ASSISTING YOUR SWIMMER
For you child to have a most rewarding experience in swimming, it is very important that you be the "best" swimming parent possible. Here are some reminders of what it takes to be an outstanding swim - parent.
1. Provide firm, positive support. Each swimmer has a commitment to swimming whether it is to attend practice two, three, five, six, or nine times per week. Be FIRM with your child in expecting them to fulfill their commitment to attend practices. Every swimmer has days when they don't feel like getting in the water. However just as in life, we must fulfill our commitments on both sunny and rainy days. Always be POSITIVE in your support no matter at what level they participate. Be upbeat in your conversations and stress the enjoyment this sport can provide. Swimming is a family sport, even if only one member participates competitively. Make your child's swimming part of the fun activities your family enjoys.
2. Competition should be fun. Try to teach your swimmer to enjoy the thrill and comradely of swim meets, to be "out there trying hard win or lose". Many rivals become friends through bonds forged in competition. Praise good effort, improved skills and better times rather than winning or losing. Do your best to not "re-live" your athletic life through your child since that creates pressure. Every athlete has lost as well as won, been frightened, backed off at times, not lived up to heroic expectations. Never pressure your swimmer because of your pride.
3. Let the coach do the coaching. Resist at all costs the temptation to act as your child's swimming coach. If you are concerned that your swimmer's technique is not up to par, or he or she needs more training, communicate your concerns to the coach. Your coach is a professional with years of training in how to develop each individual's potential in the pool. Your good intentions may be at odds with what the coach is trying to accomplish. This includes extra pushups, situps, weight training, running, etc. at home to build strength. Your coach may agree with your thoughts, but to do their job effectively he or she needs to be fully informed of everything your swimmer does.
4. Ask questions. There are many sources of information on a swim team, first and foremost, of course, is your coach. They are there to answer any and all questions regarding this sport and your swimmer. Experienced parents can also be a good source of information regarding all the little things that go on around this sport. Be sure to put the same questions to different parents, since each person's views can be a little different. These various viewpoints will contribute to a well rounded base of information. Do not be intimidated by your ignorance especially if you are a new swimming parent. Even the old dog can learn new tricks by inquiring. The only way to gain knowledge and be the "best" is by asking questions.
5. Be involved. Don't be a drop and run parent. Visit practice occasionally to see what is going on, and observe just how hard swimmers must work to achieve their goals. Be active within the booster club at a level appropriate to the level of commitment expected from your child. Showing your commitment to the program through your actions makes a real impact on your child, it shows that you really care through your actions. Attend parents' meetings as part of your commitment. Not only are the meetings a great way to obtain information and gain knowledge through asking questions and listening, you get to meet other parents and make new friends.
6. Be aware of the “Aging Up Trap.” Unfortunately, this is an easy one to fall into because swimming competitions, especially early on are generally age group based. Many parents and swimmers put far too much emphasis on making the most of their last months or year in a particular age group. This puts undue stress on the swimmer to “maximize” their performance before they change age groups. This also often leads to a letdown when the swimmer finally does change age groups. Celebrate successes like “A” times and achievements at certain meets, but try to avoid overdoing it. It is vital to emphasize that swimming is a lifetime sport, and ultimately age is not a factor in competition at the upper levels of the sport.
GYG Booster Club is a major strength of GYG because of the parental involvement. When a swimmer joins the team, his or her parent(s) automatically becomes a member of the Booster Club. GYG is a non-profit organization affiliated with the Greenwood Family YMCA. The booster club assists GYG with swimmer support, awards, and incentive programs, equipment purchases, special fund raising, and more. Parents are encouraged to volunteer their time In fact, without our parents, we will accomplish very little.
GYG holds two banquets each year to recognize the efforts of our swimmers, coaches, and parents during the previous season. The short course banquet is usually held in March, with the summer season banquet typically scheduled in July. All team members are recognized at these events.
GYG would like to be consistent and fair in all dealings of a disciplinary nature. In order to create an environment conducive to learning and having fun, the following rules and consequences are established:
* Obey the General Rules and Team Behavior at Meets, and any other rules and regulations established by the coaches or chaperones.
