Welcome to WAC Swimming!
WAC was established to provide the opportunity for every child to pursue excellence in the sport of swimming. Just as important, WAC seeks to promote the highest level of sportsmanship, integrity, self-discipline and compassion in mind and spirit so that the child is not only an excellent athlete, but a respected and respectful individual, and a caring, considerate teammate.
A "Have Fun, Swim Well, Swim Fast" Primer
The general purpose of this handbook is to provide you with some of the information that will be helpful in making your child a better swimmer and, hopefully, a better person.
WAC is a USA Swimming (USS) swim team in Westerville, Ohio, and a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. Like other USA teams, it has coaches, swimmers and parents. WAC is owned and operated by the head coach, and while the club has a booster board and committees to perform various tasks and services for the team, it does not have a board of trustees which sets policy. The implications of this structure is important because it means that:
1. The head coach/owner has control over the teaching of swimmers and the placement of those swimmers in training groups and meets which is not subject to parental board interference:
2. Parents have more direct access, one-to-one, with the coaches concerning their child, and are not required to communicate through a board or have a decision, contrary to their own wishes, implemented by a board.
WHAT PARENTS CAN EXPECT FROM THE COACHING STAFF AND HEAD COACH/OWNER
WAC coaches will, at all times, strive to provide the best possible atmosphere for swimmers placed in their charge in the following ways:
1. The coaches will give each swimmer as much attention and training as is needed for a successful swimming experience during training and meets;
2. The coaches will be on time (with allowances for the elements and unusual circumstances) and be prepared for all scheduled practices and meets;
3. The coaches will make parents aware of all scheduled or rescheduled practices, meets, and other dates of note, in a timely manner, and in writing whenever possible;
4. The coaches will treat each swimmer and parent with respect, and maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect and courtesy at meets and practices;
5. The coaches will make themselves available at all reasonable times (e.g., after practices or by appointment) to answer parent’s questions or discuss issues with the swimmer and parents;
6. The head coach/owner will maintain the financial accounts for each family and observe strict confidentiality concerning those accounts or any private discussions of any nature between parents and head coach/owner;
7. The head coach will maintain a regular on-line and hard copy newsletter for communication purpose which will be mailed to all currently registered swimmers;
8. The coaches will abide by all rules, remain current and well informed regarding any changes to USA Swimming rules, and maintain current registration with USA Swimming.
What is expected from a WAC parent
Swimming, above all, should be an exciting and rewarding learning experience for your child. It should be seen, for the most part, as a fun activity from which your child gains self-respect, self-discipline, good mental and physical health, companionship, good sportsmanship, and great memories. Toward these ends, the job of coach is to coach, and the job of the parent is to be a parent. Here are some guidelines for the swimming parent which our coaches have found most useful:
1. ALWAYS BE SUPPORTIVE, NO MATTER WHAT.
The coaches job is to tell the swimmer what she/he did wrong so that a correction can be made. It’s the parent’s job to give them love and support. Leave the criticism and correction to the coach, and leave the swimming at the pool.
2. ALLOW YOUR CHILD TO HAVE FUN.
Childhood only happens once, and swimming should be an enjoyable activity. If you literally have to drag your child to each practice and it causes more tears than cheers, perhaps you should first, set up an appointment with the coach and discuss the situation with him/her. There may be a way to solve the problem. If not, perhaps you should reevaluate the role of swimming in your child’s activities. Swimming is not for everyone.
3. NEVER IMPOSE YOUR OWN AMBITIONS ON YOUR CHILD.
Remember that swimming is your child’s activity. Improvements and progress occur at different rates for each child. Don’t compare your child’s progress to others, and don’t push them based upon what you think they ought to be doing. Most importantly, don’t base your own self-esteem upon your child’s swimming.
4. DON’T COACH YOUR CHILD.
That’s what you are paying the coaches to do. Unless you were a successful swimming coach or swimmer up until last year, you won’t know what you are talking about and may cause untold amounts of damage to your child’s swimming.
