It’s that time of year again – short course season is back! My daughter in particular is pretty overjoyed about this, long course is NOT her favorite. She struggled all summer with morning vs. evening practice and she really missed 25’s…

Last weekend, we had our opening meet of the season. It was also a first for me, as it was the first meet that I was on deck coaching (aside from filling in for warm-ups once over the summer). We were all pretty excited, my daughter had some great times at our championship meet in July that I thought would convert to fast swimming in short course.

I was half right. She did go out and drop time, a good bit of time actually, but her freestyle in particular wasn’t near what I was expecting based on her times converted from long course. I was having a classic (and totally unjustified) swim parent meltdown.

Texts to my husband went something like this:

  • “Her freestyle looks slow”
  • “She dropped time but she’s no where NEAR the cut time”
  • “She got crushed by (insert swimmer from other team here)” 

His texts to me went something like this:

  • “It’s the first meet of the season, I’m sure she’s fine”
  • “Is she happy with her swim?”
  • “That’s all that matters”

I know I sound like a tyrannical swim monster, but I just get excited for her when she does well. When she comes up to me with a big smile on her face after she swims and asks me, “did I get the cut?” I want to be able to say yes. She’s told me so many times that her regional championship meet over the summer was the most fun she’s ever had. I want her to have that feeling all the time. And as it turns out, she did get a few cuts and really had a good meet, so I had to eat my texts.

Thankfully all the negative thoughts in my head stayed in my head (and in texts to my husband). When she got out of the pool, I gave her a hug and told her she did great. If there was feedback she needed, she was able to get that from her coach.

As a swim parent, I’m guilty of all of the following thoughts. In fact, I was guilty of a lot of these high expectations for myself as a swimmer. It’s easy to forget that a swim season is progressive, and your swimmer may not (probably won’t) crush every meet along the way. 

We all want the best for our swimmers, and sometimes that means keeping our big judgy mouths shut! I’ve made the mistake before of giving small bits of feedback, or insinuating my daughter could have swam better and I’m telling you the look on her face when I did it made me feel like the worst mom in the world.

If you have an older swimmer and they know they didn’t swim well, it’s okay not to be sunshine and rainbows with them. They’re smart and they’ll know you’re lying. Instead, pick one or two things from their race that they did well, and help shift their focus to the positive. “I know your time wasn’t what you expected, but you were really fast off the block and your turns are so much faster from last season!” They’ll appreciate that you paid attention to their race and respect that you can be honest with them about their performance in a positive way.

Happy short course season everyone!