1st Offense: Warning by the Coach
2nd Offense: Swimmer will be ejected from practice or event.
3rd Offense: Conference with swimmer's parents
4th Offense: The Head Coach will decide if the swimmer should remain on the team.
DO’S AND DON’TS OF EATING
- eat hot cereals like oatmeal or oat bran
- select whole-grain or high fiber cold cereals
- eat breads including muffins, biscuits, and bagels
- drink milk (skim or low fat is best)
- choose fruit, including fresh, canned, and fruit juices
- drink hot beverages such as hot chocolate and hot apple cider
- eat pancakes, waffles, and french toast
- choose eggs up to two or three times weekly
- choose fat-free toppings like syrups and jams as an alternative to butter
- pack a lunch when possible
- choose whole grain breads
- choose lean meats like turkey over salami or bologna
- use mustard and ketchup as condiments
- choose a lean hamburger over hot dogs
- choose a baked potato over french fries
- eat lots of pasta, but choose tomato sauces rather than cream sauces
- try pizza without fatty meat toppings
- eat hearty soups and stews
-eat sausage, ham, or bacon more than once or twice weekly
-opt for eggs every day -choose sugary children's cereals
-choose fast food breakfast sandwiches and croissants too often
-use too much margarine or butter
-eat fast food meals too frequently
-eat fried foods like fish 'n chips too often
-overuse condiments like mayonnaise or salad dressings
-eat fatty and salty luncheon meats often
-choose prepared salads containing lots of mayonnaise or salad dressing
A Few Final Thoughts
Swimmers should not feel guilty if they go on an occasional binge and enjoy their favorite fried foods, ice cream, chocolate, sodas, etc. That is normal and to be expected at the right time (not the night before the big meet!). Using a little common sense and self-discipline with their diet can help your swimmer get the maximum return from hard work at practice and give him or her the best chance for success.
This information of nutrition is just a fraction of what is available on this subject. Contact your coach or local public library if you would like more details on eating to do your very best.
Many swimmers are susceptible to swimmer's ear, a painful bacterial infection of the outer ear region. If your swimmer has had swimmer's ear in the past, or wishes to prevent its occurrence, try the following preventive measures recommended by Edward J. Drawbaugh, M.D. They are listed by progressive strength.
1. Simply use a hair dryer to dry the inside of the ear canal.
2. Using an eye dropper, apply several drops of straight alcohol to each ear. This breaks the surface tension of water in the ear and helps it to run back out. Also helps to dry up residual water.
3. Using an eye dropper, apply several drops of a solution of 3/4 alcohol and 1/4 vinegar. The dried vinegar crystals prevent the growth of the swimmer's ear bacteria.
Prescription remedies are also available through your doctor. Do not put alcohol in any ear when a sharp burning pain is subsequent to application. Any preventive ear program must be done after each time the child swims to be effective.
If your child contracts swimmer's ear, a visit to the doctor is in order. The doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics to deal with the infection and recommend not swimming for a period of time. There are methods of getting around a swimming prohibition, contact your coach to stay in shape while you recover from swimmer's ear.
EATING AFTER PRACTICE
Hard training will deplete your muscle glycogen rapidly. In order to recover properly and promptly from a hard workout, consume up to 100 grams of carbohydrates within 30 minutes of the end of practice. This should be followed by additional high carbohydrate foods every 2-4 hours thereafter. Paying proper attention to your post-practice diet can help you bounce back more quickly and allow you to train at a high rate consistently. Examples of meals and snacks with 100 grams of carbohydrates:
- bagel with one tablespoon of peanut butter, 1 cup of raisins
- 1 cup of hot/cold cereal, medium apple, 1 cup of orange juice
- baked potato w/chili, cornmeal muffin, tossed salad
- 1 cup of apple juice, 1 large bowl of raisin bran, 1 cup of low fat milk, bran muffin
- turkey sandwich on 2 slices of whole wheat bread, 1 cup of fruited yogurt, banana, 1 cup of low fat milk
If you are uncomfortable eating immediately after practice or right before a meet, or eating is not practical, you can substitute a commercial carbohydrate product such as Exceed or Gatorade.
