The long course is coming to an end and the rumors are swirling regarding performance-enhancing substances. I know, it sounds silly because we are talking about children who are 19-years old and younger, but parents and swimmers have been speculating over the last several weekends about who uses something to get a competitive edge.
I’m not sure what would constitute an edge at this age, but I do enjoy hearing parents discuss the possibilities. Highly entertaining considering I really don’t think such a thing exists.
Many swimmers worked hard and are well tapered as the final meets take place. This often results in big time drops that haven’t been seen all season. That’s normal when you combine quality coaches with dedicated, focused kids. But this is where the toxic parents come in.
Sometimes they make up things to psychologically shake the confidence of other swim team members. It sounds extreme, but it happens. All the time. Their children repeat things they are hearing at home, because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and the rumors begin to fly.
The toxic parents are usually doing this for a specific reason. Maybe they are trying to lobby for a coveted spot on a relay team (Coaches usually use times to decide relays because it is fact-based and fair.), or they feel their child needs an excuse for not doing well at a meet (Not every meet is going to be a good one.), or they are too focused/jealous of other swimmers (Instead of focusing on their own swimmers.).
If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, you can’t predict or explain time drops in this sport. I always say the stars have to align for good things to happen—and sometimes they do. Swimmers can plateau during a season and then out of nowhere have the best swims of their life. It doesn’t mean they are doing something reckless in order to accomplish them.
Unfortunately, performance enhancing products are being used at this level of competition. To think they aren’t is putting your head in the sand. I have heard everything from the extreme (steroids!) to the slamming of 5-hour energy drinks before a race.
Personally, I’m less interested in what others do and try to stay focused on my own children. More specifically, making sure they aren’t partaking in any of these crazy antics and stressing their health and well-being trumps everything…including fast swim times.
For parents who these tactics are a good idea, think again. Do a little research. Although you may see some short-term time drop benefits, over time they may cause permanent damage or even death.
Is this happening in your club?