I was never on a swim team as a child. What can I expect for my child? At Southampton, we take our swim team seriously. But the most important part of our swim team is the fun, family-supportive atmosphere. Our coaches, led by Mike Peters, want our kids to enjoy practice and improve their skills. To learn to be part of a team and support each other. And how important it is to demonstrate good sportsmanship.
How long is a typical meet? Most regular meets, home or away, start at 6:30PM. Pending summer weather in Richmond (aka Thunderstorms) a meet might end at 11 pm or later. Ideally, if the meet is delayed due to a storm, we will suspend swimming and wait out the storm. If that is not possible, the meet will continue the next evening.
Don’t panic. The length of a meet also depends on the age of your child. If you have a mini-mite or mighty mite, your child will swim in the earlier heats. You are free to leave after your child is finished swimming. The coaches may also decide not to have your child swim all events in a meet, which can mean a change in the time you can leave. If for some reason your child becomes ill or tired and does not want to swim in their last event(s) please let the coaches know your child will not be swimming.
My child is a Mini Mite. With no prior swim team experience, I’m a little nervous about how all this works. Grab any SRA swim team parent, and they’ll say they remember what it was like to be where you are. Our SRA coaches, Director of Swim Team, Jamie Maccaroni, and volunteers are here to help get you acclimated. Before the regular meets start, we do a practice meet (aka Mini Meet) at our own pool so that our mites go through all the steps of getting their cards, lining up, “sitting in chairs”, getting used to the starter sound and going off the blocks. You’ll most likely meet a lot of moms and dads that were once right where you are. They will be happy to answer your questions and help you get up to speed fast.
Is participation in swim team a good way for my child to learn to swim? Certainly, being a part of swim team can help your child develop a life-long love of swimming. But swim team is not a substitute for tried and true swimming lessons. In fact, if your child is nervous or uncomfortable in the water, swim team might seem chaotic to them. Remember, the coaches are working with the kids to get them ready to compete. Spending extended time with any one child during a regular practice may not be possible. You can find links on the website for information about swimming lessons through our pool management company SCMG. The folks that give lessons will work hard to accommodate schedules.
There seem to be a lot of practices. Is there a difference between them? There are two practice times per group, with the exception of Mighty Mites and Mini Mites, in an effort to accommodate different schedules. You can pick the most convenient one for your family. There is no requirement for practice attendance. Most of our swimmers have a conflict at some point during the summer and that is fine. Swimmers ages 9 and up have the option of practicing twice a day and some do but many do not. You can do morning, afternoon, or both. It’s completely flexible. For those swimmers attending the afternoon practice as their second practice, the schedule is as follows: Wednesdays – stroke technique, Thursdays – starts and turns, Fridays – challenge set plus a fun surprise!
I’d love to help out – what volunteer needs does the team have? We love volunteers! We make swim team look easy, because of everyone pitching in. There are many opportunities to help at meets. Jamie Maccaroni, our swim team director, can point you to the person organizing card running, leading mites to their lanes, timing heats and handing out ribbons to heat winners. As a mite parent, you can also sign up to bring snacks and drinks to our mite parties. The best way to learn about swim team is to volunteer. You might ask, Can I volunteer and still leave when my child is done swimming? Yes! Volunteer opportunities are usually assigned first half or second half of the meet. So if you have a young swimmer who will be done early, sign up for the first half openings. Volunteer needs are announced several days prior to a meet, typical through Sign-Up Genius.
Want more details on how SRA Swim Team works? Check out this primer, put together by Susie Hudgins, a swim team mom veteran. Thank you, Susie.