6 Everyday Struggles of a Swim Parent

Photo Courtesy: Hayley Good

6 Everyday Struggles of a Swim Parent

There is a lot of pressure on swimmers. The training, the suit, the mentality all has to be perfect. However, behind every great practice, every great race, and every great swimmer is a great swim parent, even when the kids leave for a collegiate pool instead of the local YMCA.

As swimmers’ pre-meet meals evolve from hot dogs and nachos, to pasta with meatballs, to grilled chicken and vegetables, swim parents must evolve with their surroundings and their new teams. However, no matter how many times you have driven your carpool to the pool or have packed for travel meets, some things never change. You may be a pro swim parent, but some things just never get any easier!

Sometimes swim parents struggle just as much as the swimmers, but with far less credit.

Here are 6 everyday struggles of a swim parent:

1. Being Asked to Time

timers cerave invitational

If you’re my dad, you love being asked to time at swim meets. If you’re the majority of other parents, this is not your idea of fun. Some parents like to give their kids space, others like to get work done when their child isn’t swimming for 30 seconds. Either way, most swim parents try to avoid doing this chore.

2. Fighting for Seats in the Stands


So you got out of timing. Yes! Unfortunately, so did a couple hundred other parents. Some parents share the wealth of the pool view when their child is swimming. But there is always that one person standing in the way or trying to take a video of the race by holding their iPad up in front of everyone. Just watching your own child swim can be a struggle sometimes!

3. Commuting


Early high school is a time when almost all swimmers change their routines, and so do their parents. Middle school is pretty easy, with one commute a day. And senior year, most athletes have the responsibility of driving themselves to practice. Before this glorious time for parents, there is that 14-16 age, when doubles start and your swimmers all of sudden make it back to finals in just about everything. Swim parents spend way too many hours in a car to count, listening to what mean thing the coach did or how hard the set was.

4. Perfecting Meals

spaghetti-mealPhoto Courtesy: flickr

When I was an 8 and under swimmer, feeding me was easy. A couple of granola bars and nachos after my 100 IM were all it took to make me happy. Easy. But as swimmers get older, their “lucky” meals and pre-practice requirements become much more complicated. And nothing makes a swimmer happier than a hot meal after a long day of school and practice. But preparing these meals after your own day of stress and work? It just never seems to end!

5. Trying Not to Coach

eva-jack-fabianPhoto Courtesy: Eva Fabian

For some lucky swimmers, their parent is their coach. For most, this is not the case. All parents want what it best for their child, swimmer or not. It is difficult for parents to let the coach do their job sometimes, especially when your child isn’t swimming well or is frustrated. Deciding on whether or not to lend your words is hard enough, let alone dealing with the aftermath if things don’t go as you thought they would.

6. Washing Towels

towels-2Photo Courtesy: flickr

No matter how many times you do laundry, there never seems to be enough towels! Especially for swim parents with more than one swimmer, keeping a fresh supply of clean towels is a huge chore! Let’s say there are two in your family, that’s easily at least 14 towels a week (five days of practice and a two-day meet…everyone takes two towels to meets, right?) Now add in double sessions, showers, and the rest of your non-swimming family and you’ve basically picked up washing towels as a second job.

At the end of the day, going through all these struggles is stressful, but probably worth it. While your swimmer may not say it everyday, there is a certain sparkle in the grin after a lifetime best that makes the statement for them loud and clear: thank you Mom and Dad.


  1. Heather Thomas

    My parents would barely drop me off at the curb and leave. Most of the time I rode my bike to swim practice and meets. They just didn’t have any interest in watching me swim. ?

  2. Becky Williams Slominski

    Towels can be air dried and reused-my daughter still does that in college because there is no way she can have that many towels at school.

    • avatar
      J David Hillery

      Tube Towels rock!!!

  3. David Yeo

    Kylie Richards Yeo Tanya Dowd Geoff Barnes Bec Barnes Nikki McPherson
    how true!

  4. avatar

    Two more: Lost goggles and waiting for your young swimmer to get out of the locker room (“Are you still in the showers!”)

  5. Angelina Rouille

    It is so true, It s so great to see my two boys swimming every day!

    • Glenys Black

      Kylie Finlayson I remember those early morning starts so well. Did it for nearly 18 years until you got your license ??

  6. avatar

    What about getting up at 4am three or four times per week. The cost of fees and equipment (jammers goggles etc.). What if you are required to do turn judge but are nervous about water!!! And on the point about turn judge, there is the problem with parents who cannot even swim being asked to decide if a young swimmer has broken the rules…sure, there are instructional courses but it is still a problem when you do not fully understand each stroke and the turning requirements. And then there is the fact that serious swimming just takes over your life as a parent and dictates when and if a family holiday can be taken, as well as everything else!

  7. Jen Carey

    Claire Lloyd Denice Maxey Andrew Pillow Lynsey-Joy Brodie Alexandra Clarke too true ??‍♀️?

    • Denice Maxey

      Enjoy the rest while you can. Do miss it but the breaks been good too. I’m hoi g to find it hard getting to grips whih nights swimming is on!!!

    • Sian Mclaren

      Anna Davies Scarbro definitely!! I’d do anything for her to back swimming soon ? xx

  8. Mary Helen MacLean

    2 towels at a meet? Try 5! (At least in fall/winter/spring when they don’t dry as fast.) But practice towels get hung up every night and reused.

    • Faye Emery

      Jackie Unwin “listening to what mean thing the coach did or how hard the set was.” And “It’s too hard, I want to quit” followed by “I had an amazing swim, I didn’t even think I was that fast and I got a PB!” Yep.

  9. avatar

    You have to be the father of a swimmers to say So True!

  10. avatar

    TOWELS we have 2 washers 4 swimmers 6 people in family

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