Country Club Moms: Swim Team Edition

Swim team-StricklerLet’s be honest, first and foremost, having your child involved in a Country Club swim team is all part of your Summer 2014 Kid Avoidance Plan. What with morning and evening practices you’re lucky if you see your precious love bugs more than a couple of hours during the heat of the day. Swimming in lane #2, right next to kid avoidance, are the social aspects of a Country Club swim program. In fact, having your kid “summer swim” will pretty much dominate your social calendar until the middle of July. While the kids are competing or waiting to compete at a meet many parents find themselves enjoying what could be described as sorority and fraternity mixers – the middle-aged years.

Just like there are many different calibers of swimmers on a team there are also many different kinds of moms lurking around the pool at practice and meets. From the party girl to the obsessive year round swim mom right up to the country club climber – there’s always something to watch. (And I’m not talking about the kid who did an illegal flip turn. I mean really, who cares, who won the boys 12 and under 50 Meter Freestyle when you’ve got a mom whose Roberto Cavalli tube top maxi dress got caught on her Valentino espadrille wedge platform sandals causing her to plunge head first into the deep end. Is it wrong that many women were hoping she wouldn’t resurface?)

Each country club swim meet has its own unique vibe that not even the rules and regulations of the CCSA (Country Club Swim Association) can micromanage. For example, one less pricey country club will be working a more laid back chicken fingers and beer atmosphere while the old money, fancy pants club will be all about the poulet frit and Coudert Clos de la Roilette Fleurie. Though as different as Country Clubs are the personality traits of the moms that roam the poolside stay the same.

The Hard Core Swim Mom: It doesn’t matter if this mom has on shorts from Targets or Gucci her identifying trait is the stopwatch she carries. She’s constantly timing her kid and has graphs of his/her best times on her phone along with the app “On Deck” to update her 24/7 on the competitive swim scene. The stopwatch surveillance wouldn’t be so bad if she did it in stealth mode. But no, usually the Hard Core Swim Mom has a set of lungs so powerful a blue whale might get a severe case of envy. She shouts, she screeches and if that’s not annoying enough she’s been known to utilize noise making devices like a bull horn or cow bell as she paces the pool lane bellowing instructions and blasting sound effects at her child. She’ll tell anyone who complains that her noise making is a way to encourage her kid. But everyone knows it’s code for “you better move your ass.”

The Fashionistas: For these moms it’s not a swim meet. It’s a fashion event and there’s no better way to cheer on your kid than by wearing matching Lilly Pulitzer outfits that fit in with the club’s swim team color motif. Accessories are also important. Jewelry is coordinated to match the team’s colors and just to be sure their family and friends remember who they are the Fashionista loves monogramming. Look for her initials on everything from her phone case to her car.

The Party Girl: It’s hard to blame parents for losing track of how many mojitos they’ve imbibed. The swim meets last for hours and it’s usually 90 degrees in the shade and we all know Fun + Sun = Rum. This means you can count on there being a contingent of parents participating in a medley relay of booze. If you’ve ever wondered what someone was like in college their swim meet behavior is usually a pretty decent clue. Teams, have in the past, (like last year) had to gently remind parents that their club was getting the reputation of being a little to drinky and they may want to switch to hydrating themselves with a liquid that wasn’t 80 proof. Also, throwing back a Tequilla shot every time a kid gets DQ’ed (disqualified) for not doing a two hand lane touch is just going to lead to another person taking an unintentional tumble into the pool. Safety first parents.

The Flirt: This is the only mom who actually wears a swimsuit to a swim meet. She’s got on a bikini, a beachy straw cowboy hat and of course, a sandal with a heel. When not bending over a pool lane to cheer her cherubs on and affording everyone poolside an unobstructed view of her charms she’s busy flirting with the dads. Her scorecard is not how many races her kids won but how many men bought her drinks.

The Club Climber: The grass is always greener at another Country Club. Or at least that’s what this club aspirational mom thinks. She’s uses the “away” swim meets as a chance to work the poolside and begin her campaign to find a country club “proposer” and “sponsor.” She’ll need at least two to help her wedge her Tory Burch flip-flops a rung higher on that club-climbing ladder.