5. NEVER CRITICIZE OTHER SWIMMERS, THE OFFICIALS OR THE COACH.
Another swimmer’s progress or failures is none of your business. When you put another person’s child down, that does not raise your own child up. Second, if you do not have the time or desire to volunteer as an official, don’t criticize those who are giving their time and doing the best that they can. And, last, by criticizing the coach in front of the child, you are only hurting your child’s chances to improve. The child will either be confused by the criticism or will not listen to the coach after your criticism. If you have a problem with the coach, discuss it directly with him or her. Remember that you are paying the coach to work with your child, not take abuse from you.
6. NEVER HUMILIATE YOUR CHILD OVER A SWIM PERFORMANCE.
A child will derive no joy from swimming if his or her parent is regularly denigrating him or yelling at her in front of others. Just put yourself in the child’s fins: how would you feel if someone did that to you? It is a rare child that purposefully will "dog" a race.
7. DON’T SPECULATE, ASK QUESTIONS.
Never hesitate to ask your child’s coach any questions. Again, you are paying him or her to coach your child, and you have a right to ask about your child’s progress or direction. Remember to choose times which do not interfere with performance of the coach’s job.
8 GET INVOLVED.
Volunteer to help the parent booster board in executing the various activities it conducts for your children throughout the swimming season. Help organize a fund-raiser. Learn how to officiate, or just raise the spirits of the team in some way. By getting involved with your child’s team, you meet a lot of other great people, and you show your child that you care about what she/he is doing.
A FINAL NOTE:
There are around 225,000 athletes currently registered with United States Swimming. There are only 52 spots available every four years for the Olympic Swim Team. Your child’s odds of becoming an Olympic swimmer are about 1 in 4300. Keep that in mind when you are asking yourself: "What do I want my child to get out of USA Swimming?" There are many other benefits besides winning.
WHAT IS EXPECTED FROM A WAC SWIMMER
1. "YA GOTTA WANNA" If you want to be successful and achieve all that you are capable of achieving as a swimmer, then you have to want to work hard. Only you can fulfill that desire to work hard, and only you control how successful you are. Swimming is a sport in the true sense of the word, because there is only one swimmer, the water, and the watch. There is a direct relationship between hard work and results. Just being tall, strong, or well coordinated will not do it alone. In the end, the others will be outdone by the smaller swimmer who has the desire to work harder and swim better.
2. "NO PAIN, NO GAIN" You have to work harder than you ever have if you want to be the best swimmer you can be. Welcome the opportunity to practice and compete, and work as hard as you can at each opportunity. Come a few minutes early to practice so that you are prepared to jump right in the pool and get to work. Don’t skip any part of the workout, and complete every part of the workout to the best of your ability.
3. BE OUTSTANDING IN YOUR FIELD PHYSICALLY. No other sport for kids requires as much training and hard work. When you swim a hard two hour workout, you burn as much energy as if you had run a marathon. You need to take care of your body in order to swim hard and well. Smoking, drinking, or taking drugs are all obviously forbidden for any swimmer. And a lot of junk food like candy and pop are not really useful for your body. Although it’s fine to have sweets from time to time, your working body needs lots of good complex carbohydrates like fresh fruits, vegetables, grains cereals, and breads, and frequent hydration with water (8-10 glasses daily), fruit juices or athletic drinks. Finally, a good night’s sleep is imperative. If you are good to your body, your body will work great for you.
4. YOU MUST TAKE CARE OF YOUR MIND AND SPIRIT. If your mind is preoccupied with other things, like the homework that you put off, then you won’ be able to fully concentrate on your swimming. Take care of your other responsibilities before coming to the pool, then you will focus on your training. Just as important is your spiritual health. If you are weighed down by a bad attitude, anger towards others, or the hurtful words you said to a teammate, you won’t have the heart to do a good job. Remember to treat others the way that you would like to be treated, both in and out of the pool.
5. STRIVING TO WIN AS OPPOSED TO STRIVING NOT TO LOSE. Climb on the blocks with a positive can-do attitude. If you have truly worked hard as you can at practices, then you will do the best you can at that particular time. Strive to win, and winning can mean a small drop in your time, or a better stroke technique. Don’t think in terms of losing. And when your swim is done, stay on to root for your teammates. Be a big-hearted generous winner in every way.
