My daughter swims. She has swam competitively since 7th grade. It is her thing. However, in the process of this swimming, I realize I have learned a lot as well. As my daughter plans to swim in college, I think we have been through many things. Here’s what I have learned:
For sure commitment is for swimmers. They wake up as early as 4:30 am to head to practice or a weights session. Some days they swim twice a day and have gotten in around 10,000 yards in. They work so hard and you have to be committed to work that hard. With that comes food – they are very hungry – and it’s always a good bet that they will be hungry – sometimes all the time.
Swimming does build character. You work hard and you make goals. You follow through on that hard work or you learn what to do to make changes. You have to have time management and realize what you can do to make different changes and choices. But, character is built while putting in the long hours of work and getting things done.
I think I have learned this as much as my child. I swam when I was little so I would tell my swimming that her starts needed to be better or to work harder on her turns. Well, I guess my early swimmer told another swimmer that her start could be better – and that swimmer’s mom told on her. We were dragged into the coach’s office. When I said that is what I tell my swimmer – let me tell you – the coach made it clear that I was not the coach. So, we learned early on to keep our mouths shut and to be kind to each and every swimmer out there. And golden mom note – do not coach your kid.
Every swimmer knows it takes the whole team to help out. I have served on a board, and volunteered tons. I have made food for coaches, athletes, judges, and officials. I have timed and worked on the computer system. I have sold heat sheets and helped in numerous other ways. It takes a village to put on a swim meet and have it run smoothly – we have learned this through the years.
My daughter missed her national cut by .04 seconds. She was devastated. However, she took this and realized that she had to work harder to get her goal. As with any obstacle, swimming can make you realize you are only as good as you are. There will be more swimmers around that are better than you and that will only help to move you to be better. As a parent, I am just happy to watch them do what they love. I usually try to let them know that I am just happy to see them swim. Win or lose – they will do both – plenty of times – as long as they finish and try – that’s what matters.
Along with humility, as an athlete grows, I try to make sure my swimmers are encouraging those who are younger than them. Helping other swimmers know what they are capable of and cheering them on.
Swimmers need to trust the process and trust their coach. We have had a great coach who really cheers on the kids. He trusts them to make good decisions outside the pool and to put in the hard work in the pool. Having trust and support go hand in hand.
When one swims, there is so much around that goes into it. I try to make sure my swimmers are appreciative of all around them. I have them thank their coaches and teammates. It is good to thank the timers and those that take their time out to help them do what they love. My kids thank other parents as well.
So much goes into swimming. I won’t say it is the hardest sport out there – as I have been involved in many other sports – we have done softball, baseball, soccer, basketball, dance, and gymnastics. All have ups and downs – but being an athlete involves so much more. The big picture is that we are trying to raise healthy, body positive athletes who love the sport and love themselves and those around them.
Any other ideas anyone has???