I never thought I'd be a swim team mom.
As a child, I took swim lessons from my city's Parks & Rec department and paid a quarter to swim at the public pool near my house, but I never learned the four strokes. Nor did I know the "language" of swim - IM (Individual Medley), DQ (disqualified), heat sheet, and dryland training.
We're now in year two with a local club swim team...and I'm surprised to say that I'm almost a pro when it comes to putting on swim caps, adjusting goggles, applying sunscreen, and deciphering heat sheets.
I'm so happy that my three daughters (ages 10, 8, and 5) have this opportunity. It's inspiring to see how far they've come - building strength, grace, endurance, and courage. Tim and I often remark that we wish we had been part of a swim team during our childhoods. It's an individual sport that is easy on your joints and that you can take into adulthood. It's also a sport that allows you to see measurable progress from meet-to-meet and year-to-year.
If you're new to swim team, I'm happy to offer you some gear recommendations to help you on your way. You'll probably also want to read my 10 Tips for 1st Time Swim Families.
I'm still using my Large Utility Tote from Thirty-One Gifts as my primary swim bag...and I have noticed that it seems to be the bag of choice of many parents on our team. It's oversized, easy to carry, and super spacious. We toss in snacks, water bottles, towels, swim caps, goggles, and hair ties - and we're ready to go.
The only thing that would make this bag better would be a zippered interior pocket for my phone, keys, and/or wallet.
If you have a swimmer who is 10+, she can manage her own gear. My oldest daughter responsibly packs + unpack her own bag - which is a huge help. She keeps her towel, shoes, and shorts in the main compartment, which is made of breathable mesh to prevent mold. There are also two exterior pockets - one for a water bottle and the other for goggles/caps. *Note that I thought this bag might work for my younger two daughters as well, but the bag is much too large for younger kids. This bag is best suited for tween, teen, and adult swimmers.
All water bottles are not created equal. We currently have two Hydro Flask water bottles in our collection and they are the ones that get constant use, despite the fact that we have a cabinet bulging with a variety of other brands. Hydro Flask bottles offer superior double-wall vacuum insulation, which keeps liquids cold for up to 24 hours. Add ice and water - and your drink will STILL have ice in it hours later. Even after being in the sun. Feel free to put the bottles to the test. These water bottles are the kind you will want to take on all of your summer adventures!
Available in seven sizes (12 oz, 18 oz, 21 oz, 24 oz, 32 oz, 40 oz, and 64 oz) and an array of BEAUTIFUL colors, the bottles are non-toxic and BPA-Free.
When it comes to swim caps, we much prefer silicone to latex. They're stretchier, easier to put on and take off, and seem to be more durable. My 10-year-old is more comfortable in an adult size swim cap, while my two younger daughters (ages 8 & 5) use "Jr." versions.
Good goggles are a must too. My daughters currently each have a favorite pair - Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 Mirrored (for my 10-year-old), Speedo Hydrospex (for my 8-year-old), and TYR Tie Dye Swimple (for my 5-year-old).
Swim team parents spend a lot of time on-deck - watching their kids practice and compete. You'll want to have several comfortable and lightweight chairs to sit on for practices and meets. Our two backpack chairs by Rio Brands fit that criteria, while also being colorful and offering added perks (cup holder AND phone holder - yay!). If you choose, you can even carry the chairs on your back (hence the backpack term), leaving your arms free for other items.
We've had a picnic blanket by JJ Cole for 5+ years now and it's held up surprisingly well. The colors may have faded a tad, but it's still comfortable, easy to clean, and easy to fold. It's a super investment for swim team, impromptu picnics, and more. We keep our blanket in the car for any adventures that might pop up.
P.S. Need a bridal shower, baby shower, or hostess gift in a pinch? This blanket!
Swimming is a serious workout. I lose count how many times my kids go back-and-forth across the pool - with and without kickboards, streamline, butterfly, backstroke, diving, flip-turning. They are expending crazy amounts of calories...which means they tend to be ravenous before and after practices. During the swim team season, it seems like I can never keep enough snacks in the house. Our most frequent picks - Nature's Bakery fig bars, Clif Bars, beef jerky, fresh fruit, Tillamook whole milk yogurt, Pure Protein bars, H.K. Anderson peanut butter pretzels, and homemade cookies.
I still haven't figured out meals for swim meets though! There are often snack bar options, but they tend to be your standard burger/pizza/hot dog fare. Sometimes Tim leaves the meet to pick up Chick-fil-A. Other times, we pack deli sandwiches and fruit (especially cherries!).
Do YOU have gear recommendations for swim team? What do you eat for dinner on swim meet nights? Chime in!
* Thanks to Thirty-One Gifts, TYR, Rio Brands, and Hydro Flask for providing products for review.