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New Parent and Swimmer Information


HELP!  My child is on the Dolphin's Swim Team!  Now What?

A Guide for Bewildered Parents of New Members of the Dolphin's Swim Team

 

Every parent, at his/her first swim meet, has wondered, "What am I doing here at 7am on a Saturday morning, and what is going on?"  This booklet will try to answer those questions and more.  Your coaches and fellow swim parents all want you to understand and enjoy the summer swim program.  Welcome to the Dolphins!  We are glad to have you with us!

The Dolphin's Swim Team is a part of New Mexico's Sundance Aquatic Association, a competitive summer swim league (www.sundanceswimming.org).

There is a place on our team for any child that is 18 or younger as of May 1st, who can swim approximately one length of a pool (25 yards) unaided.  The season starts with pre-season practices in May and runs through the Sundance Championship Meet, typically the third week in July.  Our goals are to practice hard, to try to do our personal best, to make friends, to show exemplary sportsmanship and, most importantly, HAVE LOTS OF FUN!

Expectations of Swimmers:

  • Keep your commitments - Team members are expected to attend all practices and meets, if at all possible.  If you cannot attend a swim meet, you need to notify your coach in advance.  Simply ‘not showing up' will create problems for both coaches and other swimmers, so please notify a coach in advance.
  • Pay attention to the coaches - Disruptions aren't fair to the other swimmers.
  • Do your best - It is a lot more important than being the best.
  • Demonstrate good sportsmanship at all times, win or lose.
  • Have Fun!

Where you can find all of this and more information:

THE BASICS:

Practices:

Practices will be held at the UNM swimming pool in Johnson Center every evening, Monday-Friday, from 6:15pm-7:30pm AND every morning (starting when school is out) Monday-Friday, from 6:45am-8am. Families can buy parking passes that last throughout the summer season.

Swimming apparel & gear:

Swimmers should wear a swimsuit that does not restrict their movement in the water. Most swimmers will need goggles, but they are not required. A swim cap is necessary for all boys and girls, unless their hair is very short.  Team suits and swim caps can be ordered through the designated team parent handling that function each season.  Their contact information is listed in the "Volunteering" tab located on the website.

Swim Meets:

Most of the swim meets are organized between two teams.  The main purpose of these dual meets is to help the swimmers become acquainted with the rules of competition and get the feel for the races, as well as establish times for each "event".  An "event" is another name for a particular type of race (i.e., 50 yard Freestyle).

There are three meets that are somewhat different:

  • 8 & under meet: This meet is for 8 & under swimmers only.
  • New Mexico Games (hosted at West Mesa Aquatic Center): This meet requires a separate sign-up and a fee of $15.00 per swimmer.
  • District Qualifying Meet: This meet will take place two days before the Sundance Finals.

More information will be available on these meets as the time approaches.

SCHEDULE:

The swim meet schedule is posted on the website.  Any printed schedule is subject to change. The most current information will be provided by the coaches in their briefings before the morning practice.

Swim meets are generally scheduled on Saturday mornings, with occasional meets on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.  Starting times are posted on the schedule on the website. This is the time when warm up begins.

Please let your coach know if your child will not be attending a swim meet, as coaches plan the events and relays ahead of time.

WHAT TO BRING:

  • Shelter from the sun: Many families bring portable sun shelters to protect themselves and other teammates and spectators from the sun. These shelters are usually large enough to host more than one family, so if you don't already own a canopy, you do not have to purchase one (but you might want to invest in one - it's a great way of making friends!)
  • Lawn Chairs
  • Towels
  • Swim suit, goggles & swim cap
  • Extra goggles and extra swim cap (just in case)
  • Plenty of water to drink
  • Light snacks for consumption by your swimmer and family during the meet (fruit, granola, etc...)
  • Sunscreen
  • Pen and paper: To write events and times down.
  • Entertainment for children: (i.e., books, games, cards), as meets run anywhere between 3-5 hours in length.  Don't forget entertainment for yourself as well!

Opportunities to volunteer abound at swim meets:

The swim meets require the participation of as many volunteers (parents, older siblings, grandparents) as possible.  While we understand that parents chasing toddlers around the pool, and those chaperoning 8 & under swimmers, or helping to get younger swimmers to their events in time, may not be able to help, please consider helping out if you can.  Timers are always needed (for both home and away meets for the lanes in with Dolphin swimmers swim).  In addition, at home meets we need help with set up and take down of equipment, ribbon table staffing, stroke and turn judging, announcer, finish judge, runner, etc...   If you are not familiar with these terms and/or other swimming jargon, just ask around. There are many knowledgeable parents around the pool and they would be happy to pass on their knowledge to you - because that means there will be more volunteers to go around!  These "jobs" are relatively easy, and your commitment is only for one half of the meet (first  or second half).