WHAT PARENTS CAN EXPECT AT A WAC PRACTICE
Parents are usually welcome to watch at any WAC practice. Coaches may choose to close certain practices but they will notify both parents and swimmers if closing practice to observers is necessary. If you do stay to watch practice, the coaches only ask that you stay on the sidelines and do not interfere with your child’s practice. The coach will have written a workout on the board for your child, or given verbal instruction. That is what the child is supposed to do. You may have an opinion regarding how your child is doing, but keep it to yourself. The coach is watching, and will comment as he/she deems necessary. If you have any questions, feel free to discuss them with the coach before or after the practice. A final word of wisdom: Children commonly resent having their parents watch them work out, and do a better job if the parent is not there. Think about that. Again, this is your child’s activity.
SUGGESTIONS FOR MAKING A PRACTICE SUCCESSFUL
1. MAKE SURE THAT YOUR CHILD IS PREPARED FOR PRACTICE.
Especially with little ones, make sure that all of their equipment is in their bag. It is embarrassing for a child to be delayed in order to ask others for a pair of goggles or a swim cap, or to have to tell the coach that they forgot their equipment. Make sure they have everything they need. If you have any questions about the necessary equipment, reference the required equipment list for each training group or ask a veteran parent. Your child may develop a preference in goggles, for example, and there are places where you can obtain these at a cheaper cost. It is not unusual for a swimmer to go through several swim caps and a few pair of goggles in one season. And one suit will not be enough. The chlorine will eat away at the lycra very quickly. Again, there are places where you can obtain practice suits at a lower cost. The head coach has access to specialized swimming providers or a veteran parent can give you suggestions.
2. MAINTAIN THE EQUIPMENT.
The equipment list helps you to purchase for your swimmer the accessories s/he needs to train and compete well. You are responsible for taking care of that, and will have to pay the replacement cost if it is lost. A mesh bag is a good way to keep all of it together, and will allow the kick board, etc., to dry out by hanging it on a hook somewhere. The suits must be rinsed out after each practice and meet in order to extend the life of the suit. You can hand wash the suits in Woolite or something similar, but all that is really needed is a good soak in clear, COLD water. Then lay it out somewhere to dry. DO NOT put them in the washer or drier. Caps need similar care, or they get sticky and thin. Rinse the caps in cool, clear water, and then allow them to dry. A quick dose of Talcum powder will keep it from deteriorating. As your child gets older, she/he should be responsible for maintaining the swim equipment.
HEALTH CONCERNS AND ISSUES
1. MONITOR FOOD INTAKE.
Do not give your child a large meal right before practice. It’s better to give them a small, high carbohydrate snack about an hour or more before practice: a bagel with cream cheese, muffins, cereal, or fruit. Then after practice, once the child has rested a bit, a larger meal will be welcome. Some children will experience an increase in their appetites due to the amount of calories burned during a workout and some children will not. This depends upon each child, individually. Similarly, be sure your child is well-hydratred. Swimmers sweat more than most other athletes because the pool water keeps washing the sweat off as it is formed, and the body is trying to stay cool continually. It’s a goof idea to bring a water bottle filled with water or sport drink (like Gatorade) to practice.
2. ATHLETE’S FOOT AND PLANTER’S WARTS
Provide your child with deck sandals so that he/she avoids walking on the cement floor in the rest room and on the pool deck. Tell the child to keep his/ her bag pool side, preferably up off the floor on the bleachers. Showers are available for you children to use, but keep in mind that hundreds of people use them weekly.
3. ACHES AND PAINS
Your child’s muscles will be sore. That’s normal for first time swimmers and experienced swimmers at their first few practices. A warm soak in the tub is typically the best solution. An over-the-counter pain medication may be useful as well, but, eventually, your child won’t feel any lasting pains. She/he will get used to the workouts, and ironically, feel muscle aches after the end of the season when there are no more practices. The kids call this PSWS or Post Swimming Withdraw Syndrome. Any severe or continuing pain, especially in the shoulder or knee region, should be discussed with one of the coaches and a physician.
