Many children want their parents to come along, support them and watch them race at swim meets. Some children may feel increased pressure if their parents are there and prefer to race without that pressure.
Talk to your child and discuss how they feel when you attend their competitions. If they have any concerns, then talk it through with them and ensure you are not putting any extra pressure on them. Reinforce with them that you love them unconditionally and explain to them that you would like to support them whenever you can.
I have seen both extremes many times over the years. At one end of the spectrum are parents who attend every swim meet and sit with their child the whole time. These parents, whether they mean to or not, teach their child to rely on them for everything they do including what they eat, when they eat, when they warm-up, when they go to report for their swim and some even provide them with race instructions. These parents will often avoid volunteering to time keep at meets because they believe their child will not swim well without their assistance. It is important that children have the opportunity to look after themselves and are encouraged to become more independent over time.
At the other extreme are parents who do not attend any swim meets, drop their child off and take no interest in their swimming. These children learn to become independent quickly, which is great; however they miss out on crucial family support that they need and may desire.
It is important to show an interest and your support for your child at competitions. Ideally, parents should meet somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Particularly while their children are young, I would recommend they attend the swim meets with them. Throughout my entire swimming and coaching career, I participated in an environment whereby the swimmers all sat together in the front rows and the parents all sat together behind them. The team spirit and excitement amongst the swimmers led to first-class performances and the vibe within the club was excellent. Encourage your child to sit with their teammates.
If you do attend regular swim meets, offer to time-keep on a regular basis so that your child gradually learns some independence. When you do this, you are still there supporting them however they get the opportunity to look after themselves and mix with their friends. At swim meets, mix with parents from other squads and Clubs and share your experiences about swimming and other things going on in the world…it doesn’t all need to be about swimming!
When your child gets the opportunity to go on a trip with their teammates, let them go and develop their independence skills. As they get older, these trips may develop into multi-day training camps or competitions and the initial experience will be invaluable for them.