1. Is swim team only for fast swimmers?

Swim team is for everyone. We welcome fast and not-so-fast, new and experienced swimmers. We have a wide range of abilities, and focus not on winning, but on stroke development, racing techniques, lifelong love for swimming, and fun.

2. Why do you hold evaluations for new swimmers?

We hold evals to assess swim team readiness for younger swimmers and to place older swimmers in appropriate practice groups. Young swimmers should be comfortable wearing goggles and putting their face in the water. Swim team is very different than small group lessons. We want to ensure safety for every swimmer in a practice lane!

New 5/6 year old swimmers are generally expected to be able to swim practically one length of the pool, in some basic form of freestyle. New 7/8 year old swimmers are expected to swim a full length of the pool, freestyle. New 9/10 year old swimmers are expected to be able to swim 2 lengths of the pool (up and back), freestyle. Some knowledge of backstroke is helpful. New swimmers ages 11 and up are generally expected to swim 2 lengths of freestyle, and be proficient in at least one other stroke.

3. My child doesn't want to swim meets. Can he/she still join swim team?

The expectation for our team is that each swimmer participates in meets. Since we have limited time/lane space, we ask that all swimmers commit to a minimum of 3 meets, with at least 4 meets strongly recommended. For our new swimmers and parents, we will hold a mock meet to help take the "mystery" out of swim meets, explain the procedures, the lingo, and the format.  

4. We have vacation planned for a week of the summer already, can we still participate?

Yes! Many families have obligations or vacations that are pre-planned. As mentioned above, we ask that all swimmers commit to a minimum of 3 meets, with at least 4 meets strongly recommended. A majority of our swimmers participate in 5-6 regular meets and JSL Champs.

5. How many practices per week should my swimmer attend? 

Swimmers should attend as many as they can or that the schedule allows. Practice is designed to be age-appropriate. Practice includes drills, skills, starts, finishes, relay touches, sprints. Our coaches carefully design a practice program to strengthen and improve our swimmers. Frequent practicing allows for frequent improvement. Swimmers should not feel obligated to attend practice everyday throughout the season. Thursday practices (the morning after a meet) often include a game or fun relay. Saturday practices often focus on stroke development.

6. My youngest child is 4 and can't wait to swim with the team. Is there space for younger swimmers?

Per JSL rules, swimmers must be 5 by June 1st in order to swim in this summer's meets. With our large team, our lanes are full of practicing swimmers at every practice. Therefore, we fill our 5-6 year old group with swimmers who are in fact 5-6 years of age. We have dreams of expanding our program to include a pre-swim team, but do not currently offer this option. Check out the YMCA swim lessons and "Take your Mark" program.

7. Why is there evening practice? Why can't younger swimmers attend?

Evening exists to help swimmers with scheduling conflicts still have an opportunity to practice. This is not for swimmers who "don't feel like waking up in time to go to regular practice", but instead for unavoidable conflicts. You can contact the Head Coach to arrange to attend, once summer begins. This practice is mixed ages, split into lanes based on who is there and how many swimmers are there. Since our youngest swimmers do not swim breaststroke or butterfly, this practice session does not work well for them. This practice is more for maintenance swimming during weeks with conflicts. A few swimmers do attend evening practices all summer, based on parent work schedules. The bulk of instruction does happen during our morning practices.

8. Does my swimmer have to wear a cap?

All swimmers are expected to wear a cap to practices and to meets, unless the swimmer has very short hair (think crew cut). Swimmers can wear any cap to practice but must wear a TEAM cap during meets.

9. What are the options for caps?

We have free latex caps available. If you need one, you can pick one up on Gator Gear Day! Many swimmers prefer the feeling of the silicone cap and we sell those. You can opt to order personalized Gator caps (last name on cap under team logo) from our website or in person on Gator Gear Day. 

10. How do I get a team suit (and do I need a team suit)?

No, you do not need to purchase a team suit, though many swimmers do. If you prefer to buy a racing suit elsewhere, we recommend a navy blue or black suit (though that is also not required). Your swimmer cannot swim in regular swim trunks or a tankini.
Our gear and apparel vendor will be at the pool (date TBD) for a swim suit fitting. It is absolutely best to try the suit on to ensure the correct fit!! They will have suits there for purchase, or you can visit Freestyle in Charlottesville at your convenience.

11. How should a racing suit fit?

Competition swimsuits fit much differently than casual summer swimwear. Be prepared for your child to be "squeezed" into a suit, as all swimsuits end up stretching and growing through use. You do not want your child to be the swimmer with the baggy backside at the 3rd swim meet of the year!  

12. What do I need for a swim meet?

Chairs, possibly a tent for shade, sunscreen, cooler with water and snacks, money for concessions or food packed for dinner, extra towels. For younger kids, it is helpful to have an activity for down time in between events. Swimmers need goggles, cap and their swimsuit. Some pool decks are larger than others, so often we have space to spread out, sometimes we don't. Weekly emails will contain information about away meet specifics.

13. How many races will my swimmer swim at a meet?

Two events, at a minimum. Our coaches enter multiple relay teams in each meet so that we maximize the number of swimmers involved in the relays. Often swimmers will swim three events, sometimes even three and a relay! Certain strokes are limited by number of heats (5 for backstroke, 3 for breaststroke, 3 for butterfly, for example - per gender/age group).  

14. What happens if our swim meet is rained out?

Many times, we've waited out a passing thunderstorm, and completed the meet on a slight delay. Coaches and meet directors are mindful of late nights for swimmers and their parents. It is possible that meets can be made up the following night. You will be notified of the details by email as soon as the details are ironed out.

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