The So Busy: Do not walk but run away from this mom so fast your flip-flops will sound like artillery fire. The So Busy’s sole purpose is to prance around acting confused about what is going on. For example she’ll say, “Wait, are all the kids doing the 100 meter Butterfly relay?” Her primary purpose for asking questions is so she can follow-up with, “I should know this but I’ve just been SO BUSY . . .”  A) Redecorating my summer home B) Vacationing in Europe C) Traveling with a child(ren) doing multiple national level “select” or “elite” sports competition D) Buying a private island or E) All of the above. There’s no bigger summer buzz kill than listening to this mom make sure you know she’s “living the dream.”

Shamps Time: The holy grail of the swim team season are the championships usually held in July. This one event can define your summer. The championships rotate every year from club to club. Although in country club vernacular they are referred as shamps. Not champs, which is the industry standard as the abbreviation for championships but shamps as in you’re saying the first syllable in shampoo and adding an s. This event is resplendent with an opening ceremony that has in the past included bagpipers, circus performers and bands that have performed at the Super Bowl. (Take that Sochi.)

If you hear women, this summer, saying shamps over and over again you can correctly surmise they are a country club swim team mom and not suffering from a speech impediment. Smile at them and be kind. These poor souls are having to wear makeup and heels to the pool.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good. Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival. If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you.

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.



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.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky email me at



Overheard at the Pool – Part I

comics-expectation-vs-reality-swimming-pool-249641I’ve been doing my summer due diligence – spending vast amounts of time at the city pool. It amazes and amuses me what information one can pick up simply by donning sunglasses and stretching out on a lawn-chair. It’s like one becomes invisible and people feel like they have no need to edit their conversations. Hello, I’m almost sitting in your lap, so I can hear everything you’re saying to your lawn chair friend on the other side. Of course having the eavesdropping skills of a Russian operative also helps.

So far, three weeks into summer, I’ve heard about a suburban swingers club, a pregnant mom who is pretty sure the baby she’s carrying is not her husbands and a single mom who has hooked up with her daughter’s boyfriend while she’s off being a camp counselor. Incredible – right?  I’ve also been busy teaching some young mothers how to tame an “Aggressive Aqua Mom.”

The first day of diving lessons and a group of elementary school kids are ready to heave-ho themselves off the board. Their teacher/coach is a beautiful, sun-kissed blonde college student who first wows the kids with some amazing dives. The moms are all sitting at tables and chairs close to the boards so we can watch our kids master something besides the cannonball. Everything seems to be going well but twenty minutes into the hour lesson trouble shows up wearing a Speedo and tennis shoes.

Uh, oh. The Speedo tank suit on any middle-aged women, except for Dara Torres (at 41 she rocked the Speedo at the 2008 Olympics) is a big fashion no. Primarily because it doesn’t have breast support or tummy control. It’s nylon with very inadequate lining letting your boobs do the slightly smashed and sway dance. Add, tennis shoes to the mix and it’s not good. A five-year old girl, maybe, can pull off the look of walking abound the pool in a Speedo tank and tennies but not a 40 something. Oh, and I forgot to mention Mrs. Speedo’s tank was well used and a little thread bare. It had the whole saggy, baggy butt thing going on.

Mrs. Speedo has two kids with her and she marches up to the diving coach and begins to hijack the lesson. It begins with her introducing her children to the coach (not a problem) but then segues into a dissertation about her kids strength and weaknesses and the areas of improvement she’d like to see the teacher focus on. (Did I mention this was a beginners dive class?) As this continues on for seven minutes (yes, I was timing) the other wet kids stand by the diving boards and shiver.

At some point you hope the dive teacher/coach will take control of the conversation and get back to instructing the kids. In her defense she is young and I’m sure was taught to respect her elders. So, Mrs. Speedo continues to drone on, now were at ten minutes of blah, blah. You can feel the anger seething out of the other moms. None of whom I know. At last, a boy gets sick of waiting and dives off the board which starts the domino effect of other kids diving off the boards and the teacher has to quit giving her full attention to Mrs. Speedo to take control of the class back.

