A SWIM MOM'S BLOG

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March 1
by Tammy
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Welcome to swimmom.org. This site is about youth competitive swimming and it is going to inform you ~ educate you ~ tell you stories and share advice ~ and maybe even make you laugh and cry at the same time. We cover everything from drills and technique to fitness and nutrition and of course all the human aspects of being a swim mom (or swim family) ~ the highs and lows and everything in-between. This is an interactive blog… so feel free to join in and share your stories or tips or tricks. So sit back, make yourself at home and enjoy the site and tell all your friends about us. We have a a lot of features and are adding more constantly so keep checking back. In the helpful links section we have links to sites that we think are either either essential reading or maybe great swimming videos. We also have a few affiliate links that swimmom recommends.

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July 11
by Tammy Guinan
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Two Meets in The Books

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So our summer season has started and we have two meets in the books already! As I mentioned in the last post, I became an official this year.  I had the privilege of working both meets as they were home meets.  Here is a little about my experience.

The first meet, I will admit I was a little nervous.  I was so intent on watching the swimmer, I made sure I didn’t miss anything.  Our team uses headsets instead of individual DQ slips so I thought that was going to be easy.  We have a writer that stands with the starter/referee and that person is in charge of writing the DQ’s that come in.  We still raise our hands when there is an infraction but you just have to announce your position, the lane, and the infraction.  The funny part was I had to keep reminding myself what position I was.  We can only have 4 officials at our pool due to the design of it.  We are fortunate that we have a 50 meter side and then a 25 meter side, forming an L shape.  We only use the 25 meter side for meets, which makes our pool unique for officials as there is a section of water so we have to position officials at the corners and the starter/referee in the middle.  It works out great at our pool.

We had your standard officials and timers meetings before the meet began and I felt much better about my “job” after that.  When I got to pool I was afraid I was going to be sent out there with little or no instruction, but that wasn’t the case.  While I have seen thousands of events and could pick up infractions from the stands, that was just me watching and generally picking up what I see my kids doing and where they need to adjust this was “official” and races depended on it.  Our starter/referee pointed out to all the officials that the DQ is what helps the coach know what the swimmer needs to work on, so don’t think of it as a punishment, think of it as a coaching tool to make all the swimmers better.  he pointed out that if we are not calling stuff, as they progress they will be doing it wrong and therefore not being the best swimmer they can be.  I found that to be very settling, and to me very helpful.  I am one that doesn’t ever want anyone mad at me, so I was a little nervous that people would yell at me if I DQ their kid, but our starter really put it in perspective and gave us the tools to handle that.  Fortunately, I didn’t get yelled at and found out that one of the officials from the other team was new too, so we talked after the meet and found out we felt the same way going in.

The second meet I got to officiate was against a team that has a reputation for being a bit on the over competitive side.  Have you ever seen the signs at baseball fields about the fact that the coaches and umps are volunteers and this is a sport about the kids so the parents need to just be parents and let the others do their jobs. Well we needed a few of those at this meet.  Some of the parents were so vocal about their kids swims and the fact that their kids won a heat or not it was almost disturbing. They were edging their way in front of the officials to the point where we had to ask them to move and they were less than happy about that for sure.  Over all the meet was fine and things went well.  It was a little difficult to officiate but I managed to do the job to the best of my ability.  We were fortunate enough to have an extra official at this meet so we only had to work the meet in thirds, so it wasn’t one person for the whole time we got to split it up.

The way the other team acted was pretty visible and different than any other event or team I have seen. They had team spirit and supported every swimmer – which was great, but the way they went about it was less then admirable. I have taught my swimmers, in swimming and all other sports, to be good sports about everything.  Whether they win their heat or not they are to shake hands with the swimmer next to them and say good job.  They are to win with grace and act like they have been there before and be respectful of all people.  They have been told that the officials call is final (unless their coach saw something different and chooses to appeal, but that is the coaches decision, not theirs) and they are to use that as a learning tool and know what not to do next time. At no point in time are they to be vocal about a call, a win or loss or anything.  They can celebrate with their teammates when they get back to “camp” and they can high five teammates and friends who are behind the block but they are not allowed to “celebrate” in front of their competitors.

Speaking of “camp” that is another fun side of summer swim.  We bought one of those canopy tents when our middle daughter ran cross country and until this swim season we had never opened it.  At the first meet we opened it up and it was harder to open than we thought but once we got it up it was the greatest thing ever. It is nice to have that because our pool is all sun, so with that our swimmers and siblings get to have some shade while they are there.  It’s also really cool how the swimmers always find a camp and take it over and the adults get to move to another one.  I also realized that whoever has the best snacks is the tent that the kids are going to!  I try to pack healthy stuff for them and after the first meet I learned that I need to pack plenty of it!

