SWIM TEAM 101
Welcome to all our parents, especially those who are new to summer swim team! If you have questions, this is the place for you. We know it can be a little confusing at first, so we have done our best to gather everything together in one place. We want you and your swimmer(s) to have a great summer!
1. What time should I have my child at meets and practices?
Please see the schedule for your swimmer’s practice time and have him/her at the pool at least 5 minutes ahead of time, so he/she is ready to swim when practice starts. For meets, please have your child at the pool promptly at 4:30 for the Tuesday/Thursday meets, which start at 5:30 p.m. For Saturday meets, please have your child at the pool promptly at 7:30 a.m. for an 8:30 a.m. meet start. For directions to various pools, please see the Meet Information page of this web site.
2. What should my child do when he/or she arrives at the meet?
Your swimmer, with your help if necessary, should first check in by highlighting his or her name on the clipboards located in the team area. Next, your child should check the line-ups for the meet to see which events he/she is swimming. It is a good idea to write event, heat and lane numbers on the back of his or her hand. So bring a marker or pen to each meet. Listen for warm-ups and the coaches will direct you. You and your child can set up blankets etc. in the team area. After warm-ups, please encourage your swimmer to remain in the team area when he/she is not swimming so he/she does not miss his/her event announcements.
3. What should we bring to the meets?
We encourage your swimmers to have extra goggles and caps, in case they break or get lost. Meets can be quite long, with a lot of down time. Please have your child bring something to do (books, games, cards etc.). Avoid bringing anything of value, because the swimmers’ belongings can get mixed up and lost. Also, bring a blanket and least one towel for your swimmer as well as food, drinks or money for concessions. Evening meets can get quite chilly after sunset, so bring your swimmer sweats or something warm to wear. For sunny days, some parents bring shade tents or large umbrellas, but it is not necessary. Please label all items you or your child bring to any meet. Caps and goggles are also available for sale at swim meets.
4.What is the Bull Pen?
In order to help our 10 and under swimmers get to their events on time, we have parent volunteers who run the Bull Pen. They can be easily identified by their clipboards. At home meets, the Bull Pen is located near the side of the pool in front of the team area. For away meets, it is usually located somewhere near the team area. We work with the following age groups: 9 & 10, 8 & under, and 6 & under.
When watching the actual meet take place, please refrain from standing in the Bull Pen area because it can become crowded and it is difficult to line up the children for multiple races accurately if there is not enough room. We do call boys and girls of the same age group at the same time.
5. How can I make sure my 10 and under swimmer doesn’t miss an event?
Please keep an eye on the race board so you know where we are at in the meet. The Bull Pen coordinators will start to line up races approximately 8-10 events in advance. When it is close to line up time, please make sure your swimmer remains near the BP area. With the hectic pace of the meets, our volunteers will not be able to track down all children that have not shown up for the line up. Children should not be playing in the sand pit during swim meets.
As the season progresses we find the swimmers learn the line up routine quickly and we encourage the older children (9&10) to check in with a Bull Pen coordinator to verify their lane & heat numbers and then to proceed on their own over to the blocks for the race. The 8& under and 6& under groups will still organize in the Bull Pen and then walk as a group over to the blocks. You know your child best, offer help as necessary.
6. What is a Heat Sheet?
Heat Sheets are a list of all meet events in the order they occur. Visit this link for a complete list. This order is the same at every meet. Please take the time to go over the Heat Sheet and review the races with your child. Helping your swimmers learn how to find their races and lane means they will understand the terminology we are using when lining them up. For the 6 & Under group in particular, explaining how they may be in Lane 1 but Heat 2, for example, will make more sense when we place them in line. Remember, to check for changes after everyone has checked in and Coach has made final adjustments. The picture below shows the order of swimmers for the medley relay. For the free relay, swimmers swim in the same order.
7. Why is my child’s seed time incorrect on the heat sheet?
Meet entries are due to the team hosting the meet at least 2 days prior to the meet. So if your child for example, beat his/her best time in a particular event/stroke on a Tuesday night then chances are that time will not be reflected in the upcoming Thursday night meet because those entries were already submitted prior to the Tuesday meet. In other words, best times used for seeding a meet may be lagging at least one meet. Sometimes this lag may be 2 meets if the team hosting the away meet is slow in returning the results to us. Be patient. Your child’s best time will eventually get caught up in the system.
8. What if we can’t make it to a meet?
You can opt out of meets by clicking on the EVENTS tab and selecting the desired meet. You must declare Yes or No for each child for every meet before the deadline. If your child becomes ill and cannot make the meet, please email the head coach as soon as possible so that the lineup can be adjusted.
9. What if my child needs to leave a meet early (or come late) due to other obligations?
Swimmers are expected to swim in all scheduled events. There is no partial meet scheduling of swimmers in the lineup. If a swimmer misses a scheduled event because he or she is not at the meet, that swimmer will not be allowed to swim in the next meet.
