Parent Education Article

Hello new parents (and, hello again, veteran parents)!

To help everyone learn the ins and outs of being a good parent participant of our fine team, we thought we'd put together a bit of a parent primer for your enjoyment and edification.  The absolute best thing you can learn to do as a parent is:  communicate.   Happy about something?  Tell us.  Confused about something?  Ask us.  Concerned about something?  Discuss it with us.  Communication is the key to a successful and enjoyable experience for everyone.  Remember, we are all in this with the same goal:  providing a positive, healthy, safe, and knowledgable environment for children to enjoy the journey of personal and athletic development that is swimming.

How DO we communicate at NFS?

Our web site is a two way portal of information -- the coaches place information online (and send emails notifying you it is there) and you provide the coaches with information in return (ie whether your child is participating in a meet and what events s/he wants to swim).  This makes it VERY important that you, as a parent, monitor your email and note deadlines for registration and other important information.

How do I register my child for a swim meet?

At the bottom right side of our home page is a section with two tabs:  meets and events.  The listing of meets our team will be attending in the immediate future will be displayed, along with a link that says either "attend/decline" (if you have not indicated whether your child will attend) or "edit your commitment" (if you have already indicated your attendance). 

Clicking on the name of the meet will take you to a page with meet information.  This page is updated as soon as the host team sends out the Meet Letter, which contains event information like starting times, days events are offered, etc.  It also contains a link to indicate whether you want to attend the meet or not.

It is very important that you RSVP regardless of whether you plan to attend.  The only way the coaches know for certain what your intentions are is when you indicate them, one way or another.

Once you click on the attend/decline button, you will see a page that lists your child's name.  Click on the name and indicate whether you plan to attend.  If the host team has sent the information, you will also see a listing of events available to be swum.  If your child has a USS time in the event, his or her best time will also be listed. 

You can then select the events your child wants to swim.  If you do not feel comfortable doing that, you can allow the coaches to select the events for your child.  If you DO self-select, please pay attention to the limits on the number of events a child may swim each day (that can be found in the meet letter and/or in the information on the event selection page under the "Maximum events" link).

If no listing of events available to swim appears, the host team has not sent the files yet.  Please check back before the registration to deadline to update your commitment once the event file has been added if you wish to choose your own events.

Remember, coaches cannot always read your minds, so it is imperative that you communicate any special needs, desires, or limitations you have for any given meet.  Coaches also do not have very good memories, so it is even MORE imperative you communicate these things by written medium, rather than by verbally mentioning it to the coach at practice.

Why is my child swimming the 50 free and not the 200 fly like I entered him in?

Coaches will occasionally change a child's entries for one of several reasons, including:  informational (the coach wants to see what a child can do in a specific event), strategic (the coach has a specific plan for the swimmer), and preservation (the coach knows a child is not ready to swim an event selected or has swum an event selected so frequently s/he is getting stale).  Trust your coach. 

I signed up for Saturday and Sunday session, but I really would rather watch the Jags snatch defeat from the jaws of victory again and will not be attending Sunday, what do I do? 

Notify the coaches by email or a phone call ASAP if you know you are signed up for something and cannot attend it.  If the entries have already been sent in, the entry fees will still have to be paid.

My child really does not want to swim an event s/he is entered in, what should I do?

This is not an uncommon occurrence, and experience shows that it is much better to direct your child with his/her concerns to the coach (and then support the coach's recommendation and decision).

I really love watching my child's practice, but the deck seems so crowded sometimes, where should I sit/stand?

We encourage all parents to stay and watch practice, but the deck is really meant for the swimmers and coaches, only.  Our team is expanding nicely, but alas the deck space does not seem to be expanding with us.  During practice times all parents are welcome to sit in the grassy area (although that area closes when baseball is in season due to flying baseballs) or in the bleachers on the other side of the pool.  

I need to ask the coach a question or discuss something with the coach.  When should I do that?

Immediately before and during practice sessions is not the time to approach coaches, generally, as their focus needs to be squarely on the swimmers in their groups (and, as you may have noted, coaching the younger kids is not unlike herding cats). 

Please contact Coach Erin Crabtree to arrange a time to meet.  [email protected]

My child dropped time last time s/he swam this event, but then added a bit of time this time.  What's wrong?!

Absolutely nothing.  Coach Mel can often be heard saying that a child simply cannot drop time every time s/he swims an event.  If s/he did, s/he would be swimming an event in 0.0 seconds eventually.  It is very easy to forget that swimming events are measured in tiny snippets of time.   When you really think about how long a second is, or .5 of a second, it becomes VERY apparent how easy it is to "be off" a time.  Our coaching staff likes to focus on the overall swim -- and of that, the final time is only one aspect -- whether the swimmer swam with good or improved technique, whether s/he swam the race the way the coaches asked, etc.   It is important for both you as a parent AND your swimmer to keep a broader perspective on the season and to not measure "success" simply with a watch.

Why aren't my child's strokes perfect yet?  Why aren't my children swimming as much yardage as their friends do at (another team)?

Our team is technique oriented, which is to say that the focus is on establishing a base of proper technique in the younger age groups.  If you think of a swim practice as being some percentage "technique" and some percentage "yardage/training", the % dedicated to technique should be far higher for the younger age groups than it is for the older age groups.  We believe that there is an upper limit to the training you can do as a swimmer, and that the younger a swimmer is when s/he reaches that limit, the harder it will be to keep him/her healthy, improving, and engaged in the sport.  Not all programs adhere to that belief.   That said, there is a limit to the amount of time a coach can focus on any one swimmer during a practice.  Coaches will teach and reinforce and remind swimmers on a daily basis, but practice is not the forum for coaches to spend extended one on one time with an individual swimmer.  Individual swim lessons and group stroke clinics are offered at various times during the year, and we encourage you to take advantage of that resource if you feel your child needs extensive individualized focus.

How can I order NFS gear for myself/kids?

The link to our team store can be found at:

Thanks for taking the time to read - see you at the pool!

-NFS Coaches