Frequently Asked Questions about Sandsharks and USA Swimming

What is your philosophy? Why should my child join a USA Swim Team?

Developmental philosophy: We follow USA Swimming’s and the USOC’s Athlete Development Model, which encourages multi-sport participation with an emphasis on fun for 12/under athletes.  We expect our younger athletes to participate in additional sports and see swimming as a healthy part of their growth and development. As they get older, both elite track and recreational options are available. Additional information about this model—and both parent & athlete expectations—is available under Team Info.

Professionalism: All coaches are members of USA Swimming and take multiple classes and certifications. Our Head and Senior coaches are full time employees of Sandsharks. We are governed by USA Swimming & our Local Swimming Committee (LSC), NC Swimming. We follow Safe Sport guidelines & developmentally appropriate coaching guidelines. We are a non-profit with an outstanding Board of committed members representing a wealth of information about the sport of swimming and youth development.

No one gets benched: One of the greatest things about competitive swimming is that all swimmers compete against those of similar abilities at meets—from the newest and youngest to the oldest and college-oriented fastest.  Events are divided into heats and heats are seeded by swimmers’ times, so each swimmer races against kids with almost the same times.

Swimming teaches commitment and long term goal setting: Kids benefit most when sticking with their commitment—whatever the level—and practicing and competing with integrity.  Consistency over time yields rewards not just in the water, but in life—grit, doing what’s hard when you don’t feel like it, failing and trying again and learning from mistakes.

Developing a swimmer is a long-term goal and partnership with our parents—Our mission statement is to help swimmers achieve their potential as senior swimmers. Our practice schedule and expectations reflect this goal. It’s not about next week, but who your child will be in 10 years.  Parents are expected to get swimmers to practices and meets regularly to help achieve these goals.

Swimming is a team AND individual sport. Swimming lets kids develop fantastic friendships. Showing up regularly for practice cements these friendships—kids need their lane mates to push them and to have fun. And swim meets—a huge part of development—are tons of fun when friends are there! Kids drive their own development; those who want to practice more and advance faster, can.

There’s a recreational option: USA Swimming’s Flex Swim program provides a recreational option—2 practices a week and two meets a year for kids who want to roll in and roll out of swimming, or have it as a second sport.

What’s most important is picking the commitment level that’s right for your child and supporting him/her in maintaining that level of commitment, whether it’s 2 X week in the winter for a flex swimmer, or 7 X a week as a senior swimmer looking to swim in college.

How do I know if my child is a good fit for swim team?

If kids are enthusiastic about swimming and can swim one length of the pool, then swim team can be a good fit. The ability to take group instruction is important. Some kindergarteners thrive; others benefit from waiting until age 6 or 7.

My child is older.  Can he/she still join the team?

Yes! Our squads have suggested ages and we are able to work with beginners of all ages.

When are practices?

After school for our youngest swimmers (3:45), later for older ones.  Our senior squad practices before school. Age Group swimmers do not practice on Saturdays.  See practice schedule/squad descriptions for more information; some accommodations are possible.

How much does it cost and how many practices a week do kids attend?

Depending on commitment and squad level, from $95-270/month and 2-7 practices a week.  A registration fee covers the team outfit, USA Swimming annual membership, and a portion of admin costs. Practices start at 1.25 hrs and go to 2 hrs for senior swimmers.

How often and where do you compete?

We attend meets at least once a month; families pick the meets/days (many meets are Sat/Sun, but you decide which day/days you attend). Most meets are 1 to 1.5 hours away; times vary, but each session of a meet can only last 4 hours.  Sometimes swimmers are divided into 12/under and 13/over sessions within a meet. Other times, all ages compete in the same session. We attend meets at the Triangle Aquatic Center (Cary), UNC-CH, the Greensboro Aquatic Center, UNC-W, ECU, NC State, and Y’s in Winston-Salem, High Point, and Kernersville.  Occasionally we go to meets in SC or VA. Occasionally we can offer informal meets at our own pool.

The pool is outdoors. Where do you go in the wintertime?

We stay! In 2018, Sandsharks bought a dome to cover the pool and a pool heater to heat the water.  We also installed bathroom heaters, commercial showers, and hot water lines. The pool heater is turned on as soon as the water temperature warrants it (early October) and the dome will go up by late October/early November.  It comes down early April. A heating system keeps the air warm and the pool heater is set to 82 degrees, so our youngest are comfortable.

What is the Capital Campaign?

The cost of running our swim team and maintaining the facility is partially subsidized by our aquatics and the Open Water swim meets we host in June and Sept. Dues do not cover the full cost of swim team participation (as is the case for almost all swim teams).  The Capital Campaign is a standard way of bringing in funds to pay for the dome, heaters, equipment, and pool renovations costs (lane lines, blocks, pool blankets, electrical, plumbing). Many families find it easy to support this campaign through fundraisers, our annual Swim -A-Thon, and Open Water and team sponsorships. Swim a thon and other donations are tax deductible.

What is Open Water? Why do I need to help?

The Sandhills Sandsharks hosts NC Swimming’s Carolina Cup Open Water Invitational in September as part of NC Swimming and SC Swimming Open Water Select Camp, held at Lake Echo in Seven Lakes North. We host a much larger meet, NC Swimming’s Open Water State Champs, in June. These two races bring in significant revenue to support our competitive program.  We need every family to provide a volunteer to make the race successful and safe—we had over 700 splashes in our last June race throughout the day. Most teams require multiple days of volunteering at meets they host to raise revenues; we run 2 open water meets a year instead.

What else do I need to pay for?

Equipment Practice suits, goggles, equipment listed on the squad information page.  Good deals can be found through All American Swim (our sponsor) and through additional websites, such as Swim Outlet.  Going with brands such as Speedo, Nike, TYR, Finis, is a good bet for decent quality.  “Grab bag” suits are a great way to get inexpensive suits at any online swim store, once you know your child’s size.  Expensive suits and gear don’t make kids successful—consistency, meet attendance, and work ethic do.

WeightTraining/Crossfit for Pre 1 and Sr squads. We have an agreement with Southern Pines Crossfit; many of our families have memberships at different gyms already.

Swim meets are billed through the website; costs are listed on the meet info document on the meets page under Team Events.  Meets require a facility fee, which goes to the facility owner, then entry fees for each event, which go to the host team.  Total fees range from $30/day to $60+/2-3 days.  Families select the sessions (days) swimmer will attend and coaches pick the events. Once entries are sent in for a meet, typically 10 days before the meet, teams are responsible for all submitted entries, per NC Swimming rules. There are limits to the number of swimmers in a meet so meets can keep to an approved timeline. Late entries often require double entry fees, too.  Even if you can’t make the meet, you’ll still be billed if you committed to it.

Travel/Hotel fees are for older swimmers who opt to take the team van to swim meets with the coaches. We provide travel when parents can’t.  Usually, team travel is available just for 13/over, but sometimes for 11/12’s as well—it depends on the meet set up, as the senior coach follows the 13/over meet schedule.  Travel fees range from $15-30 for 1-3 days; hotel fees are based on total cost of swimmers’ rooms/ total number of swimmers on a nightly basis (so kids 3 to room do not pay more than kids 4 to a room).

How does my child get to be on a faster squad?

Coaches move swimmers up when it is developmentally appropriate and both a want and a need of the swimmer. Being the fastest in a group is not the primary reason for advancement—age, maturity, commitment, technique, drive, and the ability to handle the sets (reading the clock, understanding workouts) matter more.