MAKING THE MOST OF NOVA: A Parent's Guide

Below is a listing of things to help you make the most of the swim team experience. Hopefully, the information below will help in navigating NOVA. You may contact anyone below with additional questions.

IMPORTANT CONTACT INFORMATION

Coaching Staff:

Geoff Brown:           coachgeoff@novaswim.org             
David Schreck:        coachdavid@novaswim.org
Lisa Brown:             coachlisa@novaswim.org

Mark Kutz:               coachmark@novaswim.org
Drew Hirth:              coachdrew@novaswim.org
Jamie Greenwood:  coachjamie@novaswim.org
MC Thomas:            coachmc@novaswim.org
Mike McKee:            coachmike@novaswim.org
Elena Reschikova:   coachelena@novaswim.org
Stephanie Wolfle:     coachstephanie@novaswim.org
Mike Julian:              coachmikej@novaswim.org
Wyatt Hass:             coachwyatt@novaswim.org
Luke Nelson:           coachluke@novaswim.org
Matt Bailey:             coachmatt@novaswim.org
Anita Dillman           coachanita@novaswim.org

Website:   www.novaswim.org

Business Office:  750-1183             

Lori Hopwell - Office Administrator:       novabusinessoffice@novaswim.org
Ann McGee - Executive Director:          annmcgee@novaswim.org
Julie Farney - Travel Coordinator:      novatravel@novaswim.org
Beth Cornwell - Volunteer Coordinator: novahours@novaswim.org
Mallory Lundy - Accounting:                  accounting@novaswim.org
 
Lessons Coordinator: 754-3401     

Bridget Cuthbert:                                  novalessons@novaswim.org

Virginia Swim Shop: 754-3402             www.virginiaswimshop.com

Denise O'Brien - Manager                    vaswimshop@novaswim.org
Mary Ann Haulsee - Team Sales          vaswimshopteamslaes@novaswim.org                              

WHO CAN ANSWER MY QUESTIONS?

  • For questions that are swimming related, ask your child's coach.
  • For questions that have to do with billing, fees, contracts, fundraising status, etc., contact the business office.
  • For questions related to volunteer hours or signing up for jobs online, contact the Volunteer Coordinator.
  • For questions about equipment, ask the Virginia Swim Shop.
  • New families are assigned a Parent Mentor. This person is a NOVA parent who has had children in the program for a few years and has volunteered to help our new families "learn the ropes". A parent mentor is a great place to start when you have a question. However, in some cases, your parent mentor might refer you to someone else for an answer.
     

METHODS OF COMMUNICATION

  • Website - The NOVA website, www.novaswim.org, has a wealth of information posted. Information about meets, meet registration info, job sign ups, volunteer opportunities and more are available there. You need to have a sign in for the site (provided by the business office when you joined NOVA).
  • Email - Your child's coach will keep you informed of specific group information via email. In addition, announcements about meet/job sign ups, billing, and timely news will all arrive in your email box. Noteworthy News is a weekly email publication that shares timely news and successes with the entire team. Please keep a current email address on file with the office.
  • Hanging folders (located in lobby) - Meet awards/ribbons, along with some announcements and other information, may be placed in your swimmer's folder. Boxes will be arranged alphabetically by family last name.
  • Bulletin boards - there are two bulletin boards (one on your right as you enter the facility and one under the scoreboard) where information may be posted. The information posted here will also be available on the website.
  • FACEBOOK AND TWITTER

WHAT YOU CAN DO ON THE WEBSITE...

  • You can sign your child up for a meet (see Registering for a Swim Meet, below).
  • You can track your child's times for various races on the website. Sign in and go to "My Account" and then "My Meet Results".  You can see all of their times, or search on a particular thing - like all backstroke, or just the top times in each race.
  • You can see your current invoice, as well as past payment information. Sign in and go to "My Account," then "My Invoice/Payment".
  • You can see your current volunteer hours. Sign in and go to "My Account," then "My Invoice/Payment". Click on the "Service Hours" tab at the top.
  • You can update contact information. Sign in and go to "My Account," then "My Account" again.
  • You can learn more about your child's coach and find his/her email. Go to "About" then "Meet the Coaches".
  • You can see what the various time standards are for your child's age group. Go to "Competitive Team" and then "Top Times / Time Standards QT".
  • You can see top times of your child and other children their age - go to "Top Times" and then "Best Times".
  • Check out FACEBOOK and TWITTER

YOUR ROLE AS A SWIMMING PARENT

  • Let the coach do the coaching.
  • Be enthusiastic, positive and supportive.
  • Demonstrate good sportsmanship and set a good example.
  • Attend parent meetings as needed and maintain open communication with the coach.
  • Support fundraising activities.
  • Complete your volunteer hour requirement.

