About the sport of swimming
1. What are the main differences between long course and short course?
As USA Swimming has both a long course and short course season it makes sense to explain a few of the biggest differences. First of all, and perhaps most obvious, are the changes in events. There are no 25s in long course (since the pool is 50 meters rather than 25 yards), and some of the longer freestyle distances change. Rather that the 500, 1000, and 1650, we swim the 400, 800, and 1500. Other major differences have to do with the races themself. For example, swimmers are able to simultaneously gain speed and rest as they streamline off a turn, but in long course races the number of turns is greatly reduced. This may seem minor at first, but when one considers that a 500 freestyle has 19 turns versus 7 for its long course counterpart, the difference is significant. Finally, there is the difference between meters and yards. Although one meter and one yard are very nearly the same distance, when one swims 100, 200, or 400, the difference begins to add up. For these reasons race strategy often changes, and swimmers who have mastered short course find that changing to long course makes swimming a whole new “ball game.”
2. What kind of equipment should my child have for swim practice?
The type of equipment a swimmer uses in training depends upon the level of proficiency that swimmer has achieved and his or her age. Gups (age 5 to 9) and Pups (age 8 to 12) for example, will be focusing primarily on learning the strokes, so very little equipment is necessary. Fins and a kickboard are usually sufficient. These two training aids allow us to work on kick and core body strength, two things that are essential for maintaining proper position in the water. Since Dawgs (ages 9 to 14) are more accomplished swimmers, we encourage some to begin using the pullbouy. Sometimes, however, because of a swimmer’s small size, the bouy causes the legs and hips to float too high in the water and ends up being counterproductive. Only in the Seniors (ages 12 and up) do some swimmers begin to use hand paddles. There are two reasons why paddles are restricted to the older groups. First , the strain on developing shoulders is really too much for the younger swimmers, and second, paddles can only be properly used when the correct pull pattern in well established. To sum up, the equipment required for each group is listed below.
• Gups: kickboard & fins
• Pups: kickboard & fins
• Dawgs: kickboard, fins, & pullbouy
• Seniors: kickboard, fins, pullbouy, & paddles
1. I like to watch practice–where is the best place for me to observe what is going on?
Things have changed since the days when ABSC practiced in Stegeman Hall, and we’re fortunate to have access to such a wonderful facility. One of the benefits to practicing in the Ramsey Center is that we have ample seating that for spectators in the stands. We usually ask parents and other observers to watch practice from there for two reasons. First, having parents on the deck can be a distraction to the swimmers. Although first time Gups sometimes find it a comfort to have a parent nearby (and we do encourage parents of such swimmers to watch the first practice from on deck), most swimmers do better when they can focus on the coach and the strokes. Second, the stands offer an excellent vantage point from which to watch. From that height it is often easier both to identify individual swimmers and to get an overall picture of what is going on. We encourage parents who have questions or comments about practice to approach the coaches before or after the session starts, or to use the e-mail links found on the coaches section of this site.
2. What is the Swim-A-Thon?
The Swim-a-thon is a national event in which every USA swim club participates annually. It is a fundraiser to benefit all of our ABSC swim programs, and the participation of all ABSC swimmers helps insure reasonable quarterly dues. This is also a tremendous opportunity for team-building and promoting swimming at all levels. Our Swim-a-thon is usually held on a Sunday afternoon in late October or early November, and swimmers will receive a packet of information early in the Fall Quarter with more details. Please join us in helping your child reap the benefits of this endeavor. To participate in the Swim-a-thon, swimmers will seek pledges from friends and family for the number of laps they will swim during a maximum of two hours. For example, a pledge of $.10 per lap will amount to a donation of $20 if the swimmer completes 200 laps in the two-hour period allotted for the Swim-a-thon. A variety of prizes are awarded based on amount of pledge money collected. Business owners who would like to become corporate sponsors of ABSC should contact a member of the ABSC Development Committee. For further information feel free to contact Al Cave or Lisa Cave .
