If your child has ever been involved in anything competitive (including learning to tie his shoes), you have run into the “my child ties his shoes better than your child” parent. It is exhausting. Swim parents are no exception. So I humbly offer some guidelines for those parents who will be sitting with other parents waiting for hours for their children to swim one and a half minutes more beautifully than any other children has ever swum before.
- When attending a swim meet at an indoor pool, forgo the perfume/cologne. It does not mix well with the chlorine laden air. In fact, let’s just make this a life rule – if you are going to be around other people and you will not be able to spread your arms out straight to create some space between bodies, perfume is a no go.
- Do use deodorant. Always. Every time.
- Don’t forget to pack snacks. Snacks make a swim meet better.
- Either buy a meet sheet or figure it out on your own. They are usually just a couple of dollars. Don’t keep asking for “just a peek” at the parent’s sheet next to you.
- Walk outside to talk on your phone. Turn down your ipod.
- If you say to your child, “you must get a 37.06 in this race” and your child’s response is “I just don’t know what you mean by that,” reconsider swimming as the sport of choice for your kid. Or at least temporarily suspend your hopes of Olympic Gold. If your child is younger than 8 and you are quoting must-meet times, check yourself. You are already an out-of-control swim parent.
- Do not talk to the parent next to you when her child is swimming. Especially with a running commentary on his technique/speed/cuteness of suit.
- Do not offer that parent advice on how his kid could improve his technique/dives/turns after watching him swim. Even if you have the best idea ever. No wait… especially if you have the best idea ever. Just say, boy that was a nice swim. Period. Done.
- You really cannot predict height or wing span – even if the doctor “guesses” what the height of your child might be. Just let your kid swim the race at the meet you are attending and worry about how great they are “going” to be when they are sixteen when they are actually sixteen. And if you are using the term wing span in reference to your own child’s fabulousness, settle down. Have a snack – it is better to use your mouth for nourishment purposes at this point.
- When you stand up in the stands and wave your arms wildly in a kicking motion, you can be pretty sure that your child’s thought bubble is not saying, “oh yippee, look at my mom being so super supportive and giving me last minute pointers. Thank God she reminded me to kick. I might have forgotten that at a swim meet I am supposed to kick.” Your child is actually thinking, “oh dear heavens, please sit down.”
- If you are extremely out of shape, you lose credibility in the athletic world – no matter how great you might have been once. It is not fair, but it is very true.
- Once your child dives in with a swim cap on over his ears and begins to swim with his head mostly under water, he will not hear you screaming. No matter how loud you scream. Yes, this is also unfortunately true for backstroke. But you can cause hearing loss or at least headache damage for the poor parent sitting next to you.
- Sending a piercing whistling sound through the air every time your child’s head pops out of the water during breaststroke should be deemed a crime punishable by death.
- Parents are generally not allowed on deck. Get over it. Of course, if you really want to be on deck, grab a stopwatch and volunteer to time. Every parent has felt the pang of watching her child walk through those big glass doors alone. We give our kids a cell phone to keep with them so they can reach us if they need something. Walkie talkies work too. And before we had cell phones, we used our kids DS game – if you have two, they can talk to each other. But seriously, just consider volunteering. You will probably even get free food and all the bathroom breaks you need.
- No matter how many different ways you can think of to praise your child, the parent next to you is still going to think her kid is better. Even if scientific evidence and swim times point to the contrary.
- If your kid has a bad swim, don’t make excuses. It’s hard to get your best time – really hard. And humans make mistakes. I have never seen a kid intentionally screw up a flip turn or a dive or swim his slowest in a race. Not ever. So, when they get out of the water just love them for getting in the water in the first place. Let the coaches correct their technique. That is why you pay them. Too many kids are brought to tears by their parents opinion of a race.
- and the Golden Rule of Swim Parent 101 – don’t ever, under any circumstances, ever quote another child’s time to his/her parent. Just be busy with your own child’s time and leave other children’s times on the time sheet where they belong.
Of course, all of these are offered humbly because I have been the victim of my own wisdom more than once. 😉