Why should my child be a swimmer?
- Swimming is an outstanding activity for people of all ages.
- Swimming promotes fitness and teaches a child to strive for physical achievement. Many super-stars in other sports started out as swimmers and gained strength and coordination that helped them to excel.
- Swimming is an exciting individual and team sport.
- Swimming is a technical and specialized activity involving extensive skill development.
- Swimming is a healthy "lifetime" activity. Participants may be 1 or 101 years old.
- Swimming is relatively injury free in comparison to other youth sports.
- Swimming teaches the life lessons of sport and sportsmanship which include learning to deal with winning and losing, as well as working with officials, teammates and coaches.
- Swimming motivates participants to strive for self improvement and teaches goal orientation.
- Swimming cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem.
- Swimming can prevent drowning
Did you know?
- Drowning is a leading killer of American children.
- More than 30% of kids are at risk for obesity-related illnesses.
- Swimming is a cure.
Key QuestionsWhile winning is nice, while setting a record, getting a best time, or making a qualifying time feels good, we hope that our young athletes learn more than, “It is great to swim fast.” No where in human history or theology do we learn that the ability to swim fast holds a very high priority in the grand scheme of the universe. From a practical standpoint, over-emphasis on speed, times and achievements will eventually end in frustration. No matter how fast a young athlete swims, there will probably be another swimmer in the next town, state, or country, swimming faster, if not now, then next month. So as coaches and parents, ask yourselves:
- Did the child learn to swim with more skill this past season so he or she is both stronger and safer in the water?
- Did the child learn to exhibit initiative, wanting to come to the pool and do the practice without having to be constantly pushed or prodded by parents and coaches?
- Did the child learn something about unselfishness, sacrificing his or her personal wants for the good of others or the team?
- Did the child benefit from the competitive experience, learning how to handle winning and losing in our competitive society?
- Did the child learn more patience in overcoming obstacles, setbacks and problems?
- Did the child learn empathy?
The Four StrokesThe four competitive swimming strokes are freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. The combination of all four strokes is called individual medley.
In freestyle events, the competitor may swim any stroke. The stroke most commonly used is sometimes called the crawl, which is characterized by the alternate stroking of the arms over the surface of the water surface and an alternating (up-and-down) flutter kick.
Backstroke consists of an alternating motion of the arms with a flutter kick while on the back. On turns, swimmers may rotate to the stomach and perform a flip turn and some part of the swimmer must touch the wall. The swimmer must finish on the back.
The breaststroke requires simultaneous movements of the arms on the same horizontal plane. The hands are pressed out from in front of the breast in a heart shaped pattern and recovered under or on the surface of the water. The kick is a simultaneous somewhat circular motion similar to the action of a frog. On turns and at the finish, the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously at, above or below the water surface.
Some consider the butterfly to be the most beautiful of the strokes. It features a simultaneous recovery of the arms over the water combined with an undulating dolphin kick. In the kick, the swimmer must keep both legs together and may not flutter, scissors or use the breaststroke kick. Both hands must touch the wall simultaneously on the turns and the finish.
The individual medley, commonly referred to as the I.M., features all four strokes. In the IM, the swimmer begins with the butterfly, then changes after one-fourth of the race to backstroke, then breaststroke and finally freestyle
The technical rules of swimming are designed to provide fair and equitable conditions of competition and to promote uniformity in the sport. Each swimming stroke has specific rules designed to ensure that no swimmer gets an unfair competitive advantage over another swimmer.
Competition pools may be short course (25 yards or 25 meters), or long course (50 meters). The international standard (as used in the Olympics) is 50 meters. World records are accomplished in 25 and 50 meter pools. USA Swimming maintains records for 25 yard, 25 meter and 50 meter pools.
Participants compete in different age groups and meets depending on their achievement level and how old they are on the first day of the meet. Traditionally recognized age groups are 10 and under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18. Many local meets feature 8 and under, single age groups, or senior events. Team practice groups are usually determined by age and/or ability.
Officials are present at all competitions to enforce the technical rules of swimming so the competition is fair and equitable. Officials attend clinics, pass a written test and work meets before being certified. All parents are encouraged to get involved with some form of officiating.
