I’m a writer, wife and mother. 

I grew up in a rural town in Washington with one stoplight and no McDonalds. As kids, we rode our bikes through winding country roads to visit friends. We were gone all day long and our parents never worried. Now in my empty nest, I realize I didn’t ruin my kids — in spite of my hovering.

My blog “bleuwater: thoughts about life below the surface” was named for my mom, who loved blue, thought the French spelling was “highbrow,” and my love of oceans, lakes and pools.

My career includes writing for magazines and newspapers plus working in advertising and public relations creating newspaper, magazine, billboard and radio ads. I wrote more newsletters and press releases than I’d care to remember! I’ve written children’s fiction for magazines, plus a monthly parenting column — until I woke up one day and asked, “Who would want to hear advice from me?”

My degree is in editorial journalism from the University of Washington, Seattle.




Elizabeth Sarkie Wickham

33 thoughts on “About

  1. Very good thoughts on sport specialization at SwimSwam. Too bad we have to learn these lessons at our children’s expense.

    • Thanks for your comment! Now that both kids are in college we spend time looking back on what we could have done differently. I agree completely — it’s too bad the lessons are learned at our children’s expense. I hope my SwimSwam tips help some newer parents.

  2. Love your articles on SwimSwam … the one about 10 commandments of swim parents is excellent. I am both a swim coach and swim parent and official (I refuse, however, to coach my own children … that would cause some kind of molecular meltdown in my house). Your article and list seems to have sparked quite a lot of debate, which I am very thumbs up about. Keep up the good work!

    • I appreciate your comments. In my 14 years of being a swim mom, I’ve broken about every one of the commandments, or have seen other parents break them. Swimming has been the best activity my family has been involved in. Thanks for your encouraging words. I’m enjoying the comment section on SwimSwam!

  3. Your thoughts and comments on your blog and swimswam are frightening. Swim parents like you are the reason coaches and boards malfunction.

    Parents should stay out of their kids swimming entirely except to support in the form of driving, feeding, and sleeping. Don’t like the coach? Run to the next team bc the grass is greener over there.

    Bill Collinere

    • I appreciate you taking the time to comment and I have to say I agree with you completely. That’s the point of my stories. Swimmers swim, Coaches coach and Parents parent. I’m sorry you missed that I’m trying to express this to other swim parents.

  4. Just enjoyed reading your post on SwimSwam.com and shared it on my Facebook site. This may be beyond your pervue, but would you consider reviewing my free swim team management solution? I’m a swim dad and developed this for my kids back in 2007 and now I share it with hundreds of teams across the country. Still free 🙂 You got me thinking about it because volunteer management is such a big thing for teams these days!!

    • Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your positive feedback. I’d love to see your swim team management solution. I don’t have any involvement with a swim team presently, since my youngest is a freshman swimming in college. I do, however, have friends that are coaches, officials and swim parents involved with USA Swimming club teams.

  5. I enjoyed your article in swimswam on the ’11 things I’ve learned …’ what a great perspective. Masters is something I enjoy coaching and promoting. May I print and post it to promote our Masters program?

    Have a fantastic day,
    Todd Samland
    Omaha Masters Swimming

    • Todd,
      Thanks so much for reading my article and commenting. I’d be thrilled to have you share my story. I hope it helps to inspire more people to join Masters.

    • Less hovering means a freer life for me and my kids. My kids decide their own priorities and decisions as our relationships transition from mother child to adult adult. I still worry, but not about little issues that don’t make a difference in the big scheme of life.

      Thank you for asking.

  6. Hi Liz, I would be interested in getting some feedback from you in regards to my books “Swimming for Parents” and “Behind the Goggles”. Their content, especially in Swimming for Parents fits in nicely with many of your articles and is a resource for parents of swimmers aged 8 to 14 years in any country around the world. I have left me email below and would like to send you a complimentary copy. Cheers Gary Barclay

  7. Hi! I am the secretary of the Mundelein Mustang Swim club and a huge fan of our SwimSwam articles. I like to share them with the families on our swim club. I am hoping to get your permission to repost your work (with full credit given to you) in our monthly newsletters. Please let me know if this would be okay. Thanks! Melissa Sethna

  8. I am a year rd swim parent and summer league official. I enjoy reading your postsz Summer season is fast approaching and teams are always attempting to recruit parents to become officials. Any chance you have some great insight to share with parents or an old post I can’t find? I’m just not a great writer and thought maybe you had a post I could share when attempting to recruit parents to become an official. Thank you

  9. I can give my 2 cents … I wouldn’t be the swim coach I am today if I hadn’t become an official first.

    • Thanks for commenting. In what ways has being an official helped you coach? Is it watching technique and knowing what to correct? Also, I think that when parents are involved with swimming, their children are more likely to stick with it. It also makes the experience more rewarding to parents if they can have a positive impact. If you have more thoughts, please share!

      • I wasn’t a swimmer. I ran track in college. I guess the transition to swimming was easy … lanes, stopwatches, working hard to get faster, relays … but that’s for another article methinks 🙂

        I started off as a swim parent and then was chided into becoming an official. I looked at it as a way to learn about the sport my kids were in (3 competitive swimmers at one point). Plus, I hate sitting in the stands and I had done all the jobs you listed in the swim swam article … needed something new.

        I learned the rules! Why swimmers are DQ’d. I hate to say that I had to learn the negative to embrace the positive because let’s face it, swimmers see us as the negative when they are DQ’d for the first time (I once had a swimmer run away from me so I couldn’t tell her what she did … still got DQ’d .. still filled out slip). Later, they learn that we are, in fact, helping them become better and I had swimmers ask me what they did wrong and what it’s supposed to look like so it wouldn’t happen again. That’s what got me interested in coaching. I’ve worked with a lot of coaches and they always rely on my knowledge of the rules from an officials standpoint and trust me, in my coaching, I’ve told my swimmers what officials are looking at when they swim. My biggest piece of advice … KEEP SWIMMING BECAUSE OFFICIALS MAY MISS WHAT YOU THINK YOU DID since they are usually looking at 4 lanes and we are instructed during the briefing … see what you call, call what you see.

        And then the social aspects. I’ve met some fantastic officials. I can count trials officials as good friends and officials love it when coaches know the rules. It’s to point now when an chief judge sees me with a swimmer, they know they can trust me to tell them what they did. Makes their lives easier.

      • Thank you so much for your input! I appreciate your perspective since you have been on the officiating and coaching sides.

      • Thank you! Your post was shared and very much appreciated by our board and parents.

      • I’m so glad! There’s so much more to add to it. It’s an important subject for all teams and schools, too!

  10. I grew up much like this. A few more stoplights. The McDonalds came to town around the time I went to high school.

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