Problem solved I think. The kids are diving. The teacher is no longer being monopolized by Mrs. Speedo – it’s all good. Wrong. Mrs. Speedo, standing at the side of the pool, begins shouting instructions to her children as they dive. Then she hoists herself up on the medium high diving board (eschewing the ladder because it’s blocked with kids) to further yell at them. (Excuse me, I meant she’s offering motherly suggestions given in the spirit of love.) As she’s hoisting her body, which requires a kind of straddle and heave-ho motion to get up to the board, she does a full flash of her lady business to the moms seated pool-side. (Another reason no one should continue wearing a swimsuit with chlorine distressed nylon fibers.)  Now, that she’s claimed the diving board as her throne she uses her body as a barricade effectively blocking any other kids beside her own from using the board and keeps the diving teacher preoccupied with her two spawns as they attempt to refine their belly flops.

By now, all the moms are enraged. They’re talking and planning what to do. I pretend I’m engrossed in making a shopping list. Of course, I can solve the problem of Mrs. Speedo in a matter of minutes. I have, at least, ten years on most of these moms and the adult bully battle scars to prove it. But, these younger mothers have to learn by doing. I feel I must give them their wings and let them fly. The decision among the moms is to confront Mrs. Speedo. (Bad idea.)They decide to wait until after the lesson and go in a group of three. The whole safety in numbers thing.

Right after the kids take their last dive the three moms, two with babies on their hips (I’m thinking human shields), go up to Mrs. Speedo and try to “sweetly” tell her that they “don’t appreciate her interfering in the diving lessons” and that she’s was a “deterrent to the other students learning.” Like putting a match to dyer lint Mrs. Speedo bursts into flames. She gets right in the three moms’ faces and bellows, “Don’t you dare tell me how I can interact with my own children” etc. etc. The tirade continues for about two minutes (yes, once again, timing) the younger moms continue to back away from Mrs. Speedo, one of the two babies begins to cry and then one of the cute moms also starts going all boo hoo.

I, sigh, shake my head, stand up and enter into the fray. I’m nothing, if not a sucker for tears. I use my age, girth and height to assume an alpha dog status. I separate Mrs. Speedo from the shell-shocked moms and begin to show the early thirty something moms how it’s done. Watch and learn my young ones, watch and learn.

Their first mistake was going on the offensive. Any chick strutting around in a Speedo, who flashes her follicle rich privates without even a “begging your pardon” and never takes off her tennis shoes is not someone you can confront. Her fashion sense and bossy behavior at the dive lesson all points to the fact that she likes, and I would guess, even looks forward to confrontation. So, you don’t go that route. You’ll lose. This kind of woman responds to flattery. I lay it on thick.

Step one: I introduce myself as a great admirer of her instruction technique. “Did she use to be on a dive team or a coach? Really, never. You sure wouldn’t think after watching. Gosh, you were really great.”

Step two: Compliment her children. “Your kids were awesome.  Do they have some kind of gymnastic training? They seem athletically gifted. I bet they play select sports.”

Step three: Go in for the kill.  “Don’t you think your kids are too advanced for this class?  Wow, if my daughter was that good I would take her to the Dive Academy. That’s where all the real athletes are. You don’t know about it?  Just in case you didn’t I wrote it down for you. I got the number off my phone. Here, take this. I’d give them a call now and see about starting tomorrow. Your kids are good to waste any more time here. I mean really, just look around, it’s a pretty talent free environment.”

Mrs. Speedo is now preening and actually scratches her crotch while I’m talking. She agrees with everything I say, (shocking – not) and hurries to get her phone to make that call. Problem solved. Mrs. Speedo has been delicately hustled off  to another dive class where she can be some other group of mothers problem. Yes, I’m that good. I turn to see the young moms watching me. One of them says, “We couldn’t really hear you. What did you tell her to get her to leave?”

Another mom fearfully ask, “She’s not coming back is she? What was in the piece of paper you gave her?” I tell this group of young hero worshippers that I would be glad to tell all. My price – an icy Diet Coke from the snack bar. When I receive the drink, the moms huddled around me.  A reverent hush takes over the covered snack bar area and I begin to share my tips for taking down the dreaded, but multiplying in frightening numbers, mom bully. Ah, it feels so good to be needed.