Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Swim Parent Survival Kit

While swimmers may require only a suit, cap, and towel, parents typically need more support gear to get through a three day swim meet. In this post, I’ll share the “necessities” that I take along to be prepared and to keep my sanity. The good news is you can do this just once and it will be ready for future meets. Also, these are items you can find around the house so you can save your money to fill up the gas tank for the trip.

For the bag itself, I use a backpack because they have oodles of pockets and are easy to carry. Plus, all kids have a supply of used backpacks stuck away. As long as Swim Dad doesn’t mind carrying a Hello Kitty backpack, there is no need to buy a new one.  

Folder with print outs of time standards relevant to your swimmer and paper or printed table for recording times. (This information is available through swim apps but I will explain more on the value of hard copies in a future post.) Include a roster of team parents and contact information. I also keep hotel reservations and directions to the pool in this folder.

Pencil case is filled with pens, pencils, highlighters, Sharpie, staple remover, small stapler, reading glasses. Bring extra highlighters and Sharpies so when you loan them to a less prepared swim parent you don’t have to worry about being without one because they didn’t give it back. The staple remover and stapler come in handy for those 1” thick heat sheets. You can remove ads and pages from the sessions your child doesn’t swim in and staple the relevant parts back together for a more manageable size.

First aid kit should contain only a few of everything you may need. For example, five band aids should be plenty so do not take the whole box. Here is what is in our zip-lock bag: meds for headache, sinus, fever, indigestion, nausea, and diarrhea. We always have on hand a bottle of prescription drops left over from the last swimmer’s ear diagnosis. You may also include antibiotic ointment, insect bite cream, band aids, sunscreen.

Cosmetic kit has chap stick/lip gloss, hair brush, pony tail holder, hair clip, mints, toothbrush, dental floss, and travel sizes of lotion, contact lens solution, toothpaste, and tissues. I also stash a little cash and loose change in the cosmetic kit.

Entertainment can include iPad/tablet and any other means of killing time. Sudoku and crossword puzzles are a good distraction. Magazines and a book of light-hearted short stories work well too. (Watch for a future post on keeping non-swimmer siblings entertained at a meet.)

Camera equipment can include camcorder, charger, blank discs, Sharpie for labeling (I’ll be writing a future post on why I use a camcorder instead of my iPad or phone to record swims), small camera, batteries, memory card (I still like the simplicity of the SD card for uploading pics). Unless you plan to do some heavy duty photography, leave that bulky DSLR camera at home.

Snacks for YOU! (Swimmers have a supply in their own swim bag.) Small portions of raisins, nuts, and trail mix and a large size bag of Peanut M & M candy ought to do it. Carry in water bottles since snack bars will charge up to $5 for 12 ounces.

There you have it! Remember, you only have to make your swim meet survival kit one time and it is ready to go (except for replenishing those Peanut M & M).
Please comment and share what you keep in your swim parent survival kit!


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