To sum up the beginning of my swim season, I learned a lot as an official and realized that no matter what, if you are certain of what you saw then its a good call, if you are not sure, don’t call it!  I also learned that most of the veteran officials like to help us newbies out so they welcome questions to make sure that you are doing what they want the next time.  I learned that headsets are great and not so great all at the same time.  It’s hard when everyone talks at the same time on the headsets, or if your radio goes out you need to quickly be able to switch to “old school” and you have to be prepared to do that if necessary.  Always stand behind your call and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re wrong.  Don’t listen to people around the pool and don’t be afraid to ask them to move if they are in your way. It’s your job and you need to be able to do it!  Make sure your kids are good sports no matter what.  Don’t let them get taken in by not so good sports, you need to rise above and be the better person in all situations.  Be proud of what you did and know that you did the best you could.

Leave a comment if you have a story of any overly competitive parents or teams…. I would love to hear from you, so start commenting!

I can’t wait till the next meet-

remember if you have a lane you have a chance -

Splash you later-

Swim Mom

 

swimmom.org

June 23
by Tammy Guinan
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Summer Swim Has Begun

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Wow did our little break from swimming between fall and summer go fast!! Summer season has officially started and we are trying a new team this year. We have also added a new swimmer to the family (our 6 year old begins her swim team life). I have finally broken down and become an official. I’m a little nervous about that, but I think after a few meets I will get the hang of it. Our 9 year old has decided that swimming wasn’t her thing for this summer and was asked to join the competitive gymnastics team, so that is how she is spending her summer. Our 12 year old is trying a new coach, a new team and a new pool with the hopes of finding the competition she needs and the fun she desires! So far all things are working out well and the first meet is coming up in a few days.
So my 12 year old and her father have made a bet for this season, if she can break a pool (or team) record – he will color his goute blue and if she doesn’t she has to train for and run a 5k. She doesn’t run for dinner, so I think that is some pretty good incentive! She seems pumped and motivated for the season, but I think she needs a meet under her belt to get that real motivation in full swing.
Our youngest is having the time of her life! (and she only practiced a couple times) While her strokes need some serious work and she is barely legal in anything, she is giving it her all and loving it. When she actually knows what she’s doing, she gonna really love it. With her very first meet ever coming in a few days I can’t wait to see what events they put her in and how she does. At practice, the 25 meters seems like an eternity for her and she looks so tiny in a giant pool, but she has the spirit of a competitor and I think when it comes right down to it, she will preform at the meet better than in practice.

This summer season is so different than past summers and definitely than fall, aside from the course itself being meters and yards in the fall.  Everything is outside – in the past our USA summer team was indoors for most meets. My older swimmer was under the impression that the same rules of, say baseball, applied to swimming regarding weather.  She was not going to swim in the rain.  Our league will swim in the rain as long as there is no thunder or lightning.  We live in Ohio, so rain is to be expected over the summer and so are cooler temps in the morning. We had a stretch of rainy, cold mornings this past week and she was determined not to swim in it.  However you have to get in your practice, so she had to deal with it.  The pool water was somewhere around 80 degrees and the outside temp was around 65 so it was cold when you got out. She also felt a little slighted when they called off the 8 and under practice (hahaha), because it was raining so hard the lifeguards couldn’t see the bottom anymore. right about the time we got home it was all sunshine and blue skies!

Our pool is a city pool so there are camps and lessons and open swim going on all day.  For that reason they only put the blocks in on Friday.  So we decided that Friday practice is an important one since our meets are on Saturday and they don’t tell you what you are swimming till Friday and that is the only time they get to practice racing starts. This is an important fact for my 6 year old – those blocks can be pretty intimidating to a small person. She is funny, because she isn’t afraid to dive/jump off of them, but she wont stand up on them.  She sort of commando crawls onto the blocks, right into starting position and wont stand up.  We haven’t had to use them in a meet yet so I don’t know how the starter will handle that as she wont be coming down together with the other swimmers. If they see her dive they will realize that isn’t so important yet, as her feet and hands hit at the same time.

I will be officiating my first meet this weekend and I am feeling nervous.  While I have watched hundreds of swim meets and can always pick out when my swimmers do something a little off, I’m nervous about having the fate of a swimmers meet in my hands. I will certainly report back on that after the meet.

How about you? Anyone have any funny, or scary, first meet stories? What you officials out there, any advice for the SwimMom? Let me know – and as much as I love the emails…. comment here so everyone can join in.

