A Fun | Informative | Interactive | Interesting | blog about youth competitive swimming

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.


August 11
by Tammy Guinan

We are the Champions!

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WOW, did this summer season fly by!!  First the good news, the team the girls swam for, The Marlins, won championships for the SSL 2014 season!!  YAY – we have never been a part of an experience like that and I can tell you it was amazing!  They announced the winner at the final day of championships, and it was close.  We had been going back and fourth with another team that whole day, so every swim counted and had to be done right.  It seemed to be a lot of pressure for us parents who were watching the scores and trying to keep track on our own, but not for the kids, they  were having fun and just doing what they do – swim!  While we’re biting our nails and “shushing” everyone when the announcements were made so we could hear what we needed and where we were, the kids were all running around from camp to camp and just having a blast!  The whole experience was great – one of my non competing daughters spent most of her time in another teams camp playing and selling hair stuff. Even though the teams were very, very competitive, for the most part all the swimmers knew each other from other leagues and teams and many swim together in the fall. I am putting a few pictures on the blog of our experience.

On day 1 of champs, it started out sunny and very hot, they had a D.J. jamming and kids were cheering. Then the weather turned – we got to sit through what seemed like a hurricane! High winds, thunder and lightening, and oh about a thousand kids. Our camps were like 1/4 mile away from the pool in an open field of a high school.  The city had the road closed so the kids could walk around from the pool to camp without being in any danger so that was nice and gave it that carnival feel! I felt like I was at Woodstock in the rain! I’m going to put the video up as well!  The wind was blowing tents and the rain was coming down in buckets, it was crazy!  The league wanted to get as much in as they could on day one so we waited it out for about 3 1/2 hours.  There were a couple things that really stunk about the rain delay, aside from the obvious. The first was that once my 6 year old saw tents blowing and people heading for shelter she began to flip out.  I love storms and was perfectly happy standing in my tent watching the rain and thunder and lightning, she on the other hand, was not so OK with it!! They opened the high school so everyone could go in. As soon as she got inside, she curled up with her blanket and fell asleep!  It had been a long morning for her, even though the 8u kids didn’t swim on day 1, she was still there and cheering for her team and the stress of the storm was a bit much for her to handle! It was a bit much for my 12 year old too.  She only swam 1 individual event on day 1 and 1 relay and they were both at the end of the day.  So that rain delay was prior to her ever even getting wet! We arrived at 7:00am and she finally got in the pool at 4:30 for her first event. It was a bit of a mental work out for her to get back up for her swims, but in true fashion she did an amazing job and dropped time and scored points for the team! It was a bit of a challenge, but the sky’s cleared up just as she was ready to swim and it was awesome.

Champion Rains


On day 2 we were at a different pool so a little different set up.  Our team camp was right by the entrance, snack bar and pool!  We loved it there!! The pool is a city pool so there were some additional amenities there which made the day a little better. For a mere $5 I bought my 2 non team swimmers a wrist band and they were allowed in the lazy river from the time the meet started till the final event of the day!  That was the best feature ever and it was right next to the pool so I always knew where they were at and it was close to our camp so they knew where to go if they needed a rest. I had to work on day 2 and I was given a job I had never had before.  I was charged with the task of writing the  DQ’s as they came in from the officials. I was so totally stressed out about that, visions of 6 officials all talking in their head sets at the same time and me trying to write what they are saying and get it correct was enough to send me into a bit of a panic.  When I got there the head official said there was a problem with the radio’s and they would be using DQ slips instead of the head sets so my job was to collect the slips and get them to the scorer.  As much as that stinks to not have the head sets, it was like a blessing for me, I was immediately unstressed and focused on the swims!  Our head official came to me and said that he had talked to other officials and they had nothing but good things to say about my performance so he wanted me to try a new job and get used to something else – so next season I will be able to do more things.  I was pretty happy about that, thought it was cool that other people thought I did a good job.  Made me want to maybe become a Y official for the fall season, but that is another adventure for another day!

