Written By: Pam Swander
Forming friendships with other swim parents will enrich your sport experience. Because of the time you spend together, these parents become your community as you all work together for the common good of your kids and the team! Having these relationships withstand the stress of competition, long weekends at meets, and even the day to day demands of maintaining the practice schedule.
Swim friends entertain each other with conversation and laughter, they cheer for each other’s kids, and share in their success and challenges of everyday life over the years. Together you all might complain about the sacrifice of money, energy, and time but at the same time realize, “someday, we’ll miss this”. Trust me, I know from experience… you will miss it.
If your swimmer joined a new swim team, or you’ve been on the team for a while, and you don’t know many of the parents yet, here are a few tips to get to know others.
Ask the coach if you can help with activities for your swimmer’s group. This is like the role of room parent at school. This role helps the coach communicate and organize extracurricular activities.
Stay at the team hotel on away meets and arrange a team pizza party in the lobby of the hotel.
Volunteer at the meets - timing is a great and easy place to start.
If your team permits, stay, and watch practice. At the very least, park your car and walk your swimmer into practice and walk in early to pick them up after practice. Introduce yourself to other parents doing the same thing.
Become the team’s number one fan by sporting the team gear, sitting with other parents at meets and cheering for all the team’s swimmers.
Putting yourself out there to meet new people isn’t always the most comfortable thing to do. But soon you will see the benefits outweigh the momentary discomfort. Be consistent in your efforts and in no time, you’ll have a whole new group of friends. Together, while you all watch your kids grow and learn so much through their sport, you will make lifelong friends that will enrich your life beyond the pool.
Pam Swander is a veteran coach who has coached at every level of the sport from summer league to college. NCAA Division I coaching roles include Clemson University, Indiana University and University of South Carolina. Coach Swander has helped her teams and athletes achieve at the highest levels of the sport - Olympic Trials finalists, World and American world record holders, NCAA, SEC and Big10 Individual Champs and Big10 Championship team titles. Over her college coaching career, she has garnered international experience by accompanying many of her athletes to international meets and championships, including the 2008 Short Course World Championships in Manchester, England where Kate Zubkova won a silver medal while representing Ukraine and IU. At the club level while serving as South Carolina Swim Club’s Head Coach (2016-2018) the club achieved Bronze Medal recognition in the USA Swimming Club Excellence Program and won 2016 LCM and 2017 SCY State Championships. For six years as North Regional Manager and Senior 1 coach at SwimMAC Carolina she oversaw eight Junior National Championship team titles. She achieved club management recognition while serving on SwimMAC’s leadership team helping MAC earn Gold Medal top honors in the USA Swimming Club Excellence Program. She collaborated with MAC coaches to develop and implement SwimMAC’s high-performance initiative. The program produced Olympian Kathleen Baker, and eighteen, 18-Under Olympic Trials qualifiers who went on to have outstanding college careers. As a result, CEO & Head Coach of SwimMAC Carolina, David Marsh received 2012 Developmental Coach of the Year award from USA Swimming for having the most 18-Under Olympic Trials qualifiers in the Nation. In addition to her elite-level coaching experience, Swander has developed community swim lesson curricula, coached High School, served as both the Director of USA Swimming’s Select camp, and the Vice Chair of Hospitality on the U.S. Olympic Trials Committee, and represented Indiana Swimming as a Delegate at the USA Swimming National Convention. Pam is married to Jeff Swander and their two children, Laura and Kevin, became top swimmers at Auburn University and Indiana University, respectively.