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The Season

The Riptide Swim Team is divided into 4 separate competing teams (2 boys teams, 2 girls teams). Each team competes against other YMCAs within its own division of the NJ YMCA Swim League.

The YMCA winter swim season consists of 4 to 6 dual meets beginning in October and ending in January. Each dual meet provides an opportunity for Riptide swimmers to compete against another team of similar ranking. Meets are normally held on weekends, and starting times for meets vary. A swimmer's age group is determined by his/her age as of December 1.

There are also numerous opportunities to enter "invitational" meets and gain experience in many types of events. (In a "dual meet," two teams compete head-to-head. In an "invitational" meet, many teams participate simultaneously.) Some invitationals may require qualifying times, and most require a small fee for each event entered. When Riptide attends an invitational, it will be posted to the website in advance, and parents will be notified by email. Parents are responsible for registering swimmers for these meets through our website.

The regular season ends with the YMCA State Championship meets in February. The culminating event of the season is the SunKissed Invitational Jr/Sr Championships of the USA in April.

Weekly dual meets focus on the team concept. Team spirit, cheering for teammates, positive attitude, and good sportsmanship contribute to the success of the meet, the team, and each of the swimmers.

Parental support, too, is essential, as all efforts for set-up, running the meet, clean-up, and additional meet activities come from our parents. Historically, we have had a wonderful group of parents at RVY whose helpfulness has made season after season productive and successful, as well as pleasant and social.


Mini Meets

Some invitationals are designated for younger swimmers (usually 6–9 years old). These meets will be posted along with other meets on our website. A swimmer enters events for his/her individual age group. Swimmers at Mini Meets compete not in groups by age, but only against swimmers of the same age. There are no qualifying times.


Nationals

The SunKissed Invitational Jr/Sr Championships of the USA should ultimately be every swimmer's long- or short-term goal. This meet is usually held in early April in Charlotte, NC. Raritan Valley is very proud of the fact that our participation on the National Team has historically involved approximately 30% of our swimmers in any given season.

This meet is designed to give the opportunity to compete to many more swimmers than comparable national-level meets. In other words this meet gives swimmers, who otherwise may never encounter this experience, the opportunity to travel to, and compete in, a big four-day meet. The qualifying times are attainable goals for most junior swimmers (age 10 to 13) and senior swimmers (14 and up). Qualifying times may change from year to year, but the most recent qualifying times can be found on our Nationals page.

If going to Nationals is one of a swimmer's goals this season, then it is imperative that the swimmer takes the appropriate steps on his/her way toward making the qualifying times. Initially, each swimmer must make the commitment to attend practices and work hard. After making this commitment, swimmers must give themselves every opportunity, over the course of the season, to swim the events in which they are trying to qualify. This means attending as many meets as possible. This is especially important for swimmers in the 10-12 age group, for they are only swimming 50 yard stroke events in dual meets, as opposed to the 100 yard stroke events, 200-yard events, and 500-yard freestyle (all of which are swum at SunKissed). Seniors also must give themselves the opportunity to swim in events they may not normally swim in dual meets, such as 200-yard stroke events, 400 IM and 500/1000-yard freestyles.

After an intense training program from early February to early April, the team travels together and attends the meet sessions together as a team. Parents, meanwhile, are assigned to chaperone duties for meals, afternoon and evening patrols, as well as timing and officiating duties at the meet. All of these responsibilities are divided evenly among the parents, most of whom usually attend the meet.


Swim Meet Tips

All swimmers are required to wear the team suit at meets and, if a swimmer chooses to wear a cap, it must be a team cap. Although goggles are not required, they are highly recommended.

Attending invitational meets is a very different experience from attending dual meets. The following is a list of dos and don'ts to help make this experience a rewarding one:

  • Be sure that swimmers always check in with a coach as soon as they arrive. Many meets have strict rules requiring coaches to "scratch" swimmers if they aren't present. This means being removed permanently from the meet. If the coach doesn't see you, you may be scratched! Also, you must arrive before the start of your session's FIRST warm-up, even though Riptide may be scheduled to warm-up later. Scratches are often due quickly after warm-up begins, so arriving at the last minute may mean you will be removed from the meet.
  • Find the seating area. Due to concerns over space, some meets may not allow swimmers to sit next to the pool, or keep their bags there. A gym or other nearby space may be designated for this.
  • Make sure swimmers know their event number, heat, and lane. Also, know what event comes before yours--events don't always run in numerical order. Nothing is more disappointing than a swimmer missing an event because he/she wasn't paying attention or aware that an event was approaching. Coaches will attempt to give swimmers a warning that their event is coming soon, but this isn't always possible. Swimmers are responsible for being present for their own events.
  • Bring a sleeping bag or blanket for your swimmer to rest on. It is sometimes a long wait between events.
  • Bring several towels—one is frequently not enough.
  • Be sure your swimmer has warm clothes (sweats) to wear. Staying warm is important to performance, and seating areas are frequently cool and/or drafty.
  • Diet and nutrition are important to a swimmer's success. Ensure that your swimmer eats a healthy breakfast. Snacks between events should be healthy, such as high energy foods and juice rather than candy and soda. It is important that swimmers stay hydrated; therefore, a water bottle is absolutely necessary. Check out some of our featured articles regarding swimmer health and nutrition.
  • Swimmers do better if they bring something to do while waiting between races. Bring a book, cards, etc. to keep them occupied. Try to avoid expensive items, such as video games and smartphones, unless you can secure it while the swimmer is not using it.
  • Most of all, encourage your swimmer to put forth his/her best effort. Swimming in the big meets provides a level of competition that often spurs swimmers to new personal bests. Cheer them on! But be supportive, not critical. This sport is often stressful. Swimmers may put more pressure on themselves than you realize, and disappointing races will occasionally be mixed in with the triumphant ones. Swimmers will want to know that you support them no matter what!