At almost every local community pool, there is a summer league swim team. From the outsider looking in, summer swim teams may look simple.
But for first-time swim families, it’s anything but simple. And there are many things that no one tells you about summer swim teams that would’ve been nice to know beforehand.
Related article: The Parents Guide to Summer League Swimming
Swimming is its own world, much like any sport. It has its own vocabulary and terms, traditions, and culture. Some you can learn about by reading but most you can only experience firsthand.
Beyond learning more about swimming than you thought possible, here are other things you’ll learn through summer swim teams.
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Things No One Tells You About Summer League Swimming
Summer Swim Team as a Whole
- Start looking for a team early and register as soon as you can. Sign-ups start early and teams can fill up quickly.
- You will lose caps and goggles, and you should buy extras. Pack extra swim caps and goggles in your kid’s swim bag just in case. Especially during swim meets
- You’ll go through towels like crazy. Not only will towels end up missing but they can also end up torn, extremely dirty, and unusable, to downright smelling of mold.
- You should also stock up on extra towels.
Related article: 5 Reasons Every Swimmer Should Own a Shammy or Microfiber Towel
- Your kids’ confidence will grow by leaps and bounds as they learn new skills in the water. From learning new strokes, turns, or successfully diving into the water (instead of belly flopping) there’s a lot of room for growth.
- They’ll learn to become independent. As a parent, this can be bittersweet but your heart will burst with pride the first time they climb onto the block by themselves. Or when the scared tears fade away to happy smiles.
- You’ll get into the sport more than you thought you would. It’s easy to think that at 6-10 weeks you won’t get into something. But you’ll find yourself cheering for your child and asking more questions about the sport than you thought possible
- Despite the long hours, you’ll miss summer swim team when it’s done. And you’ll find yourself looking forward to the next season. Maybe even more than your kid!
- You will brag about your child’s swimming ability and accomplishments to anyone that will listen
- And your phone will be filled with pictures and videos of them during practices and meets that you can readily show off to anyone
- You may secretly see your child becoming the next great swimmer
- Some parents and swimmers may get way into the sport and try to take the fun out of it. Don’t let them. Instead, allow them to exist in their own little bubble so you and your family can continue to have fun.
Related article: 4 Things You Need for Summer Swim Team
About Swim Practice
- Practices are short but are still enough time to make friends
- It may look like your kids are just swimming laps back and forth in the pool, but they’re doing more than that. They’re working technique, endurance, and speed. The countless laps give them time to practice turns and help them realize how much they can swim. And they can see how far they’ve come!
- Hydration is crucial. Even though they’re kids, they should still have water bottles ready at the poolside and after their practices. Make sure they’re drinking water to rehydrate because you sweat in the water when swimming!
- Sunscreen is your best friend if your kid swims outside. Buy extras in sunscreen to help protect them
- You should wear sunscreen too if the pool is outside! Just because you’re not swimming doesn’t mean you’re immune to sunburns 🙂
- A properly fitting swimsuit can make all the difference when it comes to a successful and happy swim practice. One that fits too small or too large can make kids uncomfortable, distracted, and cranky. Take the time to find a suit that fits just right and they can move around in.
- If you’re swimming outside, look for goggles that are marketed as ‘good for outdoors’ or ‘mirrored‘. These will be tinted and can help reduce the glare of the sun
- Goggle and cap tan lines are a thing with outdoor swimming. Your child will learn to wear them proudly
Related article: Swim Practice Etiquette for Parents
Regarding Summer Swim Meets
- Swim meets are long…Very long. Bring something to do and be prepared to wait around for your kid’s race
- They can also be very hot depending on when the swim meet is. Pack extra water and bring your cooler. You’ll go through more water and snacks than you expect. Both you and your swimmer! Hydration and food are important at swim meets. Especially when they last for hours on end.
- If it can break or end up lost, it’ll happen at a swim meet! Always bring extras of everything (caps, goggles, and towels) and write your name on everything that you can.
- It’s normal to write with Sharpie on your kid’s arm or leg
- Writing ‘eat my bubbles’ on a swimmer’s back is also normal. It’s cute, fun, and bold without being overly competitive.
- Write out your kid’s events on their arm or leg first before applying sunscreen. Sharpie doesn’t write well on sunscreen 🙂
Related article: How To Be a Good Swim Parent
- It’s easy for parents and swimmers to miss a race. Keep an eye on the events board and start watching several heats before your child swims
- The concession stand at swim meets is filled with unhealthy food options. They should make your kid sick to eat them right before swimming but somehow they manage just fine.
- Some people just know how to put on swim caps. If that’s not you, make friends with them and ask for tips
- There’s a lot of chaos at swim meets. Parents and coaches are herding kids around the pool and trying to get them lined up and ready for their event. Kids only want to play around with their friends or eat junk food at the concession stand. In many ways, it’s like herding cats
- Everyone cheers for everyone. Especially for the youngest of kids swimming their first race and trying their absolute best to make it across the pool. You’ll find yourself cheering for them too!
BONUS: What No One Tells You to Bring for Summer Swim Meets
Veteran swim families know the secrets to surviving swim meets and what to bring. But for new swim families here are some life-saving tips and suggestions to bring for summer swim meets.
Related article: The Parents Survival Guide to Swim Meets
- Bring a Folding, camping chair just in case there isn’t seating or you may need to sit on the (muddy) ground
- A cooler filled with water and snacks
- Snacks (or money for the concession stand if you opt not to bring your own snacks)
- Several Sharpies to write swim/event information and temporarily decorate your child’s skin with ‘Eat My Bubbles’. Seriously, get at least a dozen, you’ll lose at least one at each swim meet
- Extras of the extra towels (and keep a few in the car for the drive home)
- Comfortable clothes, shoes, a hat, and sunglasses. Remember that you’ll be there for a while and if it’s hot, you’ll want something that breathes and can keep you cool. Additionally, wet shoes will rub your feet raw but running around on hot concrete is just as painful.
- A well-charged phone to take pictures and video your child’s race(s). Make sure the memory is ready to take on dozens of photos and videos, too.
- Remote charger if your phone won’t last the whole swim meet
- Entertainment for both you and your child. Remember that you’re around water and wet hands mixed with electronic games aren’t always a good combination 🙂
- Swimming earplugs and ear drops to help prevent swimmer’s ear, which are often overlooked until your child is dealing with a painful ear infection.
And it should go without saying, but you should bring your child’s swimsuit, caps, goggles, and towels. We’re adding plurals in there because if it can be lost or broken, it’ll happen at a swim meet. And it’s always good to have backups.
Though short and somewhat chaotic, summer swim team can be a great experience for your family. It’s something to look forward to leading up to the summer months and create amazing memories for years to come.
And who knows? It may be the start of a swimming career for your kid!
As always, happy swimming!
How to Stop Swim Goggles from Falling Off: There’s no sure secret to keep your goggles from falling off, but there are some tricks. Check out these tips to help keep your goggles on.
How to Count Laps in Swimming (with Reference Tables): Knowing how to count laps in swimming can make the difference between hitting your swimming goal and missing it.
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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.