FAQs

For more information, also see the Swim Team Manual

Basics

Does my swimmer need to know the strokes to join the team?

No.  Knowledge of the strokes is helpful but not necessary.  To participate on the Gator Swim Team, we require that a child be able to swim unassisted across the pool using any method, even if it is the dog paddle. This insures some degree of comfort in the water.  However, swim team is not a substitute for swim lessons. The Gators simply do not have the manpower to provide extensive individual attention during practice sessions. For those needing a little help attaining this level of comfort, or for any swimmer who wants a real boost in the swimming, private and semi-private lessons are available through the coaching staff and lifeguard staff at extremely reasonable prices. Once a child has mastered the basics and can swim across the pool on his/her own, they are welcome to join the team, even mid season.  Return to the top.

How do I arrange for lessons?

To arrange lessons, simply talk to any of the coaching staff, line up times and dates, then go to the gatehouse to pay for the lessons. Coaches and lifeguards cannot accept money directly. The gatehouse will give you a receipt which you then give the coach at the time of the lesson. Availability and contact information can be found by clicking here. Clinics given by the larger USA Swimming clubs will also be available from time to time during the season and will be posted on the bulletin board and this web site. Return to the top.

Does my swimmer need a team suit?

Team suits are encouraged but not required for practice or competition. However, it does give younger swimmers a great sense of pride and belonging to wear one. Team suits will be available for purchase during the Gator Gear Up, at the Pasta Dinner the evening before time trials, and directly from our swimsuit retailer – Sport Fair in Arlington.  The team t-shirt is another inexpensive way for them to feel like part of the team.  They will be available at Gator Gear Up, and at most home events throughout the season.  Each child should have goggles and swim fins for practice.  Return to the top.

Where do I buy swim fins and goggles?
Fins and goggles are available at registration through Sport Fair. We also sponsor a swim fin swap at registration and posted on the bulletin board. They can be obtained at any sport outlet such as Sports Authority, Amazon or SwimOutlet.com, to name a few.  Return to the top.

How can I get involved?

The pre-season Gator Gear Up session in May is a great opportunity to determine how you would like to participate. Swim team committee members will be available to answer questions about the variety of tasks necessary to organize a swim meet and to help you find a niche. Some of the “swim meet” tasks include: timing, stroke and turn judging, pre-meet set-up, post-meet clean up, ribbon writing, competition starter, event announcer, refereeing, relay judge, and concession worker.  You can also contact one of our volunteer leaders or the team reps.  Your help with some or all of the events will go a long way to making your child’s involvement both enjoyable and organized, and enhance your understanding of the sport.  Return to the top.

Practice

When is practice held?

Initially, afternoon practices start on the day after Memorial Day, and are Monday through Friday. Morning practices start as soon as school is out, and are held Monday through Friday until the end of the season.  For most swimmers, the last practice session is the Romp in the Swamp in late July.  Those who qualify for the individual or all-star meets will continue to practice until those meets.  Click here for practice times.  Return to the top.

Who goes to afternoon practice?
Supplemental afternoon practices are held for 6 & unders: 5:30-6:00 and 7 & up: 6:00-6:45 Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. These afternoon practices are provided for those swimmers who are participating in summer school, day camps, and tennis activities or are working. They are not for swimmers who do not want to get up in the morning. The morning practices are more intensive and the swimmer will benefit more by swimming with his/her peers.  There is no afternoon practice on Mondays because B meets take place on Monday evening. If we have a scheduled Wednesday meet, at home or away, there is no afternoon practice that day. There is no afternoon practice on Fridays. For more practice times, click hereReturn to the top.

Can parents be on the deck during practice?

No.  Parents are requested to stay off the deck during practices. While we need and encourage parent participation for meets, organization etc., it is a distraction to the coaches and swimmers if parents are on the deck during practice. The coaches must devote their full attention to the swimmers. For your child’s safety and instructional benefit, please do not enter the deck area until after practice is over. If you need to speak with the coaches, please do so after all practices are over.  Return to the top.

How many times a week does my child have to come to practice?

To qualify for A meets we ask that the swimmer attend at least one practice per week. However, the more they attend the better swimmer they become. There is otherwise no specific requirement to attend practices.  Return to the top.

I have kids in two different age groups, can I bring them both to the same practice time, rather than sitting through two? 

