When it comes time to tell your parents you want to quit swimming, it’s never an easy conversation. Especially if you’ve been swimming for years and you have scholarship potential.
While you’re more than just your swimming talent, it’s to be expected that your parents (and coach) will feel some level of disappointment. But fear of disappointing your parents shouldn’t stop you from talking with them.
Related article: Is Quitting Swimming the Right Thing to Do?
Here are 8 tips to use when telling your parents you want to quit swimming. Along with some example conversions that you can use.
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- Why You Should Tell Your Parents You Want to Quit Swimming
- 8 Tips to Tell Your Parents You Want to Quit Your Sport
- Examples to Tell Your Parents You’re Quitting Swimming
- In Closing
- Bonus Content
- Want to Improve at the Pool?
Why You Should Tell Your Parents You Want to Quit Swimming
Let’s admit it. Depending on your parents, there’s no easy way to tell your parents that you’re ready to quit your sport. Especially if you’ve spent years developing your skill.
But in this case, honesty is the best policy. You’re better off telling your parents the truth about your desire to quit swimming. Instead of, say, lying about going to practice and doing something else instead.
Do I speak from experience? Yes. Before I started swimming, I made the tennis team even though I didn’t want to play tennis. I got caught lying about going to practice and the fallout wasn’t a pretty one.
Related article: 10 Things to Consider Before Quitting Swimming
When you’re upfront and honest with your parents, it can help pave a smoother path to your discussion of quitting swimming. Lying or acting out against practice may make it difficult to get your parents to listen.
Lastly, it’s also a way to get your parents to take you seriously. And can be a way for them to start seeing you as an adult if you handle the conversation with confidence, responsibility, and maturity.
This can vary by each parent, of course. But we recommend that you stay honest and stick to the facts instead of lying.
8 Tips to Tell Your Parents You Want to Quit Your Sport
There’s no one size fits all conversation. Because every parent is different in how they approach their child’s support.
We wish we could say that your conversation will go well and your parents will accept your decision without question. But I think we all know that for some athletes that’s not the reality.
Related article: 8 Things to Do Before You Quit Swimming
That said, we don’t have all the right answers for this talk. You’ll need to take things with a grain of salt and adjust for how your parent(s) may respond to your decision.
What we do have though, is some advice and tips that can help you turn the conversation in your favor. And maybe make your parents see your side of things.
1. Lay the Groundwork
Now, this isn’t about you trying to be tricky or crafty. It’s about being honest and sincere in your intentions to quit so that it doesn’t come as much of a surprise later on.
If your parent(s) know you’ve been expressing frustration and discontent over swimming for the last several weeks or months, they shouldn’t be as surprised when you finally approach them on the subject.
Your parent(s) may surprise you by asking you about quitting swimming before you can even bring the subject up!
2. Write Down Your Reasons for Wanting to Quit
It’s easy to dream up the conversation in your mind while you’re swimming or going to practice. But when it comes time to actually have the conversation, you’ll find that you don’t remember what you wanted to say.
For this reason, we recommend writing down the reasons you’re ready to stop swimming.
You don’t have to do this all at once. Jot them down on your phone as they come up over several days. And when you think that you have enough reasons, then start writing out parts of the conversation.
Related article: How to Tell Your Coach You’re Quitting Swimming
It doesn’t have to be in paragraph format either. You can keep it as a bulleted list, too. So long as you know what you’re trying to say, you don’t have to write an essay.
By writing down your reasons, you’re keeping a detailed list so you don’t forget anything. It helps you keep in control of the conversation so you’re not forgetting anything or getting sidetracked.
3. Practice Your Talk
Like all good speeches and swim meets, you need to practice some. Don’t go into this conversation with your parent(s) without running through your reasons a couple of times.
It’s even better if you can practice with someone else who can point out any weak points in your explanation. Or potentially word a reason so that it sounds better.
It’s also a good way to present the facts instead of emotions.
That may sound strange. But we’ve seen several parents say that their child is basing their decision to quit swimming based on emotion instead of reason.
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And while you’re feelings and emotions do matter, some parents won’t see it this way.
Again, this will vary by the parent. Some are more receptive to emotions and will listen better when they can hear the emotion in your voice. Others, though, tune out when they hear or see that you’re emotionally driven compared to fact-driven.
4. Explain Why You’re Ready to Quit
Having a list of why you’re ready to quit swimming isn’t just enough. You need to be able to explain/justify each of those points on the list. And again, they should be more factual-based instead of emotional.
