As the parent of a child involved in swimming, you'll
discover an entirely new world of coaches, swim meets, kit,
teammates and training. Here's the nitty gritty you really need to
They'll become important figures in you child's life. Support
them by telling them about any issues which are affecting your
child, and show interest in your child's progress. But leave the
coaching up to them.
To begin swimming in a club your child will need very little -
swimming costume, goggles, swim hat. There'll be equipment
available during the club training sessions, including various
floats (kickboards and pull buoys). Speak to the coaches in the
club about whether your child needs his/her own training kit. Most
clubs sell items branded with their logo. It's important to
encourage you child to take responsibility for his/her kit.
Club swimmers are usually confident in all four swimming strokes
but tend to specialise in one or two:
- front crawl, also known as free style
- breast stroke
- butterfly, sometimes shortened to fly
Swimming must be something that your child wants to do. While
you can provide guidance when your child feels like giving up
(which most people do from time to time), you must not pressurise
him/her into participating. Do not live out your dreams through
your child. Be happy that your child gets fit, makes friends and
develops transferable life skills like co-operation and
self-discipline. Perhaps it's time to encourage your child to try a
different aquatic activity, like diving or water polo.
Called IM for short, this event combines all four strokes,
usually in the order butterfly-backstroke-breaststroke-frontcrawl.
Classic distances are 200m (50m of each stroke) and 400m (100m of
each stroke). Designed to find the best all- round swimmer, medley
swimming is physically hard due to the fast transitions between
strokes. It is commonly used in training swim sets.
Called PB for short, this is the fastest time that a swimmer has
achieved so far in a given event.
Like you, other parents will be drawn into this world of
swimming through their children. Volunteering to help in the club
or at swim meets is a great way to make friends with them. In fact
parents are the lifeblood of youth swimming, investing time and
energy in their local clubs. As a role model for children it's
important that parents show good sportsmanship towards teammates,
opponents, coaches and officials.
Swim meet or meet
This is the name given to a swimming competition. Your club will
take teams to compete in swim meets and may also host a meet. At
club level, meets usually last a whole weekend. There are endless
opportunities for parents to help out at swim meets, and some
undertake training to play a specific role in the
Winning and losing
Show interest in the effort your child puts into his/her
swimming, rather than the outcome of the competition. Swimming can
help children learn discipline and goal setting, and teaches the
important lesson of how to deal with winning and losing.
Overall it's important that children achieve a high level of
self-esteem, regardless of their performance in the pool.