9 Kinds of Dads at the Pool

I really enjoyed the Scary Mommy post “Types of Moms you Meet at the Pool” and I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t very much diversity in the Dad ecosystem at my favorite aquatic habitat. So I donned my trusty fedora and set off to do a little field research, and now I can safely say I’m wrong. I present the results of my findings, complete with fake Latin names because I watched a lot of Wile E. Coyote cartoons as a kid.


1) Just-came-from-work Dad

Paternis inasuiticus

This Dad is typically a nocturnal species, emerging as the sun starts to set. He appears, usually at swim practice, in full office garb, instead of going home to change first like a sensible person. This appears to be a remnant of behavior from pre-Dad days, as it advertises his fitness to reproduce by showing that he has a Real Job. If the mate is already present, it is definitely a show-off move designed to allow his mate to demonstrate her success at garnering a suitable breeding partner.

2) Yelling Dad

Paternis bellowsalota

This species’s primary habitat is on the shores of chlorinated bodies of water. This species is notable for a wide range of calls it performs at maximum volume. No one is sure why the Yelling Dad does this, but some researchers theorize he is attempting to use the air from his lungs to propel his offspring across the water. Yelling Dads are usually wearing athletic clothing from some other sport, frequently football, which leads other researchers to believe that perhaps this is not a distinct species at all and just some dudes who are lost on the way to a sports bar.

3) Statistician Dad

Paternis pencilpocketus

The “Stat Dad” is frequently found perched somewhere above chlorinated bodies of water, quietly but intently observing every activity in the pool. This dad is most known for his detailed, multi-tabbed, color-coded spreadsheet showing his offspring’s relative rankings at the club, state, district, and national levels. Statistician dads favor baseball caps and actually care about baseball. Do not make the mistake of assuming that their lack of volume does not equal ferocity: many a rival has woken in the hospital recovering from mechanical pencil stab wounds and a clipboard-induced concussion.

4) Fun Dad

Paternis throwthekidicus

Paternis throwthekidicus is the only observed aquatic species of Pool Dads. Fun Dads seem to prefer repeatedly ejecting their offspring from the water in what appears to be an attempt to get their offspring to swim away and start their own family. This never seems to work, however, as the offspring continue to return, only to be thrown again and again. Paternis throwthekdicus is easily identified by the outrageously bad pair of swimming trunks that were obviously purchased by his mate in an attempt to disguise his suitability for breeding and ward off competition. Sometimes Fun Dads can be found in the more shallow bodies of chlorinated water, in which case they can be identified by nearby pink or blue-colored offspring and/or an abundance of pool toys and flotation devices.

5) Granddad Dad

Paternis granpaternis

Grandad Dad is a close relative of Fun Dad and engages in similar behaviors, just a little more slowly and with more attendant grunts of effort. Paternis granpaternis frequently displays black markings on the feet up to knee height, and may also have a large floppy hat. Late in the day, although sometimes as early as lunch time, some are observed to turn bright red in coloring, because back in his day he didn’t wear sunscreen and he turned out just fine, no matter what your grandmother might say.

6) Office Dad

Paternis gottaworkus

Office Dad appears to be a relative of Paternis inasuitacus, and some researchers believe they might be the same. Office Dads are normally only found at indoor pools on the weekends, usually with the laptop, inkjet printer, folding desk, wheelie chair, and Nespresso machine. They can also be identified by their detachment from their surroundings, conversations with imaginary friends, and shortened life expectancy. Researchers theorize this may be an evolutionary  “dead end”.

7) Slacker Dad

Paternis notthatmucha

Paternis notthatmucha’s habitat is any shady spot near the pool which enhances the visibility of his smartphone. Noted for their drab plumage such as flip flops, shorts, and a faded Dead Milkmen t-shirt. Slacker Dads are notable for the lack of accessories associated with their (probably) nearby offspring, including pool toys, sunscreen, towels, and frequently bathing suits.