Water consumption is essential to a swimmer. Body temperature increases during exercise and water cools the body. It is very dangerous to limit water intake. During periods of hot weather and high volume, high intensity training, swimmers need to be even more conscious of their fluid intake. Studies have shown that sweat water losses of as little as 2% of body weight will result in dehydration and the swimmer's performance will suffer. The best way to prevent dehydration is to maintain body fluid levels by taking fluids before, during, and after a workout or race. Listed below are some guidelines a swimmer can follow to prevent dehydration:
- weigh in and weigh out without clothes before and after exercise
- for every pound lost during exercise, the swimmer should drink two cups of fluid
- any beverage consumed should be cool (45-55oF)
- drink 2 1/2 cups of water two hours before exercising
- drink at least one cup of fluid at 10-15 minute intervals during exercise, keep a water bottle by the pool and drink between major sets.
- never restrict fluids during exercise
- avoid drinking beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol as they will increase urine output, increasing water loss.
HAIR AND SKIN CARE
Pool chemicals can take their toll on a swimmer’s hair and skin. Allowing pool chemicals to sit on your body for extended periods of time can be harmful. Your first and best defense is to take a good shampoo and soap shower immediately after practice. If standard shampoos and soaps are not effective, special products are available on the market to deal with sensitive individuals. See your coach if you need suggestions of effective hair and skin care treatments.
MEET ENTRY PROCEDURES
The Greenwood YMCA coaching staff stresses the importance of good practice habits as well as the importance of hard work. However, the staff encourages that each swimmer participate in the swim meets on a regular basis. The frequency of competition will increase as the swimmer develops his/her skills and becomes more dedicated to the sport.
- Meet information will be placed on the bulletin board, and posted on the website calendar.
The coaching staff will have final say in filling out events. Swimmer can choose events.
- For YMCA meets, many times there is NOT an entry form. Coaches will fill out events and a sign up sheet is on the team website at greenwoodgators.org.
MEET SUCCESS TIPS FOR PARENTS
Children depend upon their parents for a variety of things throughout their lives. During swimming competitions there are some very important things that you can do to help your swimmers do their very best. The following are just a few suggestions:
1. Provide the proper support. Be someone your swimmer can look to for constant positive support. Whether the outcome is wonderful or horrible, let your swimmer know that you appreciate their effort. Resist the temptation to give advice to your child, please let the coach do the coaching. After all, that is what you pay the big bucks for!
2. Provide good time management. Know what the schedule and meet format is for the weekend! This may sound silly, but you need to know what to expect going in. Figure commuting time from your home or hotel room so your swimmer can be at the pool 15 minutes before warm-ups. Find restaurants that will serve good food fast, especially after late night finals. Eat your main meal after preliminaries so you can get your swimmer home and into bed as soon as possible after finals. If the hotel has kitchen facilities, utilize them to save time and allow your swimmer more time to rest and relax.
3. Talk to the coach if you sense trouble. Coaches are very busy people at swim meets and may overlook something. Let your coach know if your child is not feeling well, had trouble sleeping or eating, or is mentally depressed. If you are not pleased with your child's swimming, discuss it with the coach, not with your swimmer. Remember you are there to provide positive support for your swimmer.
4. Take care of the details. Let your swimmer concentrate on swimming by being sure that they have the right gear, food, liquids, proper place to rest, etc. Simply having dry towels and clothes to use at the next swimming session has a calming effect.
SWIM MEET GEAR CHECKLIST FOR PARENTS
(check the Swimmers Page for a swimmers checklist)
- something to sit on (chair/cushion)
- several towels
- cash for heat sheet and souvenirs
- reading material
- snacks, drinks, cooler
- pens, highlighter
- stopwatch (for fun!)
