Helpful Tips and Tricks for Parenting a Swimmer

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Helpful Tips and Tricks for Parenting a Swimmer

Being an athlete’s parent is not an easy job. In fact, it may be one of the hardest jobs out there. It can be difficult to watch kids grow up and get ready to go to college – especially if children are on the fence about playing their sport in the future. Parents know what they can do to help their kids succeed in college – and have a good time doing it as well! Here are a few helpful hints.

Decision Making

Eventually, a point comes where swim parents must let their athletes take charge of their own work ethic.

An article on states: “It’s a well known fact that when kids make their own choices and set goals for themselves, they tend to become more invested in them. Letting a child make informed decisions about how much weekly training to do, having them determine their pre-race routines, and allowing them to notice how they felt about a practice or meet can help maintain their motivation.”

A good way to help young athletes become more motivated is by allowing them to set their own goals. If a swimmer’s goal is to get a 2:10 in the 200 freestyle, it will be more important to them if they are the ones who developed the target. By generating their own goals, the time becomes something they want, and not something mom or dad told them to want.

Knowing this, there are still ways that parents can involved in the goal setting process. Support is always huge. A healthy mental state can go a long way into making or breaking a race. Even the simple phrases, “You can do this” or “Good job” can help athletes improve their mental state. It can also help them reach their goals.

An athlete who knows that their parents support them is more likely to achieve a goal than one who doesn’t. It is in this way that parents can indirectly help their children with goals, but not decide the goals for them.


The end of high school is an important time in many swimmers’ lives. It is at that point that they’ll be recruited by collegiate programs. That fact might seem daunting to someone who hasn’t been through it before. Even so, starting early and giving young athletes support can go a long way into making the experience more enjoyable and manageable.

“Your swimmer will, of course, need to consult with you on planning college tours. These are helpful to learn about various schools and hopefully you can arrange to meet with a coach when visiting schools,” Michelle Lombana writes on her website.

Remember, the swimmers have not been through this before. College is new and exciting to them! They could need help filling out recruitment questionnaires or touring schools. Most questionnaires can be found on college websites, along with contact information for coaches. Most athletes should look into filling these out forms during the course of their junior year, if not sooner. This gives them time to examine their options and narrow down their list of top colleges.

Above all, though, swim parents must be prepared to let their kids make the ultimate choice about college. And there isn’t just one choice. Swimmers can choose between divisions, or even choose if they want to swim for their school or not. Club teams are always an option – a valid option. Club teams offer many of the same benefits as school teams, but swimmers are able to be more flexible with their time.

Swim parents can and should offer their own opinions and suggestions. However, eventually it is the swimmer who must make their own choice about college.

So have fun filling out questionnaires! Have fun walking around campuses! And enjoy the time spent as a family.

Come to Meets

The most important thing a swim parent can do is to attend meets. That may not sound like a lot, but it can do wonders to improve an athlete’s mentality. With parents there, athletes now have their own cheering section – people who will think that they’re awesome no matter what. Even if they don’t realize it yet, those memories will be invaluable one day.

So please. Attend meets. Cheer. Be proud of young swimmers and their accomplishments. Growing up can be a challenge, but swim parents can make things a lot easier simply by offering their support.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Rosemary Niebauer
8 months ago

Love this article! It is great that you are able to write what you are experiencing! Very timely!

Bob Niebauer
8 months ago

Very well constructed article.

Articles by Ms. Dunn appear as journal entries in her personal diary as she goes through the process of growing up as a swimmer. Her maturation as a swimmer and as a writer seem to go hand in hand.

I greatly value these windows into her life!