By Swimming World Intern Brook Jiang
PISCATAWAY, New Jersey, January 13. BEHIND every swimmer is a group of supporters. Parents, coaches, and friends – no swimmer can go without them. But for a parent, swimming is much more than a sport. It involves their child’s happiness and success. As any loving mom or dad knows, their child’s joy is their joy.
“There’s a fine line between supporting your child and being pushy,” said Anne Piascik, mother of Scarlet Aquatic Club’s Emma Piascik. She believes that parents should not meddle with the coaches’ decisions, but rather support their child, which often means driving long distances. The farthest she has driven from New Jersey is North Carolina, a trip totaling six hours.
“You have to help your child become better, and then let them soar on their own,” said Piascik. Emma is part of Scarlet Elite and swimming plays a crucial part in her life and her mom’s.
“Emma is the one who wanted to swim,” said Piascik.
She strongly affirms that swimming has taught her daughter how to be a successful person. Emma has gained many valuable skills such as independence, time management and self-motivation. For a swimmer, there is a constant cycle of meets and practices. A parent must help juggle the balance of academics with swimming. “I appreciate the coaches very much, because they always look out for the swimmers,” said Piascik. “Kudos to them!”
“Swimming teaches so much,” said Allison Douglass, mother of Westchester Aquatic Club’s Kate Douglass. “You always have to swim your personal best.”
She believes swimming is a team sport, and it teaches confidence. “The parents all cheer for each other’s children,” said Douglass. On Sunday, she stayed at the CeraVe Invitational for the whole day in order to provide encouragement for Kate. “She just loves to swim. All I’m here to do is drive.”
For Nancy King, CeraVe Invitational Meet Director, parents are the backbone of the meet.
“Swimming is a volunteer-intensive sport,” said King. “You need 40 officials to efficiently run a meet.” King has three children who have all competed for Berkeley Aquatic Club, and one is competing in the meet. “We’re second-generation swimmers. My husband also swam for Coach Jim (Wood).” With such an amazing legacy, King strives to help Berkeley and other swimming clubs. She is part of a non-profit commission that provides support and consultation for clubs in New Jersey.
“One of the coolest things about Berkeley is our system of meets,” said King. “Most of the parents all want to contribute their time.” For the Berkeley senior championship, each family must contribute 100 hours and most exceed the necessary requirements. “It’s funny, because when your children live in the water, your social life is also only swimming.”
“Swimming builds character,” said King. “It’s just you and the wall, you and the watch, and you and the water.”
There are no excuses for failing classes or immoral behavior. Coach Wood stresses the importance of balancing work and swimming—both require assiduity and effort.
“Parents must provide life-long support for their child,” said Christine Pearson, the CeraVe Hospitality Coordinator and Berkeley parent. Pearson is a strong advocate of the benefits of swimming for the child and the parent. “It teaches dedication, responsibility, discipline, and hard work.”
Pearson states that the swimming world is full of kind and compassionate people. All of her four children have swum for Berkeley, and two of them are competing at CeraVe.
“Some children take to swimming like fish to water, but it’s not easy,” said Pearson. “It’s the parent’s job to get them where they need to go.” She believes that if the parents can show their dedication, then the child will also be dedicated to the sport. “My boys have always loved to swim, and it’s important to me that they’re happy.”
Parents play different parts, some in the foreground and some in the background. However, every job is important. When asked about her role as a parent, Pearson smiles. “We listen to their frustrations. We celebrate their wins.”