Swimarin New Swimmer Family Handbook
Table of Contents
1. Welcome and Expectations for the Team
2. Practice Information
3. Required gear and optional merchandise
5. Social Events
6. Volunteer Requirements
7. Snack Bar Requirements
8. Clinics, Private Lessons and Shark Pups
9 . Awards Banquet
10. Coaches FAQ
Welcome to Swimarin!
Our season runs from the end of February through the end of June with meets typically beginning at the end of April and occurring most Saturdays until the league-wide end of season meet at the end of June. Our practices typically occur every weekday (Monday through Friday at a time that is for the most part based upon your child’s age.)
It is not necessary to attend every practice, but our Head Coach recommends you attend as much as your schedule permits. Typically, a good goal is any 3 days per week that you are able to attend. This will offer the best opportunities for your children to see improvements in endurance, speed, and technique.
Practices are held at San Rafael High School, unless otherwise specified, and may be occasionally cancelled due to events occurring at the high school or special events on our team.
Practice Times (also posted on the website)
8 & Under – 5:00pm to 5:45pm
9 - 10s – 6:00pm to 6:45pm
11 & Up – 6:45pm to 8pm
The first two days of practice are assessment days for new swimmers to determine if your child is swim team ready or if they require further lessons through our Shark Pup programming. Returning swimmers practice as normal.
Note: Your child may require more than one day of assessment, this is not uncommon for new and/or younger swimmers.
We practice in all weather conditions except when there is thunder and lightning. Kids love swimming in the rain! It is generally more daunting for the parents than the swimmers to come to practice on rainy days. We recommend you keep your child’s belongings in the breezeway adjacent to the pool to keep it dry.
Required Gear and Optional Merchandise
- One practice suit
- Team Suit: These are required for swim meets. They identify your child as a Swimarin team member. They can be purchased at T&B sports or through our Splash-Off event at the beginning of the season.
- Swim Caps: latex or silicone options. Our team will give every swimmer who requests one a latex Swimarin logo cap.
Optional Merchandise Available For Purchase
T&B Sports is our official Swimarin gear provider
- Personalized Silicone Swim Caps: Available for purchase at home meets or Splash-Off.
- Pajama Bottoms
- Team Towels
- T-shirts - available for purchase at home meets
- Hats - available for purchase at home meets
Swim meets occur nearly every Saturday from the end of April to mid-July. Every swimmer is expected to attend the meets. For new families meets can feel overwhelming at first if you don’t know what to expect or what to do when you get to a meet. Also, because there are a lot of people at the meets, your child can feel overwhelmed if you are not prepared. Please read this section carefully and ask any board member if you have questions.
Meet Format: Every event (eg. Medley relay, freestyle, breaststroke, etc.) will be run in this order and then repeated for each event:
1. 8 and under girls, 8 and under boys
2. 9-10 girls, 9-10 boys
3. 11-12 girls, 11-12 boys
4. 13-14 girls, 13-14 boys
5. 15-18 girls, 15-18 boys
The events in order are:
1. Boys & Girls mixed medley (IM) relay
4. 15-min break
7. Individual Medley (IM)
8. Boys & Girls mixed freestyle relay
Declaring attendance for meets: By Tuesday before every meet, you must log into the website to declare if your child is going to attend the meet and choose the events they are doing (up to 3 events not including relays.) This is critical if your child is to be seeded for the meet! You will get an email prior to each meet telling you exactly how to do this. Your coach will let you know if you are on a relay for each upcoming meet. If you have been chosen to be on a relay, congratulations!
You will mark your child’s hand (or better yet, teach them to do it themselves) with a Sharpie before every meet with their events, heat and lane numbers. See image below:
Tips for a successful meet:
- Arrive early to get a good spot to set up and get your swimmer ready to warm up with the team.
- If you are bringing a snack bar donation, bring to the snack bar first thing.
- Consider bringing a sport tent or other shade where your swimmer can hang out away from the sun. Bring camping chairs to sit in.
