It might be Spring but it’s not too early to start planning for Summer! For the last ten years, our summers have centered on summer swim teams, and I look forward to the start of the season all year long. Are your kids considering a summer swim team this year? Here are a few tips as you begin your journey.
Swim Team is competitive.
It’s NOT a substitute for swimming lessons. While each local team has its own set of minimum requirements for age and ability, all teams require each member swim 50 meters, unassisted, in at least one competitive stroke: freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, or breaststroke. If your child is struggling to cover the distance, wait another year. Coaches will teach your kids how to use the start blocks, do flip turns, and perfect their form so don’t worry if your kids are new to the sport.
You will be required to volunteer.
Swim Team is parent/guardian intensive. It takes a minimum of 35 adults to run a swim meet. My husband is a stroke and turn official. He also does something (seriously, I have no idea what) with creating the heat sheets for our home meets and making sure the times are recorded properly and with the right people. He takes classes throughout the year to maintain his certification and pays for a background check every year. It’s that kind of intense. My favorite volunteer position is Timer because we have the best view of each race, get to visit with the swimmers and other timers in our lane, and stay active and engaged for every heat of the meet. Also, it’s pretty easy. Each team has a different policy for parent volunteers but expect that you will be asked to help for both away and home meets.
Swimmers eat ALL THE FOOD!
All.Summer.Long. This is not a drill. Competitive swimmers are always hungry, even when they consume 3000 calories a day. They will eat after practice, all day long, and definitely during the meets. Plan accordingly. While I focus on feeding my family healthy meals all the time, my kids refuse to attend a swim meet without white cheddar Cheez-itz. I never fight with swim team tradition.
Swim Team builds independence.
Their coaches will give them their event numbers before the meet begins but each child is responsible for paying attention and reporting to the Clerk of the Course when their event is announced. Most kids write their event numbers in sharpie on their arms. It’s okay, it does wash off. They might occasionally miss an event which is also part of the process. My kids sit with their friends (which is great since my husband and I are typically volunteering) and take charge over their own meet. This was a great lesson to ME to let them do it.
Swim Team teaches discipline.
Practice is daily and it’s hard. My kids are in the water during swim season earlier than we left for school. So even in the summer, my kids are thinking about that early wake-up call and plan for it. It is also physically demanding to practice hard every day. You get out of swim team what you put into it. While some kids love the social aspects of swim team and hanging out with their friends at practice, other kids will use that time to push themselves to better Personal Record times.
Swimmers make lasting friendships.
Both of my kids have friends from swim team that are older and younger than them. It’s broadened their circle of friends and given them the chance to be role models for new and younger swim team members. Swim team is both a team and individual sport with opportunities for personal development as well as the chance to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Ready to connect with a summer team in your area?
Check out the list below! Most teams have Facebook pages that you should be able to find by searching for your city. You can also check the following website for a list of teams here. Get in touch with your team early as many hold clinics beginning in March!
See you poolside!