An Open Letter to the Unsung Swim Parent

anja-grevers-mom-cheering (1) - Swim Parent
Photo Courtesy: Dan D'Addona

An Open Letter to the Unsung Swim Parent

Swimming World runs this tribute to parents every couple of months to recognize the impact that parents have on the sport, and as an appreciation for their dedication to their children’s pursuits.

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.

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


    • avatar

      Thank you this is great. However thank yous aside I would not have done anything different or missed a second. Embrace all you young swimmers my now I I independent college swimmer doesn’t need me as much. What a great journey

      • avatar

        They may not need us as much, but we need them.?

    • avatar
      Jailen Metiwether

      This is beautiful ?❤️

    • avatar
      Kurt Heinrich

      My daughter started swimming when she was six. I became a USA Swimming Official 2 years later, and remained one until she graduated from high school. Maggie now swims in college. I became a swimming official to be closer to her. Little did I know what was coming. Three day meets every week starting Friday evening followed by three sessions on Saturday and three more on Sunday. I was wet from head to toe all weekend. My legs, ankles and hips hurt constantly. AND I wouldn’t have changed a thing. In fact, if I had the choice, I’d do it all again without a second thought. I will cherish those memories, and my daughter, for as long as I live. By the way, my wife, Lynne, and I now are among those parents sitting on our daughter as she swims in college! Wouldn’t change a thing!!!!

  1. Tiffany Galvan

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

    • Sammie Muller

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

  2. Jenn Strohschein

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

  3. Eileen Nordquist

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

  4. 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…..

    • Jannett Belfield

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

  5. Marta Connally

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

    • avatar

      So do I!

  6. Charlene Tallen

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

  7. avatar
    Alissa Ralston

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

  8. Jenny Carta

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

  9. Elizabeth Hernandez

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

  10. Kari Page

    Linda Foldoe Page Thank you!!! ?❤️

  11. 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 ??????

  12. 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.

  13. avatar
    Joyce Brooks

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

  14. avatar

    I love this,❤️

  15. avatar

    Tears in my eyes as I read this. I’ve seen the dedication with my daughter and son-in-law, through the years with my granddaughter ( Kory first year at NDC) . This was a wonderful letter to all the aunts, uncles and grandparents too!

  16. avatar

    Thank you dear swimmers, we loved every second!!!!!!!

  17. avatar

    As a parent to 2 college swimmers, I SOOO appreciate this article. My heart hurts because Covid cancelled my son’s senior season. However, it’s been so wonderful being a swim parent for over 20 years and your article brings back all of the great (and a few not-so-great) memories that I will always cherish. BTW, another great thing about being a swim parent is the life-long friendships we make with other swim parents – priceless!

  18. avatar
    Casey Prifogle

    Thank you for this from a Mason Mantaray mom!! This was so awesome

  19. avatar
    Robin Mettenbrink

    I wouldn’t trade a minute of i! You were all my swim kids and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

  20. avatar

    Great article and so true.

  21. avatar

    Such a great message ! To our unsung Swim parents!

  22. avatar

    I’d do it all over again . Every minute of it .

  23. avatar

    Wonderfully worded.
    I once read and shared with the other swim parents-anyone who thinks swimming is a spectator sport has not been a swim parent!!!

  24. avatar
    Orange Hoosier

    Thank you. Swim parents are the best.
    (Although it didn’t bother me to have wet feet and pants from timing, it bothered me when 50% of the other parents tried to hide or just sat there pretending they didn’t hear the announcer or understand when they’d call for timers to be able to start the meet!)

  25. avatar
    A Oldroyd

    Thank you for putting these beautiful article wordings.. Knowing we are appreciated & not unnoticed, it means a lot!!

  26. avatar

    Same.. Tears. (Even if I only have a HS swimmer) When he’s in college and writes me something like this, more tears!

  27. avatar
    Milagros Castilla

    Lovely, thank you.
    Tears…, too.

  28. avatar

    Ĺove expresses itself in many ways. It is its own reward. That and the good adults raised in this sport.

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