Welcome to the “Everything You Wanted To Know About Club Swimming” blog

We are taking questions that YOU, our members, ask and providing answers, or at least direction, to your inquiries.

If you come up with a question, feel free to post it via Google Forms at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd24CKGOnIcuKziPfB9OhoGL325yocGW_JOdvB-YA02_3j0Sg/viewform

Each week one of the coaches will tackle the questions and we’ll send out the responses to the entire team so everyone can benefit. Questions will be anonymous, so no one will know who asked them! (Some questions will be combined or edited for clarity)

August , 2021
This week’s questions were answered by Coach Chris

Is there a way we can know a practice was cancelled due to weather before arriving?

Yes, there is! Both sites use the “Remind” app (not Twitter) to send out immediate information when we cannot access the website or when we need to get info out in a hurry – like when the weather changes and we nave to cancel/shorten practice. You do not have to download the app. You only have to “opt in” to receive these texts. Information on how to do this is posted on our website under the “For Parents” tab > FAQ – Remind App Notifications.

Here is a quick link: https://www.teamunify.com/SubTabGeneric.jsp?team=sebarsc&_stabid_=189255

Can the Blue group swimmers come any day Monday -Friday that they want to? And can they change which days they want to come week to week?
Except for the Green group, swimmers in the other groups may choose to attend practices any day that they are offered. We do this to help families juggle their schedules. Since those schedules can change week to week, changing the days a swimmer attends a practice may change, also.

For the Blue and Silver groups, we recognize that most swimmers only attend an average of about 3 times per week. For the PreSenior and Senior groups, more attendance is encouraged, as these swimmers are putting a greater focus on their swimming and need the additional training time to keep up.

When creating the curriculum for each group, the coaches will change which strokes or skills are emphasized each day on a week-to-week basis. Therefore, in the course of a month a swimmer will have the opportunity to get instruction on all skills even if he or she comes on the same days each week.

Is there a way to get my child extra practice in one specific skill or movement that doesn't seem to be improving with group practice?

Some children pick up certain skills more quickly than others. That is normal in any learning environment. Therefore, I counsel to be cautious about evaluating your child as being so deficient in a skill that he/she is in need of special, extra coaching.

That being said, if your child has expressed concerns about struggling with a stroke or skill, please feel free to contact the child’s coach to determine if extra tutoring is truly needed. Sometimes the coach may be able to pay a little more attention in practice to the concern the swimmer has in order to get them “over the hump” with a skill.

So, what if the coach agrees that some extra, private lessons are called for? Here’s where we get into a conundrum: Both pools we operate out of (FHP, KAC) do not allow for people to make outside income using their facilities. In other words, we cannot schedule private lessons there. If there is another facility available, then it would be the coach’s prerogative to agree to take on that added lesson with their schedule at a price mutually agreed upon with the parent.

My daughter wants to start swimming in meets, but we've never done that process before and we need some guidance. Can you walk us through how to get involved in our first meet?

Outstanding! Meets are great place to have fun with her friends and see where her progress is with her swimming! Swimmers in all of our practice groups are eligible to compete. We encourage our them to participate in meets, as that helps give them a focus as to why they are doing all this “stuff” in practice.

If she feels hesitant about signing up for a meet, have her talk with her coach to see if he thinks that she is ready. Not only will that help her learn to advocate for herself with adult authority figures, it will give the coach an opportunity to either affirm her goal or to direct her as to what she needs to do if she’s not quite ready to compete.

Now it’s time to sign up!

There is a video on the website explaining the procedure. It is under the “BSC Videos” tab > “How To Sign Up For A Swim Meet”
Here is a quick link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-xtxDjpfzo

Please note: We only open up meets once we have received the meet information so you know what you are signing up for. Once the meet has been opened to sign up, there will be an “Edit Commitment “ button on the meet page.

How do we get feedback on how our kids are progressing (and acting!) when we never see the coaches? How can we get updates about progress and potential to progress?

With the restrictions in place to keep people off the pool deck during practice, we realize that it is not as convenient as walking up to a coach after practice to inquire about your child. However, we are happy to discuss your child’s progress – and any other questions you may have. (Hint: If your child is behaving particularly badly where we need your guidance/input/support, we will contact you!).