Unfortunately, no.  Why? Each age group works on stroke techniques specific to that age group and the different levels of performance.  Age group practice also is crucial to the relay teams. Any exception - typically an exceptionally fast swimmer who might be put on a relay with older swimmers and thus need to practice with them - must be approved by the head coach, Paul Makin.  Return to the top.

Within the age group practices, how are kids assigned to lanes? 

Within each age group practice, each swimmer is assessed and assigned to a lane of similarly skilled swimmers. This means that there may be, for example, a 15-year-old swimming in a lane with 18-year-olds.  It is important to recognize that everyone progresses at different rates and the coaches are constantly assessing and moving swimmers if need be. This allows the coaches in a lane to instruct at a similar level and allows swimmers to practice without running over others or being run over. Rest assured that the coaches are working to get improvement from all swimmers.  Return to the top.

Is the Park open for use during morning practice?

No.  Parents are reminded that the Park is closed during morning team practice. The Park staff needs the morning to prepare the pools and surrounding area. Please take the staff’s needs into consideration when joining your child in the pool area. You may sit on the hill between the pools, but please do not be outside that designated area before the park opens for general business at 11:00 a.m. Unfortunately, this means that the playground is not open until 11:00 a.m. Return to the top.

Are practices and meets held when it rains?
Yes, we practice and hold meets rain or shine. If a thunderstorm causes pool closure during a meet, please take shelter in your cars and wait it out. The Team Reps and Referees will decide if it is necessary to reschedule the meet.  We will use our twitter feed and facebook page to provide real-time weather-related news.  Return to the top.

Meets

Does my child have to swim in the meets? 

No, there is no requirement to swim in meets. This is again a comfort thing and the decision should be made through a discussion with the coaches. Some kids are ready, some are not.  Return to the top.

My child wants to compete, how do I sign up for the meets? 

If your child wants to swim in a meet, he or she should discuss this the coaches in advance. The coaches will advise you whether your child is ready and able to swim in a B-meet, and if so, what stroke(s) he or she should swim.  Most 6 & unders will not swim in a meet until the Green and White meet and then can swim remaining B-Meets and Romp in the Swamp. Return to the top.

What are Time Trials and who should swim them? 

Time Trials is the first "meet" of the season, generally occurring the Saturday following the pasta dinner. The primary goal of time trials is to obtain current times for swimmers who potentially will be swimming in the first A-meet of the year the following Saturday. Therefore, this meet is primarily for middle to upper level swimmers and not for those just beginning their swimming career. There will be plenty of opportunities for everyone to swim in the B-meets. If your children just joined the swim team, unless they are already exceptional swimmers, they will probably not swim in Time Trials. If you are unsure of whether your child should swim in Time Trials, ask your coach.  Return to the top.

What's the difference between an “A” and "B" meet? 

A meets are for the swimmers with the top times in each age group. They are held each Saturday morning throughout the season and are swum against another team within our Division in the NVSL. These are scored meets for league records and championships. Participation is based upon each swimmer's best prior time in time trials, A meets or B meets. If your child qualifies for an A meet you will generally receive an email on Tuesday or Wednesday asking whether they will be available to participate. It is very important that we have current email addresses for all Gator families.  Swimmers with the fastest times are invited first.  

B meets, on the other hand, are developmental meets (everybody can swim assuming there is a reasonable chance they can complete the swim.) Not every swimmer can swim every stroke. For instance, it is not always reasonable to enter a 6 year old in the butterfly. Consult the coaching staff regarding whether your child is ready to swim a stroke in a B meet. Both A and B meets are generally limited to 2 individual events per swimmer, not including IMs.  Return to the top.

Explain online Stroke and Availability signups for meets.

Things happen quickly in the season. Watch your emails and please try to respond by stated deadlines for all signups for meets!  For B Meets, you may sign up for your swimmer(s) to swim specific strokes, based on the limits and criteria outlined for each meet. For A Meets, you will be simply indicating that your swimmer(s) are AVAILABLE to swim, if their times put them in top contention for a spot. Even if you may not think that your swimmer has a time to make an A-meet, PLEASE do respond about availability for all A-meets; sometimes vacations or illnesses/injuries means that someone won't swim and we will continue down the ladder in that stroke to find someone who is available. Return to the top.

What is the Gator Strategy for “A” meets?