NUTRITION FOR YOUR SWIMMER
Eating Before, During, and After Competition
The major purpose of the pre-competition diet is to ensure sufficient energy and fluid for the swimmer. Two to three days before the meet a high carbohydrate diet with plenty of fluids should be emphasized. Beware of making sudden swings in eating habits, or trying new foods during this period since this may disrupt your normal digestive rhythms. The day of the competition you should eat a light, high carbohydrate meal three to four hours before the meet begins. If you are swimming early in the morning this time frame may not be possible, so you will have to improvise. Experiment with different combinations of foods in the morning before practice or early season meets when the outcome is not crucial. That way you can figure out which foods you can tolerate when you have to swim, and how soon before you get in the water you should eat.
During the meet it is OK to snack on light, high carbohydrate foods. You do not want to eat fatty foods since they tend to sit in your stomach for longer periods of time. Ideally, your stomach should be empty when you step up on the blocks so your blood supply can be totally devoted to your muscles. Be sure to drink plenty of non-sugar, non-carbonated fluids, but again not right before you step onto the blocks. Talk to your coach to plan the proper times to eat and drink during the meet according to your event schedule.
After the meet it is important to eat a high carbohydrate meal as soon as possible after you leave the pool. Your muscles' stored energy (glycogen) will be depleted from warm-up, warm down, and racing. The sooner you can replace your muscle glycogen the better you will feel at the next session of the meet or the next day's practice.
SHOULDERS AND KNEES
At times swimmers may suffer from sore muscles or joints from overuse or poor stroke mechanics. Taking an anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen four times a day at meal time and bed time help the swimmer to recover quickly. Be aware that some children may be allergic to these medications. You should also utilize ice to help speed the healing process. You have two options for icing:
1. Ice bag for 20 minutes on the sore area(s).
2. Make ice cups by placing paper or Styrofoam cups 2/3 full of water in the freezer. To use tear off the top of
the cup and rub the ice directly on the affected area for 10 minutes. Very effective for deep penetration and relief.
You may want to contact your doctor before undertaking any icing or drug therapy for an injury. Always let your coach know if you are suffering from sore muscles or joints. Your workout regimen can always be modified to keep you in the water and let you recover at the same time.
SWIM MEET CLASSIFICATIONS
Swimming competitions may be classified by the speed of the swimmers involved or the format of the meet itself. These are some terms that you should be familiar with.
Short Course - swim meets are held in pools that are 25 yards or 25 meters long. The short course swimming season is traditionally held from September through April.
Long Course - swim meets are held in pools that are 50 meters long. The Olympics and National Championships are always held in long course pools. The long course season is traditionally held from May through August.
In Timed Finals swim meets swimmers are ranked according to their time against all swimmers in their age group in every heat. Athletes swim each event once during the course of the meet.
Preliminaries and finals (prelims/finals) type competitions involve swimming twice in one day in the same event if the swimmer qualifies for finals. Morning preliminaries are held to determine the top ten, twenty, or thirty swimmers in each event. The swimmers are then reseeded according to their preliminary time for the evening finals. In ten-lane pools the "championship" heat contains the top ten from the prelims, the "consolation" heat has the 11th through 20th place swimmers from the prelims, and the "bonus" heat has the 21st through 30th place swimmers from the morning. Swimmers may not displace a swimmer in a faster heat during the finals even if their time is faster in the evening.
Masters swim meets are always timed finals. Age groups are broken into five year increments (19-24, 25-29, 30-34, etc.). Relays are both single sex and mixed.
Open swim meets mean swimmers of any speed are eligible to compete. However, separate award systems may be utilized for swimmers of different speeds.
Time Standards may be employed to define a swimming competition. In some cases faster swimmers may be excluded from the meet, in other cases slower swimmers may be excluded. Qualifying times may be derived from the national age group "AA", "A", "BB", "B", time standards, or from formulas specific to that meet.
Age Group swim meets are specifically defined competition by age. Traditional groupings include 8 and under, 10 and under, 11-12, 13-14, and 15-18. Age group competition may also be held in "single age" groups, or "odd age" groups (ie. 10-11, 12-13).
In Senior swim meets swimmers are not grouped by age, therefore a thirteen year old may compete against a nineteen year old in the same event. In some meets both age group and senior competitions are held concurrently.