Cape Fear Aquatic Club Partners
Frequently Answered Questions

Frequently Answered Questions - FAQs

What does my child need for practice and swim meets?
All swimmers should have their swimsuits, towels, caps and goggles at every practice. You can never have too many pairs of goggles, so buy an extra pair if you can. (They break at the worst possible time.) For both home and away meets, team apparel is required. The team “uniform,” which varies by practice group, is available by special order once or twice a year. Swimmers should always have a water bottle at practice and swim meets. They will need nutritious snacks in their swim bag for meets and – depending on the facility – they might need folding chairs to use on deck.

How many practices should my swimmer attend per week?
There is no an attendance requirement for our swimmers, though we do keep track of attendance. As coaches, we would love to have swimmers attend every workout of his or her training group. Improvement in the sport of swimming is directly related to attendance at workouts, paying attention during training, and hard work.  This is no different than doing one's homework for school. Of course, children get sick, have a soccer game, or forget that their social studies report is due. Don't worry! Simply contact your child's coaches and let them know.

When does my child move up to another practice group?
This is a decision made by the coaches and will depend both on the child’s age, abilities, experience and commitment.

What is the difference between short course and long course?
Competitive swimming began in London in the 19th century and the sport quickly became popular in North America. At the beginning, all competition pools were 25 yards long. Later, as technology improved and swimming became popular around the world, the 50-meter Olympic pool became the international standard.
Now, American swimmers are trained to compete in both venues. The short course season runs from September to April and swimmers use a 25-yard pool. There are short course time standards, which apply to all meets during this season. The long course season runs from April to August. Meets are conducted in a 50-meter pool and time standards are based on this longer distance. Cape Fear Aquatic Club is a full year program. Children will compete in both short course and long course meets. (Note: 8/unders compete in a 25-yard pool all year long.)

How does my child sign up for meets?
The team currently uses a declaration system that requires swimmers, or their parents, to commit or decline to go to meets.
Swimmers inform coaches that they plan to attend or skip a meet, or part of a meet, by declaring their intentions on the edit commitment section provided in the listing of a meet on Team Unify.

What is Team Unify?
Team Unify is an online system that the coaches use to manage the team. Team Unify  is where the majority of the team emails/communication is posted. Team Unify is where the swim meet schedule and the practice schedule is posted.  *It is important Parents make themselves familiar with Team Unify. 

Who chooses what my child will swim in meets?
Once a swimmer is declared and committed to a meet, the Coaching Staff will determine what events a swimmer will be placed in for the meets. All swimmers will be placed only in events that they are ready to swim. We are striving for self-confidence and pride and we want the Cape Fear swimmers to enjoy the meets and be challenged. The coaches have the unwritten permission to change any individual events they see necessary. The Coaching Staff will arrange relays if relays are offered.

What are USA Swimming and NC Swimming?
USA Swimming is the national governing body for competitive swimming in the United States. It sets the rules and policies and conducts regional and national championships. It also oversees the growth and development of the sport by offering insurance, workshops and swim clinics to swim teams.

Within the United States, there are 59 Local Swimming Committees (LSC). They are responsible for administering USA Swimming activities in a defined geographical area. North Carolina Swimming is the LSC for the state of North Carolina and it is responsible for the conduct and administration of swim events within the state. A majority of meets on the Cape Fear Aquatic Club meet schedule are held under the auspices of USA Swimming. Many meets are “qualifiers,” which means swimmers are competing to qualify for one or more championships at the end of the season. Qualifiers, which include many teams, do not have time standards for participation. We also participate in invitational and championship meets. These have strict time standards for participation.

USA Swimming Website -

North Carolina Swimming Website -

But aren't we a Y team?
True, although we follow USA Swimming rules, we are a YMCA team. That means we participate in Y swim meets. Most of these are meets in which we compete against another YMCA in North Carolina. We also send our team to the Greater YMCA Sunbelt Championship (GYSSA). Some members of our team qualify for the National YMCA Swimming Championships, which are held at the end of the short course season.

