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5 Tips on How to Be the Best Swim Parent Ever
What to Do When Your Kid Wants to Be a Competitive Swimmer
When your kid looks up to you and says, “I want to be a competitive swimmer,” you stop being a normal parent and start being a swim parent.
You might be thrilled at this news or overwhelmed at the thought of the endless swimming meets and practices now lined up in your schedule. Mostly, though, we’re betting you want to know the ways you can be the best swim parent you can be for your kid.
So, do the best swim moms and swim dads buy the most competitive swim gear? Bring the best food? Shout the loudest at swim meets? Sure, some do, but we promise it doesn’t have to be quite that complicated or expensive.
At SwimMirror, we want to help every parent be the best swim parent ever. Here’s five tips to get you started!
1) Be Supportive and Positive.
This sounds obvious, right? “Of course, I’m going to be supportive! I wouldn’t be reading this blog if I wasn’t.”
This goes beyond just saying, “I support you,” though. It means not adding to the pressure that comes with competitive swimming, and instead, being part of what calms your athlete down and motivates them.
It’s easy to get performance jitters when you start out as a swimmer, so when your child is worried, help them work through it. That voice in your head never completely goes away (and in some ways that’s good!), but having an encouraging parent definitely helps to push off some of that pre-race anxiety.
2) If You Can, Join in and Volunteer!
Pro swim moms know all about the importance of volunteering for swim meets. It’s a great way to make friends with other parents who are dealing with the same struggles you and your kid are.
An easy go-to for new parents is the snack bar. Good nutrition is essential to great swimming, after all! (You think your kid eats a lot now? Wait until they’re swimming regularly.) You have to stand on your feet for a bit, but it’s a good way to get to know your group.
Not much of a social butterfly? Anxious at the thought of volunteering? There’s a lot of ways to support your child’s swim team, so don’t worry. You can find the way that works best for you. Head timers, clerical work, marshaling… the list is endless.
3) Don’t Just Focus on Winning.
Being competitive is fine, but don’t obsess over winning! Even if it’s playful, sometimes kids can take that too much to heart. Everyone knows not to be a sore loser, but no one likes an ungracious winner, either.
So, don’t complain at the official if your kid is disqualified. If you’re fuming over a race’s results or being smug that your kid won, don’t be surprised if your kid imitates your behavior… or is disappointed (and embarrassed!) when they don’t meet your expectations.
Besides, you’re not the coach. You’re the swim parent, and that’s an important enough job all on its own.
4) Bribery Doesn’t Work – But Motivation Does.
We understand the urge to dangle carrots. Still, you should avoid promising cash, nights out at their favorite restaurant, and so on to “motivate” your swimmer. It’s a good way to paint yourself in a corner when your kid keeps demanding higher and higher rewards for their success, and then quits when you can’t follow through.
Swimming should be something your kid enjoys, not something they do to win prizes. Don’t define success by tangible rewards, but by being the very best you can be, and working hard to improve. And it should be fun.
The way to succeed at competitive swimming is by putting the work in, and bribery is no way to create a reliable work ethic.
5) Your Kid Swims at their Own Pace.
Especially among young swimmers, everyone learns differently and at different speeds. What might be easy for your swimmer is difficult for another, and vice versa. Don’t measure your child’s success against another swimmer’s, and watch that your kid isn’t envying other faster swimmers or looking down on those who learn at a slower pace.
Your young swimmer may be obsessed with times, but the real way to do well at swimming is through good technique and control. That’s the stuff you learn when you slow down and reflect on each stroke.
Looking for a way to help the young swimmer in your life?
Check out SwimMirror, the simple pool mirror that lets you assess your strokes in real-time!