Dear Snarky – Swim Team Drop Out Drama

dear_snarky_logoDear Snarky,

I recently let my 12-year son quit our huge neighborhood summer swim team. He’s a decent swimmer but he told me he hated waking up for 7 am practice and that it was “ruining his summer.” He quit a week before the first meet and I thought no big deal. It’s not like he was letting his team down by having one less “B” swimmer.

My problem is a couple of moms, with kids on the team, gave me serious crap about my son quitting. One even said he “needed to come to practice and apologize to his team.” WTH? Kids come and go all the time for vacations, summer camp, you name it.

What would you do to get these moms to back off?

Signed, Drowning

Dear Drowning,

These poor women must be bored beyond belief or high on chlorine fumes to insert themselves so forcefully into your business. Other sports parents may disagree with me BUT due to the volume of kids on the team and the fact that you quit before the first meet I’m going to have to say no harm, no foul. Plus, as a general rule, we don’t want our kids to be miserable all summer.

As for the mom who told you your kid needed to apologize to his teammates I would let her know in no uncertain terms that you require an apology from her. When she, visibly shocked, asks why, reply, “For involving yourself in my parenting choices and personal life.”

After delivering this line proudly walk away. Do not engage yourself in any kind of conversation or let this mom have a chance for a rebuttal.

Hopefully, your set down will start out as juicy poolside gossip and then grow into the stuff of legends. God, I love it when that happens.

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9 thoughts on “Dear Snarky – Swim Team Drop Out Drama

  1. Scott says:

    my impression was summer neighborhood swim teams were supposed to be low-stress, fun. it’s not like a year-round prepare you for the olympics type team — plenty of those exist too

  2. Hillary says:

    Love your advice! I am a former swim team mom and quitting is no big deal. We just move another kid into the pool.

  3. Sal says:

    Maybe you don’t have the whole story. Maybe this kid quits everything and has a history of letting teammates down. If that is the case he should apologize. As a parent to four star athletes who all participate in the select level I think your advice this time should be DQ (disqualified). We’ve always told our kids if they sign up for something they have to finish it! We are raising winners.

    • Gretchen says:

      Dear Sal,
      Part of growing up is having the ability to try a bunch of different things and see what you like best. The kid is 12, the Mom said he is a “B” swimmer. As far as I know swimming is an individual sport, he quit before the first meet why should he have to apologize to his teammates? How exactly is he letting them down? While team sports are important for children it is also vital that they learn to listen to their own inner voice and not become people pleasers.

    • Lj says:

      My two kids were being trained by Olympic Coaches (not in swimming btw) and by the ages of 8 & 10 respectively and after becoming state champions in their chosen sport (training 2 hours per day 6 days a week – they got two weeks off for Christmas) came to me and said that they didn’t want to do it any more. Yes they had a huge future ahead of them, they were elite athletes and by their coaches were treated as such. To me, they were my children. When they came to me and said they didn’t want to do it any more they stopped immediately. My children’s happiness was worth more than ‘raising winners’.
      They are now 16 & 14, well adjusted young adults, who do finish what they start. No they didn’t let the team down, they were replaceable, there were more kids who were in the background waiting for their opportunity to ‘give it a go’. They are still friends with the coaches & some of the team mates on fb, they have no regrets about not continuing in the sport they loved, now they do it for fun.
      This mom ‘listened’ to her child, she parented her child as is her right as the child’s parent. Her child is replaceable in the B swim team as are your “4 star athletes in the select level” – what will you do if your child/ren gets an injury and cannot compete any more, or just doesn’t want to? Are you still raising a winner then? Of course you are.

      People are just too wound up and forget to stop and smell the roses. Some sporting moms need to take a massive chill pill (preferably somewhere I cannot mention in this post!)

  4. barbara says:

    Depends. We have belonged to teams where any the beginning of the season/start a sportsman contract is signed committing to good sportsmanship, good attitude,attendance policy and commitment to the team which means staying until the season/session is done. If this is the case, yup an apology is in order or a return to swimming. If not, if this is a summer for fun swim league with self competition, personal swim skill growth then no biggie. Yup it sucks to wake up any 6 in summer yo get to a pool that is cold to be told what to do, but if it was a commitment that the child DID make have them stick to it.

  5. Lea Ann says:

    No to the apology. This is a summer, local swim team and not a try-out, competitive swim club. This kid is 12. Now, if he is a signer-upper (or if it you doing the arm twisting), but an early quitter, then it may be time to evaluate how he/you makes “trying” decisions. After all, you probably paid money to have him signup and he’s now old enough to understand follow-thru, but this is more of a family-contract situation. This is certainly not anything to discuss with other moms or to apologize to kids! Seriously, like those kids notice he’s not there. The only kids who may care would be slower swimmers that now have less time waiting for their shot and frankly, they are also unlikely to notice. Anyone that competitive/observant is either already swimming faster than he’ll ever swim, or is/will be doing something else they can do better. Once my son started competing in HS sports, the rule was if I paid the athletic fee, he finished the season. He even did a last season of outdoor track with his friends even though he really, really didn’t like the coach. He was not fast enough to compete on varsity, but he knew it was because he didn’t maintain training. He just wanted to run with his friends his last year, so he did.

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