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Readers Respond: Advice from Experienced Swim Moms (and Dads)

Responses: 14


Updated May 01, 2009

When your child joins a swim team for the first time, it's a learning experience for both of you. What have you discovered, the hard way, as a swim mom? What advice would you give to parents of kids starting out? Share your advice on everything from healthy snacks to post-meet pep talks to dealing with crummy coaches or obnoxious opponents. What do you love—or hate—most about being a swim mom (or dad)?

swim mom comfused

Hi, I am a first time swim mom .I had no clue what competitive swimming was all about.I put my son in the team because he enjoys to be in water.Now that we are in the Team,I realised that his skills are not as savvy as others.He finishes up last and sometimes he wouldnt move in the pool.I feel bad to see my son struggling there.I dont want to take him out in the middle.My son on the other hand doesnt complain but he is trying his best,What should I do.I think it might take my son atleast 2 to 3 years to be on par with swim team Kids?What should I do? Should I give him more lessons to improve his technique? How should I help him? Editor's Note: Read my advice about how to help a child who's struggling in sports: http://familyfitness.about.com/od/youthsportsfaqs/fl/Struggling-in-Sports.htm
—Guest hi

We Know What We Did.

I am 14 and currently on a club team going into the high school team. My mother and I have experienced countless meets. Some great and some not so great. At the not so great meets my mom, who was never a swimmer, thinks that its great to tel me how to improve myself at the meet. NO. We know what we did and trust us the coach makes us go to him/her after every race and tells us what we did wrong even after we won. It might just be me but when I'm told that I did something wrong after a race I get mad. If you want to tell us something tell us after- not before- practice when we're not tired. okay? just wanted to tell.
—Guest Rob

Let them swim

ok ya if they want to have the medals and be in top 10 or 5 they have to work hard, but it's up to them if they want to swim or not. I mean i'm 11 and my mom pushes me, ya being a mom thats hat she does. But she lets me decide if i want to swim for fun or if i want to swim cause i want to be in top 5, which i want to do. Its just that parents let your kid decide, do they want to do it for fun or to get the medals and trophies and to also be in top 10 or 5. most parents make their kid swim competitively when really they want to it for fun. I go to meets and some of the kids i meet say things like "i'm soooo nervous my mom maid me come i want to hang out with my friends" and also things like "my parents make me swim, i would rather be playing soccer with my friends on travel soccer." so i would advise you to just let your kid swim and let them decide how important swimming is to them, it doesn't really matter what you want them to do it matters what they want to do. JUST LET THEM SWIM!
—Guest gabby

Be There For Them

Hey, if you have a child in swimming or in another sport dont pressure them. Trust me on this one, im 13 years old i know how it feels too be pushed to the highest extent. Ever sence i was a little girl,4, i was pushed and pushed to be a great competitive swimmer and club soccer player. My mom loved the thought of me in the water, swimming but my dad was more of a soccer type of guy. They both argued and argued about what sport I should do, it just didnt seem far that i didnt have a say in MY OWN future. I still have too put up with it, sooooo, just allways keep in mind that your child always has a right too pick his/or her own future and never to ask your child that he or she is relaxed and ok with all decisions. ALSO, TELL THEM THAT U LOVE THEM, AND U ALWAYS WILL!!!!!!!!!!!!! BE THERE FOR THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
—Guest Lexy

keep your kids in swim

when your kids are in swim they get exercise and get to meet new friends my daughter is an awesome swimmer and loves it so put your kids in swim!
—Guest hi

Swimming is their sport, not yours!

I am the mom of two swimmers, both boys; one swimming in college, the younger swimming for his club team. When they finish an event, give them space, then ask, "How did that feel?" Usually you will get exactly what they are thinking, and they will analyze while they are sharing with you. I never have to ask anything else. They have then shared and/or vented about their swim, and you pick out a few positive things they did in the swim and you move forward. At a swim meet is NOT the time to share your thoughts about what they need to work on. Save that for a time when they are more "open" to wanting to listen to your thoughts. Swimming is not about the Olympics; it's about the friendships they make, the level of devotion and the fortitude they acquire in order to continue to swim. Those are "life" lessons from a "life" sport they can continue to do all their lives. BTW, a meal or a protein drink w/in 30 mins of their workout is optimum for their muscles. Vitamins are a must.

