What to Expect at Your Child’s First Swim Practice

Wondering what will happen at your child’s first swim practice? You already have the basic notion that they’ll, well…swim! But beyond that, what can you expect on that first day of swim practice?

Related article: What to Know Before Your Child Joins a Swim Team

The structure of each practice will differ by teams. However, there are some things that you can expect across all teams. 

Here are 7 things you can expect at your child’s first swim practice.

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You can expect your swimmer to face some confusion at their first practice. However, the same is true for swim parents!

You’ll hear new words and phrases. You won’t have any idea what’s going on in the water. Or around you. And you don’t know what you can and can’t do during practice.

And that’s okay! Much like when you start a new job, some confusion is to be expected 🙂

The good news? You have swim parents around you who once stood where you stand now. They know the feeling of walking into the unknown and hoping for the best. 

You have unlimited resources with the parents on the team. Ask for help when needed. And when in doubt, speak with the coach. That’s what they’re there for!

Related Article: Things You Learn as a New Swim Parent

New Terminology

Expect to hear some new terminology at your child’s first swim practice. Much like any sport, swimming has its own set of words and phrases that only swimmers really understand. 

They can even confuse swim parents! 

You’ll hear other swim parents using these terms almost as frequently as the swimmers do. And, you’ll find your child referencing terminology at home as well.

Related article: 9 Words Swim Parents Should Know

Because of this, we highly encourage new swim parents to learn the lingo of the pool. It’ll save you and your swimmer frustration 

Be sure to check out our other article ‘30 Words to Get You by at Swim Practice to see a list of additional swim terms you should know. 

Mass Chaos

Pause for a moment to imagine a playground filled with kids. All of them running around to different parts of the park. Some to the slide, others to the swings, and the rest to the jungle gym.

Have that image in mind?

Great! In some ways, this is what the start of swim practice can look like to outsiders. Or, to new swim parents.

Some teams have different training schedules for age groups and abilities. Others all train at the same time. Regardless of how your team trains, you’ll find dozens of swimmers scurrying – or meandering – about on the deck before practice starts.

Everyone knows their lane and their coaches. But as a new swim parent, it can look like mass chaos on the deck. 

People wandering around and standing in groups. Coaches talking and trying to herd the groups into the water.

It’s like watching a circus at times!

But while it looks like mass chaos, it’s all organized chaos. And it won’t take you long to find the pattern within the chaos itself.


Harsh, yes. But the uncomfortable truth is that swim practices are boring to watch.

It might start out exciting. But after the first 15 minutes of watching your child swim up and down the pool, you’ll find that it gets old quickly

So how do you escape the boredom? We have two suggestions for you:

Don’t stay the whole length of practice

Depending on the age of your child, you don’t need to stay the whole practice. Based on their age and independence, some kids are okay with being dropped off and not having their parents stay.

For some teams, this is also a rule. Especially during COVID when safety precautions are crucial. 

If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your child at their first swim practice, speak with the coach. They might allow you to stay for the first week or so to ensure your child is okay with the team.

Related Article: Why You Shouldn’t Stay at Your Child’s Swim Practice

Bring something to do

If the team allows parents to stay at practice and you want to stay, bring something to do. Whether that’s entertaining yourself on your mobile device or tablet, or even catching up on some work.

Related Article: 8 Things to do During Your Child’s Swim Practice

Whatever you decide to do, it’ll make practice go by much faster, I promise 🙂

Smell of Chlorine

Ah, the smell of chlorine.

This one is more for indoor pool facilities. But don’t worry outdoor swimmers, we’ve got one for you, too! 😉

You’ll find that you and your child will never escape the smell of chlorine. It permeates their skin and soaks into their towels. And for swim parents? It’ll forever burn itself into your nose and eyes.

Even the best vented and maintained pool facilities will have some smell of chemicals lingering in the air. It’s unavoidable. And it’s something you can expect at your child’s first swim practice. Along with the many after it.


For those with outdoor pool facilities, this one’s for you! Because while you don’t have to deal with the smell of chlorine, you have weather instead.

Swimming is a year-round sport. This means that while the summer months might feel great, you’ll eventually have to contend with the winter months as well. 

Even if you don’t plan to stay, you need to prepare for the weather accordingly. Making sure your child has sunscreen and lots of water in the summer. Or, that they have warm clothes or a parka ready to grab right after a winter practice.


When in doubt, ask some questions! Whether that’s a question about practice or what a certain word means. 

We said it earlier and we’ll say it again. All swim parents were new swim parents at one point. They understand what it’s like to feel lost and confused at practice.

Most parents will be more than willing to help you if you have questions. And for those that don’t? Well, it’s better to find those parents out earlier rather than later.

And much like you have questions, the other parents will probably have questions for you, too! 

In a way, it’s like starting a new job. Everyone wants to know a little bit about you and your child. This gives you a chance to make new friends and network. And maybe brag on your child some 😉

This also means that you get to ask questions of your own. Remember that learning about your child’s team and swimming is a two-way street.

In Closing

Your child’s first swim practice can feel daunting for both you and your swimmer!. It’s something new that you’re both stepping into, and it’s okay to feel anxious.

Just remember that you have a great support group. Not just with the swim parents around you, but also the coaches and even some of the other swimmers. Everyone once was new to the sport. And we all remember that feeling of ‘what did I get myself into?’

So remember to stay calm and ask questions when you’re not sure. It’s the best way to acclimate yourself to these new sport that you joined. And of course, enjoy watching your swimmer grow!

As always, happy swimming!


Bonus Content:

How to Make Your Swimmer’s Practice a Success: Success at swim practice isn’t determined by talent. Rather, it comes from these extra actions that swimmers put into making their practice successful.

Practice Etiquette for Swim Parents: Did you know that practice etiquette is also for swim parents? Here are eight tips to help guide you at your child’s next swim practice.

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