1. Thou shall not impose your ambitions on thy child.
Remember that swimming is your child's activity. Improvements and progress occur at different rates for each individual. Don't judge your child's progress based on the performance of other athletes and don't push them based on what you think they should be doing. The nice thing about swimming is people can strive to do their personal best and benefit from the process of competitive swimming.
2. Thou shall be supportive no matter what.
There is only one question to ask your child after a practice or a competition - "Did you have fun?" If meets and practices are not fun, your child should not be forced to participate.
3. Thou shall not coach thy child.
You are involved in one of the few youth sports programs that offer professional coaching, do not undermine the professional coach by trying to coach your child on the side. Your job is to provide unconditional love and support and a safe place to return to at the end of the day. Love and hug your child no matter what. Tell them how proud of them you are. The coach is responsible for the technical part of the job. You should not offer advice on technique or race strategy or any other area that is not yours. And above all, never pay your child for a performance. This will only serve to confuse your child about the reasons to strive for excellence and weaken the swimmer/coach bond.
4. Thou shall only have positive things to say at a swimming meet.
If you are going to show up at a swimming meet, you should be encouraging, but never criticise your child or the coach. Both of them know when mistakes have been made. And remember "yelling at" is not the same as "cheering for". You also may want to consider being positive anytime you are around the pool.
5.Thou shall acknowledge thy child's fears.
A first swimming meet, 400 free or 200 IM can be a stressful situation. It is totally appropriate for your child to be scared. Don't yell or belittle, just assure your child that the coach would not have suggested the event if your child was not ready to compete in it. Remember your job is to love and support your child through all of the swimming experience. Most of their fears are one's you have given them.
6. Thou shall not criticise the officials.
If you do not care to devote the time or do not have the desire to volunteer as an official, don't criticise those who are doing the best they can. You too could be trained to be an official.
7. Honour thy child's coach.
The bond between coach and swimmer is a special one, and one that contributes to your child's success as well as fun. Do not criticise the coach in the presence of your child; it will only serve to hurt your child's swimming.
8. Thou shall be loyal and supportive of thy club.
It is not wise for parents to take their swimmers and to jump from club to club. The water isn't necessarily bluer in another club's pool. Every club has its own internal problems, even clubs that build champions. Children who switch from club to club are often ostracised for a long, long time by the teammates they leave behind and are slowly received by new team mates. Often swimmers who do switch clubs never do better than they did before they sought the bluer water.
9. Thy child shall have goals besides winning.
Most successful swimmers are those who have learned to focus on the process and not the outcome. Giving an honest effort regardless of what the outcome is much more important than winning. One Olympian said, "My goal was to set a world record. Well, I did that, but someone else did it too, just a little faster than I did. I achieved my goal and I lost. Does this make me a failure? No, in fact I am very proud of that swim." What a tremendous outlook to carry on through life.
10. Thou shall not expect thy child to become an Olympian.
Within the United Kingdom there are over 200,000 registered swimmers, only 42 make the Olympic Team every four years. Be realistic in goal setting, but nurture your child's dreams as well. Swimming is much more than just the Olympics. Ask your coaches why they coach. Chances are, they were not an Olympian, but still got so much out of swimming that they wanted to pass the love for the sport on to others. Swimming teaches self-discipline and sportsmanship; it builds self-esteem and fitness; it provides lifelong friendships and much more. Most Olympians will tell you that these intangibles far outweigh any medal they may have won. Swimming builds good people, like you want your child to be, and you should be happy your child wants to participate.