Thursday, July 3, 2014

7 Tips for Successfully Surviving a Weekend Swim Meet

7 Tips for Successfully Surviving a Weekend Swim Meet

Mom and I big trophy age 11I have spent my fair share of weekends at swim meets, perched poolside from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. in the sun or huddled under a tree to keep from getting heat stroke. But that really isn’t impressive, as I was a kid and it was what I wanted to do. What is impressive is that my parents did the exact same thing, except they weren’t competing or cooling off in the water. They just spent countless weekends sitting on harder than hard benches or timing countless heats all summer long to support me. With summer upon us, lots of parents (including me) will be attending their kids swim meets, so I thought I’d share some advice for the newbie swim parent on how to successfully survive a weekend swim meet. Welcome to my guide to surviving adventures in chlorine-land!

1. Pack multiple towels.

I suggest you pack at least four towels — a towel for each race and one fresh one for the end. There’s nothing worse than taking a shower only to have a chlorine-soaked towel dry you off. I actually forgot this tip until my daughter had her first swim meet last year. I only packed one towel, and after three races, it was drenched. Which is a big problem in Utah in the middle of winter. I turned into her portable heater … and together we were a soggy snuggle bunch.

2. Bring a tent or canopy if outdoors.

It is a good way to get your kid to relax, to keep track of them, and to provide much needed relief from the sun. Swim meets are FUN, and they should always be about camaraderie. The sun (not even counting the swimming) can drain the energy tank of even a 6-year-old. Shade can make all the difference.

3. Pack CARDS!

The kids are off their feet, and their brains are at work! Cards are such an easy, fabulous art form. I played cards at every meet. I would play hearts or spades at the end of the meet or in between sessions, and we would play speed or spit to get us going before the finals.

4. Remember, “You don’t have enough time.”

When you are trying to decide when to go to the bathroom, run out to your car, take a “quick” call, or anything else right before you child is about to swim, just don’t. Remember I said this and you’ll thank me. There is a ton of waiting around at swim meets, so don’t wait until it’s close to your kids’ race to do something. Races are short. I’ve seen this happen WAY too many times — a parent waits and waits only to take two minutes to do something else, and they miss the race. That was my dad. He would go outside the pool area to smoke a cigarette, and inevitably he would come back in just as we were touching the wall. All that waiting to miss the race?! NO WAY, I won’t let that happen to you.☺

5. Have a COOLER.

A stocked cooler is a MUST! Pack your lunches and snacks. (When I say lunches, I really mean around four for each kid.) Swimming is some calorie burning business, and although the hamburgers they whip up at 10:30 a.m. smell delicious, it isn’t always the best thing for a kid about ready to swim the 100 butterfly. Pack your cooler full of fruit, string cheese, PB&J’s, chocolate milk, reusable water bottles, yogurt pops, nuts, dried fruit, etc. Your kids will snack their way through the meet, and then after the prelims will want their lunch. Snacks at a meet need to get into their systems quickly and sustain them for a period of time, so pack accordingly. You, swim parent, are in charge of their energy.

6. Wear a LARGE hat.

Kids don’t run around worrying about the sun, but parents do and should. Get yourself that awesome safari-style full coverage hat. When you are at a swim meet, you generally arrive around 7 a.m. for warm ups, and at that time of morning, you aren’t thinking about sun exposure. But before you know it, you’ll have been roped into timing heats or something else, and it will be noon and you’ll realize you never had time to put on sunblock. Getting yourself the hat will keep at least your face, head, and maybe part of your shoulders protected. **And as an extra tip, when you do use sunblock … DON’T forget the tops of your feet!**

7. Double-check your kids’ bags.

Swimsuits are way too important, necessary, and expensive to NOT double-check that they made it into your kiddos swim bag. So before you leave any session of the meet, do a quick whip through to make sure you have their cap, goggles, and suit. The C.G.S. check! Believe me, I have shown up for finals without my suit, and it isn’t pretty. The panic, I mean.☺
There are 1,000 more things to remember as a newbie swim parent, but these seven will get you started. Watch your kids, cheer for them loudly, and love them unconditionally. As my mom always said, “You can’t be hard on your kids when you can’t even do a 200 butterfly yourself.” Enjoy, my fellow swim parents!

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