4. HAIR CARE.
There are several excellent products on the market for removing the damaging chloramines from swimmer’s hair, if you want to spend the extra money. Any shampoo, however, is good enough to remove the chloramines and the dirt. The swimmers should wash their hair and rinse off the body after each practice, just to remove any chloramine residue.
5. MENSTRUAL CYCLE.
It is not uncommon for girls to have diminished periods or skip them altogether when in training. When a girl has low body fat (which is typical for competitive athletes), the body limits the menstrual process. It returns to its normal status once training is stopped. If this happens, inform the coach so that the workouts can be tapered off a bit, so as not to interfere with nature.
It happens. And when it does, your child’s swimming performance will most likely change to adjust to the new body and mind that is developing. Patience and support are recommended. It is not uncommon for some girls to slow down as a result of puberty due to the tremendous changes taking place and the enormous amount of energy being used in the process. Others speed up after puberty. Each child is unique.
It is common for swimmers or long distance runners of both sexes to experience growth only during the off season, and then in large spurts. This is very common in swimmers who have little or no body fat, so do not be alarmed. This also depends on the child.
You will find that the WAC parents are some of the nicest people in the world, and certainly the most supportive and rowdy group of swim parents in Ohio Swimming! They are prepared to help any new parent with any questions you may have. One of the benefits of being welcome at practices is that you can meet some of the parents and ask questions. Many of them have been around for a long time, and have a wealth of information. Don’t hesitate to ask!
SOME IMPORTANT TERMS TO KNOW
1. SHORT COURSE (SC).
The winter season, using a 25 yard or "short course" pool. The first practice usually begins in mid September and the Championship Meet is in March. Most USA swimmers swim short course.
2. LONG COURSE (LC).
The summer season, using a 50 meter, or "long course" pool. The first practice begins in mid April with the Championship meets being in late July or early August. Many swimmers take the Summer "off", but keep in mind that the rest of the world and the Olympic competition is done in "long course" pools, and practice in a 25 yard pool is no substitute for the training that is acquired in the longer meter pool. The meets, which mostly take place outdoors, are much more relaxed and less crowded.
3. SUMMER LEAGUES.
The coaches encourage WAC swimmers to represent summer clubs in dual meets and championships while they are swimming the WAC long course season. If you belong to a country club or a club with a pool, you are more than welcome to have your child participate in those league’s meets, whether or not you are registered as a WAC long course swimmer. USA Swimming rules, however, require that you be an officially registered member, in good standing, of WAC in order to compete in long course meets. Keep in mind that short course training and competition should in no way be considered a replacement for long course practices or meets. In summer, for long course meets, long course training is best, and it is encouraged in the Summer in order to build endurance. But any swimming is better than no swimming at all. If you have any questions about this, discuss them with the coaches.
4. CLERK OF COURSE.
This is the person who runs the show at the meet. For your swimmer, the show we refer to her is the bull pen. Your child will be required to check in with the clerk’s desk or tent, unless the coach indicates that she/he has already taken care of it. Your child will circle or check his or her name to indicate that they are in attendance and prepared to swim. Sometimes the swimmer will only have to check in once in the beginning of the meet and other times the child will have to check in before each event. Most often, the coaches take care of check-in, especially in short course. The announcer will give instructions over the PA system during short course meets about which age group swimmers are required to report and check in at the bull pen, and again, you can always ask another parent or the coaches. Generally, the more experienced swimmers will help the less experienced swimmers.
5. THE DECK.
The roped off area around the pool, or the entire pool area. Parents are not allowed on deck, and a USA official will ask you to leave the deck or eject you from the meet if you cannot show current membership and proper certification. It is better to find a good spot in the stands with the other parents.
To pull a child from an event. This should only be done for medical reasons after consulting with the coach. No parent should encourage a swimmer to scratch, and a swimmer should keep in mind that she/he may be needed for a relay entry.