Communication:

A team newsletter is posted at the beginning of every week, and a copy will be posted on the team website (www.dolphinsswimteam.net).  In addition, email is the preferred form of communication.  Group emails (with new information and updates) are sent out as necessary via "Yahoo Groups".  We encourage all team members to sign up for our "Yahoo Group", as this is the most efficient and effective way to stay informed.  You will find a link on the home page of our website that will help you get signed up. If you do not have an email address, or would prefer to receive a paper newsletter, please let the team parent know.

Events:

Many social events (Mom's night out, Dad's night out, informational clinics, such as Timer's clinic or Stroke & Turn Clinic) will usually be held during evening practice times. The schedule for these events can be found on the team website.

"My kid says he's suppose to swim like a butterfly."

While the Stroke & Turn rules may seem complicated to us, the coaches make sure that they explain them in a manner that is simple enough for a 5 year old to understand.  However, as we adults may be less gifted at grasping these rules, we will briefly describe each stroke, as modified for use in the Sundance League.  Please note that other leagues (High School, USA Swimming) may have slightly different rules.

FREESTYLE

The freestyle is defined as any means of swimming across the pool.  Any stroke or kick is acceptable.  There are, however, a few "don'ts" associated with this stroke:

1. The swimmer cannot walk on the bottom of the pool.

2. The swimmer cannot use the lane lines to pull themselves ahead.

3. In a 50 yard (or meter) race, meaning two pool lengths in short course racing, a swimmer must touch the wall with some body part - hand, foot, head - at the 25 yard (meter) end before touching the wall at the 50 yard (meter) end. 

4. A swimmer must finish the race in the same lane that he/she started in

Causes for disqualification: 

It is hard to get disqualified in freestyle, but it does happen every once in a while.  Apart from the above, a swimmer can get disqualified, for instance, for swimming under the lane line into another swimmer's lane and interfering with that swimmer.

BACKSTROKE

Like the freestyle, almost anything goes with the backstroke, as long as you stay on your back.  Backstroke starts are different because the swimmer is in the water with feet planted against the wall, hanging on the edge of the pool or off of the blocks.  The backstroke flip turn is the only exception to staying on your back and can be used only as a part of a turn.  The backstroke flip turn is optional, so if your child has not learned it yet, do not panic.  The coaches will make sure that they learn it when they are ready.

Causes for disqualification:

Disqualification in backstroke is most often related to the swimmer turning onto their stomach before touching the wall.  A swimmer must finish the race while on his/her back.

BREASTSTROKE

The breaststroke has three components: the kick, the arm pull and the glide.  The kick is a "frog" kick and the toes must be pointed outward during the propulsive part of the kick.  The arm pull reaches forward underwater - once the arms are in full extension ahead, the swimmer pauses (or glides) and waits for the legs to finish the kick, with legs together.  The arm pull and kick must be in alternating sequence and the elbows must stay below the water. Breaststroke turns and finishes require a simultaneous, two-hand touch.  For other rules, such as the underwater pull, please attend the Stroke & Turn clinic.

Causes for disqualification:

The frequent cause for disqualification is the swimmers use of a  "scissor kick" - an asymmetric kick, or any other kick that is not a breaststroke kick.  The other major cause of disqualification is a one-hand touch.

BUTTERFLY

A well-executed butterfly (or Fly) is the most beautiful exhibition of power you will ever see in a swimming pool. The fly is the hardest stroke for most swimmers to perfect, and while they are learning it, they may look like they are drowning. There are two components to the fly: the arm pull and the kick.  The arm pull must be an over-the-water recovery (elbows breaking the surface of the water) with the arms moving simultaneously. The kick is a dolphin style kick, with both legs moving simultaneously.  Unlike the breaststroke, there is no requirement to alternate the kick and the pull. Turns and finishes require a simultaneous, two-hand touch on the wall.

Causes for disqualifications:

Asymmetric arm pull, asymmetric kick, any kick other than a dolphin kick.  The other major cause for disqualification is a one-hand touch.

IM (Individual Medley)

In the individual medley (or IM), a swimmer completes each of the four strokes in the following sequence:  Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle.  We swim a 100 yard IM in the Sundance League - 25 yards (one pool length) for each stroke.

RELAYS

There are two kinds of relays:  The Medley Relay and the Freestyle relay. Both involve four swimmers, each one swimming one quarter of the distance.  In the Medley Relay, the sequence is: Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly and Freestyle.  In the Freestyle (or Free)Relay, each swimmer swims freestyle.  In all relays, each swimmer must wait until the previous swimmer touches the wall before leaving the deck or block.  The touch must be appropriate to the stroke - for instance, two-hand touches are necessary to finish the butterfly and breaststroke portions of the relay legally, and touching the wall with the swimmer still on the back is needed for a legal backstroke touch.  The total distance of the relay depends on the age of the swimmer. Younger swimmers (10 & under) only swim 25 yards per leg of the race, older swimmers must complete 50 yards per leg of the race.


