The purpose of this handbook is two fold: 1) to explain to new members just what the Fergus Falls Flyers Swim Club is all about; and 2) to outline various policies that affect all swimmers, year after year. All families should read it, so they become familiar with important facts and rules of the club.
A few items we hope will make this season our BEST season yet!
1. Safety is number one.
  •       Practice times are in pool water times and swimmers should stay until the completion of their practice. If they must leave early, they should have a note of permission from the parents. We take attendance and feel responsible for your child. Good communication is the key to safety.
  •       The locker room is a place that is not well supervised. Therefore, all swimmers should please, take short showers, turn off their showers, dress immediately and leave. As a parent, you are welcome to check on your child, and expect them to be ready to go 15 minutes after pool time ends. Our biggest worry deals with safety in the locker rooms. Also, please review the discipline policy for misbehavior in the locker room and consequences.
  •       WE ARE GUESTS HERE... use common sense.... Let’s help each other and practice the 'Golden Rule'.
  •       Communicate any problems/questions you may have, to the any of the coaches or any of the board members!
2. Teach and Have Fun.
  •       We will be working on stroke drills, starts, and turns.
  •       Don’t expect an instant miracle... I just hope we can improve our skills and make swimming easier and, most of all FUN!
  •       Goggles - takes time to get used to them. BUT they are worthwhile.
Competitive swimming programs provide many benefits to young athletes, including self-discipline, good sportsmanship, and time management skills. Competition allows the swimmer to experience success and to learn to deal with defeat, while becoming healthy and physically fit. As a parent, your major responsibility is to provide a stable, loving, and supportive environment. This positive environment will encourage your child to continue. Show your interest by ensuring your child's attendance at practices, and by coming to swimming meets.
Parents serve as role models and their children often emulate their attitudes. Be aware of this and strive to be positive models. Most importantly, show good sportsmanship at all times toward coaches, officials, opponents and teammates.
The FFF adheres to the Minnesota State High School League guide for Parents on Sportsmanship. See, click on sportsmanship.
Be enthusiastic and supportive!
Remember that your child is the swimmer. Children need to establish their own goals, and make their own progress towards those goals. Be careful not to impose your own standards and goals. Do not over burden your child with winning or achieving best times. Learning about themselves while enjoying the sport is the most important part of the swimming experience. The swimming environment encourages learning and fun that will help your child develop a positive self-image.
Let the Coach, coach!
The best way to help your child achieve goals and reduce the natural fear of failure is through positive reinforcement. No one likes to make a mistake. If your child does make one, remember that this is a learning experience. Encourage your child's efforts and point out the positive things. The coach is the only one qualified to judge a swimmer's performance and technique. Your role is to provide support.
.... Reprinted from the Parents' Handbook, United States Swimming
The following clubs make up the NLC:
Alexandria, Bemidji, Fergus Falls, Morris, Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, Perham
The NLC was formed to give our swimmers the opportunity to participate in meets, in our area, without having to travel a great distance. Many weekend meets are held quite a distance away, and because of our location; regular participation in most weekend meets is not always practical. Our association allows us the opportunity for sanctioned swim meets, on a regular basis, a little less formal than the weekend meets, and closer to home.
Regular season swim meets with the swim clubs in the NLC are usually held on weekday evenings. These meets are open to all swimmers regardless of achieved times. Each swimmer may swim in a maximum of 4 individual events or, any combination of relays and individual events up to 5.
In addition to the regular season NLC meets, there are weekend meets in Minnesota and North Dakota. Currently registered USA Swimming swimmers can compete in these meets at their own expense. Weekend swim meet participation is strictly voluntary. They usually last two days, and give swimmers more opportunities to achieve qualifying times for the State Meets at the end of the season. They are also a lot of fun! 
Swimmers must register for weekend meets, 1-2 weeks prior to the meet. A fee is charged to your account at the time of registration to cover the events in which the swimmer will participate. This type of meet is called a pre-seeded meet. When the swimmer arrives at the meet; events, with swimmers listed by heats, with lane assignments are printed in a program. The host club sells these programs.
Information about weekend meets will be made available as we receive it. The coaches will remind swimmers of upcoming meets, and copies of meet information will be posted on the team’s web page.
