I was sitting outside a roped off area with a sign posted “No Parents Allowed” at a three-day swim meet in LA with close to 1,400 swimmers.
“But, I HAVE to get my son this bottle of water,” a mom begged the volunteer parent wearing an neon orange vest, who was in charge of guarding the entrance to the “swimmer’s only” area.
“ARE YOU PROMISING TO GET MY SALLY TO HER EVENT ON TIME? I’M HOLDING YOU ACCOUNTABLE!” another mother yelled with her finger wagging in the face of the orange-vested volunteer. The mom was shaking in frustration and anger.
I sat calmly by — watching, observing, and remembering — that was me. Not the yeller, but the one pleading. My daughter is 18 and going off to college next fall. She’s been a swimmer since age five.
Helicopter after helicopter mom argued and pleaded with the volunteers, who are swim parents themselves, on how they’d just be a second to find their child, bring them water, lunch, or make sure they made it to their event.
I wanted to tell them “RELAX!” If their swimmers had made it this far, to the season’s championship meet, they’re going to be okay. Calm down, let them hang out with their friends and teammates. They’ll be fine and will survive. After all, I had just made it through watching my daughter swim the mile. I didn’t get up once and scream, “GO!” which I have done at every flip turn for the past 15 years. If I can calm down and let go — you other moms can too!
And — if they don’t drink enough water, or miss their event — they might actually learn from it.
Here are 10 great things to remember as a parent of children in any sport. It’s from USA Swimming.
10 COMMANDMENTS FOR SWIM PARENTS
I. Thou shall not impose thy ambitions on thy child.
II. Thou shall be supportive no matter what.
III. Thou shall not coach thy child.
IV. Thou shall only have positive things to say at a competition.
V. Thou shall acknowledge thy child’s fears.
VI. Thou shall not criticize the officials.
VII. Thou shall honor thy child’s coach.
VIII. Thou shall be loyal and supportive of thy team.
IX. Thy child shall have goals besides winning.
X. Thou shall not expect thy child to become an Olympian.
More handy tips can be found at USA Swimming’s page for parents.
FYI, the top photo of my daughter’s relay team was taken by a 12-year-old teammate, who obviously can make it to her events, stay hydrated, swim fast, and take great pics! The second photo is my daughter 12 years ago. The last photo was taken from the “parents only” section of the East LA College pool.