Swimming: What are parents doing while waiting for their children at the pool?
Every time children do something good in the pool, they can’t wait to catch a glimpse of their parents. Looking for their mom's or dad's "bravo". However, this does not happen, as the parents are mostly glued to their phone, with their heads down. Please, don't roll your eyes… If you could only see that moment of a child's disappointment in the eyes, you would never look at your phone while watching a child swim in training again.
Do you know what parents are doing while waiting for their children at the pool?
They are all sitting down glued to their phones.
Yes, I know, you’ve got a bunch of other things to finish while the kids are swimming and I can fully understand that. But I don't understand why you’re doing it at the pool? If you are here, wanting to be supportive and watch your child swimming then you should focus on that. Why? Because believe it or not, the child saw that you never looked at him/her. How do you think that makes your child feel?
This is not a parenting "lesson", this is a reality that happens every day not only around the pool and swimming, but around every other sports field.
How much is the parental support important to children in swimming?
You already know the answer. It’s priceless!
Below are some of the everyday stories from "my" pool about how much the presence of parents at swimming pool means to children. As a parent and coach, I oftentimes get surprised by the fact that the kids, while swimming, can still notice everything, hear everything, and know everything their parents are doing while waiting for them by the pool.
At the age of seven, Aleksa, an excellent swimmer, would regularly come to swim accompanied by a person who was looking after him while his mom and dad were at work. He was never late. He would always have all the equipment he needed. However, he was not very motivated to swim. There wasn’t a thing I hadn’t tried with him, doing all the tricks I knew but still nothing. So, a year passed. Then, one day he showed up at the pool with a smile on his face because his mom was with him! He was a totally different child both in and out of the pool. It left all the coaches in awe. We could not believe the child and his positive behaviour. Mom watched the entire training, and the boy swam like never before. Motivation and willpower were much stronger and more visible. The boy caught his mother's eye while he was swimming… Yes, the mother watched him all the time.
Once the training was over, I approached the mother and told her my impressions: He needed support, her presence meant a lot to him and, if possible, at least once a month, or more often she should come to watch him swimming, of course, if she was able to. Did that have any effect on her? Not really. She did not show up two weeks after that day. Unbelievable, but it's a child's reality. And this is not an isolated case by the pool.
I don’t have time for swimming
"I'm tired, I can't take you for a swim training anymore, let Daddy take you." I couldn’t help but hearing these words of a mother taking her six-year-old daughter Sonja home from swimming. It gave me chills. I tried to understand and take in the mother's statement, but on the other hand, I was petrified by the strength of the message that the child received from the parents at that moment. Did Sonja stop swimming? No, she didn’t. Her dad would bring her to every training. Yes, he was there, but he would walk and talk on his phone all the time.
He promised he would come to watch me swimming
Six-year-old Marta has been swimming since the age of three. Her grandfather was an excellent swimmer, her uncle, whom she adored, was an excellent long-distance swimmer, mom and dad loved swimming and enjoyed it a lot and they passed that on to her and her brother. From an early age, she had the full support for swimming from her parents. But she was still missing something. One day, Marta's uncle promised to come to one of her next swimming classes. She was impatiently looking forward to that day. Before each training session, she would tell me in how many days from now her uncle would come to watch her swim. When that day came, the girl was paying more attention to who was coming to the pool than to her swimming. You know what happened? The uncle didn't show up. Despite that, the girl continued to swim. Six months passed and the girl kept looking at the pool door at every training session to see if he would show up, as he had promised to come. When her uncle showed up at the end of one training one day, he was on the phone. Marta came so wet at the end of the class and hugged him.
Missed moments in swimming and growing up
Today I was watching my six-year-old Little Shark and five-year-old Little Fish swim. You know what I did? I forgot to turn my phone off. Instead of watching what the children were doing in the pool, I instinctively looked at the message I received… and yes, I missed the moment when their eyes were looking for my support and my "bravo" sign.
How important is the support of parents and the closest ones for the child’s growing up in and outside the water?
Grandma and grandpa had a grandson who really loved swimming and competition. They did not have the opportunity to cheer him on from the stands, as they didn’t live in the city. But every time before the competition, they would call their grandson and use the phone as a means to convey sweet words of support so as to boost the self-confidence of ten-year-old Stefan. He found those phone calls quite important.
One day, the boy asked his parents to bring his grandparents to his next swimming competition. You can only imagine the strength of will in the boy's heart as he was swimming that day in front of his grandparents. They shouted those sweet words of support to him right from the edge of the pool.
Our support makes the kids:
Motivated and encouraged
Remember that we stand by their side for other things too
Keep their joyful spirit
Swimming teaches children about life, to be persistent, hardworking and committed, to fight when it is difficult, to enjoy the victory and beautiful things, to accept a defeat, to be healthy…
Dear parents, swimming is your best partner in raising and growing you children into healthy, good and hardworking people. Can we control ourselves and, while we are by the pool, forget about all other tasks, turn off and not use the phone for at least thirty or so minutes while our children are swimming? I can, can you?