Being a swimming parent can be a rewarding yet demanding role. The life of a swimming parent often involves various aspects, including support, commitment, and involvement in your child’s swimming journey.
Early Mornings and Weekends: Swimming practice often takes place early in the morning or on weekends. This means that as a swimming parent, you may find yourself waking up early to take your child to morning practices or spending weekends at swim meets.
Commitment to Regular Attendance: Consistency is crucial in swimming, and committed attendance to practices and meets is essential. This requires a significant time commitment from both the child and the parent.
Financial Investment: Swimming involves various expenses, including coaching fees, swim gear, travel costs for competitions, and entry fees for swim meets. Swimming parents need to be prepared for the financial investment that comes with supporting their child’s passion.
Emotional Support: Competitive swimming can be physically and mentally challenging for children. As a swimming parent, providing emotional support is vital. This includes offering encouragement after both successful and challenging performances, being a source of motivation, and helping your child cope with the ups and downs of competition.
Balancing Academics and Athletics: Balancing schoolwork and swimming can be demanding. Swimming parents often need to help their children manage their time effectively to ensure that academic responsibilities are not neglected.
Nutrition and Health:Proper nutrition and health are crucial for swimmers. As a swimming parent, you may be involved in planning and providing nutritious meals, ensuring your child stays hydrated, and addressing any health concerns that may arise.
Traveling to Competitions: Competitive swimmers often participate in meets that require travel. Swimming parents may find themselves regularly accompanying their children to various locations for competitions, which can involve overnight stays and time away from home.
Building a Supportive Community: Being part of a swimming community can be fulfilling for both parents and swimmers. Engaging with other swimming parents, forming friendships, and creating a supportive network can enhance the overall experience.
Understanding the Sport: While you don’t need to be an expert, having a basic understanding of swimming rules, techniques, and competitions can help you better support your child and engage in conversations with coaches and other parents. Swim Parent Advantage is the number one resource for parents with competitive swimmers.
Encouraging Independence: As your child progresses in swimming, encouraging independence is important. This includes allowing them to take responsibility for their equipment, communicate with coaches, and make decisions related to their swimming journey.
While the life of a swimming parent requires time and dedication, it can also be incredibly fulfilling to witness your child’s growth, achievements, and the positive impact of sports on their overall development.
“My son and my husband and I are very happy at our Swimming Club. The Club provides everything we want for our 14 year old son, a positive environment, good coaching, a pathway to develop further and a great team atmosphere. Last night we were informed that my son’s coach is moving to another club and he has asked us to leave our current club and move to the new one with him. We are so confused and would like some advice on how we decide what to do.”
We receive many emails similar to the one above (received last week) from parents asking for advice around coaching, particularly when a coach moves onto another position. Every request for advice is different so we have summarized our thoughts below to assist parents in this situation.
Junior and Age Group Swimmers
In general our advice is if your child is happy in the club they are in, then it is more beneficial to remain at the club with their friends and training partners and continue to train together under a newly appointed coach rather than changing clubs and following their former coach. Invariably the environment created by the Club as a whole and the swimmer pathways within the club are more important to the continued improvement and success of a junior or age group swimmers.
Furthermore, for swimmers in these younger age groups, their coach will often be in an assistant coaching position, and the replacement coach is as good or even better than the departing coach. In general it is always worth giving the incoming coach a good 6 to 12 months for your child to get used to them and continue their swimming journey.
Location and travel time will also play a part in decision-making and it is important for families to understand the ramifications particularly if travel time increases, especially as children move into and through high school.
For coaches looking to begin a new role in either an established or new Club, it is highly advisable to begin your new role with new swimmers and not encourage your current swimmers to move with you. When I (Gary) moved from one Club as an Assistant Coach to another as Head Coach, I instigated that no swimmers from my previous squads (60 State & National level swimmers) would be welcome to my new Club for a period of 2 years from beginning there. This allowed my current athletes to continue training and competing at my former club and further progress and improve with the least disruption to their swimming, their friendships and the Club. It also provided the incoming coach with the best opportunity to be successful in their new role. This was the right thing to do. It also allowed me as a new Head Coach to develop the culture and athletes from the base up in my new club, gradually over time to ensure the foundations were built for a long term successful club.