Each family is responsible for their own transportation to the weekend meets.
A. Coaches have the authority to discipline swimmers on the first offense for:
                                1. Disrespect towards coaching staff
                                2. Locker room misconduct
                                3. Misbehavior on the bus
                                4. Fighting
                                5. Bullying
B. If the offense occurs during practice, the swimmer will be suspended from practice. If at a meet, the swimmer will be suspended for the rest of the meet and the next meet. In addition:
                                1. A report will be written up by the coach and filed.
                                2. The coach or board notifies parents.
            C. A second offense is brought before the board immediately.
A. The parents and the board will be notified immediately for misconduct of a moral nature, such as:
                                1. Stealing
                                2. Sexual Misconduct
                                3. Use of drugs or alcohol
                                4. Smoking
B. These actions may result in suspension for the rest of the season
on the first offense.
A.   Swimmers must practice 3 of 4 days prior to a meet. 
B.   An exception would be if a swimmer misses practice because of a camp that stresses physical fitness and at least some swimming. In addition, the parents verifying the conditioning of the swimmer and relief of responsibility if injury occurs from lack of conditioning must fill out a form.
What are they? On the website you will find a link to the current Minnesota Time Standards. There are 2 Time Standards; Short Course (25 yard pools) and Long Course (50 meter pools). The Fergus Falls pool is a 25-yard pool or short course. Most of the pools we will swim are 25 yard, short course pools. The Island Park  and U of M pools are 50 meter, long course pools. Most of the end of season Summer State Meets are held in long course pools.
Time Standards list the various strokes and distances. The Time Standards are then divided according to sex and age group.
The Time Standards list "C", "B", "A", "Champ", and "Zone" times. For example, if your swimmer is an 11 year-old boy and he swims the 100-yd. backstroke in 1:37:89, he would have a "C" time in short course. If your swimmer were a 13 year-old girl who swims the 100-meter butterfly in 1:14.24, she would have a champ time in long course time standards. 
Time Standards are the times your swimmer must achieve to qualify for various State Swim Meets at the end of the season. To qualify for the "C" finals meet, a swimmer must have swam the stroke at least once during the season, and achieved a "C" time but not faster than a "C" time.  To qualify for the "MRC" finals meet, the swimmer must have attained at least a "B" or "A" time,  but not faster, in the stroke.  Meet information will identify the meet type, and inform you of qualifying time standards.
Help your child set and meet realistic goals. Try for a "C" time - then try for a "B" time. Do not get discouraged if they do not achieve an "A" time, it's a high goal.
It is very important to keep track of your swimmer's times from the swim meets. Times from swim meets are posted on the website under My Account/My Meet Results. You can cross-reference your swimmers times with the Time Standards to see where he or she stands. If you need assistance with this, ask for help.
The USA Swimming (USS) age group program is America's largest program of guided fitness activity for children. Age group swimming builds a strong foundation for a lifetime of good health, by teaching healthy fitness habits.
Many physicians and pediatricians consider swimming the ideal activity for developing muscular and skeletal growth. Why do doctors like it so much?
Swimming develops high quality aerobic endurance, the most important key to physical fitness. In other sports an hour of practice may yield as little as 10 minutes of meaningful exercise. Age group swimming teams use every precious minute of practice time developing fitness and teaching skills.
Swimming does a better job in proportional muscular development by using all the body's major muscle groups. No other sport does this as well.
Swimming enhances children's natural flexibility (at a time when they ordinarily begin to lose it) by exercising all of their major joints, through a full range of motion.
Swimming helps develop superior coordination because it requires combinations of complex movements of all parts of the body.
Swimming is the most injury free of all children's sports.
Swimming will bring enjoyment for a lifetime.
Parts reprinted from "A Tradition of Excellence" by USA Swimming
USA Swimming (USS) is the National Governing Body for amateur competitive swimming in the United States. 
As the National Governing Body for the sport, USS is charged with the responsibility to formulate rules, conduct national championships, disseminate safety and sports medicine information, select competitors to represent this country in international competition, insure the development of its' member clubs and age group swimmers.