There are several ways you can facilitate this:

1. Email the coach. You can find all of our email addresses on the team website. Go to the “About Our Club” tab > Contact Us
2. Set up a time to call and talk with a coach over the phone. You may do this by email or text.
3. Set up a time to talk with a coach before or after practice. Please be aware that during practice times our focus needs to be on the swimmers in the pool. Sometimes a coach may go immediately from running one practice group to running another. If your child is in that first practice group, it may not be feasible for a coach to talk with you immediately after his practice. In that case, one of the other options may be used.

As a further note: We are not trying to hide anything we are doing at practice. At Freedom Hall, parents have the ability to observe practice from outside, using the large windows surrounding the pool. At the Kingsport Aquatic Center (currently) parents may observe from the lobby or from the balcony bleacher area. At Sullivan South pool, parents may observe from the outside doors.

September 20, 2021

This week's questions were answered by Coach Chris

One of my friend's kid want to join the school team but only has time for club practice time. Can the kid stick to the club swimming but still register for the school team? How often does the school team have meets with other schools?

The club team and the school teams are two different programs. A child can do both during the same period of time. However, the attendance policies for the school team are set by that team’s coach. Since I’m not sure which school your friend’s child would swim for, I suggest that they ask the coach of that school team what his practice requirements will be. The school coach will also be able to let you know the school’s meet schedule.

When the kids are swimming on Middle/high school swim team, what happens to the monthly dues during the months there is school swim season? Will the monthly dues cease until the school swim season is over?

As was mentioned in the answer above, the club team and the school teams are separate programs. If a child elects to swim on the high school/middle school team, the family has three options:

1. Continue to take advantage of the club meets and practices (and continue paying the club fees).

2. Elect to drop off the club for the duration of the school season. One could not then swim in any club meets nor participate in any practices held exclusively for the club. (You will have to inform our office manager of this choice. We will not automatically stop your fees.) NOTE: It is team policy that if a child swims for the Barracudas for part of a month, fees are owed for the entire month.

3. Continue to support the team financially by paying the monthly fees, even though you may elect not to participate in any club meets. (This is particularly relevant to the Johnson City site, as the reason that the coaches there can also coach the high school/middle school is that they are being paid a living wage by the club.)

Each family needs to make the decision that is best for their children, their schedule and their financial situation.

Can we find out what stroke(s) are practiced each day? My swimmer will miss at least one day of the week and that day varies. I don't want to miss the same stroke practice each week. 

You will need to inquire from your child’s coach. The coaches do have a general plan in place for the season. However, based on practice and meet performances, weather disruptions, or just a recognition that a certain stroke or skill needs more attention than was originally planned for, the curriculum can be modified at the coach’s discretion. Therefore, a season-long schedule is probably not going to be available.

Can you offer guidance/suggested routines for dryland workouts that complement their time in the pool? (I'm a novice parent to a blue team swimmer who is looking to up her game and focus solely on swim as her physical activity. She has goals of competing in her first meet by end of this year. )

That is a  great goal that your daughter has! Our Blue swimmers have a wide age range, though most tend to be younger. Her individual coach would be able to better address what specifically she needs to help her reach her goals.

After we sign up to swim in a meet, where and how do we pay the meet fees?

Once the club sends in its entries for a meet, a list is sent to our Office Manager for billing purposes. The amount you owe is added to your account. If you have elected to pay by credit card or bank draft, that amount will automatically be paid to the club. If you have elected to pay by check, the amount you owe will be shown on your account statement, which comes to you via email at the beginning of each month. Just send a check to the club.

We post the amount you will owe for each meet on the meet page on our website so you know beforehand how much you will owe.

Can you explain what factors in to when a swimmer gets moved up to the next level?

Moving up to the next practice group involves a combination of stroke technique mastery, mental maturity, endurance, level of commitment, age and social group. The coaches want to be sure that the technique basics are there before moving a child to a group where more advanced techniques will be taught. For example, moving from our Green to Blue groups requires knowing the freestyle and backstroke; moving from Blue to Silver requires knowing those two strokes plus breaststroke and butterfly.

The maturity of the swimmer is also taken into account. Since practices are sometimes longer in the upper levels, the ability to stay on task and follow directions becomes more necessary. The longer practices will also mean that a swimmer’s stamina needs to be taken into account.