PRACTICES

  • Parents are welcome at practices. Plan to sit in the bleachers or bring your own chair. Do not sit behind the starting blocks or at the opposite end.
  • Practice changes (around holidays or school vacations, for example) will be announced on the website and through email.
  • The coach's job during practice is to coach practice. Do not try to have a conversation about your swimmer during practice time. Even after your child's practice, the coach may be getting ready for another practice group and may not have time to talk. The best way to get quality time with him or her is to make contact via email to set up a time to talk.
  • Try not to distract your child during practice. The kids need to have their attention on the coach and the expectations of the practice.
  • Pack something for your child to drink - water or a sports drink. It is best for them to have a bottle at the end of the lane as they won't be able to get out of the pool for a drink except at times specified by the coach. The Novice Groups take more breaks, so this may not be necessary.
  • Ensure that your child has the fuel he or she needs by giving him/her a snack before practice.
  • Please note that NOVA and the coaches are not responsible for your child outside of the pool area or after practice times. If children are outside, they are not being supervised.
  • Work with your child to make sure he/she has all the equipment needed for the practice. If you need to purchase equipment, the Virginia Swim Shop at NOVA has everything you need. Money spent in the swim shop supports NOVA and helps keep costs down. Please check in the swim shop first for your equipment needs.
  • NOVA does not follow a particular inclement weather policy. Any weather-related closures will be posted on the website. Even if practices are going on, please use your best judgment to determine whether your child can safely attend practice.
  • Each swimmer progresses at his or her own level. Your child's coach will talk to you if and when he/she feels your child is ready to move to a higher practice group. There is no set timeline. Advancement happens when the right combination of skill, age and commitment comes together.

REGISTERING FOR A SWIM MEET

  • Attending meets is an important part of participating on the competitive team. Plan on attending meets throughout the season.
  • For more information on how to register for a meet, visit the "Parents" page on the website, www.novaswim.org. There is a printable document which walks you through the steps.
  • All meet registration at NOVA is done online at our website. Sign in and scroll to the bottom of the page where the upcoming events are listed or click on "Event/Meet schedule" at the top. Choose the meet and then click "Attend this Event". You will be led through the registration process.
  • There is always a registration deadline for the meets. You will receive an email when meet registration opens up. Often, the coaches will send a reminder when the deadline is coming closer, but it is good to get into the habit of registering sooner rather than later if you know you will attend.
  • Unlike summer league swimming, where the coaches often choose your child's events, at NOVA, you and your child can participate in choosing the events for your swimmer. Or, you can ask your child's coach for direction. A good rule of thumb is to choose something your child feels confident with, something that is new, and something they are working to improve.
  • If you have a question, there is a box on the online registration page where you can type in a note for your child's coach. Also use this to let the coach know important information - for example, if you will only attend one day of a meet.
  • The format of the meet may change from one meet to the next. You can familiarize yourself with the meet format by clicking on the name of the meet and then "Complete Meet Information". Sometimes, the sessions are divided up by age; other times, by times achieved.
  • Some meets require that your child has met a particular time standard to participate. This information can be found on the meet information sheet.
  • Meets at NOVA are usually two (Saturday/Sunday) or three days (Friday evening-Sunday). Pay special attention to what day(s) you are signing up for. You can choose to have your child swim one or more days, depending on your schedule and your coach's feedback. If you have a conflict one of the days, let your coach know the details in the notes box.
  • Generally, your child will be able to swim in three individual events each day. Check the meet information sheets. Relay participants are selected by the coaches; the list is usually posted in the hallway between the two pools after the meet session begins. Your child’s coach may add to your child’s list of races to reach the maximum number of events allowed.
  • Most meets from September-April (during the short-course season) are held at the NOVA facility, but some meets are at other pools. You will still be able to sign up on the NOVA website, even if the meet is elsewhere. A few things to know: NOVA usually reserves a block of hotel rooms. Directions are on the website to the various pools. You should plan on working a session at an away meet (as a lane timer). Your coach can provide more information about away meets.