8) Hercules Dad

Paternis toofiticus

Paternis toofiticus is notable for being the most muscular of the Paternis family. Attire is usually a pair of Oakley sunglasses that are welded to his cranium. Females are advised to maintain at least a 10 foot separation as spontaneous, airborne pregnancies have been documented arising from close contact with Hercules Dad. Also avoid eye contact as that may cause leg weakening and uncontrollable lip-wetting. Researchers are unable to determine how this species can maintain a state of physical near perfection and be good with his kids because he’s obviously a giant d-bag I mean just look at him.

9) Mom Dad

Paternis nurtura

Paternis nurtura is a recent discovery but researchers are startled to find these members of the Paternis family in ever-greater numbers. Unlike every other member of the genus, the Paternis nurtura bears the primary responsibility for raising the offspring. This mystifying behavior has led some to believe that this species is actually not actually of genus Paternis at all, because everyone knows boys can’t be be loving, nurturing, or responsible. Mom Dads are identified by their multitude of pouches which contain an assortment of wipes, snacks, drinks, toys, and burbons.

Further research is recommended until Labor Day, ideally with a cooler containing beverages of an uncertain nature. If you spot any new species, let me know!


Official-ly Delusional

I have three kids who swim competitively year round. My own swimming career can best be summed up as “hanging out at the neighborhood pool with my best friends Acne and Helmet Hair”. I can’t do all of the strokes. All of my children, even the 3 year old, can beat me across the length of the pool. I intend to do something about that at some point, but that point is not today.

I spend a lot of time at the various pools in our town,  both indoor and outdoor, usually in a deck chair surfing Reddit while someone else coaches my kids.  I know I’m lucky– my Facebook feed is full of my friends juggling 2-3 kids and 3-5 sports–  all I can say is “there but for the Grace of God go I.” We had a brief flirtation with soccer, but fortunately that’s behind us and I can get back to working on my tan.

In summary: I have no personal experience with competitive swimming and I am at the pool all the time. I am also a recovering joiner and have a hard time saying no to people.

It should not surprise anyone that I am now a swim meet official.

…The same thing we do every day, Pinky

Swimmers and their parents are some of the most manically focused people you will ever meet. Not drowning is not something that comes naturally to the human body, so it takes a lot of effort to get really really fast at not drowning. Races and cuts are decided by hundredths of a second. Plateaus of performance are common. All of this attracts and molds people who are extremely goal-focused and detail-oriented.

By comparison, I like to run. I am not particularly good at it, but I’ve voluntarily gone for a run in freezing rain and enjoyed it, so that means I have suffered enough brain damage to consider myself “a runner”. Running is what people do when they also want to be good at something else– in my case it’s feeding my family. Lots of people are really good at running. Some people even say we are “Born to Run“. Running is objectively less hard than not drowning.

This is what Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, manages to accomplish when he’s not swimming:

Sure sure I’ll solve the Middle East, just let me catch up on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. image via getwaggit.tumblr.com


Easy Job Hard Job

My first stop on the road to Can’t-Leave-Well-Enough-Alonesville is what’s called a “Stroke and Turn” judge. Despite the innuendo, it has nothing to do with what happens when the kids have gone to bed and mommy has had some Riesling to loosen up a bit.

Here's to the children we obviously don't have! *clink*
Here’s to the children we obviously don’t have! *clink*

The job of the Stroke and Turn judge is to watch the swimmers in the assigned lanes and wait for them to mess up. This means watching for proper arm and leg movements and making sure that walls are touched inappropriately. It requires keen vision and concentration.

I possess neither.

The one part of Stroke and Turn Judge that everyone focuses on and claim they could “never do” is issue a Disqualification. I don’t understand this, because making kids cry is about the easiest thing in the world for a parent to do. They will cry about literally anything, including correcting them on their frequent abuse of the word “literally”.


“That sounds like #87.”

