — between fundraisers, driving, swim meets, hotel rooms and various travel costs, you put so much time and energy into helping your child. Some parents might see this as an investment that they should be getting a return on, whether through college scholarships or more professional sponsorships. However, your child's goals should guide your expectations.
Swimming and other sports should not be measured in dimes and dollars. Rather, expect your return on investment to be the lessons of perseverance, accountability and the memories your child gained along their journey.
5. Address Issues Privately and Directly
When issues arise with another swimmer, coach or parent it's important to take care of these issues privately and directly to avoid rumors and gossip. It's best to assume the best intentions from everyone and approach conflict with an understanding attitude. If you're upset as a parent, take some space to sort through your emotions before confronting anyone.
It's in your kid's best interest to keep them out of any drama — which includes discussing your issues with other swimmers or parents around them. If you do need to sort out an issue, set a meeting outside of swim time to get everything sorted out.
6. Let Your Swimmer Have Other Hobbies
Kids are kids and they will have more than one interest or hobby. It is important that their entire lives are not dedicated to swimming, especially at a young age. Kids still need time for friends, other interests, family and school. Constantly having to relive meets and practices outside of the pool can become mentally exhausting. Let your kids be kids and allow them space to explore multiple interests and passions.
7. Be a Good Role Model
Be there to teach your kids about good sportsmanship. Winning is not everything and losing is not the end of the world. Teach them to support their teammates no matter the circumstances and tell them your goals for them and help them set their own. Avoid setting unrealistic expectations — instead, set attainable goals so that your child does not get overwhelmed or discouraged. Accomplishing a goal can provide a major sense of self-gratification and pride.
8. Let Them Make Decisions
Going along with accountability, allow your child to make some of their own decisions regarding their sports. You can help them by laying out their choices and explaining the consequences, but assure them the decision is theirs. For example, allow them to decide if and when they want to practice outside of mandatory hours. Giving children this ability to make their own decisions teaches them better decision-making skills and affords them a sense of responsibility.
9. Let the Coaches Do the Coaching
One issue that a lot of sports teams face is a couple of parents who jump in on the coaching. This can be distracting and counter-productive if the children have more than one person telling them what to do. Many of these parents have good intentions, but generally, the coach knows best. Everyone who attends a meet must know their roles to keep everything flowing smoothly.
10. Be There for Them
The most essential, and perhaps the most simple, tip to be a good swim parent is to just be there. More than anything, your child wants to see you in the stands. They want to know that you are there for them for the rough meets and the amazing meets. They want to hear you cheering from the bleachers and calling their name. Be their shoulder to cry on, give them words of encouragement when they lose and toss them on your shoulder when they win.
Get Your Swim Kid the Best Swim Gear
Being a swim parent is not an easy task. There are a lot of sacrifices, including hard work, financial investment and time commitments, but the reward of seeing your child do something they love overpowers all of that.
More than anything, your child wants your support and to know that you are proud of them. Part of supporting your child is ensuring they have everything they need to succeed. Check out All American Swim for your one-stop shop to get all the suits and gear your child will need for swimming.