5 Tips to be great swim parents!

Parents who have their children in competitive sports have a bad reputation. They are often described as being overbearing and obsessed. If you are a parent of a competitive swimmer, it is easy to get caught up in the drama of the races and the competition between teammates. Everyone wants their own children to succeed, but at what cost? It is possible to be a swim parent who contributes to the success of your child without being overbearing to the coach and the other parents.


Swim parents are extremely dedicated to their children and their love of the pool. But, like parents of all young athletes, swim parents can be difficult for coaches to handle. In most cases, youth swimming coaches are volunteers and the do the job because they love the sport and they love working with kids. When parents become unruly, it makes it difficult for even the best coaches to keep doing the job. To help their children keep swimming and the coaches keep coaching, here are a few tips for parents to be the best swim parents possible:


Great swimming parents are encouraging.

And not just for their own children. They encourage the entire team. They listen to their children and their coach. They do not get involved in drama, even if it does arise. The most encouraging swim parents will share their children’s progress and listen when other parents do the same. They cheer on their own children and the other swimmers on their child’s team.


Great swimming parents are dedicate to the sport and the team.

They continue to learn about the best practices for improving in the sport. They also work hard to help the team succeed financially by participating in fundraisers and recruiting events. They make sure their children get to practices and they bring teammates to practices if their parents have difficulties with transportation.


Great swim parents share their knowledge with teammates.

When swimmers are getting ready to apply to college and for scholarships, the parents who have experience will help other parents who do not. They will share information about the best places to buy inexpensive, but high quality gear. Sharing knowledge does not mean overstepping the coach, however. It means bringing your expertise to the whole team with things that help the coach, too. Parents who have knowledge about complementary exercises like yoga or weight training can be helpful to the team, too – but only after asking the coach first.


Great swim parents are also generous.

This does not mean that they have to be financially generous, but they do what they can to help the team. This spirit of generosity can involve helping the coach with timing during practices or volunteering to drive children to meets. It could involve sharing delicious and nutritious recipes that satisfy a hungry swimmer. Generous parents do not complain about doing what they can to help the team be a team.


Finally, a great swim parent is a nice person.

Some parents can be judgemental and harsh to their own children and this can scare other children. There is a right way and a wrong way to cheer on a child; being nice is the key. Friendly swim parents are not just nice to their children, but to all of the children and their parents. As seasons change, families will come and go, but the veteran families should always be nice and welcoming to the newest ones. This makes the whole team cohesive and it helps new families know where to go for questions and answers. Friendly swim parents can set a positive tone for the entire season and for an entire club.

Taper tips: Swimming through the Struggle

It’s no secret that the taper is one of the most difficult aspects of competitive swimming. Training all year for the big competitions always comes down to this challenge. You may be cutting down on the mileage, but now the speed takes over. While some swimmers look forward to this part of the training program, there are some who absolutely dread it. So, how do you survive the struggle that comes with the uncertainty of the taper?

taper#1: Taper Journals Help. Many competitive swimmers will keep a taper journal. This is a place where they record their experiences while swimming as fast as they can for small amounts of time. There will be ups and downs in speed and also in the psychological reactions to those speeds. Anxieties often build up during the time and it is easy to get caught up in them. With a taper journal, you can record what it going on in your body and mind and learn from the experience.

#2: Respect the Aches & Pains. It is a good idea to understand that the way you feel during the taper will change from day to day and moment to moment. This can become frustrating, but knowing that the body is constantly changing will pain-tempkeep your sanity in check. There will be muscle tension and occasional issues with your body that did not pop up during the rigors of the regular training schedules. As long as the pains are not excessive and keeping you from swimming, you shouldn’t worry much about them. Using your taper journal will let you see how quickly those sensations disappear. The body will not feel perfect during the taper. It just won’t. So don’t become anxious about the small issues you might experience. Remember that swimming at full speed is a workout in itself, so it is expected that your muscles will respond.

#3: Recognize the Challenges. Tapering is tough. And, as you are working on your speed, you might want to make a few little tweaks to the training that you just completed. It is best to avoid this. You have trained and the odds are good that you trained well. There is no reason to swim an exorbitant amount of miles to make a change to something you notice in your taper. This time in your training program is meant to let your muscles calm down a bit so you can go all out while you race. If you need to see how many miles you have really covered in your training, go ahead and do the math. Once you see how much you have covered in the pool, you will realize that you do not need to swim any more miles.

coach#4: Trust Your Coach.
If this is the first time that you have tapered, then you may not realize that there is a tapering plan in place. It is best that you do not stray from it. If this is not your first time tapering, then you know that there will be moments when you want to stray from the course that your coach has set. No matter what, do what your coach says. Do not convince yourself otherwise. Your coach has a reason for creating the taper at just the right time. If you are doubting the reasoning, it is a perfect time to talk to your coach so you can be reassured that what it going on is the best thing for you right now. You should trust everything that you have completed, because your times in your races will show the hard work that you have completed. If you feel exhausted, it is perfectly ok. Your body will recover. If you feel excessively energized, remember that your body will get back to homeostasis. The extremes will stop and you will be ready.

It is important to remember that the taper is part of every normal training schedule. It is vital that you trust what is happening, despite the way you feel. Your body will be ready to swim as fast as possible so you can win.

Great tips for your swimming stroke.