Some explanations to use are:
Desire to focus on school
Education is important and if you’re wanting to focus on school vs swimming, outline your reasons.
Such as a desire to pick up an internship that swimming would otherwise interfere with. Or the college you’re aiming for doesn’t have a team or you wouldn’t make the team.
Swimming isn’t the most expensive sport out there but it isn’t cheap either. Between swim dues, travel expenses, and of course, swim gear, the expenses add up. And while you don’t have to wear the most expensive swimsuits, caps, and goggles, even over time, the small items can become costly.
If you want to quit swimming due to the financial burden on yourself and/or your family, have a budget ready.
Detail how much the sport costs, including miscellaneous costs. Such as gas, food, and time. Explain how that money can be diverted elsewhere instead
During COVID and the years following it, burnout has become common. It’s common for adults at work, kids at school, and even athletes in their sport. Knowing that you’re experiencing burnout though isn’t always easy to identify.
One of the most common feelings is a loss of motivation, stress, and fatigue. Your emotions may also swing from frustrated and angry, to depressed and irritable.
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Sometimes this can happen after going through a patch of hard workouts that leave you feeling exhausted. And that’s to be expected!
But if you’re waking up and already dreading practice or feeling angry at the world, then you might be facing some burnout. While some burnout can be managed by taking a step back or switching teams, this may not work for everyone.
When talking to your parent(s) about any burnout you’re facing, be sure to include examples. Such as the number of days you feel discouraged at practice and often you have a negative outlook towards the sport.
Issues with Your Teammates and/or Coach
Swim teams aren’t perfected. Some teammates on your team can be toxic in their attitude and personality. Just as coaches can also project unrealistic expectations on swimmers or treat certain swimmers differently than others.
If you’re being bullied or left out at practice by your teammates and/or coach, let your parents know. Ideally, you should be addressing topics such as this with your parent(s) whenever a situation at practice occurs that makes you feel this way so it’s not a ‘sudden issue’.
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And know that bullying isn’t just physical. Most times it’s mental and emotional, such as comments regarding your work ethic, body, how fast/slow you’re going, etc. Comments that may not seem like a lot on the surface but can still hurt you are sources of dissatisfaction at the pool.
We do encourage you to speak with your coach and parent(s) if you’re having difficulties with your teammates. Listing out all the things said and done against you may feel like you’re ‘tattling’. But you also shouldn’t have to put up with that kind of behavior from anyone.
Don’t Like the Sport Anymore
This goes hand in hand with burnout in some ways. But there does come a time when you straight up aren’t happy anymore. Whether it’s with the direction the sport/team is moving in or just with your performance.
And that’s okay! The world is a big place and no one said that you have to stay with one sport for the rest of your life.
The great thing about swimming – and many other hobbies – is that you can stop them and return to them later if you so desire.
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But if you’ve fallen away from the sport and aren’t happy anymore, make sure you express this to your parent(s). Let them know that it doesn’t spark that same excitement, motivation, and drive as it used to.
Swimming eats up a heck of a lot of our time daily. From the moment we wake up until we go back to sleep, we’re at the pool for several hours a day.
It doesn’t leave a lot of time left on your hands to do much else. Whether that’s getting a job or internship, traveling, or spending time with friends/family.
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This explanation of time is a combination of your other reasons. Because if you’re not finding joy in swimming anymore and are just going through the motions, you’re wasting your time. And other people’s time, including your parents.
Because those several hours a day that you’re at the pool can be driven towards something else instead.
And sometimes letting your parents know that you see swimming as a waste of time now that you’re not interested in it can help them understand your desire to quit.
Time and money are things most adults don’t like to waste if they can help it 😉
5. Have a Plan for ‘After’
As ridiculous as this may sound, have an idea of what you plan to do after you’re done swimming.
Many parents put their child(ren) into a sport or other extracurricular activity to develop a skill/talent or have something marketable to add to an application. They also do it to help keep their kids busy after school 😉
That said, some parents may want you to do something else in place of swimming. Whether that’s another sport, an instrument, some type of hobby, or a job.
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Having something already in mind can help assure your parent(s) that you won’t just be sitting around all the time (aka, playing video games or being on social media). At worst, it’ll keep them from putting you in something of their own picking.
Be prepared to explain what you plan to do and again, have some examples.