National YMCA Competitive Swimming & Diving --

What is the Parents Advisory Board?
The Cape Fear Aquatic Club Parent Advisory Board supports the Cape Fear Aquatic Club/Swim Team by;
Promoting competitive swimming by working swim meets so swimmers can use their athletic skills and practice good sportsmanship while developing team loyalty.
Assist the coaches and the YMCA staff in certain administrative and clerical duties associated with a competitive swimming program.
Organize and host social functions for the participants of the program.
Raise funds to be used for the benefit of the program and its participants.
Parents are strongly encouraged to volunteer and help

What are the team fees?
Swim team families are assessed four types of fees:
1. Family Y membership fees: All swimmers must be current members of the Y.
2. Family Y Program fees: These fees cover pool time, use of the facility and coaches’ salaries. Payment can be made in September at registration or you can set up a 6-month payment plan.
3. Yearly Registration Fees: This is a required fee which covers USA Swimming Registration Fee, YMCA GYSSA Fee, a Team Suit, a Team Caps, a Team T-shirt and Team Shorts. Payment is due in full at registration.
4. USA Swimming Meet Fees: These fees are charges for each events. Fee vary depending on the meet. (More information can be found in our team handbook.


When should my child start swimming?
Although some 5 and 6 year old who have been progressing rapidly in lessons, the ideal time is between 7 and 9 years old. This is when children are most apt to learn easily, improve rapidly and feel competitive at swim meets. The older the swimmer is when he or she starts, the more difficult it becomes to catch up to others.

What if my child cannot make it to a particular practice?
Notify the lead coach ASAP.  As a rule swimmers are not to swim at a different practice/training group other than what is assigned, but arrangements may be made if the need is justifiable. Never show up at a different workout/practice without the prior approval of the coaches. If special arrangements need to be made it is at the discretion of the Head Coach. Each case is taken on a case by case basis and the coaching staff attempts to work out a satisfactory arrangement in the best interest of the child for long term success.

How soon does my child start entering swim meets?
Like so many other aspects of the sport a lot depends on the swimmers ability and progress.  The coaching staff will offer guidance as to which meets your child should enter. Generally, swimmers are encouraged to start competing early, in order to get a feel for what it is like to swim in a meet.
The coaches will select which events he or she will compete in.

What if I cannot get my child to a practice or a meet?
Swimming requires a major time commitment. Many families ease demands by sharing transportation. Talk to families who live near you about possibly helping each other out. If you are not sure who might live near you ask the coaching staff or the age group parent representative.

How long are the swim seasons?
The Fall-Winter Short Course Yards (SCY) season starts in September and runs until the middle of March.  During the Holidays we offer training during the school break. The first week of January we have start back to our normal schedule. After March Championships there is a week or two off at spring break before we begin the spring summer Long Course Meters (LCM) season which is 3 1/2 to 4 months long ending in early August.

How are these seasons organized?
A typical season has a preconditioning phase in which swimmers are gradually brought into shape. There is a conditioning phase when workouts feature on increase of yardage along with emphasis on developing proper stroke technique.  A competitive phase follows which is a period of intense training so that goal times may be reached. The last phase for some swimmers is a taper in preparation for a big meet at the end of season. Not all swimmers need a taper and not all swimmers taper for the same meet. The coaches decide who needs to taper and for which meet.

How long will my child swim?
No one can answer this question with certainty but we hope that it will be forever. The coaches really encourage swimmers to continue in competition swimming for as long as possible, and then to continue swimming for therapy and recreational purposes. Swimming is a lifelong adventure with lasting beneficial effects. Many of our swimmers have already swam for 6 to 12 years and aim at high school and college swimming as the high points in their career.

What should my child's next goal be?
We believe that setting substantial and easily defined goals can prove to be an excellent teacher of a life skill that can help all of our swimmers become better people. Goals vary with age and with individual abilities and desires. The coaches try to help their swimmers set short range goals for each season and long-range goals for their swimming career. Short range goals should be tailored to the individual and is measured in seconds (not against other swimmers) and flexible enough that when a goal is achieve a new one can be set. Long range goals are geared toward an entire swimming career. This may include winning a high school championship or receiving a college scholarship for every child's dream of making the Olympics. We encourage these big goals, goals give a swimmer an objective to reach for and give the feelings of accomplishment when achieved. They are used by coaches as an incentive when practice intensity waivers.

