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

Responses: 23


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)? Share Your Tip

A Happy Medium

I have been swimming since I was four years old- I am now 13. I love swimming with everything I am- but during or after a three and a half hour practice, the last thing I want is a talk with my parents about improving or times. Coaches are there to encourage me in whatever way they think is best- and they know what they're doing. Parents have an equal place in a swimmers success. I know that I would never have qualified for nationals if my mom and dad hadn't been encouraging me the whole time. However, tere is a fine line between encouraging and pressuring. Many of my friends have dropped the sport completely- their parents put too much pressure on each swim by doing things like memorizing their times, talking to them before a big race, offering them prizes for certain times... Etc. On the pool deck, a parent is a supporter, but only a coach should talk to a swimmer before a race. Swimming fast is all about being relaxed, well prepared, and positive- good luck swimmers!!
—Guest Grace

Coaches Coach, Parents Love Support

My son (16) focused on Nat qual times seemed tense & moody. I felt tense & helpless. Coach was sure he could make it = last chance of season 3 day outdoor meet 3 hrs away. Fri near miss 200LCM Ba. Says slept fine, I know he didn't, I was awake. I knew how much this meant to him. Sat last chance 100LCM Ba. I didn't know his time I knew by how he looked at coach, avoided eye contact with me & walked past silently. It hurt to see my baby hurting. I wanted the days of magic mom kisses to make everything better. He talked to coach, sulked, got best time next event. But still sulking & rude to me finished the day with 'off' swim. He had to accept this on his own, wanted space & didn't want me, it hurt - I wanted to scold for being rude, but not the time. After dinner he said sorry & we talked. Sun more himself & swam 3 bests. Parents: let coaches coach & respect them, Love & be there for your swimmer even bad days. Swimmers do your best each race, learn and move on & always HAVE FUN!
—Guest SwimMom1196


You might not be a committed swim mom or dad, but still care about your kid! It brings us down when our parents wont even listen to what you are saying or doing. My mom wont let me join a local winter swim team because it is "too much of a commitment for her." Even though the drive is only 8min. Either way! If swimming is really what your child's passion is, follow them and show that you care!
—Guest JoJo

Don't Over Pressure Them

I'm 12 and I have swum for 6 years. My parents never did the sport but, they really have come to love it. My two complaints are that my parents over pressure me to practice or threaten to kick me off the team and coaches that expect way to much out of me.
—Guest I❤SWIM

Just Keep Swimming

Listen to your children. I am 11 years-old and LOVE to swim. I know it is very hard to keep up with school-work while you swim. I would know because I swim club all year (even during school season). Make sure to ask them about their homework but don't make them stressed about it. And they know how much of a commitment it takes. They really appreciate it even though they don't say it. And NEVER threaten to take them out of swim. Especially if they are really sure and serious about it. Just stay by their side and cheer them on...especially when they need it the most. :)
—Guest SwimmerGirl2001

Enjoy the moment!

Hi there, I have spent more hours than I care to tot up at training sessions, open meets and serious competitions supporting my daughters. It is very easy to get rather swept up by it all when they show talent, determination and start winning stuff! My recommendation would be that you might as well enjoy all these hours you are putting in rather than be constantly expecting better times or placings. I try to see each weekend meet as an opportunity to spend time with my daughters, have some fun and create some great memories, they grow up very quickly and next weekend's race might be the best one they ever do, so celebrate it rather than hope for better.
—Guest UK Swim Mum

Let me have fun!

My mom was a competetive swimmer - she went to any Ivy League College on a (swimming) scholarship. I have been swimming since I was born and have been on a club team for years - I am now 17 years old. I have had a BLAST swimming!!! Some years I have been SUPER involved and others, I have not. So many parents are amazed that my mom is not controlling - she encourages me, but has never memorized my times! She says it is up to me to decide how involved I will be. She has always provided whatever support I have needed and asked for. I love to swim. Although I may never be a D-1 swimmer, I know that swimming will ALWAYS be a part of my life. Let your kids enjoy this sport and support them however they need. Watch out Masters Swimming - I am here for life!! Thanks, Mom!!
—Guest My mom is a swimmer

Great Expectations Wake Up Call

i think that swimming's great. i started about a year ago and I'm 15 years old now, but with the help of my swim team, I'm getting pretty good :)! But see... that's the problem. i got so good so quickly that my mom and dad started raising their expectations of me. they think I'm good enough for the Olympics now or something and they always get it in my head. I'm just swimming because I want to! i mean, i know people on my team who eat, breathe, and live swimming. so do their parents. there is a line between dedication and obsession. and i think this is unhealthy because, naturally, their expectations for their kids would be higher and the kids too, they're gonna start thinking they're Olympic-material. and this is where the bitter reality and disappointment come in. it's a crushing blow to both the swimmers and their over-bearing parents when they see other swimmers on Team USA competing at the Olympics when they always imagined themselves to be on it.
—Guest Kayley

Just leave it to us!!!!

It really annoys me when parents pressure us to do well. I am 12 and I'm a swimmer and everytime I get home from a practise my mom and dad are like how did it go did you keep up and it has stopped me from enjoying it:( my advice is to just let the kids swim and show an intrest but not to much you dont want to stop us all enjoying it!!!
—Guest Hi

Caring as much as I do.

I am 11 and I hate when my mom seems like she doesn't care as much as I do. I mean I don't want a controlling mom but I've dedicated my whole life to this and she has dedicated 1 fourth of hers. So, don't be controlling but try being on the same level as your child. If they really care you should to and if they don't, then why should you?
—Guest Abbi

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.

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