Despite what most people think, quitting swimming isn’t just as simple as walking away and calling it done.
Before you take the step to hang up your goggles and step away from the sport, you should first make sure you’ve done your research.
Related article: Is Quitting Swimming the Right Thing to Do?
Just like leaving a job, certain teams have guidelines for leaving the team. And while this does vary by team, there are other common courtesy steps that you can take before your last day.
Here are 8 things to do before quitting swimming to ensure you have a smooth and graceful exit.
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- 8 Things to Do Before Your Last Day of Swimming
- Considerations When Leaving a Team on Less Than Ideal Terms
- In Closing
- Bonus Content
- Want to Improve at the Pool?
8 Things to Do Before Your Last Day of Swimming
1. Check the Requirements for Leaving the Team
No matter what team you train for, high school, club, summer league, or Masters, check what rules there are for quitting the team.
Some teams don’t have a set policy or rule in place. And a verbal notice will suffice.
Other teams have a rule that written notice, such as an email, must be given a certain number of days before you leave.
Related article: 10 Things to Consider Before Quitting Swimming
If you know that you’ll be quitting the team or even if you have an idea you want to quit, it’s a good idea to start here first. Knowing what’s required can help you plan when your last day needs to be and what all needs to be done prior to your last day.
This is especially important if you’re swimming in school (high school or college) as this could impact your class schedule or scholarship.
2. Pay Any Remaining Dues or Fees
If you swim with a team or an organization, ensure that you don’t have any outstanding fees owed before you quit swimming.
You should close out any unpaid fees or dues before leaving the team.
Not only is it wrong to skip out on paying the dues that you owe, but it’s also a bad impression to leave on your coach. And it’s a surefire way to burn bridges.
Coaches do talk to each other and it doesn’t take long for word to get out that you left your previous team without paying an outstanding balance.
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If you do decide that you want to return to the sport, you may find that you can’t join a team due to how you left your previous team.
So really, do the right thing and pay whatever you may owe. Even if you’re leaving or quitting on bad terms. Be the better person.
3. Talk to Your Coach
Before you quit swimming, let your coach know of your decision to leave the sport or team.
Swim teams do operate like businesses and like most businesses, you should give proper notice.
Some teams have a certain timeframe (such as two weeks or 30 days) that you have to give notice if you’re quitting or changing teams. And failure to notify a coach can result in financial penalties.
But mostly, it’s a gesture of respect to give your coach the heads up that you’re leaving.
Don’t stop showing up one day without saying anything and leave everyone to wonder what happened.
Your teammates and coach do care about you and if you suddenly stop coming to workouts, they’ll get concerned.
We do suggest that you send an email (versus verbally telling them) so you have written documentation that you notified your coach in advance. Again, some teams have this requirement.
Talking to your coach about your decision to quit swimming will also give you a chance to provide feedback. If they’re willing to listen, of course.
Related article: How to Tell Your Coach You’re Quitting
And it can also be a moment for you to explain your decision as to why you’re leaving and what wasn’t working.
We encourage you to be professional and polite in your conversation. It can go a long way to making your last few days or weeks more enjoyable for all.
4. Inform Your Teammates
We had a swimmer once on our team that just never showed up to practice one week and no one knew what happened to them. Or where they even went.
It took several days, several text messages, and digging through social media before we found that they moved to a different team.
This swimmer didn’t even let some of their closest friends on the team know that they were leaving. It left their friends understandably upset. And it didn’t paint the swimmer in a very good light.
Please don’t do this to your teammates.
We’re not saying you need to let everyone on the team know. But you should let those in your lane at least know. As well as those that you’re close with or have a good relationship with.
Not only does this give them a chance to say goodbye and wish you luck, but it’s also a way to keep relationships in place. The world is a small place and you’ll be surprised at how many people you’ll bump into who know your teammate(s) somehow.
Don’t give people reason to speak ill of you.
5. Donate Any Gear or Unused Suits
If you’re quitting swimming and know that you won’t be returning any time soon, consider donating any gear that you may have.
While swimming isn’t the most expensive sport out there, gear and equipment do add up. Especially for those families who already have to stretch their budget.
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When it comes time to leave, see if anyone on your team could use any gear that you’ll no longer be using. This way, the gear goes to someone who will use it and it won’t sit around collecting dust at your home.
And if you’d rather sell them than donate, consider offering them at a discount to your team members first before going online.
6. Clean Out Your Locker (if you have one)
Before you leave, please clean out your locker if you have one. Throw out any trash (or gross towels) and take the rest of your belongings home.
