The Dynamics of a Swim Family

Swim Family

The Dynamics of a Swim Family

Behind every great athlete is a great support system. This rings true across all sports. The dynamics of a swim support system are unique in many ways, especially when your family is a swim family. There are multiple layers that, when peeled back, expose a complicated system of individuals working together to make goals become realities.

The first layer of a swim family is the parents. The parents are the glue that holds a swimmer or swimmers together. They’re the chefs, chauffeurs, cheerleaders, sympathizers, and more all rolled in one, not to mention they usually fund the whole operation. They help pack the bags and travel long distances. They’re the ones you shop for your first techsuit with, and they’re the first face you’ll want to see after a hard race. Swim parents learn terminology they’ve never heard before in order to understand the passion their child or children have and share it with them. It takes a special kind of respect and understanding to learn so much, sacrifice so much, and be all of those things for an athlete, regardless of your personal relationship with them.

The next layer of a swim family is a swimmer’s siblings. Whether those siblings are swimmers or not makes a difference in some ways, but not in all ways. Sure, a sibling who is also a fellow swimmer will understand the sport more, including the passion and importance of it. They’ll be right there alongside you, and chances are you’ll spend so much time with them, you’ll drive each other up a wall. But they’ll also be right alongside you in the worst and best moments of your career. They’ll root you on and push you to your limits at the same time. To maintain that type of relationship takes a certain level of trust and respect not everyone is capable of.

If your siblings don’t swim, that doesn’t mean they’re any less supportive of you and your athletic career. Chances are that they’ll hear about it so much, they’ll begin to understand certain terminology from being dragged along to weekend meets or evening and early morning practices. Maybe their passion and ability lies in a different sport so they still can relate to the grind and dedication that comes with the territory of being a competitive athlete. Specifics aside, the main point is that whether siblings are fellow swimmers or not, they still play an integral part in your family.

The third layer of your swim family is the most complicated, the most large, and looks slightly different for every swimmer. This group is the coaches, the teammates, the board members, the other swimmers’ parents, and many other members within your swim community. This is the group that fills in the cracks where the rest of your swim family may come up short from time to time, and always has your back to help you on the road to success no matter what that means they must do. They are the people who do things for you out of the goodness of their hearts, and use their free time to help fundraise, cultivate, and shape young swimmers into the future leaders in the pool. These are the people that, without their presence and constant selfless action, would mean no champions at all.

Your swimming family may not look like this, and it’s also important to realize that is okay. Yours may be bigger or smaller, close or far, but at the end of the day, the most important thing about your swim family is that it consists of good people who want to provide support and have only your best interests at heart. The saying “it takes a village” doesn’t just apply to raising children, but it also applies to raising great athletes. As long as you have people that fit this description in your corner, you are an important part of your own swim family. Never forget who has your back, and who keeps pushing you toward greatness, because without a swim family behind you, you wouldn’t be the athlete, the competitor, or the person you are today.

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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2 years ago

Katy, Pat, Shannon and Patrick Murphy are the epitome of the perfect Swim Family! Watching the kids grow up from littles to the successful Humans they all have become, was a gift for me. Our entire Hood cheered Ryan on from his beginnings! I love them all dearly>. Shelley Dickerson