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Competitive Swimming - How To Get Started (From a Parents Perspective)

As a parent, I always want to challenge my daughter to stretch and grow beyond what she thinks her limits might be. Competitive swimming is one vehicle that has and will continue to accomplish this goal.

I am not going to waste your time by listing all of the reasons why athletics in general and swimming in particular is beneficial for your child. I assume that if you are reading this that you have already resolved that and swimming is what you want to know more about. When our daughter was 8 years old, we thought it was time to begin to think about some sort of athletic activity.

We choose swimming because our daughter tried out for soccer and had absolutely no interest in it. Wanting her to learn all of the things that sports can teach such as fair play, winning and loosing, teamwork, setting and achieving goals, and most importantly, having fun, we decided to check out swimming.

That was all great, but where do we go from here.

To anyone who is new to this sport, things can be somewhat confusing every step of the way. An easy to understand road map would certainly be a big help.

If you are like our family was when we were first starting out, we needed a resource not just to extol the benefits of competitive swimming, but also to provide first hand information on how to get involved and realize the benefits of this great sport.

We needed answers to so many questions, including but not limited too:

*How Do We Choose The Swimming Program That's Right

*How Do We Arrange A Tryout

*How Do We Find The Swim Team That Fits Best

*What Equipment Will We Need

*How Much Swimming Is Enough

*How Do We Enter the Swim Meet

*How Much Will All Of This Cost

We stumbled around, making phone calls, asking friends and neighbors and finally sorted through all of the information that was out there. Finally, through a business associate who's daughter was on a local team, we arranged a tryout and got our daughter going. Then the questions really began.

The whole experience was exciting but there was so much to learn. Everyone kept talking about "Time Standards", and "Meet Entry Forms", and we seemed inundated with all of the new terminology. The veteran parents on the team were a big help in sorting through it all, but we really wished that there was some sort of new swim parents guide.

There are so many great resources about this subject, but trying to do web search after web search can be quite time consuming. Like anything else, a sort of "beginner's guide", from someone who has been through the process would be extremely helpful.

We soon found that one of the most important functions that parents perform for their kid's team is to be a volunteer. Typically, swim teams have only a couple of paid employees and the club is totally dependent on parent volunteers. One of the critical duties is to help raise funds.

With so much to learn and with so much that parents can do, we sat down and made a list of questions that we had needed answers to in the beginning and then tried to answer them. From there we put together a sort of how to guide covering everything discussed in this article, and more.

We realized that a guide written for the new swim parent which was in a straight forward, easy to understand format would be most beneficial to our team, and to the sport in general.

We hope that the information in this article has been helpful and will lead you in the right direction.

We'll see you at the pool!

For additional information, and many helpful links to swimming resources, please feel free to visit us at:

Tara Kane is the Managing Partner and Media Coordinator for Elson and Associates; A Dallas, Texas Consulting and Marketing Firm. She is also a "Swim Mom".