While the primary purpose of the NVSL is to develop good sportsmanship and a love of swimming that will last a lifetime, winning is clearly more fun than losing! An important factor in winning meets is “seeding” swimmers effectively in “A” meets (swimmers are not seeded in “B” meets). This involves placing the team’s swimmers in those events in which they are most likely to score points for the team. Swimmers may sometimes be asked to swim an event they do not like or is not their best stroke, but in which they are likely to gain more points for the team because they are projected to swim faster than their opponents. This is especially true if they are the only ones who can score points in a particular event, while any one of three swimmers could score points in another event.

While kids are naturally interested in records and personal bests, A meets are team events. Meets will be seeded for the best possible team score. Remember Gator swimming is a team sport.
Per NVSL rules for dual meets, once Team Reps have exchanged seeding sheets on Thursday before the meet, the meet is set. Neither team can shift swimmers around after the exchange. Substitutions are allowed on Saturday morning only under very strict rules. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THE TEAM REP AND COACHES KNOW BY THURSDAY MORNING IF A SWIMMER WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR A SATURDAY MEET.  Return to the top.

My child DQ'd in his last meet, what does that mean? 

What constitutes a DQ? It is a disqualification issued when a stroke is not performed correctly or the take off or finish are not executed correctly. It happens a lot with younger swimmers as they are just learning the proper technique. Not to worry. Every swimmer has a collection of orange "competitor" ribbons that are given to participants when they compete but do not legally complete the swim. This is a learning experience. There is no shame in a DQ, only in not trying.  For more about DQs, click here.  Return to the top.

Will I be able to talk to my child during the meet? 

Yes, although we ask that you stay out of the team area. Your child should come to the fence or out of the team area to speak with you because we parents are not allowed in the team area. Kids should be looking to the coaches for swimming advice, not their parents. Also, parents are not permitted in the the Clerk of Course area (where the swimmers sit on benches waiting to swim).  Because things can seem a bit chaotic during the meet, the younger swimmers are usually shepherded back to the team area after their swim. So give them a wave or a thumbs up, blow them an air kiss, and yell "great" job, but please don't come onto the deck or into the team area. Trust us, someone will come find you if your child needs you. Return to the top.

What should I send with my child at a meet? Can he have an iPod? 

Other than food (which is not allowed inside the pool fences) they can bring whatever they need. They should have a towel or two, sweats to keep warm if available, and an extra swim cap. A second pair of goggles is highly recommended as these are frequently lost or broken. (Many a child has been seen chewing nervously on their goggle strap before their event!) Many meets are during the hot summer days and the kids tend to get dehydrated. Make sure they have adequate water or Gatorade for the meet. An iPod is fine. Whatever you send, PUT YOUR NAME ON IT! IT WILL DISAPPEAR! The ground is littered with clothes, goggles, and even electronics after every meet.  Any items left behind are placed in Lost & Found at the Manager's Shed. And please do check Lost & Found frequently during the season as stuff is hauled off and donated to UCM when the piles get too big! Return to the top.

Explain the difference between heats and events.

A HEAT is a single race within an event. An EVENT is a race or series of races (HEATS) for a stroke, an age group and for a sex. An example of an EVENT would be 9-10 year-old male backstroke. In an A meet, there is a single race or HEAT for each EVENT.  In the B meets (developmental meets), there may be multiple races or HEATS within each EVENT.  In B meets, ribbons are based on a swimmer's place within a HEAT, irrespective of the times of the swimmers in the other heats within the same EVENT (every swimmer gets a ribbon).  Return to the top.

Explain how heat and lane assignments are based on time. 

Kids are generally paired up against others with similar speed. Lane assignments are based on times with the center lanes going to the potentially fastest swimmers of each team. In A meets, lane assignments are done by computer according to time and team. In B meets, lane and heat assignments are generally done by time as well though the rules are less stringent. This is where practice makes a difference. The fastest swimmer gets the best lane and heat. (Example: The higher the heat number the faster the swimmer. The fastest swimmers will be in the last HEAT in the center lane as these lanes are felt to have less 'drag'.) We have a Time Trial at the beginning of the season to get initial baseline "official" times for placement in the first A meet, as well as a quick preliminary of what times kids swim. With these initial numbers, the coaches are able to put swimmers of similar ability together in a HEAT in the B meets, so the swimmers are more evenly matched.  Return to the top.