Most coaches will understand the reasons for working through a situation similar to that outlined above, however a small minority will “encourage junior and/or age group swimmers to leave their current club and follow them to their new club.” I have seen this happen a small number of times over the past 30 years and it nearly always ends in tears. This is a selfish attitude by the coach who is more interested in promoting themselves than supporting their athletes. It also shows a lack of respect for their previous employer which in turn often carries through to their new employer. If as a parent you are ever put in a position like this, please think twice before making a move as the grass is rarely greener on the other side. It may seem like a good idea at the time but it rarely works out well.
We have received so many questions form parents of competitive swimmers asking what Swim Parent Advantage is all about. So to help you out, we provide below some examples of what you get access to as a member of this world leading support program for swimming parents.
Let’s start with the fortnightly live sessions (called Parent PODs) where you can participate and ask questions of our coaches or special experts. Each session is a bit different. Below is one of our more recent sessions with our resident Child & Sport Psychologist, Megan Davis. Megan is a former Australian representative swimmer, swim coach and a mother of 3 sporty kids. Megan also contributes with regular online episodes focused on many different psychology topics. Feedback from parents who watched the POD live or the recorded video include:
“I got a lot out of this session, thanks GCS and Megan” Claire
“I caught up with this POD today (Sunday). I don’t understand why parents who spend $ ‘00s on a race suit for their child don’t realise the value of the investment they could make for their child’s swimming by becoming a member of Gold Class Swimming. I just had my money’s worth in this session alone! Megan is great. Thanks guys, very valuable.” Tania
“That was a fantastic session highly recommend it to all parents. Lots of very practical advice” Michelle
To compliment the fortnightly live sessions there are more than 50 video discussions between aquatic expert Gary Barclay and 2004 & 2012 Australian Olympic Team Head Coach Leigh Nugent. These include discussions on the benefits of swimming, the swimming parent, swimmer development pathways, growth and development, swimming training and swimming competitions. Here is an example video discussing the coach/swimmer relationship.
One of the most popular sections in the program are the four stroke models. Leigh takes athletes and parents through the key elements in learning and swimming correct freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. Each online video can be watched as many times as you like. Below is a short extract from the freestyle video.
“As a sports psychologist, we now know that by watching people performing motor skills in the way that you what to do them, helps train the nervous system that way. So your kids can actually be training by watching these stroke model videos.” Megan Davis
We all know that nutrition plays a major role in the development of children and adults. Parents are always looking for ways to ensure they are providing the right foods to their families… especially for kids who swim multiple times per week.
Our resident nutritionist Bec Stone leads us through many different aspects of nutrition with regular one hour sessions and many short episodes of online videos on specific topics. One of our recent episodes was on Protein Powders and do athletes really need them. You can watch it below. Bec also answers all your questions about nutrition, and as a former national level swimmer and coach understands all aspects of nutritional needs for the sport. You will also gain access to all the contents in the eBook “Nutrition for Swimmers” through the lessons in the nutrition section of the membership platform.
Parents who are members of Swim Parent Advantage enjoy access to the private group on Facebook. While all online videos and discussions are promoted through the group, parents can also ask questions and share ideas.
Join us today at Swim Parent Advantage and let us share and support your journey as a parent of a competitive swimmer.
In our latest Swim Parent POD, sport psychologist Megan Davis explained the ins and outs of sport psychology and how what we say to our children can greatly affect them in a positive or negative manner.
Today we share a few excerpts from the most recent POD where Megan discusses the way she likes to work with sport psychology. It is so much more than just peak performance. It’s about establishing a foundation of a ‘secure self’ and then working towards ‘great practice’ before any focus on ‘peak performance’.
In the video below we have shared the discussion on ‘great practice’. Megan is a regular contributor to Swim Parent Advantage and the full one hour session is available to all members.
“It’s a pity there are not 2,000 parents on this today because this information is gold. I’ve really enjoyed listening to you speak Megan and absorbing the salient points here. There is no doubt that members (and future members) will be going in and looking at this at a time that is more convenient to them” former Australian Head Coach Leigh Nugent said at the end of the POD.
The program is designed to assist parents of competitive swimmers aged 8 years through to high level performing swimmers by educating and supporting them in a safe environment.