Questions New Swim Parents Should Ask
Your child has told you that he or she wants to join The Gillette Swim Team. How exciting! Now you are wondering what this means for you and your family. Here are some basic topics you should be familiar with and some questions you should ask before your child dives in.

1.  Basic Information

Q.  What is the Gillette Swim team?
A.   The Gillette Swim Team was established in 1976 and is a year round swim team which provides swimmers of all ages, through training and guidance, the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to become world class citizens and world class athletes. GST is a USA Swimming affiliated organization based in Gillette, Wyoming. GST provides an opportunity for all athletes to swim in a safe, healthy environment while pursuing the highest level of personal development, both in and out of the pool.

Q.  Are there any requirements for my swimmer to join the Gillette Swim Team?
A.   A child must be at least 5 years old and able to swim 25 yards front crawl and back crawl unassisted to join the competitive team.  

Q.  What do I do to start?
A.  See the How to join tab on the website.

Q.  How is GST organized?
A.   GST is a 501(C) (III) nonprofit corporation.  GST is affiliated with USA Swimming and Wyoming Swimming, Inc.

Q. What is USA Swimming?
A.   USA Swimming is the National Governing Body for the sport of swimming. It administers competitive swimming in accordance with the Amateur Sports Act. They also provide programs and services for members, supporters, affiliates and the interested public. Visit for more information.

Q.  What is Wyoming Swimming, Inc. (WSI)?
A.   Within the United States, there are fifty-nine (59) Local Swimming Committees (LSCs).  Each LSC is responsible for administering USA Swimming activities in a defined geographical area and has its own set of bylaws under which it operates.  A House of Delegates with representation of athletes, coaches, members of the Board of Directors and clubs is responsible for managing the business affairs of the LSC.  Wyoming Swimming, Inc. (WSI) is our Local Swimming Committee.  WSI’s geographical area consists of the state of Wyoming and the western Nebraska panhandle. Visit  for more information.

Q.  Who runs GST?
A.   A Board of Directors is elected by the membership to run the business affairs of GST.  All Board members are parent volunteers and athlete representatives who do not receive any payment for their service to GST. The Board hires a head coach who acts as the chief executive officer for the organization.  The Board, in coordination with the Head Coach, is primarily responsible for establishing policy and budgets; running meets; fundraising; collecting dues and fees; coordinating parent volunteers;  holding monthly meetings;  and, overseeing the financial affairs of the club.  The Head Coach is primarily responsible for assistant coach staffing, supervision and education; scheduling of practices, meets and camps; organizing team activities; establishing coaching philosophy and training plans; setting goals; taking necessary disciplinary actions; and, acting as liaison with the Aquatic Center, the Campbell County School District,  and Wyoming Swimming.


2. Financial Obligations.
GST employs professional coaches, pays rent for pool time, pays USA and Wyoming Swimming fees, purchases equipment for swimmers, and incurs other necessary expenses. These costs must be passed on to the swim team members in the form of membership fees and team fees. Questions you should ask are:

Q.  What is the total cost per year for my child?
A. See How to Join on our website

Q.  How are entry fees for swim meets collected?
A.   Meet entries are completed online under the Events tab.  Electronic payment is required.  You will be billed the 1st of the month for all meet fees 

Q.  What equipment and outfitting will my child need and how much does it cost?
A.   Swimmers need suits, caps, and goggles.  A good practice suit runs about $35 - $45 and goggles cost between $10 and $20.  A GST cap is free with membership.

Q.  Where do I get the equipment such as suits, caps and goggles that my child needs?
A.   Swim gear is available locally through Universal Athletics or online through a variety of retailers.

3. Swim Practice.
Swim practices are usually scheduled with the swimmers broken into groups according to age and ability. Questions you should ask are:

Q.  Where are swim practices held?
A.   GST swim practice is held at the School District Aquatic Center, 800 Warlow Drive, Gillette, WY.  The facility is a 10 lane, 50 meter Olympic size pool—the only one of its kind in the state of Wyoming.  We are able to utilize this fine facility through the generous cooperation of the Campbell County School District and the Aquatic Center management and staff.

Q.  How many days a week will my child have swim practice?
A.   The practice schedule varies depending on which group your swimmer is in.  The practice schedule is posted on the GST website.

Q.  Who will be coaching my child? What is this coach’s background and experience?
A.   All GST coaches are registered with USA Swimming and Wyoming Swimming and have completed all required certifications, training and testing required by USA Swimming and Wyoming Swimming.  Coaches also undergo background screening prior to being hired and then once every two years.