10. What are time trials and why do we do them?
Time trials are a way to obtain a baseline time for your child in each event and also allow them to gain some meet experience before they compete against another team. Coaches gain an understanding of each swimmers ability at the beginning of the season. In addition, when a swimmer drops time in an event in a subsequent meet, he or she earns a yellow time drop star.
11. How does my child earn gold stars?
Gold stars are awarded for time drops in a given swim season. A valid (non-disqualifying) time has to be established first for a given swim season. For example, if your child participates in the time trials meet and swims a particular event and does not receive a disqualification then that is his/her best time for this season going forward. If at the first meet or any meet thereafter your child swims a better time for that event without a disqualification then that will be his/her new best time and a gold star is also awarded. Gold stars are awarded every time a swimmer betters his/her best time for the season for each individual (non relay) event. Time drops are not recognized from a previous swim season. A swimmer must have at least one valid time for a given event before a swimmer can better that time and earn a gold star.
12. How does my child earn white stars?
White stars are awarded for swimming a “city” time in an individual (non relay) event during a dual, Classic, or City meets. Refer to the city time standards for a listing of city times by age group, gender, and individual event. A city time cannot be recognized at time trials. Only one white star per individual event can be awarded per swim season. For example, if a swimmer achieves a city time in an individual event at the first dual meet of the season and then gets another city time for that same event at a later meet only one white star is awarded after the first meet.
13. Why are the white and gold stars not awarded the morning following a meet like the ribbons?
Heat placement award labels are printed throughout the running of a meet, placed on ribbons, and filed in the swimmer folders shortly thereafter. The generation of white and gold star labels is a separate computer process performed after the conclusion of a meet. However, another manual process is performed for validating and tracking white stars which takes awhile. Both of these processes can be delayed even further if the team hosting an away meet is slow in returning the meet results to us. Rule of the thumb for the awarding of stars will lag by at least one meet, sometime more. Be patient, we will eventually catch up.
14. What is a disqualification or DQ?
It is our goal to teach your child to swim each stroke correctly and, of course, we often learn best from mistakes. If your child swims an event and commits a stroke infraction that is observed by an official, he/she will be disqualified or “DQed.” If your child is disqualified, Coach Noor will be notified and she will help him/her correct the problem at the next practice. When a swimmer is disqualified, he/she will not be eligible for place ribbons or time-drop prizes, and the time will not count toward City meet qualification. Swimmers in the six and under age group are not observed by officials and are not disqualified. If you have a question regarding a DQ, please ask Coach Noor after the meet.
15. Can my child wear jewelry to swim in a meet?
No. If an official observes a swimmer wearing jewelry – including hair ties worn around the wrist — during a meet event, that swimmer will be disqualified. Medic-Alert tags and religious medallions are exempt but must be taped to the body. If a child has had her ears recently pierced, she may still be disqualified if the earrings are observed by the official. To be safe, remove the earrings for the race and put them back in immediately after.
16. What are the Classic and City meets?
The Classic and City meets are park district-wide championship meets held at the end of the season. Swimmers in the 6 and under age group automatically swim in the Classic meet. Swimmers age 13 to 18 automatically swim at the City meet. In order to swim at the City meet, all other age group swimmers must achieve a time standard in at least two events and/or at the discretion of Coach Noor. Achieving a City time is a huge motivator for children to swim their best. Click here to view the city time standards.
17. What if my child is not improving at practice?
The coaches work hard to try to help each swimmer improve, but some swimmers require a little bit of extra attention to get over certain hurdles. In such cases, private swimming lessons are available from Coach Noor and the other coaches as well as through the pool. Please see the coaches for more information. Swim team is not intended as a substitute for swim lessons.
18. What are my parent volunteer responsibilities?
Our swim team is a volunteer organization which relies on the commitment of time by each participating family. If you are unable to volunteer, please do not register your child. Parents are expected to sign-up to work five or six jobs at regular season meets and one job at either the end of season Classic or City championship meets. If you are unable to work at your assigned time, you are responsible for finding a replacement. All replacement volunteers must be at least 14 years old. If a parent fails to show up for their job at a meet without getting a replacement or trading dates to volunteer at another meet, their child will be excluded from the next meet. Please see the Volunteers section of this web site for a description of volunteer jobs and the time requirements.
19. How does the swim team communicate with me?
Each family will have a file folder which will be kept at the pool. They will be available on the front desk at the pool for the swimmers to check two or three times a week during practice hours. All ribbons, stars and flyers will be placed in these folders. Each family will also have access to our website. There you will find lots of other up-to-the minute information, including practice and meet cancellations. Lastly, each family will receive regular emails with upcoming events.