Sixty-six percent (66%) of the revenues of the USS budget come from registration dues from athletes and membership fees from non-athletes and clubs. 
Year round athletes pay an annual registration fee of $58.00. Seasonal athletes pay the fee of $38.00. Athletes receive a membership card and have both liability and secondary medical insurance coverage.
The Fergus Falls Flyers are a club member of USA by paying the national fee of $100.00. Membership benefits include USA Rules and Regulations, membership certificate and certificate of insurance. Clubs joining USS have liability insurance coverage for approved insured activities.
USA is the ruling body of sanctioned swimming meets in the United States. USA meets are designed to protect the swimmer, provide fair and equitable conditions of competition, and promote uniformity in the sport so that no swimmer shall obtain an unfair advantage over another.
The coaches' job is to supervise the entire competitive swim program. The Fergus Falls Flyers coaching staff is dedicated to providing a program for youngsters that will enable them to learn the value of striving to improve oneself, "to be the best you can be”. Therefore, the coaches must be in total control in matters affecting training and competition.
1.   The coaches are responsible for placing swimmers in practice groups. This is based on the age and ability level of each individual. When it is in the best interest of a swimmer, he/she will be placed in a more challenging training group by the coach.
2.   Sole responsibility for stroke instruction and the training regimen rests with the Fergus Falls Flyers Swim Club coaching staff. Each group’s practices are based on sound scientific principles and are geared to the specific goals of that group.
3.   At meets, the coaching staff will conduct and supervise warm-up procedures for the team. After each race, the coaches will offer constructive criticism regarding the swimmers performance. (It is the parent's job to offer love and understanding regardless of their youngster's performance)
4.   The building of a relay team is the sole responsibility of the coaching staff. It is the swimmers and parents' responsibility to make the most out of the excellent opportunity this program provides for success in swimming.
The four competitive strokes are:
(1)     Freestyle
(2)     Backstroke
(3)     Breaststroke and
(4)     Butterfly
Events are held in all of the competitive strokes at varying distances depending on the age of the swimmer. In addition, there is the individual medley event in which the swimmer swims all of the strokes. Other swimming events include relays, in which a group of four swimmers either all swim freestyle (freestyle relay) or each swims one of the four competitive strokes in the following order backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle (medley relay).
The swimmers are not allowed a false start. If they jump the start and the starter or referee thinks they were trying to get an advantage (whether intentional or not it doesn’t matter), they will be taken out of the race. This is not like the Olympics, where swimmers are allowed two false starts.
Turns and finishes
1. Freestyle: hands or feet must touch the wall; on turns, at finish.
2. Backstroke: swimmers must be on their back when they touch the wall. After he/she touches he/she can then turn around, but he/she must push off on their back. At the finish a swimmer must finish on his/her back. A swimmer may not roll over and grab the wall until they have first touched it while on their back.
3. Breaststroke and Butterfly:
A. Swimmers must touch the wall with both hands at the same time, on turns and finish.
B. A swimmer may not freestyle kick off the wall in either breaststroke or butterfly.
C. When swimming butterfly or breaststroke, both arms must move at the same time.
D. When swimming breaststroke, arms may never go past the waist, when pulling back.
Swim meets are a great family experience! They're a place where the whole family can spend time together. Listed below are some very in depth guidelines geared to help you through your first couple of swim meets. It may seem a little overwhelming, but we tried to be as specific and as detailed as we possibly could.
Before the Meet Starts
1.   Arrive at the pool just before the scheduled warm up time begins. This time can be found on the website. 
2.   Upon arrival, find a place to put your swim bag. The team usually sits in one place together, so look for some familiar faces.
3.   Swimmers should find the Coach and check in. Coach will tell you where to go and what to do.
4.   Once "checked in", write each event number on the swimmer's hand/forearm/wrist in permanent ink (something that isn't going to come off right away in the water). This helps him/her remember what events he/she is swimming and what event number to listen for.  We will have volunteers to assist with this.
5.        The swimmer now gets his/her cap and goggles and reports to the pool and/or coach for warm up instructions. It is very important for all swimmers to warm up with the team. Swimmer's bodies are just like cars on a cold day, he/she needs to get the engine going and warmed up before he/she can go all out.
