Travel meets are a good opportunity to bond – both for swimmers and parents. At home meets, families are more likely to go straight home after meets and/or between sessions. However, during travel meets, swimmers and parents often go to lunch or dinner together and gather in the hotel lobby in the evenings. We were on one team where parents would not volunteer at our hosted meets so the head coach scheduled us to travel to all meets for an entire year. While this got expensive and a bit tiring, there were definitely benefits in terms of bonding.
Bonding With Teammates
Travel meets are great for the swimmers as the kids tend to hang out in the hotel. They may gather between sessions to watch a movie in someone’s room or hang out after the meet by eating together in the lobby. When they are younger, they have even been known to run up and down the hallway or to jump on the bed together. At one meet, a group of boys were jumping on the bed and did not realize that their parents were gathered in the room directly below them. The jumping came to a quick halt after that!
Often the swimmers only know the kids in their practice group but they quickly get to know one another when traveling together. This makes them more comfortable on future meets and even at home meet or when swimming relays together.
Team meals are fun – whether they are catered in the lobby or a group goes to a restaurant together. The kids often realize they have other things in common than swimming and they become close friends.
The kids are more comfortable together and cheer more enthusiastically when they feel closer.
Bonding With Other Parents
Some of my favorite swim meet memories involve settling my son into bed and going down to the lobby to hang out with other parents. The talk would usually begin with swim meet performance then range to other topics. It was fun to get to know them and sometimes comic relief was welcome if my son was stressed and/or grouchy at that particular meet! Sometimes coaches would join the parents in the lobby in the evenings although many prefer not to socialize with parents. Sadly, some parents use such opportunities as a chance to monopolize the coach and discuss their child’s performance. If a coach is in the hotel lobby in the evening, he probably prefers NOT to discuss swimming!
After meeting during a travel meet, friendships seem stronger and parents tend to sit together in the spectator section the rest of the meet. We trade off carpooling to the pool for warm ups from hotel and go on walks together between sessions. We even occasionally squeeze in a shopping trip if there is a unique offering in that particular city. It often seems like Ikea in Charlotte is filled with swim parents on Sunday afternoons!
Quality Time With Your Swimmer
Swimmers have such busy schedules that I sometimes feel like I go days without having a quality conversation with my son. Travel meets give me the chance to spend some time with him, both on the trip to the meet and in the hotel room in the evenings. Of course, depending on how his mood is about his performance, sometimes the time in the hotel room is not very peaceful!
In our family, we would divide and conquer so I always took swim meet duty while my husband handled our other sons’ activities. Therefore, my time with Greg was one-on-one. For big meets, he is very regimented about what he eats for each meal and how long he naps between sessions. I enjoyed the routines we developed together – the cup of hotel coffee on the way to warm-ups, the turkey sandwiches from Panera, the steak, mashed potatoes and broccoli from O’Charley’s in Greensboro, the 1-1/2 hour nap immediately after eating lunch and so on. Most of our routines do seem to center around food but that is the life of a swimmer!
I also watched him grow up and mature over the course of these meets, from realizing that he is not going to swim well after 3 donuts at the hotel breakfast to packing his own bags and not forgetting anything.
There is something extra special about the quality time I spent with him out of town away from the distractions of home – some of my best memories with him were made during swim meets.
Teams that attend travel meets often seem closer and to have more team spirit due to the bonds of traveling together. Once you have experienced the fun of travel meets, you will look forward to future trips!
Michelle Lombana is committed to helping parents like herself whose children want to swim in college. When she’s not traveling to swim meets, she can be found at www.collegeswimmingguide.com.
Make A Splash!
Subscribe to get the free newsletter and learn how to prepare your swimmer to swim in college.