On your mark, beep! I dive into the icy cold pool, goggles on, with a range of emotions. Can I do this? It’s been years since I donned a race suit and swam in competition mode. What is everyone thinking about me? Will I make my family proud or disappointed? But I’m doing this for my daughter despite my fear and reservations.
Let me tell you how I got here. My daughter has taken up competitive swimming, just as I had done at an early age. I am proud she is choosing swimming. Not because I swam, but because it makes her happy. And I plan to keep it that way, unlike countless coaches and parents out there.
Why? I see so many parents and coaches pushing kids past their breaking points, screaming and belittling them all in the name of becoming the best athletes they can be. To me, this is so wrong. A very small percentage of kids will make it to the elite level, and those that do shouldn’t grow to hate the sport or activity that they once loved so much.
For example, I have witnessed a swim coach yelling at a kid for missing a practice in front of her entire team. And I have talked to a football coach who said other coaches are yelling at the kids to stop making jokes and laughing during practice. There seems to be a real disconnect, and even the signs I have seen installed at the fields asking parents and coaches to behave are not having a strong enough effect.
So when my daughter’s coach asked if I would swim on a parent relay team at the next swim meet, I immediately said sure. Did I have doubts? Absolutely. But I am doing this so I can practice what I preach to my daughter. To always try your best and more importantly, have fun!