As a swimmer gets ready to move from the Silver to PreSenior group or the PreSenior to Senior group, the coach will discuss the level of commitment needed to be successful and not fall behind in those groups. If a child is not ready for that level of commitment, it may be best to remain in the lower group – still having fun and improving – until his/her commitment level catches up with his/her physical abilities.

Because mental maturity and physical fitness tend to increase as a child gets older, age does play a factor. Another factor that the coaches may consider is the social group that the child is in. If we see a group of swimmers who are great friends and enjoy being with each other, we may elect to move that whole group up at one time in order to keep them together. That group bonding goes a long way in keeping the sport fun for them!

My daughter raised a point worth hearing more about. Her last Coach focused very heavily on stroke. Conditioning was important, but he placed more emphasis on stroke details. She feels the opposite is true on the Barracudas, i.e. more emphasis on conditioning. True or not true? What is your general philosophy in bringing up a junior swimmer? What is the correct balance? Does it change by the swimmer's group?
We take a long-term approach to the swimmers’ participation in the sport. As such, we do emphasize technique throughout our program. Even at the National level, the swimmers still are trying to improve their technique and doing stroke drills and taking time in practice to accomplish this.

There are two ways to get faster in our sport: One is to be more efficient (technique) and the other is to be in better shape (training). We work on both sides of that equation. You are correct that the balance changes as an athlete moves through the program.

The more beginner swimmers obviously are just learning the sport and the majority of their time is focused on technique. As a swimmer progresses through the program, the training side of the equation increases. Especially in the PreSenior and Senior groups, the amount of training vs. technique does change based on the time of the year (more technique earlier in the season) and the competency of the swimmer (more proficient swimmers can train more without losing their efficiency).

Since I know who wrote this, I can understand that your daughter may feel that she is spending more time on the training end than with technique. Some of that may be due to her joining later in the LC season and/or hitting more training days than technique days so far this fall. Have her talk with me if she has concerns.

We just registered for our first non-summer event. When will we know details of the event like meet order / times? Also are there other coordinated activities like team hotel etc?

Congratulations on your first meet! It will be both fun and confusing – but keep asking those questions that come up.

When a meet is open for sign-up on our website, a copy of the meet information is also published on that meet page. While some things may change due to meet logistics, the general order of events will stay the same. You will be able to read through that meet info to find out which events are being held on which day. The general times of the meet will also be listed, thought those could be adjusted based on the number of swimmers who enter the meet and how long each session will last.

One caveat: The event starting times on any timeline are not definitive. In other words, if a timeline says an event will start at 1:43 PM, that is only an estimate. If the meet is running faster or slower than anticipated, that event may start earlier or later than the published time.

The week of the meet, we will publish on the meet page on our website when the swimmers will need to be at the pool for warmups. Be sure that they are there on time and that they check in with a coach when they arrive. After the warmup, there is usually a short break (10-15 minutes) to get everything organized and then that session of the meet will begin.

We used to try to organize team hotels. We would call around and try to arrange a good deal for a block of rooms. However, we found that now people are getting even better deals on their own through internet searches or rewards points.

At away meets, families may arrange to all go out to dinner together. The parents sit at one table and the swimmers sit with their friends at another. Everyone wins!

How can we get updates about his progress and potential to progress?

With the restrictions in place to keep people off the pool deck during practice, we realize that it is not as convenient as walking up to a coach after practice to inquire about your child. However, we are happy to discuss your child’s progress – and any other questions you may have.

There are several ways you can facilitate this:

1. Email the coach. You can find all of our email addresses on the team website. Go to the “About Our Club” tab > Contact Us
2. Set up a time to call and talk with a coach over the phone. You may do this by email or text.
3. Set up a time to talk with a coach before or after practice. Please be aware that during practice times our focus needs to be on the swimmers in the pool. Sometimes a coach may go immediately from running one practice group to running another. If your child is in that first practice group, it may not be feasible for a coach to talk with you immediately after his practice. In that case, one of the other options may be used.

What happens with blue level swimmers in 8th grade? Will he compete at some point?