3. Does ABSC need volunteers?
Yes! ABSC, like any other USA Swimming Club in the country, is unable to function without the use of volunteers. Depending on the number of families involved in ABSC in a given year, we would recommend that one parent per family volunteer to help during at least one meet throughout the year. Each meet we host requires a minimum of 25 volunteers. Some of the larger meets we host will require many more. At the beginning of each season, a Volunteer Sheet will be provided for each family to select the meet(s) in which they are willing to serve.There will be occasions when we will not have enough volunteers to begin a meet. At that point in time, the announcer will call for volunteers to come down to the deck so the meet can begin. Please be willing to help out when you hear the call, or when you receive a phone call or email requesting your assistance. As a volunteer, you will have the best seat in the house, and meets tend to pass quickly when you are involved. You may also be rubbing shoulders with some of the premier swimmers in the Southeast or sometimes even the nation!
When you volunteer, you will be assigned a position to work. The most pressing need at each meet is for timers. The pool has an automatic timing system consisting of stop-by-touch pads. This is the primary timing system used to record official swim times. The pool also has a manually activated button system, which a timer presses at the finish touch of each swimmer. This is the secondary aspect of the official time. A timing system consisting of individual lane timers, each operating a manual watch both started and stopped by the timer, is the tertiary aspect of the official time. Working in pairs, each timer starts and stops a watch for each race; in addition, one records watch times and the other pushes the button for the secondary time. As you can see, timers are very important, but it is really a very easy job to fulfill. If you have never timed before, you will be placed with an experienced timer to help you “learn the ropes”.
All volunteers should report to the officials’ office (the “Timing Room”) underneath the spectator stands, 30 minutes prior to the meet to be briefed on their specific position and/or receive their lane assignments. Some volunteer positions require more training in order to ensure the ongoing success of the ABSC program. Computer operators (Hy-Tek), timing device operators, and announcers need to be apprenticed by parents with younger children to assure continuity in the program as older swimmers and their parents “graduate.” If you’re interested in learning more about timing, or some of the other jobs staffed by volunteers, contact Susan Kasay.
4. Is there an opportunity for me to become an official?
All competitive swimming events held under USA Swimming sanction must be conducted in accordance with the rules and regulations established by USA Swimming. These rules are designed to provide fair and equitable conditions of competition and to promote uniformity in the sport so that no swimmer has an unfair advantage over another. To that end, we at ABSC are always in need of certified officials to order to be able to hold swim meets, both at home at the Ramsey Center, and at away meets hosted by other swim clubs. Without certified officials, we cannot have a swim meet. Officiating at swim meets is one of the best ways to actively participate in your child’s sport. By becoming an official, you will learn a lot about swimming, help your local swim club, meet people from all over the state of Georgia, and get to watch the competition up close. There are several positions for which one can obtain certification. These include: Stroke and Turn Judge, Starter, Chief Judge, Referee, Administrative Referee, and Clerk of Course. Beginning officials must first get certified as “Stroke and Turn Judges”.
5. How do I get certified as a swimming official in Georgia?
In order to become a certified Stroke and Turn Judge, you must first complete a “home self-study course, and then attend a one-session “stroke and turn clinic”. Clinics are offered at designated swim meets and Georgia Swimming meetings throughout the year. After attending the clinic, you will be ready to “apprentice” at a series of meets, where you will be shadowing an experienced stroke and turn judge. After completing your apprenticing sessions and sending in your apprenticing log, you will have completed the certification process. To request the materials for the Stroke and Turn Home School training or to get information about future clinics please contact the training facilitator for Georgia Swimming, Rob Schreer. If you have questions about officiating feel free to contact Kathleen Schmaltz.
About Swim Meets
1. Why is it important that swimmers attend meets?
Some swimmers participate in the sport solely for the benefit of physical activity. While we agree with this approach, we believe swimmers who practice but don’t compete are missing out on some of the best things about our sport. Here are three of the most important reasons why competition is important:
• Meets provide swimmers with opportunities to learn more about swimming. Most coaches cover the fundamentals of swimming during practice, but there’s no better place to see how well a swimmer has learned than at a meet. Because an athlete is less likely to be concentrating on form in the midst of a race, it’s easy for a coach to see what aspects of proper stroke technique the swimmer has internalized, and what could use some additional work. Furthermore, there’s more to racing than diving in and swimming fast. Race strategy is something that can only be learned through the experience of competition.
• Meets provide swimmers opportunities to learn more about sportsmanship. Competition is a part of life, and athletics can help teach young people lessons that will be invaluable later on. With the right guidance from parents and coaches, swimmers can learn how to be a good winner or a graceful loser. They can learn how to set goals and to do the hard work it takes to achieve them. In short, meets help build character.