6.        After warm up, the swimmer will go back to the area where his/her towels are and sit there until the next event is called. This is a time for bathroom breaks, food, drinks and rest before the next event.
7.    The meet will usually start about 10 -15 minutes after warm ups are over.
8.   According to USA rules (because of insurance purposes), parents are not allowed on deck unless they are serving in an official capacity. Similarly, all questions concerning meet results, an officiating call, or the conduct of a meet, should be referred to the coaching staff. They, in turn, will pursue the matter through the proper channels.
9.   Meet Program. For Weekend Meets a meet program is usually available for sale in the lobby or concession area of the pool. Programs sell for between $5.00 - $10.00. It lists all swimmers in each event in order of "seed time". When the team entry is sent in, each swimmer and his/her previous best time in that event is listed. If the swimmer is swimming an event for the first time, he/she will be entered as a "no time" or "NT". A "no time" swimmer will swim in one of the first heats of the event.
The Meet Starts:
1.   It is important for any swimmer to know what event numbers he/she is swimming (again, that is why they should have the numbers on their hand). He/she may swim right away after warm up or they may have to wait awhile.
2.   A swimmer's event number will be called, usually over the loudspeaker. Swimmers should report with his/her cap and goggle. Generally, girls events are odd numbered and boys events are even numbered.
3. The swimmer swims their race.
4.   After each swim:
A.  He/she should ask the timers (people behind the blocks at each lane) his/her time.
B.  He/she should go immediately to their coach. The coach will ask him/her their time and discuss the swim with each swimmer.
C. Generally, the coach follows these guidelines when discussing swims:
a.  Positive comments or praise
b.  Suggestions for improvement
c.   Positive comments
5.   Things you, as a parent, can do after each swim:
A.    Tell your swimmer(s) how great they did! The coaching staff will be sure to discuss stroke technique with them. You need to tell him/her how proud you are and what a great job he/she did.
B.     Have your swimmer go to an area to relax.
C.     This is another good time to check out the bathrooms, get a drink or something light to eat.
D.     The swimmer now waits until his/her next event is called and starts the procedure again, as above in 3A.
6.    When a swimmer has completed all of his/her events, he/she and their parents get to go home. Make sure, however, you, as a parent, check with the coach before leaving to make sure your swimmer is not included on a relay. 
What happens…….If Your Child has a Disappointing Swim?
If your child has a poor race and comes out of it feeling bad, talk about the good things. The first thing you say is, "Hey, you did your best." Then you can go on and talk about the good things the child did. You never should emphasize the negative things. If your child comes up to you and says, "That was a bad race, don't tell me it wasn't," there is nothing wrong with a swimmer negatively evaluating a race. The important thing is for the child not to dwell on it. You should move the swimmer on to something good. "All right, you had a bad race. How do you think you can do better next time?" Immediately start talking about the positive things.
1. Most important: Swim Suit and goggles and cap
2. Towels -- your swimmer will be there awhile, so pack at least two.
3. Something to sit on. Example: sleeping bag, old blanket, or anything that will be comfortable to sit on. The swimmers will be spending a lot of time on it. (This is for weekend meets-mainly)
4. Sweat suits: bring one. Each swimmer may want to bring two because they can get wet and soggy.(Weekend Meets)
5. T-shirts: Two or three. Same reason as above.
6. Games: travel games, coloring books, books, anything to pass the time.
7.  Food: Each swimmer is usually allowed to bring a small cooler. They usually have concessions at the meet. Suggestions for items to bring: Drinks: Hi-C, fruit juice, Gatorade. Snacks: Granola bars, Fun fruits, yogurt, cereal, Jell-O cubes, sandwiches.
Once you have attended one or two meets this will all become routine. Please do not hesitate to ask any other Fergus Falls Flyers Swim parent for help or information!
These meets are a lot of fun for the swimmers! They get to visit with their friends, play games, and meet kids from other teams. They also get to "race" and see how much they have improved from all the hard work put in at practice.
Special Parent's Note
The pool area is usually very warm. Therefore, you need to make sure you dress appropriately. Nothing is worse than being hot at a swim meet. It makes the time pass very slowly!