The 10 Guaranteed Ways to Spot a Swim Parent

Swim Fam
Photo Courtesy: Bailey Duran

The 10 Guaranteed Ways to Spot a Swim Parent

Many people have no problem spotting swimmers from a mile away with these telltale features: a bulky bag, messy bun filled with dead hair (for the girls), dry skin, tired eyes, goggle and cap tan lines, and the wide-eyed fear whenever the word “butterfly” is used, no matter the context.

Swim parents, however, can be more difficult to spot. They wear a camouflage much like any other parent, but a few distinct characteristics sets swim parents apart.

1. The Swim Parent T-shirt

Dad Swim Shirts

Photo Courtesy: Bailey Duran

They can be found anywhere. They are sold at every swim meet and can be found at almost every online swim shop. You know what they look like; the ones stamped with phrases like “I used to have a life, now I have a swimmer” or “Some people wait their entire lives to meet their favorite swimmer – I raised mine.”

Cliché, yes, but what would swim meets be without them? They come in all colors and styles, but they all have something in common: a swimming phrase, joke, or picture that only swim parents can understand. These t-shirts are the first clue that you have successfully spotted a swim parent!

2. The Tight Knuckled Grip on the Heat Sheet

carol-capitani-texas-heat-sheets-2017-apss-mesa

Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

The swim parent holds tightly to the beloved and all-knowing heat sheet. It goes everywhere with them and has multiple uses. It can be used as a fan in the hot weather, a coloring book to keep away nerves, and can be rolled up to hit the other swim parent on the arm in excitement. But most of all, it is used to keep track of their swim kiddos!

3. Snacks, Snacks, and More Snacks!

The swim parent is always loaded with at least two bags of snacks for their ravenous swimmers. Of course, they always have the swimming staples: chocolate milk and honey sticks. They’re constantly keeping their swimmer hydrated and re-fueling them with cutie oranges. They make daily trips during meets to the local store to buy more food and to keep their swimmers swimming at their best, and they’re always experimenting with food to try to discover the next best super-swimmer food!

4. Their Arms are ALWAYS Full

The swim parent enters swim meets loaded down with carrying things. They don’t want their swimmer to waste their energy, so they insist on carrying everything. They have at least two bags on each arm, a cooler and camping chairs. Not to mention all the sharpies and highlighters they carry around!

5. Swimmer Bumper Stickers

Zone Bound

Photo Courtesy: Bailey Duran

Their car is decorated with team pride and stickers that announce the vehicle is a “Swim Taxi,” or that there are swimmers on board. More often than not, they have window chalk paint covering the windows on their way to a championship meet boasting that their little caravan is “Zone bound” with their kids’ names and events.

6. Their Houses and Cars are Filled With Suits and Towels (and that Inevitable Chlorine Smell)

swimcar

Photo Courtesy: Bailey Duran

It is so easy to spot swim parents based on their house or their car. The car most likely smells like chlorine and is filled with empty chocolate milk bottles. During long swim meets, towels and suits are draped across the back seats so they can dry before the next day. Towels, swim suits and Speedo bags litter the floor of their house, and the towels are hanging everywhere.

7. Everything is Planned Around Swim Meets (and Practice)

Practice Calendar2

Photo Courtesy: Kristen Kinzer

Swimmers are known for the famous line: “I can’t, I have practice.” Swim parents also make use of that line. Weekend “mom’s nights out” are no longer a thing for the swim mom, especially during the busy season (pretty much all year). Better wait until that two weeks off in August, Karen!

8. They Know The Name of Most Olympic Swimmers

Mar 21, 2015; Greensboro, NC, USA; Dick and DA Franklin react after daughter Missy Franklin won the 200 backstroke finals during NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving-Championships at Greensboro Aquatic Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Pike-USA TODAY Sports

Missy Franklin’s parents.  Photo Courtesy: Evan Pike – USA TODAY Sports Images

Ever have a conversation where Michael Phelps’ name is casually mentioned? Swim parents jump right in, discussing his best races and whether or not he’ll stay retired. They’ll also begin talking about swimmers that no one else knows about. They forget that not everyone knows about Olympic swimmers like they and their swimmers do!

9. They Can Tell You All About Stroke Technique

Photo Courtesy: Kalina DiMarco

Swim parents usually know a lot about stroke technique (probably from all the time spent behind a camera filming us). Even though they may not have been swimmers themselves, they’ve been around swimming long enough and have listened to their swimmer chat long enough to know how each stroke should be swum. Oh, and don’t say “front crawl” when referring to freestyle – it’ll make them cringe!

10. Meet Mobile

Mobile Meet screenshot

Photo Courtesy: Active Network

The last but maybe most effective way to identify a swim parent is to look at their most used apps. More often than not, it’ll be Meet Mobile – one of the best friends of a swim parent. It is probably the best invention since fog resistant goggles, am I right?

 

georgia-parents-cheering-loud-ncaas-2016

Photo Courtesy: Annie Grevers

Behind every successful swimmer is a swim parent who loves them enough to help make their dreams come true. Swim parents are the greatest types of parents in existence. They sacrifice so much so their swimmers can chase their dreams and deserve more gratitude than we could ever give them.

Thank you, swim parents, for equipping us to chase our dreams!!

Commentary: 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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81 Comments
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Caryl Greyling
5 years ago

Sandi Tyson

Rachel Hoffman
5 years ago

Carl Hoffman

Kate Lea Zender
5 years ago

Yes! I’m a Swim-Mom???‍♂️?

Shari Perry Stewart
5 years ago

SO SO SO TRUE!