THE DAY OF A SWIM MEET

  • Plan on arriving at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start of warm-ups. The parking lot is often full (you may have to park at the office building two doors away and walk). DO NOT park in the apartment complex across the street or the shopping center at the far end of the parking lot. Also, DO NOT park in the parking lot of the dental office next door. Your car will be towed. You CAN park in the parking lot of the brick office building two doors down.
  • Once you arrive, you need to find somewhere to sit. You can sit in either pool. The new pool is usually less crowded and a bit cooler, but you need to pay more attention to make sure your children are in the right place at the right time.
  • You should plan on bringing chairs. There is seating available in both the competition and practice pools. The bleachers are available in the competition pool, but fill up fast. Meets get very crowded, so try to limit what you bring to the necessities.
  • If you have questions, look for the Parent Help Desk just inside the front door. Parent mentors will be available for the first few meets for the first hour of each session.
  • Your child needs to be ready to get in the pool, with cap/goggles/etc. at least  five minutes before warm ups are scheduled to begin. The coaches generally like to talk to their groups for a few minutes before the warm ups begin. Please be courteous and arrive on time.
  • NOVA operates a snack bar at the meets. There is a wide variety of food and drinks available, often including bagels, fruit, pasta, pizza, snacks, candy, soft drinks, sports drinks and more. The snack bar accepts cash and credit.
  • You may bring a cooler with food or drinks to the meet. No glass containers are allowed on the pool deck.
  • Your swimmer is required to wear the NOVA competition suit. Other things to bring: multiple towels for your swimmer, healthy snacks and drinks, items to entertain your children (games, books, music, etc.), a permanent marker to write events on your swimmer's hand, RED competition swim cap, goggles (and maybe a spare pair), sweats to keep warm.
  • For spectators, the facility gets quite warm, even in the winter. Don't dress too warmly.
  • Plan on purchasing a Heat Sheet (available in the concession stand) for the meet ($10 or less, cash or credit). You can share one between a few families if you know others swimming in the same session. The Heat Sheet will list all the events, heats and lanes for all the swimmers each day. A highlighter is helpful for marking your child's races. Write your child's information on his or her hand in permanent marker. Make sure to write the EVENT, HEAT and LANE.
  • Unlike summer league meets, NOVA does not utilize a parent-run "clerk of course" area. The children are expected to know events, heats and lanes in which they are swimming. Some help will be available from the timers behind the blocks, but this is not their primary responsibility. Your child needs to get comfortable finding the right place. Lane 1 is closest to the locker rooms.
  • Events will be called over the PA system. Usually, the event number and name will only be called before the first heat of each event.  After the first heat, the announcer only announces the heat numbers.  Try to ensure your child gets to his or her races on time; the heats will not be held for a missing swimmer. You can get an approximate time in the Heat Sheet book - there is sometimes a page toward the front that lists times for each event, and the meets generally run pretty true to these times.
  • Your child should check in with a coach before and after each swim. Ideally, it will be his or her group coach, but that person may not be available. Make sure your child knows it's ok to talk to a different coach. The coaches are watching every swimmer in an event, and one of them will have feedback for your child.
  • Results are posted soon after events conclude. You can find the results in the entryway, sorted into boys/girls and taped to the windows.