- Bring plenty of water and snacks (or money for the snack bar)and possibly books, etc for the kids to play with between events.
- Mark your child’s hand the night before so they know when/where to line up for their events.
- Have sunscreen and extra towels on hand.
- Pay attention to the meet so you are aware when your child needs to get ready to line up. This is imperative for a successful meet experience. For new swimmers and 8 & under swimmers, allow yourself extra time to locate them if they are playing with another swimmer and help get them ready.
Time Trials: Our first meet is our time trials meet which involves only our team. It is a meet to get baseline times for your child in order to be seeded appropriately in subsequent meets. We generally ask all swimmers to swim every event at this meet unless your coach advises otherwise. It is also our opportunity to learn various volunteering jobs which will be required for the season. All other meets are dual meets: Swimarin vs. another swim team.
All-Stars: This is an invite-only meet that swimmers may qualify for based on swim times (qualifying times can be found on the Marin Swim League website at www.marinswimleague.org) You will be notified if your child has qualified for this meet.
Champs: This is the final swim meet of the end of each season where every team in the Marin Swim League competes against each other to determine the top team in the League.
There are 10 teams in the League and up to 1500-2000 swimmers! It is held at Indian Valley Campus of College of Marin and is divided into a morning meet for swimmers 11 and under and an afternoon meet for swimmer ages 13 and up. You only need to attend the portion of the day in which you have a swimmer.
Every team is required to volunteer to help put this meet on so we require all families to attend.
Every family must volunteer. Besides coaching, Swimarin is a parent-led, all-volunteer team (this includes the Board and leadership and all jobs at the meets.) It takes nearly 90 volunteers to run every home meet!
The number of volunteer jobs required each year is dependent upon the number of families registered for the team and the number of jobs needed to fill each season. It varies slightly from season to season. You will be given an opportunity to sign up for jobs as we get closer to the start of the season. You can choose to sign up for jobs individually, sign up for a season long job, or take the lead on any given job.
If you don’t want to volunteer, you must buy-out at a cost of $400. Even if you buy-out, you will be required to volunteer at the Champs meet at the end of the season.
Some of the meet jobs typically available include:
- Snack Bar
- Data Desk
- Set up and tear down
Some season long jobs include:
- Board positions (President, Treasurer, Secretary, etc.)
- Events Coordinator
- Volunteer Coordinator
- Snack Bar Coordinator
Descriptions of the jobs can be found under the Volunteers tab on the team website. Once job sign-ups end, you are responsible for finding replacements for a job if you cannot make it. If you miss a job, there is a $125 penalty. We would much rather have volunteers than money from buy outs and missed jobs.
At every home meet, we run an amazing snack bar which provides tons of delicious food thanks to our volunteers and the food donations from our families. Every family is responsible for bringing a specific food donation for the snack bar at the home meets.
Your assigned food will be e-mailed to you by Thursday before the home meet. It is important that you read the guidelines on the website for exact specifications for your assigned item. (It takes the guesswork out of what you are bringing and provides consistency at the snack bar. It will tell you the necessary size, amount or preparation for the item to be donated.)
Bring your item to the snack bar as soon as you get to the home meet and make sure your name is checked off the list.
If you are going to miss a meet, ask a friend to bring your item for you. If it is a non-perishable item such as soda, you may be able to leave it in the swim office with your name on it during the week before the meet. If you don’t want to bother with the snack bar donations (typically for 3-4 meets per season, you can participate in the snack bar buy-out for $100 for the season.)
We have various social events during the season for team building and to get to know the Swimarin community better. These include:
1. Family Social - held at the beginning of the season. A casual dinner for the swimmers and their families to get to know each other, the coaches, and the Board.
2. Pizza Fridays – Typically about once a month we order pizza on the pool deck for after practices and ask families to bring a vegetable or dessert to share. It is open to all swimmers and families at a cost of $5 per person.
3. Swim-A-Thon - One of the most fun nights of Swimarin! We swim laps to raise money for our team and there are many other contests and prizes during the night including prizes for laps swam, a raffle, a treasure dive, parent relays, and culminating in the famous greased watermelon polo! It’s a night not to be missed!