My child will never be that good, will he/she?
Maybe not but only time will tell for certain who will achieve greatness. Between the ages of eight and 12 most swimmers imagine themselves competing in the Olympics while only 56 of the 500,000 swimmers make it every four years. Yet that goal is inherent in the American swimming way of life and to take it away from your child simply because you are more realistic is to deprive him or her of the right to dream. Sooner than you think your child will develop an awareness and will realize his/her limitations. That is when the coach can sit down with the swimmer and design obtainable goals which will encourage swimmer to continue even though making me Olympic team seems unlikely.
Of course, there are those 56 swimmers every four years, and no one can predict which young swimmer will be among them. Many swimmers are average or below average as young swimmers will blossom into great athletes in their teens and others who are exceptionally fast at a young age may level off burn out before their teens. 
Who knows whether your child is a Donna Devarona, who begin swimming at age 7 and went on to win Olympic Gold at 13 or a Rowdy Gaines who started at 15 and set a world record at 20, or an average swimmer who will make modest gains but never be a champion? While you have the future possibilities in perspective, keep the fires burning in your child for as long as possible.

What do I do if my child gets tired of swimming?
Talk to the coach right away.
The coach might suggest letting your child take a little break from the sport. Encourage him/her to try other activities for a while. Never force your child to continue swimming if the desire is gone. One factor that causes swimmers to quit is competition for their time. This can come from other activities, jobs, friends, and school, another key factor is maturity. As a child enters adolescence, sometimes becomes more difficult to stay physically fit and to stay motivated in a sport which requires a great deal of self-discipline. Sometimes the physical changes which occur during these years makes competitive swimming more difficult, which can be quite discouraging when at the same time other swimmers are experienced an increase in muscular bulk and consequently getting much stronger and faster. Ultimately, the decision must be left up to the swimmer. We do all we can to keep the sport fun and fulfilling hoping that each swimmer will continue swimming, but please pardon the pun “different strokes for different folks”!

With so many years of swimming, prevents premature burnout?
Burnout can be avoided in a program like ours which encourages steady improvement over years, rather than pursuing swimmers for instant success. We develop our younger swimmers more slowly than some programs might, we seek to have more swimmers remain in the program through their high school years. This requires patience from all involved coaches, parents and swimmers, but we feel the long-term involvement in the sport is more beneficial than temporary greatness early on. That is why our younger swimmers are not required to attend all practices we believe that it is best to develop interest gradually so the swimmer and the parent can I adjust more readily, and so that the child can explore other available opportunities while they are still young.

Can I expect my child to improve continuously?
No - New swimmers generally improved steadily at first and parents may be misled by this rapid progress, expecting it to continue indefinitely. You must realize that eventually your child will have largely perfected his or her technique and the rate of progress will decrease markedly. This is an expected phase. There are so many factors that contribute to noticeable increases or decreases in the rate of improvement. Physical changes, especially during adolescence play a major role which may be either to cause the swimmer to enter a phase of rapid movement or just the opposite. A swimmers willingness to work hard in a practice and his or her mental attitude are other factors. Rate of improvement is also based upon where we are in the season early in the season, some swimmers can swim fairly fast until training intensity increases. Then times may actually get slower split uneven and fatigue exerts its effect early in the race. Improvement may not occur until the end of season, and is occasionally delayed for more than a full season. Also, at times improvement should not be measured in terms of times; frequently a swimmer might have a goal such as mastering a changing technique, acquiring the ability to split a race better, or even develop a better attitude toward competing.

How will I know what is going on?
Every month we will send a newsletter via email, this email will give an overview of up giving events, such as swim meets, fundraisers and team socials.
In addition, for most meets, fundraisers and another significant events will send out a separate notice with more details about the event. The most current information you will or should receive is contained in each “Monthly Newsletter” or “A Few Notes” or the team website and especially for information about meet you can also check out our team website at

Who should I ask if I have questions or concerns about my child's swimming?
Please talk to the coach. - If a problem exists, call the coach and try to work things out, or request a meeting to discuss the problem. Making negative comments to the other parents, or at a meet in front of other parents undermines the team spirit. Making negative comments at home in front of the swimmer, undermines confidence in and respect for the coach. Keeping the problem between you and the coaching staff enables the team to continue to progress.
Positive feedback should also be directed to the coaching staff enabling team to progress. Positive feedback should also be directed to the coaching staff so they know when things are going well, and what does work, as well as what does not work.

Who make the decision about the overall running of the swim team?
The Head Coach and the coaching staff make all decisions regarding the structure of the team, day-to-day management scheduling etc.

Congratulations are in order if you are still reading, there's a lot of information to digest. Please feel free to ask the coaching staff or individual on the Parent Advisory Board anything you don't understand or any questions we have not answered.

We welcome your entire family to the Cape Fear Aquatic Club. We look forward to getting to know you as you become actively involved in the club, and we hope you enjoy the experience of being part of the TEAM.

TEAM - Together Everyone Achieves More