A little pressure can be a good thing

Swimming is an incredibly intensive sport - not only for the kids in the pool, but for the parents as well. The practices, the waits, the drives, the competitions, keeping the wheels going and providing support when a cog slips. For parents of children who swim at a high competitive level, life is intense and they can be forgiven for hoping their own and their children's efforts will bear fruit. We know our kids can't hear us in the pool. But we yell anyway - okay so maybe not "swim, swim" - it's called creating atmosphere and positive energy. Nothing worse than when 8 kids touch up after a 400m free with nothing but silence from the crowd. What I have learned is that not even the best coach knows everything. Learn, watch and ask questions. You'll notice a slight shift in attention and emphasis. PS - love the suggestion about frozen grapes! Will definitely try it next time.
—Guest Kim

Live in the Moment

I think swim parents need to "live in the moment", enjoy and don't put so much pressure on their kids.

Swim mom and dads check this video out.

www.iamaswimmom.com great video , puts it all in perspective.

Crazy parents

I have seen a lot of crazy parents at swim meets. They seem much more interested in how well their kid does in comparison to another swimmer on the team than even the kid does. I feel this is a huge turn off to not only the other parents but also the kid himself. If the parent is constantly expecting too much out of their swimmer than that child is not going to enjoy that sport for very long. I have seen parents say to their child that they have to beat this person or that person even on their own team. How desperate is that for a parent to do that. Parents, in my opinion, should really think what this is all about. This is suppose to be fun not cut throat for every practice and every meet they attend. My swimmer does not even want to swim in a lane during practice with some kids because they cheat just to get ahead in the lane. Most of the time it is the parents telling the kid they must quickly get ahead of another kid so they look good. They are just cheating themselves. Have Fun
—Guest Noel

Tell the coach what works for your child

My daughter is seven and has a heck of a time with her rotation on backstroke, so she ends up zig-zagging down the lane. While she still practices backstroke, for meets her coaches put her in other individual events where she's stronger. It's helped her enjoy the meets more in the near term, and hopefully as her backstroke improves, she'll be ready to take it on as an individual event again. The point is, don't hesitate to give some respectful input where it comes to your own child's strengths, weaknesses, and motivation strategies!
—Guest Julie @ The Mom Slant

Coach Turn Off

When my son was a freshman in high school he loved swimming and diving. He was good at it and was excited to join the swim club. The swim coach approached him and asked him to join the diving team telling him that he could be a major competitor. My son said "no thanks." The coach phoned me at home asking me to urge my son to join. Not a nice guy, very forceful. I explained to him that my son was not interested in swimming or diving as a competitive sport and I was going to honor his decision. He then tried to bully me by asking me what kind of parent I was, insisting I take charge and make my son do the right thing. Whoa! A couple of weeks later my son stopped going to the pool altogether because the coach kept showing up and pressuring him to join the dive team. He told my son he was wasting his talents, was not being loyal to the school, rah, rah. That man took the joy of swimming right out of my son.
—Guest lila

Swim Team Tips

With four swimmers, now in their teens and 20s, and more swim meets than I care to remember under my belt, I just want to urge parents not to care more about the outcome of a swim meet - the times and stats - than their kids do. For the vast majority, swimming is going to be a fun way to stay fit for life, not a ticket to college scholarships (just 2% of all teen athletes get scholarships to college, and the vast majority of those are not full rides) or Olympic glory. So support your swimmers, enjoy their successes, don't sweat the stats and above all, don't pace up and down the pool deck screaming "Swim! Swim!" like some parents I've seen. :-) Also: Body Shop body butter helps hydrate sun parched skin, frozen grapes are awesome snacks, and get yourself a comfy little stadium seat, the portable kind with good back support. You'll be spending many years in those bleachers!

We love Swim Team

My kids have been part of a summer swim team for seven years now. I love the sport, as I think it allows them to compete individually, but also be part of a team. Swim meets can be quite long, with lots of downtime waiting between events. We always pack a swim bag with: plenty of towels; a Sharpie pen for writing event, heat and lane info on our kids' hands, extra goggles and swim caps, sunscreen for outdoor summer meets, water bottles (you still get thirsty, even if you're in the water!), and plenty of activities. The kids bring their Game Boys/iPods and I always pack a book to read. Another fun thing to have in the bag are waterproof (plastic) playing cards. Finally, my advice is to make friends with the other parents. It can be a great social experience for both the swimmers and the parents, and it is fun to hang out together through the meets.
—Guest Pam
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