Darryl and Francina Jackson are the swim parents of Christian and Cade Jackson.
Both Christian and Cade swim with Theresa Banks Swim Club during the summer and NCAP during the school year. Darryl and Francina are regulars at the pool – cheering for their sons and bonding with other swim parents. He spoke with Black Kids Swim about the benefits of swimming for children and how to keep them interested in the sport.
BKS: What made you get your sons involved with swimming?[pullquote align=”right” class=”” link=”” color=”#066cb2″ size=”20″]I hope they learn the meaning of hard work, the ability to set goals and accomplish them, the toughness to compete. [/pullquote]
DJ: Cade gravitated towards the water. Since he enjoyed being in the water we signed him up for a summer swim league and he did well. That’s how it started. And since he was in the water on a regular basis when our other son, Christian, became old enough we just said ‘OK son, it’s time for you to get in the water too.’
BKS: You have three children – do they all swim?
DJ: No, our two sons swim and our daughter plays basketball.
BKS: How has participation in swimming impacted your sons?
DJ: They are more focused and disciplined. And that’s not just because of swimming – I think it has to do with being involved with athletics in general. Because of their participation in a sport they can, with assistance, set goals, focus on those goals and then attain those goals. And those skills work in sports and academics as well.
BKS: What is the most important quality parents should look for when deciding on the right swim team for their child?
DJ: It depends on the child. You want your child to be on a team that will both push them and reward them for their efforts. My sons are pretty good swimmers and they were the best on their previous team in their age groups. I saw their potential and I wanted to see if that potential was real. I wanted them to be challenged. So I identified a team that could challenge them and nurture them at the same time. We wanted a team that was nurturing but still competitive enough to challenge and push them to be better swimmers – to give them what they needed at that time. We didn’t know anything about the world of swimming and the different leagues – and most parents don’t in the beginning. My wife and I asked around to find a swim team that would meet our son’s needs, both culturally and competitively. We heard Theresa Banks’ name a lot and we did further research and liked what we learned.
BKS: What is the number one thing that parents should be aware of when their child is swimming competitively?
DJ: You have to be comfortable with the coaches. It is a very personal setting with children in bathing suits and in and out of the locker room. So you have to be comfortable with the organization and the individuals who are being employed by the organization. I watched our son’s coach very closely to see how he interacted with the children. And I was sold instantly – the coaches were firm but fair.
BKS: Did you swim as a child?
DJ: Nope. I swam well enough not to drown but I never swam competitively. Just playing around with my friends in the neighborhood pool – just figured it out.
BKS: What long term benefits do you hope your sons gain from swimming?
DJ: I hope they learn the meaning of hard work, the ability to set goals and accomplish them, the toughness to compete. I hope they learn these life skills because they are important. Hopefully, they will earn a college scholarship as well. But we really stress the academics in our house, swimming compliments academic achievements.[pullquote align=”full” class=”” link=”” color=”#066cb2″ size=”18″]It’s important for parents to realize why their child is in it and how important the sport is to their child. Then, knowing where the child’s mindset is, parents can manage the situation and formulate a long range plan.[/pullquote]
BKS: Do you have any encouraging words for parents who are considering competitive swimming for their children?
DJ: I have one child who really enjoys it and one who just kind of likes it. And that’s OK. It’s important for parents to realize why their child is in it and how important the sport is to their child. Then, knowing where the child’s mindset is, parents can manage the situation and formulate a long range plan. But it’s important that you don’t stress the child out to the point that they burn out. Parents can keep their child interested in swimming using the social aspects of being on a team and by emphasizing the importance of goal setting – so they don’t quit. Burn out and loss of interest is common. One of my sons also does crew – just to give him some variety so he is not just swimming all of the time.