The following strokes are used in the events or races over various lengths.
Freestyle: The most common swimming stroke known as the crawl stroke. It utilizes an alternating arm stroke with a flutter kick, although a swimmer may use any stroke during a freestyle event.
Backstroke: An alternating arm stroke done on the back with a flutter kick.
Breaststroke: Simultaneous arm strokes from the breast with a "frog" kick.
Butterfly: Simultaneous arm strokes from the shoulder with a "dolphin" kick.
Individual Medley: A combination of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and Freestyle, in that order.
THE FOLLOWING EVENTS ARE SWUM BY FOUR INDIVIDUALS IN SEQUENCE.
Medley Relay: Backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle, in that order.
Freestyle Relay: Each individual swimming freestyle in sequence.
IN EITHER EVENT, THE COACHES WILL TYPICALLY (BUT NOT ALWAYS) CHOOSE THE FOUR FASTEST SWIMMERS IN THAT PARTICULAR MEET TO BE ON THE "A" RELAY, THEN THE NEXT FOUR FASTEST FOR THE "B" RELAY, ETC.
8 AGE GROUPS.
8 & Under (Mini), 9-10 or 10 & Under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 15-18, 15 & Over, Open (any age) and Senior (12 & over). The swimmer’s actual birth date determines placement at any given meet.
Disqualified. Every child is DQ’d at some point in their career. Keep in mind that there are specific rules governing each stroke that certified USS judges use in determining whether the stroke was "legal". Swimming legally is important because a legal stroke is a faster stroke, and legal swimmers keep the competitive playing field level and fair for all swimmers. You may think that the stroke looks great, but it may be in violation of USA rules. The official will tell your child why she/he was DQ’d. If the swimmer does not understand what the official said, the swimmer should ask the coach ASAP so that the coach can talk with the official immediately following the call. A DQ should be looked upon as a necessary evil from which the swimmer can learn. Ask the coach if you don’t understand why your child was DQ’d. NEVER question the official.
All of the swimmers can’t swim at once, so the event is divided into heats in which all of the lanes are filled as much as possible. There will always be a minimum of three swimmers in each heat (except in pre-seeded events), and the heats run slowest to fastest.
11. HEAT SHEETS.
The official listing of events in the order that they are swum. The heat sheets are usually sold at the door for a few dollars.
As mentioned under "HEATS", the slower swimmers in an event swim in the first heats, the fastest in the last heats. The swimmers are seeded by heat and within each heat according to their times so that each swimmer can, ideally, swim to the best of his or her ability. The fastest swimmer in each heat is seeded in the center lane (lane 3 in a 6 lane pool - lane 4 in a n 8 lane pool). There are different types of seeding, but generally, the fastest are in the last heat. Seeding cannot be changed at the meet and sometimes your swimmer will be seeded at an older, slower time. That is because the coach had to send in the entries generally 3 to 4 weeks before the meet, thus your swimmer’s better time had not yet been achieved.
13. CUTOFF TIMES.
You will hear swimmers talk about getting their "A" times. B, A, AA, AAA, and Top 16 are various divisions in times for each event and age group, with B being the slowest. Some meets make cuts depending upon a swimmer’s time.
GETTING READY FOR THE MEETS
BEFORE THE MEET PREPARATIONS.
ALWAYS check first your folder in the boxes at the pool and second, the WAC web site [http://www.wacswim.net/WAC] for meet information and up to the minute announcements. The web site will contain specific meet information, order of events, etc. well before the weekend the meet is scheduled. The coaches communicate specific meet entry information via flyers in your folder, and meet entries will also be posted on the web site at least a week before the meet is scheduled to begin. Both sources will provide information about your child’s entry, the location of the pool, warm-up times, hotel reservation information, and more. If you are not sure about anything, ASK. It’s better to ask questions than to have a child miss a warm-up or a meet.