- Swimming is a wholesome, positive activity because no matter where you are in the swimming progression, the sport encompasses the fundamental elements that parents love. At USA Swimming, we believe that the core benefits of swimming include:
- Fun-whether it is the exhilaration of achieving your goal time or playing cards with your friends at a swim meet, we love this sport and stay involved because it is FUN.
- Fitness-getting kids to be water safe, keeping them moving with fundamental aerobic activity, or a low impact workout for the joints as we age, swimming keeps its participants in incredible shape and teaches basic FITNESS principles that last a lifetime.
- Friends-ask any swimmer what they like most about the sport, more often than not it will be the friendships they made through car pools to practice, hanging out at the end of the lane, or pushing their buddies to try just a little bit harder at practice.
Learn to Swim
Becoming safe in the water and learning to swim are essential skills. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of 14 in the United States. Many of those deaths might have been prevented with swim lessons. Swimming lessons are a fun activity for kids of all ages and are often a great entry point into swimming. Check out USA Swimming’s Make a Splash Program and more in their Learn to Swim Section.
Age Group Swimming
Many children get their competitive start through a neighborhood swim team, local recreational team, country club, school team or a USA Swimming club team. At this level, swimmers learn and refine swimming skills and begin to compete against their peers. You can find a local club to get your swimmer started by using USA Swimming’s Find a Club Tool.
As swimmers mature, the goals become a little bigger and they move into senior level swimming. At this level swimmers still refine skills, but training becomes more serious and is designed by professional coaches to get athletes to peak performance when they are physically and mentally prepared to do so. Athletes are still part of the USA Swimming club system, but may also compete for a high school or college team depending on their ages.
Elite Level Swimming
Some athletes have the talent, dedication, and commitment to reach the elite levels of the sport. They compete at national and international level competitions and strive to make a national team to represent their country in the Olympics or other international competitions. Elite swimmers in the United States come out of the USA Swimming club system.
How to Enter a Swim MeetWhat is Southern California Swimming?
Southern California Swimming (SCS) is a Local Swim Committee(LSC) and part of USA Swimming, the main governing body of competitive swimming in the United States. Within SCS, there are five committees. Canyons is the Costal Committee. In general, we compete against teams from within the Coastal Committee which incorporates the north western portion of Los Angeles County as well as Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Also in our committee are teams from as far north a Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo though we don't often travel up that far. In addition to Coastal, there are the Metro, Pacific, Eastern, and Orange sections as part of our LSC.
How often should my child compete?
Canyons competes year round. We average around one to two meets a month. Which meets your athlete attends depends on the group and level of achievements attained. Each coach reviews that groups meet schedule often via email. Meet schedules with lists of groups asked to attend are on our website.
What are the different kinds of meets?
There are numerous types of meets. The few listed below are the most common:
Blue and Gold Meets/Novice meets - These are the least competitive meets Canyons attend. Swimmers that have not achieved Blue times are usually asked to attend but sometimes we reach beyond that. In the Fall our Blue and Gold hosted meets at COC also serve as a parent orientation to our club and to how meets run.
Red/White/Blue Meets – Swimmers of all levels are invited to compete in these meets. Canyons often waits to send beginner swimmers to these meets until the coaches feel they are ready.
Blue/Red Meets – Only swimmers with Red or Blue times may compete in this meet. Swimmers with White times in a particular event or who have never swum a particular event (NT) may not compete (in that event).
Age Group Championships: Swimmers who have achieved a Winter Age Group (WAG) time or a June Age Group (JAG) time or better may compete in these championship meets (held twice a year). These are team scored championship meets.
Junior Olympics: Starting at the 10 & under level and ending at 18 year old, the season ending championship meet may be the Junior Olympics. Standards for Winter Junior Olympics and Summer Junior Olympics must be achieved to swim in the meets. Occasionally swimmers may be asked to attend the Junior Olympics without having reached these standards to participate in relays.
How do I register my child for a swim meet?
Each group handles meet registration differently. Your coach will email out details of that groups process at the beginning of the season as well as to anyone that is new to the group. Speak to your coach if you have any questions and make sure with each group promotion you are clear of the new groups process.
