Why do we need to write a tribute to swim parents? Because there wouldn’t be any good swimmers if there weren’t great swim parents behind them!
SwimTopia was born from summer league swimming roots, and we all know summer swim teams couldn’t exist without an army of amazing swim parents. We talk to them and work with them every day so feel uniquely qualified to appreciate swim parents and be grateful for them. And as an Olympic swimmer, swim parent, and swim coach myself I can appreciate great swim parents from pretty much every angle!
Our hats go off to each and every one of you who exude this list of top swim parent attributes:
From a young age swimmers are expected to swim at least 3 times a week, resulting in parents taxiing their kids regularly to and from the pool for years and years. Swimmers are also picky about their coach and team, and the best facilities are sparsely located, making the swim taxi commute longer than that of your average neighborhood sport. My own #SwimMom and #SwimDad took me to and from a pool that was a 45 minute drive away up to 10 times a week for 5 years until I could drive myself.
See above. Now that I am a parent myself I have a whole new appreciation for what it took my parents to get me to where I got. The time commitment is huge. Swim meets last a lot longer than a ‘game’, regularly spanning from 6 hrs to 3 days. Let’s not even talk about what time you need to get up in the morning for practice, every morning, once kids reach a certain level. My kids currently only swim summer league and personally I’m not in a rush for them to commit to more than that!
They say successful swimmers need great time management skills in order to be able to get their school, work, family and social commitments in as well as their sporting commitments. Clearly they learn those skills from their swim parents! Swim parents need to fit their whole family’s activities into the week as well as run the household around their swimmers’ time consuming practice and meet schedules.
Chief Fueling Officers
Great swimmers need the right fuel and great swim parents are constantly grocery shopping, cooking healthy meals, and packing healthy snacks. Without their help swimmers everywhere would be crashing after the sugar highs from buying too much candy at the concession stand! And did you know that swimming makes you more hungry than other sports because it lowers your core body temperature? I used to know guy swimmers who ate their breakfast cereal in salad bowls!
Ok, so there aren’t uniforms to clean per se, but the towel volume alone is significant, especially after swim meets. Don’t even talk about outdoor swim meets where the towels are covered in grass and dirt!
Patience of a Saint
People just don’t understand what it’s like to be a swim parent unless you’re one. It’s hard for regular folks to comprehend that the ratio, in minutes, of “sitting around waiting” to “watching your child compete” is often 120:1.
The point above brings me to the benefits of volunteering; at least you’re gainfully occupied while you wait if you’re volunteering at a swim meet! Swim parents are the ones that really make it rewarding and fun for their kids to swim by getting involved and helping to better run the team and meets for the kids. Swim parents organize the awards, the events, the parties, the meets, the… well, everything, especially in summer league swimming! But even in school and year-round swimming it wouldn’t be the same without the booster club and steady parent involvement!
Swim parents are their kid’s biggest fans. It’s a great job when the kids are on a roll, going from strength to strength and showing steady improvement. However, the longer your child swims the more likely they are to experience disheartening plateaus, and the more pressure they put on themselves, the more soul crushing any defeat can become. It’s hard to help them through the tough times. Swim parents stand on the side of the pool, having done all they could to help their child succeed, but as their child dives in there’s nothing more they can do but watch how the race will unfold. It’s nerve wracking! I just swam US Masters Spring Nationals after 15 years of not competing. My husband emailed a video of my swim to my parents and my Dad said “I don’t think I can do this anymore” and didn’t want to watch! (He did eventually and was proud of me :). Swim parents that stay positive and support their kids, encouraging them without “pushing” them, are the best kind of fans a swimmer can have!
At SwimTopia we’ve tried to make some parts of swim parenting a bit easier by creating a team management system that is easy to use and learn and has a bunch of features that make life easier, from meet sign up to volunteer management, to communication and fundraising through merchandise sales. Take a look and let us know if you’d like to learn more about how we can help your swim team!
I’ve tried to hit all the top attributes of being a great swim mom or dad in this tribute to swim parents but I am sure there are some I’ve missed! Thank you great swim parents, for supporting a generation of swimmers who will love the sport and carry on the tradition!