FUNDRAISING

  • Fundraising is an important aspect of being part of the NOVA family. Fundraising dollars earned help pay our professional, full-time coaching staff, maintain the facility and keep costs low. NOVA is a non-profit organization and parent fundraising is a critical part of the budget. Every dollar the club brings in through fundraising helps us continue to grow and succeed.
  • Fundraising for your first year at NOVA is reduced - just a minimum of $100 per child. In following years, you will need to plan on raising a minimum of $125 for each Novice level swimmer and $225 for swimmers above the Novice level.
  • There are many opportunities to earn your fundraising dollars throughout the year. Here are some ways you can earn (for more details, visit the website and click on "Fundraising" under the "Parents" tab)
  • Scrip - This is a program where you buy gift cards to major national retailers/restaurants/hotels/etc. and NOVA gets a percentage back (from 2% - 15%). You place your order online and bring a check for the total to the business office. The cards can be picked up in the swim shop within a week (normally). This requires a bit of planning ahead, but if you buy a lot of gift cards, this is a great way to get your fundraising done at the same time.
  • Swim-a-Thon - This annual event is a joint fundraiser with NOVA and USA Swimming. In this fun event, your child tries to swim as many laps as possible on a weekend morning in the spring. Beforehand, you can collect pledges for laps completed or a flat amount. The kids can earn prizes, too.
  • Virginia Diner - NOVA holds an annual sale featuring Virginia Diner products each fall. 50% of your sales total goes to NOVA and counts toward your fundraising.
  • Write a check - If you don't want to mess with the fundraising, you can always just write a check to NOVA. Wait until the end of the year when the business office will bill you.
  • Even when you meet your minimum requirement, consider continuing to support NOVA through your efforts. Every dollar helps.
  • If you do not complete your fundraising during the year, you will be billed for the remainder at the end of the year (usually in August).

VOLUNTEERING AT NOVA

  • You are required to volunteer as a NOVA parent. The easiest way to get volunteer hours is to work at a meet. The sign ups for this are online at the NOVA website (look at individual meet pages). Swimming is a very labor intensive sport; it is critical that all jobs are filled. Generally, the volunteer coordinator will email parents when the job sign ups are available for an upcoming meet. The job sign ups are first come-first served, so don't delay. The best way to easily complete your hours during the year is to try to sign up for something at every meet your child swims. There are many different jobs to choose from, from timing to hospitality.
  • First year families have a 12 hour obligation. Families with only Novice Silver or Gold swimmers at the start of the season have a 16 hour volunteer obligation. All other families have a 24 hour obligation (which may be prorated at the discretion of the Board depending on when families join NOVA during the contract year). In following years, the obligation is 24 hours, unless you just have Novice-level swimmers (then it remains at 16).
  • If you do not complete your volunteer hours during the year, you will be billed $40 per hour remaining at the end of the year (in July or August).
  • Some jobs can be completed prior to a meet - like providing items for the concession stand or hospitality room. Please follow guidelines on what to do and when to bring items to NOVA.
  • If you signed up to volunteer at the meet, there is a volunteer check-in person just inside the main door. When you arrive at the meet, make sure to check in and get a nametag or whatever else you need to complete your job. Be sure to show up on time to begin your job.
  • If you have never worked a particular job before, you can familiarize yourself with what the job entails by going to the "Parent" page on the website, then clicking on "Appendix D: Volunteer Opportunities". Or, ask the check-in coordinator. Or, find the person in charge of the area in which you're working (head timer, head of hospitality, etc.). Or, ask your parent mentor. Or, email the Volunteer Coordinator.
  • If the session runs substantially longer (more than a few minutes) than the original hours listed on the job sign up page, you will be given the actual number of hours you worked. If the session runs shorter, you will be given the original hours listed.
  • You do not need to follow up with anyone after a NOVA home meet to get volunteer credit. When you sign in, the check-in coordinator will note that you are there and this information will be forwarded to the Volunteer Coordinator.  If you volunteer at an away meet, you may need to report your volunteer hours by email to the Volunteer Coordinator – it will depend on whether the Volunteer Coordinator gets the timer sign-in sheets from the meet. Wait a couple of weeks after the meet, and if your hours do not show up in the system, then email the Volunteer Coordinator with the number of hours you worked, the job you did, and the meet you worked.
  • You can check your total volunteer hours on the website. Sign in, then go to "My Account" (on the right), then "My Invoice/Payment", then click the tab at the top that says "Service Hours". For your first year, you may have an obligation that is less than 24 hours. However, your service hours will show 24 hours. This is because of a system limitation. You will be credited the difference in hours at the end of the year. Sometimes credit for a job takes a few weeks to show up - it is just one person who applies all the credits. If there seems to be some discrepancy between what you think you should have and what is showing, email the Volunteer Coordinator; however, give it a few weeks before emailing.
  • Email the Volunteer Coordinator if you have any volunteer hour questions.