“Is that Brother stole the remote, covered me with a blanket, and sat on me?”

“No you’re thinking of #78. #87 is ‘Brother stole the remote, briefly started to suffocate me with a couch cushion, and then got distracted by my bowl of Cheezits, inadvertently sparing my life.’ Finish your Riesling, dear, I’ll go check on them. Want another while I’m up?”

In fact, it happens so frequently around here that I am a connoisseur of crying. If crying was Iron Chef, I would be Crazy Pepper-biting Guy.

Today’s secret ingredient: I FORGOT MY FLUTE! WAAAH!

It’s 5 O’Clock (in the morning) Somewhere

I don’t like to watch sports, I’d rather play them. If I must, a little bit of liquid courage allows me to suspend reality just enough that I can kinda sorta pretend that it’s me out there, and I could have done that if only I had practiced more.

The problem with swimming as a sport from a spectator’s perspective is that tailgating at 5AM is a horrible idea. Nearly every other sport has the courtesy to schedule their events to allow their fans to get appropriately insensible before hand. Football, baseball, hockey… these all take place at less liver-maiming hours. Swimming? All day, multi-day events going from before dawn to after dark. Professional swimming never became popular on TV until the “tape delay” was invented. It’s a fact, look it up.

For the parent of a swimmer, signing your kid up for a swim meet is signing away your weekend. When it’s over, I am more tired than my kids are. My post swim-meet ritual involves a hot water bottle on the forehead and a CD of whale noises that I got during one of my “experimental phases” in college.

It’s a cover album of Led Zepplin’s greatest hits. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard a blue whale sing “Stairway to Heaven”

Seeing as how I was committed to these marathon mornings already, I have been struggling with ways to keep myself entertained that don’t involve ridiculous levels of either friendliness or energy. I haven’t yet figured out how to fit in a nap between the 8:30 AM hotdog-and-donut-from-concessions second breakfast and the 10:30 insulin crash and still watch my kids swim. Then I was cornered by one of my friends.

“Are you going to take the Officiating class next Monday night?”

What a fabulous idea! You can help the team.
Don’t be stupid. Then I’d have to do it all the time.
It’s either that or concessions.
Ew, I don’t want to do concessions.
No you don’t. What could you aspire to be at concessions? Head Donut-Hander-To-er? With officiating, you could be Official.
Oooh, I like the sound of that. Are you sure?
Sure I’m sure. It’s right there in the name.
Okay I’m sold. How bad can it be?

 “Um, yes, I was thinking about it.”

“Great, I’ll see you there.”

It was a hard sell, I couldn’t resist.

Official-ly Delusional

After the hard sell from my friend, I sat in a two hour class and emerged with a t-shirt with the word “OFFICIAL” emblazoned on the back, so I guess I am good to go. The standards are pretty low for neighborhood recreation league swimming.


The funny part is that before my kids started swimming all year I thought neighborhood swim league was a Big Deal. I could not have been more wrong. Neighborhood swimming only seems like a big deal until you get involved in a USA Swimming club and you realize that you knew nothing about Real Swimming. Before you know it, you are stalking the length of the pool yelling “DON’T BREATH! WHY ARE YOU BREATHING SO MUCH!!!” while the other moms google the phone number for “child protective services” on their smartphones.

CPS can I help you?

There is a lady here screaming at her children not to breathe! I think she’s on drugs!

Ma’am what is she wearing?

A T-shirt with some kind of writing… it says ‘Aquatics Club’ on the back… oh no she’s coming this way help me!

It’s okay ma’am, she’s a swim mom, just don’t put on goggles or ask her to find your towel and you should be fine.

I… I’m scared!

Ma’am, do you have any Riesling?



This post is dedicated to all of the volunteers, official or otherwise, who make youth sports happen. Even if your kids don’t recognize you, I do.
And I’m calling 911 because I saw you on a Wanted poster.