A Thank You to Swim Dads

swimming parent
Photo Courtesy: Heidi Torregroza

By Alison Murtagh, Swimming World College Intern

To be successful both in and out of the water, every swimmer needs a strong support system. In order to reach their highest potential, it is vital that swimmers have someone to encourage them and keep them focused even when they want to give up. While coaches and teammates are able to keep swimmers motivated while on deck, it is important to have someone outside of the sport that can help keep things in perspective when the going gets tough.

Throughout my swimming career, my father has been one of the most influential people in my life. While he was not a swimmer himself—besides swimming the occasional mile or so at the gym—he helped me to reach my goals in a way that a fellow swimmer might not have been able to.


Photo Courtesy: Terren, flickr

Fathers give up a lot for their children to be able to swim. They spend long hours at the pool on weekends cheering for their swimmers during meets. They officiate, time, and work the concessions all so their child’s team can have a successful meet. While fathers are always present at swimming events, they often are under-appreciated in the swimming community.

I will never forget all of the times my dad helped me to put things into perspective after a bad race. He taught me to look at the little details of the meet, and realize that swimming isn’t all about going a best time or winning an event. Instead, he encouraged me to just have fun and enjoy spending time with my teammates—and to know that all of my hard work would eventually pay off.


Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

After a bad race, the last thing swimmers want to hear from their parents is what they could’ve done better. Odds are, they already know themselves and have heard the critique from their coach. While constructive criticism can be helpful, so can a fatherly hug and a pat on the back.

I will always look back fondly on the father-daughter lunch dates I shared with my dad in-between sessions at swim meets, and the adventures we had together trying to make it to the pool on time for warm up.

Without my dad, I would not be the swimmer—or person—that I am today. While he might not be able to do a flip turn or swim a legal IM, I know that I can rely on him no matter what. I know that when I look into the stands, he will be there smiling and giving me a thumbs up. I know that even if I don’t go a best time, he will be there to give me a hug and tell me that I’ll get it next time. And most of all, he will be my biggest supporter in whatever I choose to do, in or out of the pool.

So thank you Dad, and all the swim dads out there, for spending endless weekends at swim meets, giving up a perfect round of golf to support your swimmer, and always lending a helping hand on the deck. Without you, the swimming community would not be as intensely supportive as it is today, and with your help, swimmers around the world will continue to thrive to be the best that they can be.

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