My child is new to the sport or is weak in a certain stroke does he/she have to compete against the best swimmers?
No. When a child swims an event for the first time, he/she is listed as a NT swimmer. At the meet the children are seeded by best times. No Time (NT) swimmers will swim together. While it will not be clear who is competing at what level in the pool, when the results are posted, they will be sorted by level. Generally awards are given to the top 8 swimmers in all three levels.
How does a Southern California Swimming Swim meet work?
The swim meets are very organized events that run like clockwork. When you arrive you find your team, check in, and warm up. Once the meet begins you will hear periodic announcements about what race is in the water. Before your race, check in with the coaches and then again after the race.
Attending a Swim MeetWhere are the meets?
Most of our meets are in a variety of coastal locations including: Simi Valley, Ventura, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Long Beach and here in Santa Clarita.
What are the parent’s responsibilities at a meet?
Each team is assigned a certain number of timing chairs based upon the number of swimmers their team has entered in the meet. It is expected that every family provide a timer for at least one hour of the meet. A sign-up sheet is always posted on-line week prior to the meet. Please sign up for at least one-hour stint. Timing is actually rather fun and gives you a front row view of the pool. Depending on the pool, your responsibilities will range from pressing a button, to using a stopwatch, to writing the swimmer’s time on a sheet. It’s easy and possibly the most helpful thing you can do for your team on race day and provide a great meet experience for all athletes.
What should my child wear?
Visible Canyons team clothing needs to be worn at all meets. The team has periodic sales of clothing. In addition, team suits, backpacks and parkas can be ordered from Conejo Swimworks all year long. For order information please see someone in the office. Remember to bring several towels to every meet.
How do I check in at a meet?
First, be sure to arrive early. Your child needs to locate his/her coach and begin warm-ups on time. Coaches will email out arrival time prior to the meet and/or post it on the website. Usually the coach budgets some time for check-in. A check-in table will be somewhere near the pool. Your child (not you) MUST check in. They will be told their event numbers and marked as present and accounted for. It’s not a bad idea for your child to write his/her event numbers on their arm. Not checking in can mean not swimming events.
Once a swimmer has checked-in they are committed to swim. If your child does not show up at an event, he/she or the team can be penalized. If you must leave or your child gets ill after you've checked in, return to the administration desk and “scratch” your child. If the event is about to happen, have your child speak to their coach immediately and receive direction from the meet officials as far as how to proceed.
How do I find out my heat and lane assignment?
When you arrive at a meet there will be a wall of information usually broken down by boy and girls. Here you will see a sheet (psych sheets) for each event. Locate your child’s events and make sure they are listed. If they are not or they are listed wrong, go to your coach. If they are listed correct, do nothing.
A few events before your child is to swim, a new sheet will go up on top of the psyche sheet. This sheet will have heat and lane assignments and will tell you what heat and lane your child will swim.
At this time he/she should report to the coaching staff and inform them of the heat and lane. The coaches will give them some last minute advice and send them off.
How does my child get to his/her event?
The coaches are very busy timing and prepping swimmers for their events and therefore cannot get your child to the starting blocks. We do promote that parents keep an eye on the pool and watch what events are in the water as well as the current heat. But we also promote parents sending your swimmers to the blocks alone and teach them to learn this process at a very early age. Swimmers usually need to be around the blocks or in the warm up pool at least one event (not heat) prior to theirs. It is best to have them check in with the timers of their lane to be sure they’re in the right place at the right time. Teaching your swimmer how to get to his/her event on their own is an important part of the process of developing our athletes. Swimmers may miss an event as part of this process. We see that as a learning experience and something all swimmers do at some point. It's learning from that experience that the coach will encourage at our early levels.
What do we do after a race?
Immediately after your child’s race, after you hug him or her and tell them something positive, send them off to the coaches who will review their time and discuss the race. Warm down will happen as well following the race either before or after talking to the coach. If that was their last race of the day and there are no relays planned, they are free to go unless otherwise instructed by your coach.
When does my child get his/her awards?
Ribbons and medals are usually placed in your child’s in the week after the meet.
The meet is outdoors and it looks like rain.