Swimming on Day 2 was amazing.  Our team showed up to win and it showed.  They did amazing.  My 2 swimmers were especially impressive (at least to me).  My 6 year old dropped time in her free, fortunately she only had to swim a 25.  She also swam the fly in the medley relay for the 8u girls and not only did they finish but they finished legally AND scored points for the team!  She is one of only two six year olds on the team.  My 12 year old dropped time in all of her events as well, and finished with ribbons or medals in most of her swims!  Her races were amazing and some were really close.  That always helps her out, she swims better when she is pushed by the swimmers next to her.  It was just an amazing weekend for swimming.

After all the swimming and hard work comes the party to celebrate the season.  This year they had it at the pool where the kids practiced at and it was so fun.  They have a water slide, diving boards, a wiggle bridge, water basketball, and of course just a pool to swim in.  The whole family was invited and we had a pot luck dinner outside, awards and then when the pool closed to the public and the kids got to take over! It was so cool, the pool was all lite up because it was dark and there were kids everywhere.  It was nice to see the team together all just playing around instead of the usual working out. They all talked about where they were going to swim in the fall and who would be with who and who wanted who to go where.  It was like they were all seniors in high school trying to decide what college they would be attending.

On to fall – and three of my girls competing…. If only my son liked to swim.

Remember- if you have a lane you have a chance!!

Splash ya later-

Swim Mom



July 31
by Tammy Guinan

Where has the Summer Gone??

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We are in championship week and I find myself looking back and wondering where the summer season went.  To start off this post (sorry if I jump around but I have so many thoughts) I want to say that this summer has been the most enjoyable summer season I have experienced in all the years I have been involved in swimming.  This year my 12 year old swam for a new team for the summer season and my 6 year old joined the ranks of the swimmers and I want to get my thoughts out about that.

I saw something this summer that was awesome, and I have not witnessed very often.  The coaches actually in the water with the kids, coaching and watching and even having fun with them.  This was very important to me because my 6 year old joined the ranks of the swim team this summer for the first time ever. She needs that personal attention, as any young swimmer does, and I was glad they worked with her on a swimming knowledge aspect as well.  The Mentor Marlins had a coach in the water with the 8U kids at every practice for the entire practice and additional coaches in the water with the 9-10 and 11-12 kids.  I have seen a lot of teams that don’t do that, and it was really refreshing to see coaches in the water with the kids.  Well,  the Marlins coaching staff is all people who are currently or have been competitive swimmers and they coached from their experiences and knowledge of the sport and it showed in the constant improvement! (not that we didn’t question some moves ..)  My 6 year old had never been formally taught any of the strokes really, and at this point in the season she is swimming a 50 meter free style in 1:22 with a flip turn!!  The time is not the best, however, for a kid brand new to the sport I think it’s an amazing accomplishment.  My older swimmer improved both mentally and technically this year and I attribute that all to coaching. The philosophy on the team, from the coaches, is that if they work hard they will be rewarded.  They are rewarded with good times and on Friday practice they get some time off to play games, dive off the diving boards, try their hand (or feet) at the wiggle bridge or work with a coach on something they want to get perfected or try new.  It’s important to team morale that they are noticed for working hard and trying their best.  Each week the age group coaches pick a swimmer of the week.  On Friday in between the older and younger kids practices, the whole team meets and the coaches hand out their awards and tell why that person was selected.  they get a cap to wear and some other small prize.  Are there hurt feelings?  Sure, there is only so many weeks in the season and everyone can’t be the winner, but are they fair?  Yes they are.  they pick based on the week before and the effort of the swimmers during practice and before and after practice, the results of the meet the week before, and any other special thing the swimmer has accomplished, so the swimmer of the week is not always the fastest, best swimmer, it’s the one who showed up, payed attention and tried their best day in and day out.

Also, the parent board on this team is visible at every practice and at every meet for the entire time! They are organized and there to help.  They run the operations of the team and the coaches coach, which is how it should be!! They are there to help parents and from my experience and from the chatter I hear on deck, they are doing a great job.  If they can’t answer a question they tell you where to go to get the answer (and that may be as simple as them telling you to wait till the end of practice and ask the coach) or they will find out and get back to you.  It’s a well run machine and I think other parent boards can learn from this group of dedicated volunteers. I have only been involved in one parent board and it was so restricted by the organization that it seemed pointless to even have one.  That is not the case here, they seem to have full control over what they do with fundraising money, activities and events and the authority to answer questions.  Really a good experience for my family.