Any swimmer in any practice group may participate in a meet. If your child has indicated an interest in doing this you can sign him up on our website. (There is a video showing how to do this under the BSC Videos tab on the website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-xtxDjpfzo

If he is unsure whether he is ready for a meet, have him ask his coach.

Is twitter the only way to get info on cancellation of practice?

Actually, Twitter is NOT the platform that we use to alert members if practice is canceled. If the cancellation is sudden (like for weather) we use an app called Remind. You can elect to receive the notices via text and/or email. If it is a scheduled cancellation (like a high school meet) we will note that on the website.

You do not have to download the app. You only have to “opt in” to receive these texts or emails. Information on how to do this is posted on our website under the “For Parents” tab > FAQ – Remind App Notifications.

Here is a quick link: https://www.teamunify.com/SubTabGeneric.jsp?team=sebarsc&_stabid_=189255

OCTOBER 1, 2021

Can you explain the difference between a meter pool and a yard pool? What is our pool and how does this play out in meets?

Because of the way swimming and pool construction has evolved throughout the country and the world, we currently recognize three sizes of competition pools in our sport.
Long Course Meter (LCM) pools are 50 meters in length. This is the size pool that the Olympics are contested in. It is also the size pool in which most USA Swimming meets are held during the summer.
Short Course Meter (SCM) pools are half that distance (25 meters long). SCM pools are common in Europe, Australia and Asia. While rarer in the USA, SCM pools do exist. In fact, the pools at Freedom Hall and Dobyns-Bennett HS are both 25 meters long.  
Short Course Yard (SCY) pools are very common in the United States. They are 25 yards long. When the Kingsport Aquatic Center has the bulkheads in the middle of the pool, the two competition pools that configuration creates are both SCY.

Since a yard is 36 inches long and a meter is a bit over 39 inches long, a SCY pool is about 10% shorter than a SCM pool. There are tables and apps available for converting times from one pool size to another. However, they are not 100% accurate.  A swimmer’s endurance, turning speed, and underwater kicking prowess will either benefit him or be a detriment to him, depending on which size pool he is competing in. For example, a swimmer with great turns and underwaters will greatly benefit from a SCY or SCM pool as opposed to a LCM pool simply because there will be more turns and wall push-offs to take advantage of.

How come a swimmer has a no time for a meet, when they have a USA Swim time for that event. It just happened to be with a different team. Do their times not cross over?

You are correct that times from USA Swimming meets do stay with swimmers even when they move teams. However, each team maintains its own database of best times. The times from swimmers who transfer into a club do not get sent by USA Swimming to the new club.

When we enter swimmers into a meet, we do try to use those times from their old club. However, sometimes those times are not available in the USAS database and other times, quite frankly, we coaches mess up and forget that a swimmer may have those old times out there.

As a parent, you can help us by (1) getting us a copy of your child’s best times from another club and (2) when signing up for a meet, noting in the event request dialog box that the swimmer has times from his/her previous club.

As a further note: Times from different pool lengths (see the previous question) are not interchangeable. While they may be converted, a coach may elect to enter a child into an event with no time (NT) and then use the time from that pool length as the entry time in a subsequent meet.

Is there a list (or calendar) of the team's scheduled breaks for the next ~3-6 months? If not, can one be provided please?

We take two big scheduled breaks during the year. Each lasts about two weeks. One is in the spring and the other in the fall.

We try to coordinate the spring break with the school calendar, if possible. Because our two sites encompass swimmers from several school districts, in some years the JC break and the KP break may not be the same exact dates. The fall break will occur after the summer season, usually beginning in late July or early August, depending on the Championship Meet calendar and school calendars.

During the winter school break, we do continue our program. Some practice times may be adjusted due to facility availability. Some individual days may be given off (like maybe December 25!). Practices around other holidays may be adjusted, also.

We will post definitive information about breaks and practice adjustments on the team website when they are finalized.

NOVEMBER 28, 2021

The past two meets at the Aquatics Center (our Cranberry Classic Meet and another hosted by a different team) were originally scheduled as having a morning session and an afternoon session each day, but the meet schedule was changed to just a morning session both days. Why did this happen? Is it common?

When a team makes plans to host a meet, several considerations are taken into account when planning the meet format. Chief among those are the number of swimmers expected to be at the meet and giving those swimmers the best opportunities to perform well in their events. USA Swimming rules also limit the amount of time sessions for 12 & younger swimmers may last.

