Are You a Supportive or Overly-Involved Swim Parent?

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

There is a fine line we parents walk on the pool deck. We want to be supportive of our kids who love swimming and pursue the sport. But, where do we cross the line from being supportive, to being “overly involved?” Look around at a swim meet and see if you can spot “those” parents. Then, take a look in the mirror and check to see what kind of swim parent you are.

Here are seven “Dos and Don’ts” to test yourself to see if you’re a supportive parent, or an overly involved one:


  1. Cheer for your child and other swimmers, too.
  2. Talk to parents from other teams.
  3. Say thank you to officials after a meet.
  4. Accept your timing assignment with a smile.
  5. Ask your swimmer after a race, “How did that feel?”
  6. Get your swimmer to practice consistently.
  7. Meet with your swimmer’s coach if you have any concerns.


  1. Only cheer for your own swimmer.
  2. Give other teams or certain swimmers the evil eye.
  3. Argue with the official after your swimmer gets DQ’d.
  4. Refuse to time, because you have more important things to do.
  5. Wait at the blocks for your swimmer to finish his race, so you can give your critique before he talks to the coach.
  6. Get your swimmer to the pool AND record their practices so you can review them later at home.
  7. Tell everyone on deck how your kid’s coach isn’t paying enough attention to your swimmer.

What type of swim parent are you? What other tips do you have for parents to be supportive—rather than overly involved?

Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.

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