If the meet is far away, a parent volunteer will typically have made arrangements for a block of rooms at a nearby motel. Once we notify you of the specific hotel and block of rooms, you are personally responsible for calling and confirming your room on YOUR personal MC/VISA. The number to call will be posted in flyer information or on the web site. Do that as soon as possible so that your room is confirmed as reserved. Also, directions to pools will be made available for each parent in hard copy and on the WAC web site. Again, if you are not sure, ask. The coaches have been to most of the pools in Ohio, Indiana and elsewhere, and know how to get there. Give yourself plenty of time to get there for the warm-ups.
The coaches have tents for shade, but you may wish to bring your own. Other musts: Money for heat sheets, pencils, highlighter pen, sunscreen, umbrella (for shade or rain), an old bedspread or blanket, cooler with ice, water and drinks, all swim equipment. Other ideas: cut-up fruit, bagels and creamed cheese, muffins, walkman or radio with headsets (to help the swimmer get his or her mind off of swimming for a while), pillow, books. Note that food is usually available for purchase at swim meets (along with T-shirts, goggles and suits), but you may wish to bring your own.
Except for the tent and umbrella, same as above. In addition: a stadium seat or chair pad for hours in uncomfortable bleachers, walking shoes for taking a stroll outside or around the halls. Keep in mind that it may be 20 below zero outside, yet the inside of the natatorium is invariable quite warm and muggy, so it’s best to wear short sleeve shirts or go sleeveless underneath your winter coat. The swimmers will typically set up down on the deck or in a room specifically designated for swimmers, and will use the bedspread or blanket for stretching out in between events.
WHERE TO SIT AND WHAT TO DO.
In the bleachers with friends or other team parents. Cheer for all of the kids on the team. You will be surprised at how an active level of involvement on your part makes the time pass more quickly and familiarizes (and endears) you with other swimmers and parents on the team. Wear your team T-shirt, keep track of the action in your heat sheet, and share your admiration for good WAC swims with other WAC parents and swimmers. WAC parents are admired state wide for their loud and enthusiastic cheering, so much that parents of swimmers in other clubs have cited our parents’ behavior as their model for their "team cheering" activities at meets. If this is not to your liking or inconsistent with your nature, find a quiet corner in the natatorium or building to read or do some office work in between events.
WHAT NOT TO DO.
Do not compare your child’s time to any other swimmers. Do not complain about how poorly your child is doing. Do not gossip about other swimmers or parents. And if you do not see an event or get your child’s time, do not panic. The times are always posted on a wall somewhere for everyone to see, and your child will always welcome a big hug and listening ear when she/he sees you, no matter what.
IN THE OFF SEASON
There are several formal committees which help run things for WAC. The coaches and swimmers benefit from and appreciate your volunteer efforts. Contact the manager if you’re interested in getting involved in any of the following:
WAC BOOSTER BOARD
As you can see on the WAC web site, the booster board, composed of 9-11 parent officers and members, plan and conduct all fundraising, social and meet activities for the club. We conduct four major social events, two fundraising activities, and one charitable support activity each year. Committees composed of booster and non booster board parents will be convened throughout the year to realize the successful execution of these events. If you are interested in contributing to the success of our club, participating in planning and executing these events is the best way to show your interest. Express your interest in helping, or direct your questions, to the Booster Board President or the Head Coach/Owner. Veteran parents can also help you get involved.
If you have interesting ideas for raising funds for the team or wish to help raise funds in an established fundraiser, please contact the manager. Parents have been instrumental in initiating and implementing many great new ideas.
WAC co-sponsors the long course Central Ohio Invitational each summer in late June with the Greater Columbus Swim Team of Ohio (GCSTO). WAC parents provide the personnel for the actual execution of the meet in variety of ways, including hospitality, timing, officiating (you must be a certified USS official), raffle, goodie bags for entrants, set-up and tear down, and a variety of other jobs which must be performed during this two day meet in the Summer.
You would be responsible for contacting certain families if information had to be communicated quickly.
ASK THE COACH.
There may be a need for your assistance at a particular meet. The coach may ask that you write down all the team’s times, collect ribbons, organize an activity, or assist in a particular project. Remember, there is plenty of work for everyone to do IF YOU MAKE IT KNOWN that you wish to help.