Competitive swimming provides many benefits to young athletes. They develop self-discipline, sportsmanship and time management skills. Competition allows swimmers to experience success and defeat whilst becoming healthier and fit.
As a parent your main responsibility is to provide a stable and supportive environment and to encourage your child. It is important that parents should be aware that they must serve as positive role models for their children.
The following advice for parents is courtesy of Wayne Goldsmith-a recognised Olympic coach. He advises that the best way to help your son or daughter in swimming is to be Supportive, Encouraging and Positive and furthermore
- Be patient with progress
- Be tolerant of mistakes and poor performance
- Be calm and dignified at sporting events
- Learn to accept wins or losses graciously
- Allow athletes plenty of breathing space
- Offer praise with success
- Encourage involvement in other pursuits
- Keep sport in perspective
- Be supportive rather than intrusive
Please remember that your behaviour is important as swimmers are very perceptive to negative behaviour-especially towards coaches, other COAST members or others at swimming competitions. You are expected to be positive role models and behave in a manner that enhances the reputation of COAST.
Once a swimmer is selected for the COAST squads, it should be recognised that he or she is a talented athlete. However if the individual is to develop into a successful competitive swimmer, a lot of commitment will be required from the whole family.
The COAST programme is designed to produce swimmers who will compete at the highest level in a highly competitive sport and to achieve this they need to make a significant commitment themselves and be supported by their family. This commitment will be in time and effort to assist the swimmer to get to the sessions – organising transport, food and kit and planning their time to schedule in the swim sessions. In addition, competitions will require extra support because major events last 2 or more days and will interrupt best laid social plans. Many national events are in school holidays, so vacations may also be interrupted. Finally, the financial commitments will be significantly more than the cost of training fees due to additional entry fees, travel and accommodation costs.
The person who is responsible for the planned development of your child is the squad coach. You should agree with them the preferred way of communicating with him/her. Coaches particularly want to know if a child is ill or hurt and receive advance notice of periods of absence.
As your swimmer is likely to be training a few hours more with COAST than they have been with their home club, they will spend a lot of time with their coach.
It is important that you allow your swimmer to build a working relationship with their coach, the coach will quickly get used to their swimming foibles and will pick up on their strengths and weaknesses.
If your swimmer has any concerns / queries at all about any aspect of their training you should encourage them to speak to their coach about it. Equally if you have any concerns about training then you should speak to the coach at the first opportunity to address concerns promptly. This should be at the end of a training session or by appointment.