Often, while waiting to start my workouts, I stop to notice how the people on the side of the pool observe the lessons and what’s going on in the pool.
Next to me, with tired but satisfied facial expressions, sit the parents of the protagonists. I sometimes stop to chat with them and I’m always fascinated by how they tell me about their busy lives which are both exhausting but also filled with joy and pride.
Every family revolves around tight and well-organized schedules. One evening though, a trainer stops a parent and tells them that their child is doing well and suggests that they start “professional swimming”. This is a moment in which the parent is extremely satisfied and they realise that their lives are about to change radically.
Being the parent of a swimmer doesn’t only mean being there for their victories, seeing their bodies change in a healthy and proportional way and their minds forging into disciplined young athletes.
Being the parent of a swimmer is hard and exhausting and means a lot of sacrifice. While other kids wake up just before having to go to school, most parents of swimmers wake up before the athletes themselves to prepare their breakfasts, while the rest of the city and co-workers are fast asleep. Each day, they pack their bags, wash their swimmers and towels and prepare all the other equipment.
Not to mention the weekends which is when you really notice the amount of dedication that goes into it. Competitions can be both in the same city but also in the whole region and require a whole lot of organisation. When you think you finally have it all planned, it’s time to organize the events of the following week.
A parent of a swimmer knows what it means to synchronize the calendars of their own lives with that of the swimming events, not just time-wise, but also economically. The costs can become quite substantial especially considering that they are extra-curriculum costs.
In the same way that there aren’t any guide books out there on how to be a good parent, there aren’t any that will tell you the best way to support your young athlete/s.
Through speaking with those who spend their time on the side-lines and looking at their young ones, I’ve learnt that it isn’t just the parents who are proud of their children but it’s also the young athletes who are proud of their incredible parents for being there!