Dick Franklin, the father of 14-year-old swimming phenom Melissa Franklin, talked with amazement recently about his daughter’s remarkable progress through the sport — and another aspect of her journey that did not make its way into a story published on this site Tuesday and in Wednesday’s Washington Post.
A former collegiate football star but not a competitive swimmer, Dick Franklin said he was floored by the time commitment the sport requires.
For children and their parents.
For every child shuttled to a 4:30 a.m. practice, and perhaps back for an afternoon one, there is a parent at the wheel, probably guzzling a 16-ounce coffee. For every athlete that qualifies for the finals of a local weekend meet, there is a parent, or perhaps two, planted on a plastic bleacher seat from morning until night.
“Swim parents, I had no idea what they go through,” Franklin said with a laugh. “Parents whose children play soccer — I’d kill for it.”
He is in good company.
During a recent pre-dawn workout in Chantilly, the mother of Potomac Marlins star swimmer Anna Johannes watched from the stands with a smattering of other bleary-eyed adults, but Diana Johannes confessed she usually sleeps in her car.
And just over a week ago, local coach Rick Curl talked with pride about a 14-and-under meet between his Curl-Burke Swim Club team and the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. Interestingly, Curl didn’t boast about the fact Curl-Burke beat the acclaimed NBAC — why, he almost forgot to mention it.
Rather, he bragged that his athletes assembled for the meet at 6 a.m., traveled to Baltimore, competed and returned to northern Virginia by noon.
That was a true achievement: A mere six hours for an event, a more “family friendly” proposition, he noted, than all-weekend, all-day events.
Which brings us to this week’s question, which actually is a trio of questions:
Is there a more sleep-deprived species than a swim parent? Are the sport’s demands on entire families discouraging more broad participation? Is there a solution, or is this all part of what makes the sport great?
As usual, we want to know what you think. Please tell us below.