Jodi Edge Brocki
5 years ago

Yep lol

Jill Pfankuch
5 years ago

Corri McKinley Alamein Kim Waldo-LandisKim Lydon Hanson Lisa Orwig Hagedorn

Kim Waldo-Landis
5 years ago
Reply to  Jill Pfankuch

So true?

Corri McKinley Alamein
Reply to  Jill Pfankuch

For sure and proud of it ??

Bryce Whitehead
5 years ago

Swim parents can also be insane ?

Kellee king
Kellee king
1 year ago

That’s me with my boy with special needs

Tamlyn Carlisle
5 years ago

Natalie Edwards Rorke ?

Sarah Joy Haley
5 years ago

Maureen Tom Haleyy

Charity Adams-McCafferty

They also can get pretty mean.

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 years ago

That’s no lie …

Maliha Hashmi
5 years ago

Yes, yes and yes! 🙂

Bailey Duran
5 years ago

Tonya Duran Yates

Brid Browne
5 years ago

Leza O’Donoghuee

Leza O'Donoghue
5 years ago

?

Brid Browne
5 years ago

number 2,7 &9

Spela Cvar
5 years ago

4 out of 10, getting there

Viviana Elisabet Selevsek

I’m a swim mom and a swimmer myself! And I suffer a lot al my kids’competitions!

Lisa Eaton Burton
5 years ago

Vicki Deslauriers Roy Cathy Robb Bevier Jen Thibert they forgot the flip flops in the middle of winter!

Alison Mair
5 years ago

Absolutely true???

Bronwyn Maroon
5 years ago

Leisa Clayton ?

Simone Dearle
5 years ago

Leanne maybe points 7 to 10 apply other than that I may fail as being a swim parent ?

Leanne Watson
5 years ago
Reply to  Simone Dearle

I got 6 covered

Nicole Natalotto
5 years ago
Reply to  Simone Dearle

Agreed, some of these could be replaced with looking haggard!

Jennifer Meyer Winters

Stacy Drake,

Leanne Watson
5 years ago

Well I definitely have 6 down pat

Thomas O'Shea
5 years ago

.
Anyone competing in more than six meets per year needs a new coach. Get off the conga line. Make meets special and get results!

Aaron
5 years ago

Hahahaha very accurate!

Sonia Connery
3 years ago

Yvonne Turner we haven’t quite graduated yet as fully pledged swim parents – we need to lift our game ?

Yvonne Turner
3 years ago
Reply to  Sonia Connery

Sonia Connery ?the bit about the carrying of all the things in?. No mention of the time keeping expertise requirement or hat tan lines ?.

Lorna Ryan Ross
3 years ago

So true.

Kate Kelly
3 years ago

Christine Taylor

Courtney Allen
3 years ago

Cara Borradaile

Bailey Duran
3 years ago

It was so much fun writing this!! ❤️

Pia Porkola Smideberg
3 years ago

LOL ? – So true! Even though We do not decorate our cars in Sweden, all of the rest is pretty much the same. Swimming is so fun, international and great community builder! I myself started swimming at the age of 47 -inspirerad by all the years poolside.. such a great hobby and really never too late to learn a new skill (however ? Will never look great by me ??)

Mel Kelly
3 years ago

Carolyn Nicholls…..it’s us!!!

Kerri-Ann Campbełł
3 years ago

June Campbell

Nick Gordon
3 years ago

Hope we can get back to that soon.

Swimming World
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Gordon

yes!!!

Jackie Fraser
3 years ago

Nikki Perry??

Caitlin Poulson
3 years ago

Deborah Poulson Jake Fabi

Sharon Younger
3 years ago

Malcolm Younger

Amanda Napierski
3 years ago

We can all work a stop watch like it’s our job and most of our apparel is team-related. ?

Stacy Reay
3 years ago

So true!

Amanda Napierski
3 years ago

Oh and we all know what the phrase “if your feet aren’t wet then you are doing it wrong” means.

Jason Lockley
3 years ago

Michelle we can relate a lot to article

Allison Stewart
3 years ago

Deb Taylor Sherri Wallace-Chapman Yvette Blanchard Tammy O’Keefe
You need to read this. It is so true.

Sherri Wallace-Chapman

Allison Stewart love it ??

Tea Tree Gully Swim Club

?

Brian Drake
3 years ago

Definitely some truth to this!

Anonymous
Anonymous
3 years ago

loved every minute of the swim meets … all the way into college be it DIII for one son until their program was abruptly cut in 2020 amidst Covid and then supporting my second son swimming DII – see where Covid takes that and the navigating my high school junior daughter into her college academics/swimming experience…so yes through the years behind every successful swimmer at whatever level is the cheerleader parent …. it has been a great journey!

Robert Gutierrez
3 years ago

Vicki Alfeo, Pat Leek, #s 2, 4 & & for me, hahahaha!

Vicki Alfeo
3 years ago

Robert Gutierrez and 10 !

Robert Gutierrez
3 years ago

Yup, also 7

Kelley Bills
3 years ago

Actually!

Jenny Van Hiel
3 years ago

Love it! #Swimmom and proud of it ??‍♂️??‍♂️

Elaine Fischer Brennan

9 out of 10?

Andrea Conley
3 years ago

Accurate!

Rebecca Francis-Davies

Rachel Hannah Davies I think you need one of those t shirts ?

Rachel Hannah Davies
3 years ago

Rebecca Francis-Davies I have a swansea aquatics officials t-shirt for when I officiate at meets hahaha ??‍♀️

Andrea Tomlin
3 years ago

So true!

Kathy Palmer
3 years ago

Rose Aldan

Rose Aldan
3 years ago
Reply to  Kathy Palmer

Kathy Palmer so so true and I really really miss those times. They were the best

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