4. End of Season Banquet - Our chance to come together to celebrate the accomplishments of our swimmers throughout their season, to thank all you parent volunteers and coaches and to relax with a great dinner and awards ceremony. It is a special event that everyone enjoys. Make sure you don’t miss it!
SHARK PUPS, CLINICS AND LESSONS
Shark Pups: Shark Pups is a small group-based lesson program designed to prepare your younger child for swim team. It is open to kids from ages 4+ who need help developing basic strokes to get them across the pool. It is not intended for kids under 4 or those who are not potty trained. If your child signed up for Swimarin but wasn’t quite ready for swim team, this is a great option to get them ready for next year.
Shark Pups begins in March (dates will be made available online) and runs weekdays Monday - Friday (or as specified) for approximately 2-3 weeks, depending on the session.
At the end of Shark Pups, the kids who are deemed deep water safe and meet the requirements to participate, will have the option to participate in a “swim meet” where the child gets to do a timed 25-yard freestyle swim. Depending on our home meet schedule, this may occur in an actual meet or on a Friday fun day. It is a fun way to end the sessions and the kids are really proud when they do it!
Clinics and Lessons: Sometimes parents or swimmers want extra coaching for their child to work on a particular technique they are struggling with during regular practices. We offer one on one clinics with our coaches and smaller group clinics as the pool is available at an additional cost to the families. Specific date and pricing information will be posted on the website and announced via email.
Our season culminates in an awards banquet the day after the Champs meet where we honor the swimmers and volunteers for their accomplishments during the season.
Kids and parents alike really look forward to this event as an important end to their season and a time to hang out with all their new friends. We have a catered meal, drinks and a really fun and relaxing afternoon celebrating the end of another great season.
Make sure you do not miss this important end of season event.
Information on how to RSVP will be sent out toward the end of the season.
Are swimmers expected to show up for practice even if it is raining or windy? Of course! Swimming is an all-weather sport, and swimming in the rain is fun. We will cancel practice, however, if there is thunder or lightning in the area.
How many practices is a swimmer supposed to attend each week? As many as possible. At a minimum, we expect swimmers to attend three practices a week. This is especially important during the early part of the season as we emphasize conditioning and basic technique. If your child can’t make this commitment, please discuss this with us.
My 8-U child is afraid to race. What do I do? Most new swimmers are nervous before their first few races; some swimmers are always nervous. Simply encourage your child but please do not force them to participate. Many swimmers will build up to their first meet participation. Please be patient and remember that the stress this puts on you as a parent is usually nothing compared to the stress your child is feeling. Our coaching staff is used to working with new swimmers and introducing the competitive side in different ways pending the swimmer.
My child does not know how to dive, so how can he/she swim in a meet? Your child will gradually become more confident with diving, especially once we go thru more diving drills during practice. We offer seasonal clinics for more focus on dives and private lessons are available with our coaches.
My child still can’t (comfortably) swim 25 yards. Will he/she be able to compete? Not yet. Swimmers must be able to swim 25 yards without putting themselves at risk and have demonstrated this on various occasions to their coach(es). Until they reach this point we will work on building endurance and strength in the water.
What is the Shark Pups Program and when will it start? The Shark Pups Program is designed to teach beginning and non-swimmers basic swimming technique after learning primary water safety skills. See the website for more information.
Are swimmers required to wear swim caps? No, but caps do three things: 1) they create better hydrodynamics in the water which can lead to faster times; 2) they identify a swimmer by team which is most important for the coaches to watch swimmers races; and 3) they protect hair from the effects of chlorine. We strongly encourage and lean toward the side of requiring swimmers wear a team cap at all meets.
My boy swimmer doesn’t want to wear a Speedo-style suit. Is that required? No, but a brief or “jammer” style is very strongly recommended. Surf or recreational shorts produce so much drag that they discourage swimmers competitively in practice and in meets.