Q.  Do I drop my child off or can I stay and watch practice?
A.   Parents are welcome to watch practice.  However, parents are asked to stay in the bleachers and to not interrupt practice.  If parents need to communicate with their swimmer during practice, they should inform the coach and the coach will take the swimmer out of the water for them.  Otherwise parents are asked to wait until after practice to talk to their swimmer or to the coach.

Q. How does my swimmer change groups or move up in the program?
A.   GST tries to maintain a manageable coach to swimmer ratio. GST has group criteria which the coaches use as guidelines to place swimmers. All final placements of swimmers are based on coach’s discretion.  Group placement may also involve the swimmer’s age, maturity level, skill level, endurance level, and swimming knowledge. Depending on the number of swimmers in a group, GST may split a group into smaller, more manageable groups. The splitting of a group will still follow the principles mentioned above. GST strives to keep a flow of swimmers from group to group to maintain a progression through the team. We do not want to hold swimmers back or keep them from moving to the next level. However, we want to provide a climate that is successful and we keep all these factors in mind when placing swimmers. Feel free to contact a coach about the placement of your swimmer. Please keep in mind the factors mentioned above.


4. Swim Meets.
Swimming competitions are called meets. Meets are organized so that children are competing against other children of similar ages and abilities. Questions you should ask are:

Q.  Do I chose the meets my child competes in?
A.   Yes.  Swimmers and parents are encouraged to talk to their group coach about attending meets. Coaches are available before or after practice.

Q.  How do I enter my child in a meet?
A.   Information on Team Meets is available under the Events tab. If you are unsure of which events to enter your swimmer in, be sure to ask the coach.  Entries will not be accepted after the meet specific deadline.   If you have any questions regarding signing your child up for meets, please contact a Board Member.  Board Members are listed under the Coaches tab on the home page or by clicking the Contact Us located at the bottom of the webite.

Q.  How often will my child compete in meets?
A.   A Team Meet schedule is posted on the website at the beginning of each season. 

Q.  Will a coach be available to travel to a non team meet to be with my swimmer?
A.   Coaches are people too, and have other responsibilities on off weekends. Usually if you choose to go to a meet that is not scheduled as a Team Meet, you are on your own.

Q.  Where are the meets held?
A.   GST competes in age group meets held in Gillette and in surrounding cities such as Newcastle, Casper, Buffalo and Sheridan.  Team meets are also scheduled in Eastern Montana, Western South Dakota and Colorado.

Q. What are the differences between short course and long course seasons?
A.   Short course (SC) simply means swimming in a pool that is 25 yards. Long course (LC) means swimming in a pool that is 50 meters (like the Olympics). There are seasons for each. SC season is September thru March, and LC season is April thru August. The events are roughly the same.  For example, there is a 50 meter (LC) freestyle as well as a 50 yard freestyle, but a meter is slightly longer than a yard (1 meter = 3.3 yards).

Q.  Who prepares and sends the meet entries to the host team?
A.   Meet entries are prepared by the GST Head Coach.

Q.  Who is responsible for providing transportation to meets?
A.   Parents are responsible for providing transportation for their swimmer.

Q.  What do parents do at the meets?
A.   At Home Meets, which are held in Gillette, parents are required to perform functions such as timing, working with meet management, helping with hospitality, etc.  At Away Meets, parents will be required to help with timing.

Q.  What do we need to do to prepare for the swim meet?
A.   Make sure you bring all of your swim gear; team suit, team cap, goggles, and more than one towel. Usually it is not a good idea to use new goggles for the first time at a meet. Make sure you prepare for the weather by bringing proper clothing; parkas, sweaters, extra pants if cold.  Don’t forget sunscreen for summer outdoor meets.  Also, bring water, Gatorade, and nutritious food so your child will eat properly and stay hydrated.  Make sure your swimmer gets a good night’s sleep before each day of the meet.

Q.  What do we do when we arrive at the meet?
A.   Make sure you arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the beginning of warm-ups or when the coaches tell you to be there.  Check in with your coach to see when the swimmer should get ready for warm-ups.  Purchase a program to determine which events, heats and lanes your swimmer is in.  Coach will also have a program and can supply this information to you.  Many swimmers use a Sharpie to write event information on their hands, feet or legs to help them remember.  Encourage the swimmer to conserve  energy and to not use all of their energy playing around at the meet. Save it for the race.  Sit with the team and cheer for the GST swimmers.

Q.  What is an Event?
A.   An event is a specific type of race such as "11-12 year old Girls, 100 yard butterfly". There may be many "heats" per event.

Q.  What is a Heat?
A.  When there are more swimmers for an event than there are lanes in the pool (for example, 16 swimmers in an eight lane pool), the first heat includes eight swimmers. The second heat includes the next eight swimmers. The best times from all the heats for an event determine the first, second, and third place finishers for the event. A swimmer can win his or her heat and still not place overall in the event.