While not usual, changing the format of a meet may occur to improve the experience for the swimmers and their families. A meet host understands that changing the time schedule of a meet may disrupt the ability of some swimmers to participate. This eventuality is weighed against the benefits for those who will still be able to attend the meet.

Usually, a host team will have a good idea of the number of teams and swimmers which will attend a meet based on past participation numbers. However, with the disruption caused by the pandemic last year, a lot of visiting teams have altered their meet plans this year. In the case of our Cranberry Classic Meet, the number of entries were way down compared to last year’s meet.

When the meet entries do arrive, the host looks at how the number of swimmers will impact the quality of competition for those at the event. One important consideration for the benefit of the swimmers is the amount of time they have to recover between their events. If there are fewer entries, then the meet will run more quickly than planned and swimmers will have less time to rest between their events. A host can use a couple of strategies to address this issue: Sometimes fewer lanes can be utilized for the races. (We did this, swimming in only 6 lanes instead of 8 for most of the events). Other times, the host may combine scheduled sessions in order to build in needed rest for the competitors. Simply taking extended breaks throughout the competition is not ideal, as the dead time during the meet would interrupt the normal flow of the meet. This disruption has been shown to be detrimental to performances.

While meet format changes are made with the best interests of the swimmers as the first priority, consideration is also given to respect the time being given by the volunteers who help run the meet. The officials and other workers volunteer to make a meet a great experience for the kids. While they do not mind being on the deck for many hours of active competition, having a lot of long breaks in a session is not a good use of their time when other options, such as combining sessions, are available.

Note: If numbers are more than expected, the host may also need to adjust the format. (In such a case, many times relays are eliminated to save time while still giving the swimmers the opportunity to swim their individual events).

Changing meet formats is not something a host does cavalierly. All options are weighed and considered before such changes are made. While some families may not be able to attend a session that is moved to an earlier or later time, it is sometimes the best option for the majority of swimmers coming to the meet.

My coach wants my child to attend practice on the day before a swim meet. However, I think that having her stay home and rest will be better so she is fresher for the meet. Who is right?

Well, of course the coach is! (Sorry, I had to go there )

Seriously, though, there are reasons the coach has for wanting a swimmer to attend practices regularly. Disrupting a swimmer’s training pattern for short-term benefits during the season does not take into consideration the overall training plan that the coach has developed.

The coach takes into account the meet schedule when developing his practice plan for the various groups. For our more novice swimmers, on the day before a meet a coach may review skills and protocols so that they are fresh in their minds going into the competition. For our more experienced athletes, we sometimes “swim through” the meet. This means we stick to the overall training plan and go into the meet unrested, knowing that the work done the day before the meet will have benefits later in the season, even if the swimmer is tired going into the more immediate competition.

Is there a place to see what teams are participating in an event? All I see are abbreviations on the heat or psych sheet.
Abbreviations are used to designate the teams at a swim meet. They simply take less space on the heat sheet/psych sheet. For those not familiar with them, it can be confusing.

First of all, let us break down what the abbreviations tell us. Take our team abbreviation. Sometimes it will be listed as BSC, other times as BSC-SE. The BSC part is easy: Barracuda Swim Club. The SE part designates which Local Swim Committee (LSC) we are a part of. An LSC is basically the area of the country we are from. It is a terrible moniker, but one we are stuck with. Our LSC is Southeastern Swimming (SE). It encompasses all of Tennessee, all of Alabama, and the panhandle of Florida. Some LSC’s are one whole state, like Kentucky (KY) or Virginia (VA).

Now how to find out what the unfamiliar abbreviations mean:

            1. In the heat sheet there is usually a page that lists all the teams and their entry numbers. It usually has the abbreviation and the full team name listed.

            2. If you are using the Meet Mobile app to follow the meet, that has both the full team name and the abbreviations listed under the “Teams” tab.

            3. If you do not have access to the heat sheet or if nothing has been posted on the Meet Mobile app (such as when the psych sheet comes out), then you may have to do a little digging. Try doing a google search with the team and LSC designation followed by the word “swimming” (BSC-SE swimming). That may get you results that you can use. By putting “swimming” in the search, it helps to eliminate other entities which also use abbreviations in their business.

