Our mission is to prepare motivated young athletes to maximize their potential as competitive swimmers, as part of a team supported by outstanding coaches and involved parents.
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HMST Family Newsletter
Issue 3: Week of December 9, 2013
"When I go out and race, I'm not trying to beat opponents, I'm trying to beat what I have done ... to beat myself, basically. People find that hard to believe because we've had such a bias to always strive to win things. If you win something and you haven't put everything into it, you haven't actually achieved anything at all. When you've had to work hard for something and you've got the best you can out of yourself on that given day, that's where you get satisfaction from."        --Ian Thorpe

After all the lengthy practices, after all the miles measured in the pool, it’s time for thirty seconds—or less-- of glory.  We hope what follows helps make your first swim meets a source of pride, not anxiety.
Before the Meet
In the weeks leading up to a meet, HMST will post the coach’s race assignments on the pool deck wall for swimmers to view their scheduled events.   If your child gasps in fear of a race assignment, know that the coaches won’t put a swimmer in a race that he/she is not ready to try.  If your child’s name is missing from a scheduled meet or if you are scheduled for a meet that you cannot attend, please e-mail Lisa. 
A typical meet will be divided into a morning and an afternoon session based on age groupings.  For scheduling purposes, go to CT swim and pull up the meet listing (www.ctswim.org under the MEETS banner) to see warm-up times and meet details.   Lisa will also e-mail the session times in advance of the meet, but know that the information is available on CT swim. 
Is your child a morning person?  What better way to find out than with a morning session swim meet!  Make sure you note what time you need to arrive, and, no, that 6:30 a.m. warm-up is not a typo. 
What should my child bring to the meet?
Pack plenty of suitable snack foods and drinking water.  Some consider a second swim towel a wise addition since the first one will get sopping wet.  Also, pack clothes that can layer on top of the swim suits to keep your child warm between races.  Although some host facilities prohibit camping chairs on deck, they are often essential since few pools have enough deck seating for all swimmers.
Your child will have long gaps between events, so water-resistant games and activities can make the time pass quickly and provide fun bonding with teammates. 
What should I wear?
The natatorium will be tropical.  Swim parents learn to layer.  Bring a small duffle for excess layers (and to serve as a placeholder for your seat).
What time does my child need to be on deck, in suit, for warm up?
If the warm-up session starts at 6:30 a.m., target having your child on-deck in their suit ten minutes beforehand.  There will be multiple warm-up sessions as teams take turns in the pool.  HMST won’t know which warm-up time slot will be ours until we arrive.
How will my child find the team / coach?
Know which coach to look for in advance.  HMST will hang a team banner on the pool deck wall where the team will assemble and sit together.  Direct your child towards the HMST team banner and they will find everyone.  Parents are not allowed on pool decks at meets.
How long will a meet last?
The length of a session is based on the number of swimmers and events.  Each team submits their team scratch sheets before the warm-ups are over, so by the time the meet starts the approximate duration will be known.   League rules state that meets must be planned for 4 hours or less of racing, barring unforeseen circumstances.  The 8 and under meets will be 3 hours or less.
Will there be a snack bar?
Don’t expect great things and you won’t be disappointed.  If you’re a foodie bring your own goodies, unless we’re the host team-- our snack bar rocks!
Encourage your kids to have fun!
Win or lose, we want our children to have fun and enjoy the rewards of this team sport.  Cheering on a teammate in a race, congratulating other racers in neighboring lanes, and acting as a lap counter in distance races are a few of the many rewarding ways for a child to engage in the sport.  
Timing Assignments
Each family will be assigned timing duties over the course of the season.  The number of assignments depends on the number of meets attended and the number of HMST swimmers at each meet.   Lisa will inform you the week of a meet if you have a timing assignment.   Timing assignments are a great way to get close to the action (and away from overcrowded stands.)   Lisa will attempt to split our team timing assignments so that you do not have to stand and time the entire session. 
If you are the designated timer for a meet, make sure you attend the timer’s meeting held during the warm-up session, approximately 30 minutes before the meet starts.   You will need to sign in prior to that meeting at the location designated by the host team.  (Listen to the PA system for announcements during warm-ups.)  At the timer’s meeting you’ll be provided a stop watch and assigned to a lane.  No prior experience is necessary—they will explain what you need to do.  There will be two timers in every lane, plus a back-up timer in case something goes wrong with your stop watch. 
What if I'm given a timing assignment but cannot attend the meet? 
Each family has a responsibility to time a minimum number of meets.  If you cannot make the meet, it is your responsibility to reach out to another HMST parent and see if you can swap timing duties.  Per league rules, HMST is fined if we miss a timing assignment at a meet.  
How do I contact other parents?
HMST will put out a phone list.  You can also approach Lisa in advance of the meet to see which other parents are likely to attend the meet or check the meet entry on the pool deck wall.
During the Meet
May I go on the pool deck?
Unless you are a timer, the answer is “No.”  For liability reasons, a host team will not let parents wander on to the deck. 
How do I reach my child on deck?
