This program is NOT intended to substitute or replace swim lessons.
The Minnows Program is specifically designed as a precursor to swim team for younger children who are not yet ready for competition swimming. Typically we see kids as young as 4 to about 7 in our program, with the older ones making quick progress onto the main swim team. Our main focus in the Minnows Program:
- Your child’s safety.
- Getting them the stamina and endurance to cross the pool in under a minute and if possible getting them to try a real race.
- Focus on Freestyle and Backstroke including proper body position, kicking, breathing, and streamlining.
- Once ready, starts are also taught.
- To have FUN!
While there is no minimum age requirement for this program, in general the Minnows must be comfortable in the water and working with adults and young adult volunteer coaches vs. their own parents (parents are not allowed in the pool). It is imperative that parents self-screen their children to determine if it is appropriate for them to be a part of this program based on this criteria.
During the 2nd week of practice, swimmers will be assessed to determine their final eligibility for the Minnows Program. Each Minnow will be assessed on the following criteria.
- Potty trained.
- Separates easily from parent. (Swimmers will be within eyesight of parents.)
- Sits on side of the pool and waits for his/her turn without reminders to stay there.
- Enters water independently.
- Float on his/her back.
- Propel his/her self in the water to coach for about 5 yards (to the flags) in a "swimming" fashion (staying towards top of water, kicking, using arms in any fashion).
- Hold breath underwater.
If a swimmer does not qualify for the program, the parents will be notified by a Makos Board Member and a full refund for the swimmer will be issued.
Parents must be present at the pool during Minnows practice times!
During our 30 minute practices, we work on freestyle and backstroke, kicking, breathing, body position, streamlining, starting and distance to build towards crossing a 25 meter pool in under a minute.
Once that goal is met with confidence, we encourage our young swimmers to join the rest of the team at meets and try to race with the other 8 and under kids in the freestyle 25 meter event. We also hold a Minnows meet at the end of the season so they can give racing a try in a relaxed setting. Even if the swimmer has not reached the 25 M distance in freestyle, we custom design events so every swimmer can participate.
Some things to help your swimmer succeed in the Minnows Program:
- Parents need to stay in the vicinity during practices, but may not enter the pool.
- Parents need to support the efforts of the coaches to get the kids to follow the rules and stay safe.
- Properly fitting goggles are very important.
- Each child works at his or her own pace. We want them to enjoy their first experience with the swim team.
MINNOWS COACHING STAFF
The Minnows program is the overall responsibility of the Makos Head Coach. Daily practices are run by the Assistant Head Coach Lead for the Minnows Program. Additionally we have Junior Assistant Coaches assigned solely to the Minnows Program who are in the water to provide direction and guidance to our Volunteer Swimmer Coaches (VSC). The VSCs (minimum age 13) assist with running the practices and monitoring for child safety. While every effort is made to ensure enough VSCs are available for every practice, they are unpaid volunteers and we cannot always guarantee there will be enough to safely run a practice. Swimmer safety is our top priority. The Assistant Head Coach will determine at the start of each practice the appropriate swimmer to coach ratio based on the skills of the swimmers and coaches to determine how many may be in the pool at any one time: as such, there may be times when swimmers are asked to sit on the wall and wait until their turn to swim. Swimmers must follow these instructions.
The decision to move a Minnow to the competition team will be determined by the Head Coach following a recommendation from the lead Assistant Coach and communicated with the parent/swimmer. This could happen at any time during the season, depending on the swimmer’s readiness.
Please keep in mind that our youth coaches are volunteers and part of the regular swim team. We hope that the older swimmers will bond with the younger ones and help mentor them in their growth with the team.
Near the end of the season, we hold an unofficial “Minnows Meet” to acknowledge everyone’s hard work during the season. Minnows who have advanced to the regular team during the season are included. This allows children who haven't made the jump to actual meets to get a taste of multi-lane racing. Awards are presented to all swimmers at the team’s End of Season Awards Banquet.
All swimmers competing in the Minnows Meet get at least a good swim ribbon and possibly a time improvement ribbon. Ribbons are also awarded to Minnows who finish legally in Freestyle and Backstroke events based on time.