For many parents having a “swimmer” in the family is not something they planned. Most swimmers begin in a learn-to-swim program and progress through to advanced lessons. From there they are asked to complete a couple of sessions in a junior squad and before you know it they are entrenched and absorbed by the sport of swimming. By this stage, parents begin to realise the commitment required by a swimmer to complete the necessary training and competitions offered in the sport.
As a swimmer I had the opportunity to observe my own parents first hand and how they managed me as a swimmer, and how they worked with, and communicated with my coaches. I was also fortunate enough to be coached by three of the most talented and experienced swimming coaches in the world - Julie Dyring, Bill Sweetenham and Leigh Nugent.
As a coach for more than a dozen years I worked closely with swimmers of all ages and have been directly involved in the introduction of parents to the sport of swimming.
For a swimming parent, understanding the role of the coach, the role the parent is required to undertake, and the responsibilities of a swimmer is critical to ensuring a positive and successful experience for the whole family. Yes, the whole family is affected by having a swimmer in the family and learning how to balance your time and other family member’s needs around the swimming schedule can be a challenge.
Over the years I have observed many parents who are introduced to swimming for the first time when their child is promoted to a junior squad.
For most swimmers who train for competitions, the measurement of their improvement is through performance and parents are encouraged to understand the many different aspects to training and competitions in an effort to provide parents with a more complete understanding of the sport and what a swimmer is experiencing.
One of the aspects I love about swimming is that when swimmers compete, no one else can affect their performance. They have their own lane and no one can tackle them, bowl them out, hit the ball past them or affect their performance in any way. It is just the swimmer and the black line.
Children who choose to train and swim competitively learn so many life skills as they become more exposed to the sport.
In general their grades improve at school, their time management skills improve and they learn how to win and how to lose with grace. They are introduced to goal setting and taking responsibility for themselves. They are also exposed to the concept that if you work hard on a skill and commit to doing something correctly over and over again, it will improve.
‘Swimming for Parents’ is a vital resource for all swimming parents. The book, available also as an eBook with instant delivery, is a lifelong project that draws on many of my experiences as a swimmer, coach, swimming administrator and now as a parent of young children who enjoy swimming.
This book has been written to educate parents of junior and teenage swimmers and has sold more than 3000 copies all over the world.
The second edition is now available at www.SwimmingForParents.com.