Hopefully you played charades as a child; that will make things easier.  Swimmers can come up to the seating areas, so if you can get your child’s attention you can use hand signals to “call” them.  Alternatively, go to the pool deck entrance and express to the guard that you need so-and-so from HMST to come over.  If all else fails, find a more permissive parent who gave their swimmer a texting device.
What are my obligations as a parent?
Be respectful of the swimmers, coaches, and officials.  Support your swimmer, no matter the performance.  There will be great days; there will be setbacks. 
If you have a timing assignment, don’t miss it. 
Meet Programs: “Heat Sheets”
Host teams typically sell a meet program listing the event order and all registered swimmers in each event.  The best programs also list an estimated time for each event, providing a rough approximation for when each event / heat will start.   The heat sheets also list your child’s best time in each event, unless they are NT (no time).  The “seed time” determines the swim order within an event.  Heat progression typically starts with the slowest heats in an event and proceeds to the fastest swimmers.  The great advantage of this system is that once swimmers have raced an event, they get to swim future races against swimmers of similar speeds.
What if my child needs to go to the bathroom? 
Make sure your child knows that he/she needs to tell the coach before leaving the team area to head to the potty.  The coach is watching the timing of the meet and will tell your child how much time there is before the next race.  If your child is not back in time, the race will be swum without him/her.
How will my child know what heat / lane? 
The HMST coach at the meet is the shepherd who tracks events and delivers swimmers where they need to be for their races.  Don’t be surprised to see your child come home with multiple heat and lane assignments written on their hands. 
What if my child doesn’t reach their starting block in time?
The meet will not be held up if a swimmer does not reach the block in time for their heat.  The league rules do not permit the starter to call out the name of a swimmer missing from a heat. 
Heats vs Finals
For older swimmers (12 years and older), some meets feature “Finals” races later in the day for those swimmers who placed in the top rankings in each race.  For younger swimmers, the final rankings are based simply on the heat time.  You can find this information in the meet listing on ctswim.org.
DQ—and we don’t mean Dairy Queen
Disqualification in an event happens to all swimmers at some point in their development.  Look at a DQ as a learning opportunity.  Some strokes, like butterfly and breaststroke, can take several seasons to learn.  Even experienced swimmers occasionally find themselves disqualified.  The meet officials (dressed in white) make the judgments, which are verified by the meet referee.   If your child is disqualified in an event, the race results posted by the host team will indicate “DQ” next to his/her name; no time will show.  In most cases, the meet referee will notify our coach of the DQ infraction, and our HMST coaches will share the specific violation with the swimmer, using it as a teachable moment.
Coach comments after races
HMST coaches try to watch every swimmer’s race.  Your child should know to go see the coach after he/she gets out of the water since the coach will have words of encouragement and often constructive advice.
Distance Meets: Who counts laps for swimmers in longer races?
In races of 500 yards or more, an HMST teammate will typically run the lap counter for your swimmer. 
Distance Meets: Timing Assignments
As your child advances in age and experience, he/she will be invited to swim longer races at distance meets.  Typically there are no timing assignments at these meets; parents time for their own children.  If you are going to a distance meet for the first time, seek out our team coach or other team parents for guidance regarding whether you need to time, when you need to be in position, and where you go to do so. 
As a parent timing a distance race, make sure you pay attention to the lap count!  Should you zone out, there typically is an air horn or bell sounded as the lead swimmer enters their final two lengths.
After the Meet
When can my child leave?
Once your child completes their final race they can check with the coach to see if they are free to leave.  In most cases you can depart after your final race, but sometimes swimmers get to race team relays at the end of a meet.  Please be sure your swimmer checks with the coach before heading for the showers.
Where do we meet afterwards?
The hardest meets are those held at venues new to you.When you first arrive at the facility, identify a meeting spot where you can meet your child after they are done swimming.Typically there is a lobby or obvious spot to gather outside the swimmer locker rooms.Still, it is good practice to be clear before hand, especially with tadpoles.
When can I leave?
Unless you have a timing assignment, you can leave once your child is free.The exception to this may occur at meets hosted by HMST.The team will need help running the concession stand, cleaning up after the meet, and so forth.Any help that can be provided is appreciated.
Coach’s Corner: “Swimming Milestones" (from Chuck)
What does every swimmer have in common, whether they are an Olympic medalist or the other 99.999% of competitive swimmers?  Every swimmer along his or her competitive journey experiences certain swimming "milestones.”  Here are 15 of my favorites from easiest to most difficult.
15. Correctly swimming butterfly, as you think, "Why did someone invent this?!"
14. Diving - fingertips first, toes last.
13. Learning to flip turn without gagging on water.
12. Understanding what "leave every five seconds" means.
11. Surviving your first DQ and still be able to smile.
10. Finishing 100 yards of butterfly without doing a one-arm stroke.
9.  Leading the lane in practice.
8.  Shaving your body without severing an artery.
7.  Attending and competing in your first prelims-finals meet.
6. When you lose, and you say to the winner, "Great race."
5.  Achieving a season-long goal time.
4.  Pushing through practice after practice, even when your times aren't dropping in meets.
3.  Falling asleep in public because you worked so hard in practice.
2.  Swimming and finishing your first ever 1650.
1.  Finding something to improve on, every practice, every race.