Now for some team and swimmer specific stuff. With 100+ kids on the team, and only 4-8 spots on the A relay teams how do you think it should be decided who is on the A?  Since my 12 year old was new to this team she had no expectations to swim on the A relay the first couple meets even though she has never swam on anything but the A in her entire career.  She knew, because we have always told her that just by showing up doesn’t give you a right to anything, you want something you need to work for it. Well, after swimming on the B, C and even a D relay and finally swimming all the strokes and getting times, she earned herself a spot on the A team!  It was her first event of the day, the 200 meter medley relay! She was on the heat sheet for the anchor spot swimming the free, even though breast stroke is her thing, she is a very strong free swimmer.  The team was a little behind when her exchange came up.  [Her coach had been working with her on a different start for relays, she likes the track start and for relays a 10 toe is said to be quicker.  She decided that this would be a good time to try it, wanting to put up the best time possible.]  Well, she is up and ready for her exchange…….she tries her new start…..she falls off the block totally messing up her dive……she swims like I have never seen her swim and pulls out a win in the relay!!  The people on the deck were amazed that not only did she come back from behind, but she fell off the block (more like a slip that ruined her dive completely) and didn’t let that mess with her and she didn’t give up, she knew she could win and she did!  Not bad for her first showing on the A relay! It was amazing to watch!

On to my 6 year old.  At the ripe old age of six, and for right now anyway, she has decided that she wants to be a swimmer!  She loves the water and reminds me so much of my 12 year old, only at a younger age. (she started swim team at 9).  For the little ones on the swim team, they only swim 25 meters for their events and the 50 free to add a distance event mostly for the kids that are going to be aging up and will have to swim the 50 in everything.  Well, my little one got to try her hand at the distance event not once, but twice!  The first time we had to remind her to head back, although she says she stopped because she had water in her goggles and needed to get it out.  The second time, she dropped 10 seconds and accomplished a flip turn!!  Talk about a proud mama moment, that was it right there!  She had been working so hard at practice and just wants to do stuff right that it was so cool to see her efforts pay off!! She is so excited every day to go to practice and get in the water.  We have our share of issues because she doesn’t like to pay attention, she likes to play in the water, but the coaches are great with her.  They are firm, but friendly.

Since this week is championships, it’s a taper week for practice.  It’s a little lighter with some race pace stuff but it’s a fairly laid back practice week  We had a “breakfast of champions” at practice Wednesday.  It was so cool!  The parent board had parents bring in fruit, donuts, water and juice and the coach shortened practice and the kids got to eat for a while and then they got to play around in the pool.  It was the neatest thing – all the kids had fun. The team building and bonding was amazing.  This team really cares about that and it shows. The “big” kids all have ‘little” buddies and it’s their job to make sure they get to events and they cheer them on and just support them.  The big buddies even get in the pool and swim with their little buddies to help them with their strokes.  My 6 year old absolutely LOVES her buddy!!  There are days, usually when it’s raining and cold, that if I tell her she can go to practice and see her buddy, that’s the only way she gets in the car and is ready to go.  The buddies give the little ones gifts for meets, and we have made sure to take care of our big buddy.  This week, she made a necklace out of acorns that she has been collecting from around the pool.  With hot glue gun and sprinkles in hand she glued each little nut to a lanyard and each sparkle to the nuts and proudly presented it to her buddy!  Since we are fortunate to have the best buddy ever, she acted like my 6 year old just gave her the crown jewels!

We are gearing up for the big meet this weekend, I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!  Still can’t believe that summer season is just about over – what will we do? We will take some off and start Fall season, that’s what we will do – and I can’t wait!

Tell me some of your memorable moments about summer swim or what you are doing in between the summer and fall season – comment, share

Remember, if you have a lane you have a chance -

Go Mentor Marlins

Splash ya later,

Swim Mom


July 11
by Tammy Guinan

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