 There are very few contentious issues in swimming and most of them can be solved by scientifically looking at the evidence. One of the minor issues in swimming is whether to swim with closed fingers or hand-image-4open fingers. Since humans do not have gills or fins, it is important that we learn how to best use our bodies to get the most out of our strokes. The question about what to do with our fingers and hands makes for an interesting debate and for interesting results. What is the best way to hold the hands?

Paddles or Not?

Your hands are very important in the pool. The difference between open and closed fingers may not seem like that big of a deal, but when races come down to split second finishes, any little advantage can make a big difference. When the fingers are closed, the hand acts like a kayak paddle and when the fingers are open, water can move between the fingers. So, what is the most beneficial position?

Resistance is Key

hand-image-2If you prefer to swim with your fingers closed, you are actually moving against the water. Your hands are a form of resistance and the drag includes all of your arm, from the shoulder to the fingers. When you think about physics, resistance slows objects down. So closing your fingers and using your hand like a kayak paddle does not increase speed. It might seem you would swim faster because a closed hand should be able to move more water, but you have to work harder to go faster with closed fingers. When you want to move water, you need surface area. With closed fingers, the surface area of the hand extends the length and width of the hand.

Build Surface Area

When you swim with your fingers open, you actually get more surface area. With the fingers open, the surface area actually includes the space between the fingers. So your surface area is wider, but not taller. When it comes to smart swimming, the most powerful hands are not muscularly engaged and purposefully spread. They are relaxed and open naturally. When you swim this way, see if you can notice the water moving between your fingers. You probably cannot and that is just fine. The larger surface area can move more water, but it does it with less resistance.

Stay Balanced

Another benefit to swimming with relaxed hands and open fingers is better balance. We may not think of balance in a swimming pool, but with good balance, your body will move more smoothly through the water. Balance helps with all aspects of swimming, from the stroke to the breath. The more balanced the body is, the better it moves and theless friction and resistance it creates.

Research Proves the Case

When researchers looked the debate and the actually hand-imagebiology of hand positioning in swimming, they realized that when the fingers were open to a natural level, the fingers acted like webbed hands and added more than 50% force to their strokes. With open fingers, swimmers were able to stay horizontal and actually get higher in the water with more of the body out of the water – thus reducing drag and resistance. When swimmers are higher in the water, they do not have to work as hard to swim fast. It is also better for people to swim with their toes spread slightly, too. If you think of the size of swim fins, it makes sense that a “wider” foot will move the body more efficiently.

Test It Out Yourself

So, the best way to swim is with the fingers naturally open. If you want to see proof, watch footage of Michael Phelps in the water. His hands are open and relaxed. His fingers are spread. If you need to see if it really does work, test yourself. Time yourself with your hands in both positions and see what lets you swim the fastest.

Should you question your coach?

The relationship between a coach and an athlete is certainly unique. In the best situations, the coach and athlete are not related, but their relationship is often like that of a parent and child. But yet, the relationship is still different than that. The goal of the coach is to prepare the athlete for success, both physically and mentally. Especially in swimming. In the best-case scenario, the coach understands the game from several perspectives and can steer the swimmer in the direction that is best suited for his or her ability in the water. When this is the case, the swimmer rarely has to question the coach. But, there are moments when questioning the coach is in the best interest of both parties.

Walking a Fine Line

When it comes to questioning the coach,coach there is a fine line that the athlete should walk. Coaches feel like they know what is best for the athlete and they trust that the athlete sees this. But, there are times when it is acceptable for a swimmer or any other athlete to question a coach’s decision. Swimmers should know that there is a right and wrong way to go about questioning a coach. And an athlete should take time to consider whether or not questioning the coach is the right thing to do in any situation.

The 24-Hour Rule

A swimmer should wait to question a coach for a few reasons. The first is that many athletes get caught up in the moment and they might say something to the coach that will be regretted later. By waiting, the swimmer can also reflect on the situation to see if it is necessary to discuss it with the coach. Many coaches appreciate when their athletes wait 24 hours before questioning a situation. This 24-hour rule has helped maintain many relationships.

Talk about Goals

One of the most important questions to ask your coach is what your coach’s goals for you are. If the goals are different, then it is time to have a heart-to-heart talk. coach3The goals should be realistic and reachable through hard work and dedication. If you feel like the goals are too far-fetched, then the relationship will suffer and your swimming will, too. If the goal is too easy, then what is the point of having the coach in the first place?

Talk about Listening

Another reason to question a coach is when the coach does not listen to you. Coaching not a one-way street for the coach to deliver and you to accept. The coaching relationship needs to have good communication where the coach listens to you, too. If you feel like the coach is not doing this, then you need to speak up. Your coach needs to understand your value as an athlete who knows his own body.

Work with the Coach

You should not question your coach when he is trying to get you to swim hard or to fix an aspect of your stroke. It is never appropriate to talk back to your coach or to give your coach attitude. Unlike your parents, you coach can easily stop working with you and find someone else who is willing to work hard and get to the next level. It is never appropriate to disobey your coach during practice or at a meet. The best attitude to take with a coach during practice or a competition is to do what the coach says and work hard to be the fastest.

How to Ask as a Parent

If you are a parent of a swimmer and you noticecoach2 that your swimmer is not progressing, the best thing to do is to talk to the coach without blaming the coach. The best way to question the coach is to ask what the swimmer can do to improve or what can you do to help your child swim faster. The coach will be more than willing to offer suggestions and it might even get the coach to spend more time with your child.