Don’t leave your things behind for someone else to deal with. And don’t leave behind trash and crusty towels, either.
Again, you want to leave on a good note. And you don’t want to give your team any reason to say that you purposely made things difficult on your way out.
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Don’t plan on using any towels? Donate them to a nearby animal shelter if they’re too ratty to be given to a homeless shelter.
You can do the same for any unwanted workout clothes, shoes, or toiletries. Homeless and animal shelters are forever in need of these types of items.
If you’re leaving on less than ideal terms and are worried that your team will give you grief about your locker, take pictures to document that you cleaned out your belongings. This way no one can say that you didn’t pick up after yourself.
7. Thank Your Coach(es)
It doesn’t take much time or effort to thank your coach(es) for all that they’ve done for you.
Even if they made practices challenging and you weren’t a fan of some of the workouts, they still took time out of their day to coach you. And it deserves a thoughtful ‘thank you’ at least.
Related article: 8 Best Gifts for Swim Coaches
If you have a good relationship with your coach(es) and have trained with them for a while, you can also consider a small gift. A thank you card or even a gift card is a small but thoughtful gesture to show your appreciation.
Check out some swimming and coaching-related cards at H2O Society!
8. Follow Any Out Processing Items
This probably sounds very ‘work-like’ and in some ways, it is! Club teams do operate as a business and based on where you train, you may have additional steps to complete.
This could be anything from canceling a gym subscription if your team trained at a local gym. Or returning any gear that was loaned to you.
Considerations When Leaving a Team on Less Than Ideal Terms
Not everyone quits swimming and leaves a team with words of encouragement and well wishes.
Unfortunately, some swimmers leave some pretty toxic teams who would rather drag their name through the mud. And it can make for a bad experience and memory.
If you’re leaving a bad team or on not the best terms, we have the following suggestions to help protect yourself. And make your departure a bit easier for you.
Document every step and action that you do.
It may seem like overkill but it’s better to have the extra proof than not. Ideally, this should be in the form of an email or text message, as they can be time stamped.
This can be any communication that you had with the coach leading up to the day you give notice to the actual notice that you’re leaving on a certain day.
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Don’t let anyone say that you didn’t give proper notice or that you never raised an issue/concern (if there were concerns to be addressed).
If something is told to you verbally, either request that the coach follows up with an email. Or email the coach to review what had been discussed verbally.
It’s hard to be polite and cordial when leaving a bad situation and team. And as tempting as it may be to flip some tables, throw things, and yell, ignore that temptation. Don’t do it.
Instead, do what’s asked of you (within reason, of course), and do so as politely as you can. You don’t want to give more ammunition to the coach or team.
Even if someone on the team tries to state that you acted inappropriately, you’ll know that you did everything right.
Block Social Media
If your team has a social media account or you follow parents/swimmers on social media, it’s within your best interest to block certain people. If not the team as a whole.
Chances are, if the team is toxic, they’ll be saying some pretty nasty stuff about you after you leave. Or even beforehand.
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For your mental health, block or unfollow them if you haven’t already done so. Don’t allow them to impact your health even after you leave. And don’t give them a chance to harm you any more than they may already have.
Don’t Let Them Get to You
We know, easier said than done. But if at all possible, do your best to ignore any gossip or things that are said about you. Defend yourself if needed but don’t feed into the fire.
And perhaps equally as difficult, try to remember that not every team or sport is similar to the one you’re leaving. Every team or sport will have bad apples and arrogant people. That’s life, unfortunately.
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But don’t let them sour your love of swimming or other sports. You may find that you want to start swimming again later in life. Or join a different sport or group. But you can’t let that experience with one bad team make you decide against joining.
Be cautious, yes. But give others the chance to show you that they’re not the same team or group that you left 🙂
While it might seem tedious to do all these steps before quitting swimming, you’ll find that it’ll make life a bit easier. You don’t want to be left scrambling on your last day with more questions than answers. Or told that you owe money or that you can’t leave just yet.
A little research goes a long way. As does up-front and honest communication.
As always, happy swimming!
How to Return to the Pool After a Long Break: Returning to the pool after a long break can be a challenge for swimmers. Mentally preparing yourself can help ease your transition back into the water.
Why I Started (and Keep) Swimming: Swimming is a journey for most. One filled with highs and lows, but it’s one that I haven’t regretted.
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Chevron is a current competitive swimmer with almost 20 years of experience in the pool. And although she fell into the sport by accident in her high school years, she still trains daily and competes throughout the year. She’s committed to providing guidance to all levels of swimmers and believes that everyone should know how to swim.