• Meets are fun. Despite the fact that they spend the majority of their practice time facedown in the water, swimmers do make friends. Meets allow them the time to interact with peers and adults who share their interests. Meets also foster a sense of camaraderie and team spirit. But the bottom line is (and you can ask any swimmer) it’s just fun to swim fast!
2. How can I ensure that everything runs smoothly regarding my entry in a meet?
Here are a few suggestions about how to approach the logistics of entering a meet.
• Sign up early. Signing up late not only reduces your chance of getting into the meet, but also creates extra work for coaches and officials. Since meet entries are often due as much as two weeks before the meet, we typically post sign up information about a month ahead of time. Sign up information is posted on the website and sent out via email.
• Once the signup deadline has passed, look for the ABSC entry sheet. It will be posted on the web under the meet information section. Check to make sure that you’re not only entered, but that you’re in the right events on the right days. Coaches do make mistakes from time to time, and it’s much easier to correct any problems there may be before the meet begins.
• At the meet, go through the heat sheet to be sure that no omissions have been made on the host team’s end. It’s a good idea to print your events out off the web. That way you have a reference and can find your events in the heat sheet quickly and easily.
• After each swim, check the posted results to see whether or not your time is accurate. Touchpads sometimes malfunction, and officials are not always able to catch every mistake. If you do notice a discrepancy, let your coach know immediately. It’s much easier to have the officials change a time at the meet rather than after the final results have been certified and sent to Georgia Swimming.
3. What should a swimmer eat at a swim meet?
Before we talk about food, there’s a more important concern – STAY HYDRATED. Hydration is the single most important dietary concern for an athlete. Water is the best, with electrolyte-replacing sports drinks being second best. USA Swimming reports, “Drinks that are too strong or concentrated can provide the fuel, but they also can inhibit fluid absorption and often lead to cramping.” So mix it up: have two bottles of water and one sports drink, or mix two parts water with one part sports drink in a water bottle. Don’t forget to bring a water bottle to practice and to swim meets and keep filling it up. And remember, NO SODAS. There is no benefit in drinking soda. Soda has no vitamins or minerals, but enough sugar to add extra calories to one’s diet, and it is a known cause of tooth decay.Here are some recommended snacks for before practice or competition:
• Dry cereal ( Frosted Mini-Wheats, Honey Nut Cheerios)
• PBJ sandwich
• Granola bars
• Power Bars
• 100% juice boxes
• Whole fruits (orange, apple, peach )
• Container of berries ( strawberries, raspberries )
• Trail mix
4. At meets why is it important to stay for finals?
There are a number of reasons why swimmers should stay for finals, but three in particular stand out. First of all, swimmers always go faster at night. Since most teams have their main practice in the afternoon or evening, swimmers are accustomed to performing at night. Natural biorhythms take over and the body is far more likely to respond in the evening than in the morning. Also, most swimmers respond to the excitement of finals with increased levels of adrenaline, another contributor to peak performance. Second, the only time a swimmer can score points for the team is at finals. A swimmer can’t help the team by swimming fast in the morning, and then scratching before the night swims. And finally, swimming in finals is a privilege and a reward. At finals a swimmer gets recognition for all the hard work and sacrifice that it took to get there. It is one of the few times when a swimmer gets to stand up on the blocks, hear his or her name called out over the PA system, and wave at the crowd before showing off their skills in a race.
5. What is the Georgia Scratch Rule?
The Georgia Scratch rule is designed primarily to help in the running of prelim/final meets. Because it is somewhat involved, we won’t go into too much detail here-anyone interested in reading the text can link to the Georgia Swimming website here. The basic things to know are as follows:
• Any swimmer who checks in for a finals event is obligated to swim that event. If a swimmer checks in and does not swim, he or she will be scratched from the remainder of the meet. If the no show occurs on the final day of the meet, a $50 fine will be assessed.
• Swimmers who check in for deck seeded events and fail to swim will be barred from their next event at the meet.
• Swimmers who may want to scratch an event at night, but want to finish the remainder of their swims in the prelim session must declare their intentions within 30 minutes of the completion of their race. They must then declare their final intentions within 30 minutes of the completion of their final event.
To avoid unintentionally violating this rule during the course of a meet, a good rule of thumb is for a swimmer to check with his or her coach before leaving the meet.