Updated: May 19
With the recent large number of drownings of children and the campaign to end childhood drownings, many parents are taking their children for swim lessons. Many of those go on to become competitive swimmers.
Some children, especially the very young, are afraid at their first lessons. They cry, scream, and do not want to put their face in the water. This may be hard on a parent, but here at Sigma Swimming we will encourage the parent to leave the deck, so mom or dad are out of sight. This will help in most cases.
Once the child has overcome his/her anxiety, parents are welcome to watch and see their little ones learn the basics, such as blowing bubbles with their face in the water, learn how to float on their back and stomach. Once our swimmers have mastered how to save themselves should they ever fall into a large body of water, freestyle and backstroke are then introduced.
At Sigma Swimming Fort Worth, we have Splash Meets which are no pressure, no disqualification, fun meets to get swimmers' competitive feet wet. The very young will have a coach swim along them to assure their safety. It is ok if they need help making it across the pool.
Once swimmers learn and improve their 4 strokes (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle), it will be time for their first USA Swimming sanctioned competition. This is when the hours of practice increase as they start moving up, and in some cases, the early mornings start.
There will be more wet towels, swim suits, and tired swimmers. They will start to eat more, asking for protein rich snacks, and fruits such as bananas to keep their muscles strong. Parents will learn where pools and cities are and finding the fastest ways to get there because some meets start as early as 7:30 am on weekends. At the competition site, your swimmer will check in for his/her events and plan to spend 4-5 hours in the natatorium.
There are terms like heat sheet, Meet Mobile, Deck Pass which are all new to new swim parents. You will be their cheer leader, lap counter, timer, and help your swimmer keep track of their times and improvements. Just remember that a bad race is nothing to get upset about because it is all a learning experience especially in your child's first few meets.
With time, your child will become a more experienced competitor and will pack his/her own bag and you will no longer need to be worried because they will know what they need. The travels may take you farther from home now and you will start looking for hotels and restaurants since these swim meets will be too far to travel each day when there are 2 or 3 days of competition and you have morning and evening sessions to attend.
You will connect with new parents from across your state, and sometimes country. You will get to share ideas and advice and make new friends. You will get to watch your kids' circle of friends expand and see the way that the sport shapes and changes your child. Swimming instills a great work ethic and teaches a multitude of life skills.
The friends they make along the way will play a huge part as well. The swimmers will grow close, often forming friendships from the time they are very young that continue throughout their lives. They carpool, go to meets together, and make endless memories together as the years go on.
Being a swim parent has both its ups and downs, but it begins to become your life as your children begin to love the sport. At the end of the day, there isn’t anything you would want to trade for it.