In race events, what is the difference between "mixed" and for example "13 and over"?

Swim meet events can be set up a number of ways, based upon what the meet host feels will be best for efficiently running the meet. Swimmers can be grouped differently for racing purposes. The most common way to group swimmers is by gender (girls/boys) and by age group (8&under, 9-10, etc). Sometimes a meet will use the term “Senior” to designate older swimmers or “Open” to designate no age restrictions.

Teams hosting a meet can get creative in grouping swimmers in ways that will provide better competition and/or help the meet to run more smoothly. Here are some examples:

            Mixed – Girls and boys will swim together.

            13 & Over / 10 & Under – Designations such as these restrict the ages of the swimmers who can participate in the event. For example, a “13 & over” event will only be allow entries from swimmers age 13 and older.

            Senior and Open – A lot of times these designations are used interchangeably. They usually refer to older swimmers, though younger swimmers may be able to enter these events. The only caveat is that the meet host may restrict ages by stating so in the meet information. (ie - “Open events are restricted to swimmers ages 13 and older”)

            Novice – An event is designated for less-experienced swimmers. Usually the meet info will define the parameters, but it may also give coaches the prerogative to make that call for their swimmers.

Note on scoring: Sometimes an event may be swum with various ages and/or genders swimming together, but then broken down into specific ages and genders for scoring purposes. This will be noted in the meet information.

FEBRUARY 13, 2022

Is there an app we can download before the upcoming meet with the heat information available on it?

Most meets will publish results via an app called Meet Mobile. There is a cost for this app.  I believe it’s around $5.99 per year.
However, the host team has the option of publishing the heat sheet or not. Some teams, ours included, choose to instead sell heat sheets at the meet. Why? It provides another source of income to the club and we can include ads from our sponsors in the heat sheet.

My child told me that she made a “B” time at a meet. What does that mean?

USA Swimming publishes the National Motivational Times table. This is a table of times by age group, gender, and events. The times listed on that table designate a swimmer as “B”, “BB”, “A”, “AA”, “AAA”, or “AAAA” in an event based on their best time. The times are based off of times swum by all USA Swimming members in a particular age, gender, and event. A percentile ranking is used.

We use those times as a way to let our swimmers set incremental goals as they progress in their swimming. At the end of each year, we present an award for new levels attained in each stroke.

You can access the table here: https://www.usaswimming.org/docs/default-source/timesdocuments/records/age-groups-2024-agmts.pdf?_ga=2.268283975.879925871.1644731989-399655197.1553655796


What is with those blue BSC caps I saw at the meet this past weekend?

There have been a couple of questions about the BLUE BSC caps that some of the swimmers were wearing at the meet this past weekend. Let me explain:

Last summer we were brainstorming on how to provide a special tshirt for those who qualified and participated in the championship meets at the end of long course season. Traditionally, we have put names of those attending on the shirts, which usually requires an abnormally quick turn-around. With supply chain issues and the business that some tshirt shops were experiencing, logistically getting all the names (we did not want to leave anyone off!) and correct sizes became daunting. So we came up with the idea of getting special swim caps instead. The kids liked them! The coaches liked them! And we did not have to worry about sizes or names.

Those were the caps you saw some swimmers wearing this past weekend.

Going forward, we will continue to present these special caps to swimmers who qualify for and participate in the Championship Meets each season. So, how can swimmers get one? First, they will have to qualify for a Championship Meet and, second, they will have to participate in that meet. We feel that is a good way to promote both a higher expectation of performances and encourage more attendance at those meets.

The meets that qualify typically fall at the end of both Short Course and Long Course seasons. They have qualifying times which need to be achieved in order to participate. Examples that we have gone to in the past include the Southeastern Championship Meet, the Southern Premier Meet, Senior Zones, Age Group Sectionals and Senior Sectionals. (Note that the team may not always participate in every conceivable championship meet every year due to strategies to promote peak performances during the championship season.) One exception to the qualifying criteria pertains to 8 & Under swimmers: The Region Meet is designated by Southeastern Swimming as the Championship Meet for 8 & Unders, because there is no separate 8 & Under classification at the full Southeastern Meet. Therefore, participation in the Region Meet will earn an 8 &Under swimmer his/her special cap.