Remember if you have a lane you have a chance -

Splash ya later,

Swim Mom

swimmom.org

March 22
by Tammy Guinan
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And So It Ends…

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The YMCA season has come to an end, and a fairly bittersweet end at that. Our younger swimmer made it out of divisionals and into champs for the first time and she was amazing!! While she didn’t set the pool on fire with her speed and ability, she did set it on fire with her smile and determination! She showed up to swim and kept her team pumped up and laughing the whole time! That’s the amazing thing about her, no matter whats going on, she will make you laugh and find a way to make you happy. She is my girl that I am pretty sure will never know what her times are. She just doesn’t care that much about what her times are and when she gets done with a race, the first thing she asks is if she got a better time than the last time. That is the mark of a kid who has it all together. She is racing herself and the clock and doesn’t care about what the people around her are doing. She tries her hardest to be first in her lane at practice and just beat her own times. She fools around at practice a bit (or maybe more), but when it’s time for a meet, she is all business until her heat is over then it’s back to fooling around and making people happy! She wants to swim everything, and I mean everything – she was the only 8&U to swim the 100 Free and the 100IM – and she begs for more.
Our older swimmer,  did great too, perhaps could have done better but did well anyway. She was only 1.39 seconds from making a zone time and she just couldn’t hit it. We even drove an hour and forty-five minutes to buy her a tech. suit at Aquatics Outfitters of Ohio (which is a way cool place with everything that competitive swimmers need… in one place).  She was upset but I must say she handled it much better this year than she has in past years. Her knee hampered all year (thank God there is no damage or anything serious – just muscular) which sort of threw her off all season. So for her, maybe the lesson is overcoming adversity and persevering, or maybe most important – stretch, stretch, stretch. Which lead us to a last chance meet – I’m not a huge fan of those. In case you don’t know what they are, here is a brief explanation. A team hosts the meet and you show up and pay as you swim. There are no touch pads and no electronic times, they are all hand times. (I have my own thoughts on that.) They have 3 timers per lane and they average the times and that is what the swimmer gets. You can swim whatever stroke you want and as many times as you want. From our experience, if you can’t hit it on the first try, it’s almost pointless to try again. Your mind and body get so defeated after missing that you almost always pick up time in the all subsequent swims. I can say that I have never seen so many tears on a pool deck as I do at last chance meets! The kids get so pumped up and then if they miss it, they just can’t help but cry, hence the issue with the second and further swims being not a good idea. However, they are necessary and we will most likely be at many, many more. This leads me to what happened when we visited the last chance meet. This year J had her BFF with her so it wasn’t so bad, usually she is there alone, so it was nice to have a friend there. Well, as I mentioned she needed to drop 1.39 seconds for her zone time. She felt it, she was in the zone, and she was ready to go. She got on the block and swam her heart out, she dropped 1.33 seconds on her first swim – yes .03 seconds away from her zone, using three hand times! She tried again and as suspected, picked up time and was done!
We discovered some things that we hope will change for next year but that seems to be an uphill battle. In the entire season last year J only dropped 1.39 seconds in her breast stroke (which is what she was trying to zone in). Throughout the entire season’s practices, noticing that the strokes  were not improving and since parents are locked out of practices, we would ask “did you work on this? or that?” and the answers were always no, we just swam – I don’t think the dedication was there from the coach’s and it showed. She worked with another coach after champs for 3 practices and dropped 1.33 seconds in a matter of 2 weeks. It’s very disheartening to have something like this happen because I think if the things she worked on for the 2 weeks would have been focused on all year, she would have made her time way early in the season. There is so much more, but I wont get into it now. I wonder what other people do in this situation. See, the kids LOVE this team, because of the friends they have made, but I can’t stand it. Yes there are friends, and I love the parents of the swimmers, but the kids don’t seem to progress and the Y management has told me before that they are not in it to “breed” Champions. Well does that mean you don’t try, or that you don’t give every kid 100% of your time and effort as a coach? When I know there are teams and coaches out there that want to see the kids perform at their best and achieve anything they are willing to work for but can’t tell my swimmers that because they are dead set on staying right where they are.  For us, being a “champion” is not the goal – rather the goal is to perform at your highest capabilities (whatever they may be). That starts with the player and coach first being “all in” to achieve the best for the player and the team. Unfortunately, as in life, sometimes people become jaded, and forget why they started “coaching” in the first place. What do you do? I have never been one to force my kids to do anything, I don’t push them any more than they want to be pushed. I think that leads to problems and the kids end up hating the sport because it seems like a job more than a fun sport and I NEVER want my kids to feel that way about anything. They set goals and try to achieve them, I push them to achieve the goals they set, and frequently tell them they get in the pool for themselves not for me.  Along those lines, it’s hard to ask them to switch teams, but I want them to have the best opportunity to achieve their goals and swim to the best of their ability.  Any suggestions??

Can’t wait for summer season to start – pretty soon!!

Splash you later – if you have a lane you have a chance-

Swim Mom