Rain does not stop a swim meet since it does not impede the swimmer’s performance. The only exception to that would be an electrical storm. Any meet cancelation would be announced on our website as well as email as soon as a decision was made. If no message on our website or email from a coach, head to the meet.
Where do we sit at a swim meet?
You are allowed to sit anywhere you like that is not roped off. Bring a canopy to stay out of the sun and folding chairs are a must. Tarps, heaters, blankets, sleeping bags are all advisable in cold weather. Some meets we have official team areas for swimmers only but not always.
General Swim Meet QuestionsIs there food and swim gear available at the meets?
Yes, most every meet has an extensive snack bar that serves breakfast and lunch at a very reasonable price as well as snacks. You may want to pack an ice chest with healthy snacks and a lunch. Bring plenty of water and sports drinks for your athlete. Swim merchants are also found at most meets selling goggles, suits, etc. We recommend you plan ahead though and pack extra goggles, caps, and suits.
How does a swimmer get disqualified?
Southern California Swimming supplies numerous official for every meet. Officials pay careful attention to every detail from the start to the finish of a race. Swimmers who false start or do an incorrect stroke or maneuver will, in all likelihood, will be disqualified. At the end of the race an official will explain the infraction. Getting DQ’d is upsetting, but it happens to everyone and should be used as an educational experience.
How long are swim meets?
Most swim meets are two day long events. However, they are split into two sessions, a morning and an afternoon. Each session is carefully planned not to exceed four hours (but sometimes they do). However, there are certain championship meets that have no time limit. These are very big meets and you can expect to spend the better part of your day there. Almost every meet we’ll attend will be at least two days long (Saturday and Sunday). Your coach will recommend the days you should attend.
What is long course and what is short course?
The swim season begins in September with short course. These meets compete in 25 yard pools (usually the width of a 50 meter pool). For 8 & unders these meets offer the 25 yard events that are great for entry level swimmers. Long course is a 50 meter (Olympic sized) pool. The minimum length of events in this pool are 50 meters (1 lap).
Do we hold any meets at our home pool?
Yes. Currently Canyons sponsors several meet a year. We host a Blue & Gold Series of 3 meets between September and January as well as one to two Blue and Gold meets in the summer for our newer swimmers. On a larger scale we host the Cranberry Classic Meet (the week before thanksgiving) and the Red White & Blue Memorial Day Meet. Canyons also makes an attempt to host one of the Summer Championship meets in June or July such as Junior Olympics or Sectionals.
Is swimming too competitive for my child?
No. Unlike other sports, USA swimming has taken pains to insure the swimming is both fun and inspiring. To that end not only do the swimmers compete against children of their own age, but due to the A/B/C system, they compete against swimmers of their own skill level usually as well.
When will my child be promoted to the next group?
Promotion is based largely on the swimmer’s skill levels combined with their ability to achieve time standards for their age group. Coaches make periodic evaluation and promote accourdingly. Please see our "promotions" tab or contact your coach if you have questions in this area.
How often should my child practice?
Each group offers a different amount of workouts a week and has different attendance expectations. The amount of time asked of your swimmers and you starts at a low level and increases as your swimmer progresses through our groups. The low impact nature of swimming and the carefully designed progression of our program are designed to improve your swimmer without adding stress to the body that can cause injury.
Where do I find out more about Swimming online?
Southern California Swimming: www.socalswim.org
USA Swimming: www.usa-swimming.org
What is timing?
Timers sit behind the starting side of the pool divided into usually 3 chairs per lane. Each timer has a specific assignment. All three timers press a "pickle" (a small push-button that stops the clock) when the swimmer touches the wall at the end of his/her race. It is important to look over the side of the pool to make sure that you get the exact moment the swimmer touches the wall, to get an accurate time. One of the timers also starts a stopwatch at the beginning of the race and stops it at the end. This timer should watch for the strobe light to begin the race and also watch over the side of the pool for the swimmer to touch at the end of the race. Another timer has a list of swimmers swimming in the lane and checks their names before they start racing and also writes the time from the stopwatch beside their name at the end. Timers are sitting right by the pool and really do have the best view of all the action.
How long do I need to time?