Meet Sheets: The Secret Code Deciphered

Age

Grp

 

 Name

 

 Age

 Med

Relay

 Short

Free

 

IM

 

Back

 Long

Free

 

Breast

 

Fly

Free

Relay

 8 F
 Mary 5 4-2nd 2-EX 4  4-2   6-1st
 8 F
 Jane 7 2-1st       6-2nd
 8 F
 Casey 8 6-4th       6-3rd


Mary (a 5 year old girl) will swim the following:

Medley Relay:  Lane 4, 2nd swimmer; as the order of the Medley Relay is Backstroke, Breaststroke,  Butterfly & Freestyle, Mary will swim Breaststroke.

Short Free:   Lane 2, Exhibition - her time will not count towards qualifying for finals. She is swimming for practice and to allow her coaches to assess her improvement.

IM:  Lane 4.

Backstroke:  Mary is not scheduled to swim the backstroke, so she can take a break.

Long Free:  Lane 4, second heat (after the swimmer who is marked only as "4").

Breaststroke:  Mary takes a break.

Butterfly:  Mary takes a break.

Free Relay:  Lane 6, Mary is the 1st swimmer on the block (starts the race).

 
Nutrition and Rest:

Children should eat a nutritious meal before swimming.  The consumption of junk food should be avoided during the meets. Light, nutritious snacks are best (fruit, granola, etc...).   Water is the best drink during the swim meet.  It is important to get a good night's rest before a swim meet.

Who are all these people at the swim meet?

Your first swim meet can be an overwhelming experience as you encounter a horde of adults and children who all seem to know what's going on, leaving you feeling like you are the only one who does not belong.  Do not panic!  We are all a "first timer" at some point, and we are all here to help!  It is a good idea to show up on time (or even a little early) to set up your lawn chair/shade/etc... in the team common area while your child is warming up with the team. Sometime before the swim meet starts, look for the team corkboard - the schedule of events and each swimmer's scheduled swims for the day will be posted.

Bring a pen (or two) and some paper (or a small notebook) to write down the events for each of your swimmers.  Familiarize yourself with the pool, for example, get to know which end of the pool the swimmers will start from, which side of the pool Lane 1 is on, and so forth.  If you are not volunteering, please consider helping your child and other children in your child's age group get to their respective events/lanes on time.  If you are volunteering, please check in with the volunteer desk or coordinator to let everyone know you are here and ready to help!

CLERK  OF  COURSE

Some meets, like New Mexico Games, and the District Preliminaries and Finals will have a Clerk of Course.  This is the gatekeeper for the meet - assembling the swimmers for each event, directing them to the correct lanes and keeping the flow the events smooth.

THE  STARTER

The Starter is responsible for making sure that all the swimmers are given a fair and equitable start.  The Starter will instruct the swimmers to "take your mark". When all the swimmers are ready and still, the starter will start the race using a "Colorado System" consisting of a loud speaker, a horn and a strobe light.

STROKE & TURN JUDGES

These people are responsible for ensuring that all swimmers obey the rules for the stroke that they are swimming.  There are two Stroke & Turn judges - one on each side of the pool - and each one watches about half the pool.  If the Stroke & Turn judge sees a violation, he/she records it on a DQ (Disqualification) slip and hands it to the people at the ribbon table. If your child receives a DQ slip, please remain calm. The reason for the DQ is noted on the slip. You will have an opportunity to discuss this with your child's coach. DQ slips are common during meets, and are a welcome reminder to pay attention to that particular mistake and work on it during the upcoming practices, so the swimmer does not get disqualified in an important meet, like the Finals!

TIMERS

Timers are the most important people to the swimmers.  Volunteering to ‘time' is an opportunity to reserve the best seat in the house-on the pool deck! Timing is a good entry-level volunteer position, and it comes with many perks, one of which is getting to know many of the swimmers.

RIBBON  TABLE  WORKERS

This is another great entry level position, with the added perk that you get to see all those smiling faces when you hand out colorful ribbons. Table workers receive time cards and DQ slips and prepare the ribbons for the participants.

COACHES

During the swim meet, the primary responsibility of the coaches is to encourage, instruct and praise the swimmers. Please try to limit talking to the coaches at length during the swim meet, as coaches have a lot of swimmers to pay attention to.

PRELIMS & FINALS

These are the most important events in the entire swim season.  They always takes place the third weekend in July (Thursday, Friday & Saturday), so please plan your vacation accordingly.  Thursday is the Preliminary Meet, and if your child qualifies, he/she will swim at the Finals on Saturday. Even if your child did not qualify for an individual event, he/she may still be in a relay in the finals, so make sure to talk to your child's coach after the Preliminaries.  More information will be made available as the event draws closer.

Congratulations on introducing your child to a healthy, life-long sport.  Your child will learn valuable life lessons, organizational skills, the importance of honoring one's commitments, long-term goal setting and ownership of their actions and decisions.  Go Dolphins!