Being a "swim dad" of two kids and a high school swim coach who has grown up in competitive swimming, it's no wonder that I've never really asked myself this question - that's just the way it is, right? Maybe not for some. In recent months, I've fielded this question a few times from parents of kids who are new to swimming or are just thinking about the sport and it made me sit back and think about the answer. To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure what the right answer is. I can't think of another sport that requires parents to sit through weekly competitions that can last 5+ hours where ALL of the youth competitors arrive at the same indoor facility at the same time, with their respective family entourages in tow.
Looking at it from the outside, I can definitely see how competitive swimming could be a red flag for a parent who may not want to devote the winter (and perhaps some summer) months of their life to a sport, even though their child may have a strong interest. As we experience shifts in our culture, with people putting a far higher value on their personal time, perhaps it's worth decision-makers evaluating some of the "why's" when it comes to competitive swimming as a sport. In order to keep swim programs strong and grow young talent, we may be forced to take a hard look how we do things to make swimming a more "marketable" sport to parents.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Let us know by leaving a reply below!
Todd Eisenhofer is a Physical Education teacher and head coach at Muhlenberg HS in Reading, PA . He is alo a SPEED trainer with a degree in Physical Education/Health Education from West Virginia University, along with a Master's degree in Sport Management from Millersville University and a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.