An Open Letter to the Unsung Swim Parent

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Photo Courtesy: Dan D'Addona

By Lillian Nelson, Swimming World College Intern

Swimming is tough. It is a constant grind, where we get used to putting in hours and hours of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears in hopes that at the end of the season when we race our best events, we will shave off a few milliseconds. Maybe even a full second or two if we’re lucky.

But greatness is rarely achieved without a little help every once and a while. When we are at the pool or in the weight room, we have our teammates to lean on and our coaches to motivate us. But it is easy to take for granted (or not even realize) how much of an amazing support system our loyal swim parents can be.

Now that I’m a college swimmer, I look back on my life-long career in the pool with an extreme sense of gratitude and respect for both my parents and all other swim parents. So to all the swim parents out there, thank you.


Photo Courtesy: Lars Plougmann

Thank you for taking us to swim lessons when we were little, where we probably cried our eyes out every time until we realized it wasn’t so scary. Then for taking us to swim practice every day, where we were happy to go some days, but not so stoked to go other days. Then for taking us to the pool twice a day, where you had to be up at the same ungodly hour we had to be, to drive us there for morning practice.

Thank you for being there with dinner ready when we get home at night, cranky after a long day of swimming, school, then some more swimming.

Thank you for showing up at almost every, if not every, single swim meet we have. Whether it is a two-hour dual meet, or a five-day prelims and finals meet, you are there with bells on, wearing team colors, ready to cheer us on until your voice gives out, and/or jump up and down in the stands because it will obviously make us swim faster. It doesn’t seem to matter if we only swim for less than a minute out of the whole day. Regardless, you are there supporting and standing behind us, even if it is via live stream.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Thank you for making sure we always had the trendiest suits, caps, and goggles.

Thank you for paying for our tech suits, even though they only last for a few meets, and cost an arm and a leg.

Thank you for volunteering to time when the meet officials won’t start the meet until every chair is filled, even though you know your shoes and the bottom half of your pants will be soaked from splashes by the end.

Thank you for taking on the infamous swimmer metabolism, making sure we always have plenty to eat, even if it involves 3+ servings.


Photo Courtesy: flickr

Thank you for reminding us to finish that bottle of water before we go to bed after a double so we won’t cramp up the next day. Thank you for every time you bring the team extra snacks and goodies at the end of a meet or on a Friday afternoon practice, because it really does make our day better.

Thank you for listening as we vent about how coach let practice run 15 minutes late, or about how the person behind us in the lane swam on our toes throughout the whole main set, or about how we’re so sore we can barely cough without every muscle in our body screaming at us to please just sit still.

Thank you for continuing to support and encourage us to push on when we’re stuck in a rut, because sometimes we need to be reminded that a rough patch won’t last forever.

Thank you for bringing everything back into perspective when we came close to calling it quits.

Thank you for being there for us just as much in the bad times as in the good.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

No matter how old we are, what level we swim at, whether we’re still in high school or away from home swimming in college or beyond, our swim parent(s) support follows us. To all the swim parents who make sacrifices, never fail to back us up, and smile ear to ear when we have a good race: may you never go unappreciated. Thank you for everything you do. We would not be where we are today without you, and may we make you proud with every stroke we take.


  1. Tiffany Galvan

    So true…tears!! Great letter ❤ #piranhamama #lovemyfish #swimrocks

  2. Carol Muller

    Sammie Muller and Grant Muller

    • Sammie Muller

      Grant Muller when she puts an ‘and’ in the middle of our tags

  3. Jenn Strohschein

    Awesome! Especially touching as I am a swim parent. Yes, tears too.

  4. Eileen Nordquist

    A great letter and I know that you think about every word of this Grace Grace Nordquist

  5. avatar

    Now all swimmers, having said and done all that, just imagine for one second your parent is also your coach…….and you train alone, in a local gym pool…..a pool that is heated in summer more for the Rheumatoid Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers than the swimmers training for a goal……we talk about summers in excess of 36 deg C and humidity of 60% and then the pool temp is kept at 26 Deg. C. Makes for some very uncomfortable training sessions…..

  6. Michelle Charters

    Jannett Belfield. I thought of you and Kim… i wonder why x

    • Jannett Belfield

      Thanks Michelle. Go Swimming Parents!! I hope Tristan can’t see this…..

  7. Marta Connally

    I certainly hope to hear these words some day! Love my swimmer!

  8. Charlene Tallen

    You are welcome and I’m glad to have been and still be a part of it.

  9. avatar
    Alissa Ralston

    I know one mom who is especial treasuring this article. Beautiful.

  10. Jenny Carta

    To me and too many ‘others like me to mention’… and to Tori Carta you are so worth it my girl

  11. Nancy Petrick

    Wouldn’t have it any other way!??

  12. Elizabeth Hernandez

    Gracias Ma
    Gracias Chela
    Gracias Maribel
    Gracias Rosa Mary
    Gracias Maria Elena Chavez Aguilar
    Las quiero tanto??

  13. Brooke Ingold

    Chantelle Smuts for our mummy ?

  14. Kari Page

    Linda Foldoe Page Thank you!!! ?❤️

  15. Lurleen Badger

    Michael Badger Sandi Walker Richelle Welsh Matthew Hall Jaymie Hall Harry Badger Nathaniel Badger Jennifer Landon

    • Helen Mary

      So lovely to be acknowledged Wendy ? What a lovely girl you have! Well done Mal on your national times ??????

  16. Isabella Foote

    David Foote
    Helen Mary
    Nathan Foote

  17. avatar

    This is a great letter. I did not realize how much as parents we actually do! We just know we have swim practice or a meet to get too.

  18. avatar
    Joyce Brooks

    Thank you. I wouldn’t have it any other way.