6. Be Ready for Questions
Undoubtedly, your parent(s) will have questions about your desire to quit swimming. Especially if you haven’t expressed the desire or thought of quitting previously. See above 🙂
If you’ve been swimming for a while, your parents may try to convince you to keep swimming. Especially if there’s a scholarship on the line. Or if they feel your urge to quit is just that. An urge.
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It’ll be awkward to answer these and this is the part that’s hard for most swimmers. Because these are your parents. It’s not always easy to tell them ‘no’ or or go against them.
Because while you believe you know what’s best for you, they believe they also know what’s best for you.
That said, be prepared for any questions they have and get your answers ready. You may not have all the answers but being ready for their questions will give you more ground to stand on.
7. Handle the Various Emotions
Some parents have bought into their child’s swimming and the thought of them quitting isn’t an option. Especially if your parents ‘live through’ your swimming and anticipate college swimming in your future.
It may bring up some negative emotions and words during the conversation. If this is your parent type, be mentally prepared for some backlash. And be prepared for them not to let you quit swimming.
If this does happen ask them why you need to keep swimming when it’s not benefiting you anymore. Especially if it’s impacting your mental health. Sometimes questioning their reasons can make parents see that they’re acting selfishly in their desires.
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However, you know your parent(s) best. If doing this will get you in trouble, then don’t try to argue with them. You may need to approach it from a different angle and/or at a different time.
Some parents, though, will take the conversation well and support you regardless of your decision. You may be surprised to find that your parents will support you more than you thought you would!
8. Thank Them for Everything They’ve Done
Your parent(s) put in a lot of time on your swimming. From practice and swim meets, they’ve been there. As a taxi driver, banker, cheerleader, and biggest fan. They’ve done it all.
And yes, sometimes they can be a bit much and you wish they’d dial that enthusiasm back some.
Regardless, you should thank your parent(s) for everything they’ve done for you with the sport. Let them know that you appreciate the time they’ve put in with you and the support along the way.
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Examples to Tell Your Parents You’re Quitting Swimming
To help you get started, we have a few examples of how to tell your parent(s) you’re quitting the sport. Pick the parts that you like to make your own dialogue. Or take the whole example!
[Parent(s)], honestly, I’m struggling with my swimming right now. Despite the training and work that I’m putting in, I’m not seeing any progress. Coach has been helping me with my technique but nothing seems to be working.
I’ve thought about it for a while, and with school and everything else going on, I believe it’s best that I stop swimming. This will give me more time to focus on my schoolwork and possibly pick up some work so I can save up for college. Plus, without swimming, the fees that go towards that can now go elsewhere. Such as the family budget or towards college.
I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear after all these years of swimming but I’m not dropping time. And more often than not, I’m frustrated and unhappy with everything. I don’t like how it’s making me feel and act as a person. And it’s time for a change.
I’m having a hard time with my teammates (and/or) coach recently. I’ve brought it up to you a few times now but nothing is changing. And it’s been a challenge to keep going to practice and putting up with the negative environment there.
I know we’ve put in several years with the sport and had hoped for more but I can’t keep forcing myself to put up with my teammates (or coach). I dread going to practice and I’m losing sleep over it. And lately, I’ve found that I’m just not enjoying swimming as I used to.
It’s been a great experience until recently and I’ve grown so much since then. But I know it’s time to move on and try something new. With the extra time that I’m not at practice, I can pick up a part-time job, as I’ve seen several places hiring recently. And it’ll look good to have some work experience.
[Parent(s)], I’m ready to quit swimming. I’ve thought about it for a while and I know I’ve ranted about it to you already. But I’m at my end with the sport and I’m ready to be done. It’s a waste of our time and your money to keep forcing me to go to practice when I’m getting nothing out of it. I’m not trying at practice because the motivation isn’t there anymore. And I’m just adding time at swim meets because I don’t want to race.
Even talking with Coach, they’ve noticed a difference and a few teammates have commented on my negative attitude. It’s affecting my team and it’s affected me, too. I’m snappy, tired all the time, and unmotivated to do anything.
It’s not where I saw myself going with swimming but continuing this way isn’t productive for anyone. I’d much rather focus on other things in my life now, such as [new hobby, sport, or job].
It’s never easy to confront your parent(s). Especially with not-so-happy news. But it’s doing no one any good to keep forcing you to swim when you’re not happy. You may have to approach the conversation several times with your parent(s) but keep trying until they start to understand.
Ultimately, you have to do what’s best for you. Even if they don’t want to listen at first.
Best of luck!
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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.