Q.  Why do I have to be there for warm up when my child does not swim until two hours later?
A.   Warm-up is essential because it helps the swimmers get focused on their events and accustomed to the pool that they are racing in (starts, turns, backstroke count, etc.). Swimmers are accustomed to doing a good warm up everyday at practice and need to create the same experience on meet day. Not warming up can lead to injuries in the future. Swimmers should show up to warm-up on time and be ready to get in at the START of warm-up.

Q.  What does it mean to be “DQ”ed?
A.   It means there are aspects of the stroke that we still need to work on! When a swimmer is disqualified or “DQ”ed it means that there is something that they did that is illegal under the swimming rules. A DQ can be for something like a one handed touch in breaststroke, false starting, or a stroke violation like flutter kick on the fly.   A DQ is no big deal and although it may cause some tears, it is best to keep it in perspective.  Every swimmer has received or will receive a DQ at some point in his or her swimming career.

Q.  What is a False Start?
A.   When a swimmer leaves the starting block before the start horn sounds.

Q.  What strokes do the swimmers use in competition?
A.   Freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly.

Q.  What is Freestyle?
A.   Freestyle is usually the front crawl with the flutter kick, but any stroke or combination of strokes is legal as long as the swimmer does not walk on the bottom of the pool or use the lane line to gain momentum, and touches the walls on turns.

Q.  What is Backstroke?
A.   Backstroke is done on the swimmer’s back.  A flutter kick is used while the arms alternate (one then the other). Swimmers cannot roll past 90 degrees from their back as they stroke and cannot roll onto their sides or stomach when approaching the finish wall. (Many younger swimmers have a tendency to do this to see how close they are to the wall; they will need to learn to count the number of strokes they need to take after they pass under the flags.)

Q.  What is Breaststroke?
A.   The breaststroke uses the whip kick (or frog kick is acceptable), while arms pull underwater simultaneously. The two hands must touch the wall simultaneously on the turn and finish.

Q.  What is Butterfly?
A.   In the butterfly, the feet and knees are together on the kick (dolphin kick), while arms move simultaneously. The two hands must touch the wall simultaneously on the turn and finish.

Q.  What is an Individual Medley?
A.   An event where the swimmer swims each stroke in a specific order: fly, back, breast, and free.

Q.  What are Relays?
A.   Relays are a combination of four swimmers.  The freestyle relay consists of four individual freestyle swims and the medley relay consists of four individual strokes--backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle.  The coaches will determine who swims on the relays. 

Q.  How long is each race?
A.   Different age groups swim different race lengths.  Short Course distances for 8 & Under swimmers are generally 25, 50 or 100 yards and their Long Course distances are 50, 100 or 200 meters. 9 – 12 year olds swim Short Course distances of 50, 100, 200 or 500 yards and Long Course distances of 50, 100, 200 and 400 meters.  Swimmers, age 13 and older, swim Short Course distances of 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 1650 yards and Long Course distances of 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500 meters.

Q.  How should parents behave at meets?
A.   Parent’s behavior at swim meets is vital to the success of their swimmer It is also important for the success of the team.

1) Don’t Coach. Leave the coaching to the coaches. This includes pre-race strategy, “psyching up”, and motivating. This also includes post-race critiquing and setting goals.

2) Support the Coaches. They need your support for everyone to “win”.

3) Be Your Swimmer’s Best Fan. Support your child unconditionally. Do not get upset or withdrawn if your child performs poorly. Your child should not have to perform well to win your approval and support.

4) Support and cheer for all swimmers on the team.

5) Take your concerns directly to the coach in an appropriate manner. Do not go to parents to discuss concerns.


5. Volunteering and Parental Responsibilities.
Most teams depend heavily on parent volunteers to perform a variety of tasks. Questions you should ask are:

Q.  How can I contribute to my child’s team if I know very little about swimming?
A.   You can contribute by helping with meets, fundraisers and team activities such as Fun Night, Movie Night, and Awards celebrations.  Your biggest contribution will be your unconditional love and support for your swimmer.

Q.  Who can I ask when I have questions?
A.   The group coach is the best place to start if you have questions.  A list of coach contact phone numbers and email addresses is posted on the GST website. Phone numbers and email addresses are also posted for each member of the GST Board of Directors.  In addition, GST has a very informal structure.  There are usually board members or “experienced” parents at the pool who can help find answers to your questions.

Q.  What is expected or required of parents?
A.   Parents are required to help at home meets and team activities and to participate in team fundraisers.