Timing slots are one hour. If needed, we will ask families with more than one swimmer to time one hour for each swimmer entered, since timing obligations are determined by the number of swimmers we have entered in the meet.
Where do I go to time?
Check in with our timing coordinator before the start of the meet. Timers for the first hour of each session of the meet are asked to find their chairs behind the blocks a few minutes before the start of the session. After this, new timers should come to replace the other Canyons parents each hour. Ask the current timers who the Canyons parents are that need to be replaced. The timing coordinator will confirm that everyone is showing up for their timing slot. Any questions should be directed to the timing coordinator.
Why do I need to time?
Swim meets are run by volunteers. The cost of hiring people to run the meet and do simple jobs like timing would be very expensive, and you would end up paying much more to enter a meet. So, we rely on parent volunteers to time.
How do you know how many timers we need?
The host team counts the entries from each competing team (including their own) and determines percentage of athletes from each team. The team then determines the number of timers each team must provide based on the percentage of swimmers they have entered in the meet. For example, if Canyons swimmers equal 20% of the swimmers at the meet, Canyons must provide 20% of timers. If a meet requires 3 timers for each of 5 lanes being swum per hour (15 timers total) then Canyons would be asked to provide 3 timers for each hour. Canyons is a large team, and we generally have a very large percentage of swimmers at each meet. Numbers could change at the last minute, and we could need to ask for more timers or we would tell some timers that they are not needed.
What happens if families refuse to time?
We are fortunate to have a fantastic group of parents who realize that timing is crucial and sign up to time. However, once in a while a family will refuse to time. This creates problems because without the appropriate number of timers, the meet cannot move forward. The person who is timing does not get replaced and unfairly has to wait until someone else volunteers. Because of this problem with a few parents, we now charge families who refuse to time or don't show up for their timing obligation.
Great! How do I sign up?
Go to the Event page. Find the meet in which your swimmer is entered. Click on "Job Signup." Find an empty slot. Check the box by the number where you wish to time, pay careful attention to the day, time, and session. Click "Signup" at the bottom of the page.
Thank you for supporting your swimmers by timing at their meets!
- The technical rules of swimming are designed to provide fair and equitable conditions of competition and to promote uniformity in the sport. Each swimming stroke has specific rules designed to ensure that no swimmer gets an unfair competitive advantage over another swimmer.
Trained officials observe the swimmers during each event to ensure compliance with these technical rules. If a swimmer commits an infraction of the rules that is observed by an officIal, a disqualification (DQ) will result. This means that the swimmer will not receive an official time and will not be eligible for an award in that event. A disqualification may result from actions such as not getting to the starting blocks on time, false starting, performing strokes in an illegal manner, or unsportsmanlike conduct.
DQs are also a result of technical rules violations. They include but are not limited to:
- Freestyle: Walking on the bottom, pulling on the lane rope, not touching the wall on a turn, or not completing the distance.
- Backstroke: Pulling or kicking into the wall once a swimmer has turned passed the vertical onto the breast. Turning onto the breast before touching the wall with the hand at the finish of the race.
- Breaststroke: An illegal kick such as flutter (freestyle), dolphin (butterfly), or scissors (side stroke); not on the breast; alternating movements of the arms; taking two arm strokes or two leg kicks while the head is under water; touching with only one hand at the turns or finish.
- Butterfly: Alternating movements of the arms or legs; pushing the arms forward under instead of over the water surface (underwater recovery); a breaststroke style of kick; touching with only one hand at the turns or finish.
For specific language on any technical rules consult the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations book. Violations of the rules are reported to the Referee. The rules require that every reasonable effort be made to notify the swimmer or his coach of the reason for the disqualification. If your child is disqualified in an event, be supportive rather than critical. For beginning swimmers, a disqualification should be treated as a learning experience, not as a punishment. A disqualification alerts the swimmer and coach to what portions of the swimmer's stroke need to be corrected. They should be considered in the same light as an incorrect answer in schoolwork-they point out areas that need further practice. Disqualifications are necessary to keep the competition fair and equitable for all competitors. A supportive attitude on the part of the official, coach, and parent can make a positive situation out of the disqualification.
Looking for more? Check out USA Swimming's Rules and Regulations Page.