Yup, that’s how a summer swim meet is often described by parents, looooonnnnnggggg. Overall, the summer swim team experience is awesome, in fact one thing I remember most about my summers growing up was the swim team I was on every year. I wasn’t a very good swimmer but that so didn’t matter. It was just 7 weeks every year, but I made great friendships, got daily exercise and had a little structure every summer. Back then, I never saw it from my parents point of view. Now, as a mom to a summer swim team member for the last 6 or so years, it’s interesting to compare and contrast.
SWIM TEAM FROM THE CHILDS POINT OF VIEW
1. It's a guaranteed opportunity to be with BFF at the pool everyday, before, during, and after practice; and, of course, at the meets.
2. Meets are the social events of the week. Practice is even fun, the coaches are cool, tan, fit and happy to be here. There’s no pressure like the competitive softball/soccer/whatever travel team that’s been the focus all year
3. After about age 12, you suddenly notice that all the opposite sex swimmers you’ve been friends with since you were 5 are actually cute; I can’t tell you how many budding romances start on swim teams.
4. The swim meets themselves are an opportunity to eat candy, goof off and play with friends for 6 hours straight with very minimal work (see above title…I’m not kidding about the 180 seconds of actual swimming)
5. By June 15th, Wow!! I’m getting so TAN
6. By July 15th, Wow!! I’ve got summer, streaky, blonde hair
7. Parents are very hands-off during meet, actually no supervision whatsoever seems to be the rule (see below #3 for explanation). I don’t even remember my parents being at my meets, but they assure me they were.
SWIM TEAM FROM THE PARENTS POINT OF VIEW
1. The meets are LOOONNGGG, and mind-numbingly boring unless you have a job (see #3)
2. Your kid only swims 6 races, at most, and they are each about 30 seconds long, but you are required to be at the pool from about 4:30pm to the bitter end, usually around 10:30 or 11:00.
3. Swim meets are run essentially by the parents, depending on the size and structure, most swim meets require about 25-50 volunteers. You are probably going to be required to work at least a few meets, and when you do you are busy the entire 6 hours.
4. If you are volunteering, often you miss your own kids race…oh well, it’s just a big splash anyway, just tell him how fast he looked. You can check his times tomorrow.
5. You don’t get home until about 11:00pm on swim meet nights and have to go to work the next day..why can’t they be Friday or Saturday?
6. It’s usually about 105 degrees and you can’t even get in the pool.
7. The spectator area is so crowded and don’t get up or you’ll lose your spot.
8. You can get sunburnt at 5:00pm (and wrinkles.. and..melanoma...and...what??..you can't get summer blonde streaks in grey hair? this sucks)
9. When it’s over at about 11:00pm (unless there were thunderstorm delays and it’s now midnight) your kid is so hopped up on sugar he is not going to sleep for a loongg time. Might as well have a sleepover and invite a few BFF’s.
10. Some, but not many actually, of the parents in each age group are super, super, focused on their kids performance, his times, how much he beat last weeks times…unfortunately this means there will be screaming the ENTIRE evening. The kids swimming don’t actually hear it, but EVERYONE else does.
There are even a few positives, too, from the parents perspectives:
11. The daily practices are super good exercise and the reason many parents sign them up in the first place. Your kid gets some decent exercise 5X/week, and it’s a good, low pressure on the joints type of workout. It’s just what some kids need, a break from all the contact sports and something different physically.
12. The friendships, team work, and camaraderie of hanging with the same kids every summer is really healthy (and guess what? the kids have parents and for the most part we are also happy to see each other and hang out all summer, too).
13. Swim team practice is a good excuse to get the family out of the house regularly and have a bit of structure to each day…especially if you are a stay at home family and don’t have camps and daycare to go to.
14. Joining a swim team if you’ve just moved into a new area is often the way kids can make friends before school starts. It happens all the time and has saved many a kid from a summer of loneliness and the stress of being ‘brand new’ come September.
15. It’s a great way to reinforce swimming skills. We have lots of very young, not-so-good swimmers on our team and they basically use practices as swimming lessons. It’s totally encouraged in my neighborhood pool, hopefully elsewhere, too.
Anyway….even though you can probably tell I despise the actual meets, I think being on a summer swim team is a fantastic way for a kid to spend the summer.