Questions New Swim Parents Should Ask

Your child has told you that he or she wants to join a swim team. How exciting! Now you are wondering what this means for you and your family. Here are some basic topics you need to be familiar with and some questions you should ask before your child dives in.

Financial Obligations

Swimming costs money because teams usually have paid professional coaches and most teams pay rent for their pool time, purchase equipment and supplies, have mailings and notices, etc. These costs must be passed on to the swim team members in the form of membership fees and team fees.

Questions you may have are:

What is the total cost per season for my child?

Our Team Registration Fee is $300 for the first swimmer and $30 discount for each additional swimmer in a family. We also require a fundraising "commitment" of $50 for all of our swimmers to help fund the team (see  the "Fundraisers" page on this site).

In addition to these fees, you should expect to incur some additional costs for team apparel, meet costs, transportation and meals, etc. (see below).

We also have some social activities that you may want to participate in. These may include our team "potlucks," the "psych-up" dinner and pizza poster party before Championships and our Championships "Afterglow" and our Team Banquet at the end of the year. The potlucks and pre-Championship activities usually cost $5 per person, the Afterglow is at a local restaurant and is about $10 per person depending on what you order and the banquet costs $5 to $10 per person.

When you add the competition, equipment and outfitting costs outlined below, you can probably expect to spend between $300 and $600 per swimmer for a full season with our team.

What is the average cost per season for competitions for a swimmer of my child’s age and ability?

Your registration fee covers your swimmers' registration with the League and the dual and championship meet entry fees. You will be responsible for any costs you incur to attend the meet such as gas, snacks, drinks, meet programs, meals after the meet, etc. As a result, it is difficult to put an exact number on these costs as it will depend on how you approach these expenses - most families will spend another $15 to $50 per dual meet or per day at Championships.

What equipment and outfitting will my child need and how much does it cost?

Each year we have a "suggested" team uniform. This will include a team competition swim suit (at a cost of $45 to $55 for boys and $65 to $75 for girls), a team bathing cap ($10 to $15 each), a team T-shirt ($7 to $10), goggles ($5 to $15 per pair) and other optional items. Many parents will also purchase practice swim suits and/or swim caps for their swimmers to try to preserve the team suit and cap for meets - these suits can run from as little as $10 to as much as $50 depending on the type of suit while the caps will usually be about $4. Our older swimmers (11 and older) are encouraged to purchase their own kick board, pull buoy and hand paddles to use at practices (about $50 for a complete set) as well.


Where do I get the equipment such as suits, caps and goggles that my child needs?

We will have order forms online that you can use to order the team racing suits, bathing caps and T-shirts that the team sells directly to our members. This web site usually has links for you to use to access these order forms by mid-April.

Our team suit supplier, Total Team Wares, will have a team suit "outfitting" the week before our first practice each season to provide a "fitting" for the team suit and to sell practice suits, goggles, practice swim caps, equipment and much more. After the fitting, you can purchase the team suits using the order forms.

Swim Practices

Swim practices are usually scheduled with the swimmers broken into groups according to age and ability. We have a separate FAQ on swim practices that will cover this topic in greater detail - click here to view that FAQ.

Questions you may have are:

How many days a week will my child have swim practice? Which days?

The days we practice will vary depending on the time of the season and the group that is assigned for your child. In general, our 6 & Under aged swimmers will practice Mondays through Wednesdays (and Thursdays when there are no meets that night) with all our older swimmers practicing four days per week - Monday through Thursday in May before the dual meet schedule begins and then Monday through Friday once the meets have begun.  Our older swimmer groups that practice in the"Late Groups" will also have several Saturday morning practices.

We have a page that explains the general practice schedules for the season on our site and the Group Calendars on the site will have the specific practice days listed on them.

What time is practice and how long is the session?

Again, the length of the practices will vary depending on the time of the season and the group that is assigned for your child. In general, our 6 & Under swimmers will practice for about 45 minutes per practice, our 7 to 10 year olds will practice 1 to 1-1/4 hours and our 11 and older swimmers will go 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 hours. You can get further details for the current season on the pages listed in the above question.

What is the attendance policy? Can my child arrive late or leave early if necessary?

While we don't have a formal attendance policy, we encourage our swimmers to attend every practice for their group. We realize that there are commitments to other sports, family activities, church, etc. and we will work with our athletes to allow them to participate in as many of these as we can. That said, we expect their commitment to our team to carry an equal priority as these other activities, particularly when it comes to attending the swim meets, which are scored and have relay team events.

Is there flexibility to tailor my child’s practice schedule to our family schedule?

You should be able to plan for your swimmer's participation in our program based on the information we post on our web site (calendars, practice and meet schedules, tentative dates for other activities, etc.) well before the season begins. Because we try to organize practices based on age and ability, we cannot regularly allow swimmers to practice at times different from the time of their assigned group; we can usually, with prior notice, accommodate the occasional conflict that may arise.

Who will be coaching my child?

Every practice group has a paid professional coach in charge of that group with our "junior" coaches assisting with the younger groups, usually in the water working with them. With this staffing, we are able to maintain a very good coach to swimmer ratio, with our 6 & Unders usually having 1 coach for every 5 to 7 swimmers, our 7 - 9 year olds having a coach for every 8 to 12 swimmers and the remainder usually have a coach for every 15 to 25 swimmers.

Do I drop my child off or may I stay and watch practice?

Either option is okay. We find that most of the parents of our younger swimmers tend to stay and watch when possible. As a result, the early practice usually has a group of parents that become very good friends on our pool deck each summer. We will not leave any swimmer alone at the pool after practice but we encourage all our parents to try to be at the pool to pick up their swimmers 5 to 10 minutes before the practice is scheduled to end. We also ask that you watch the weather and, if it appears that the weather may be bad enough to cause the coaches to cancel practice, please try to get to the pool as quickly as possible to retrieve your swimmers.

Swim Competitions

Swimming competitions are called meets. Meets are organized so that children are competing against other children of similar ages and abilities. Like practice, we have a separate FAQ on swim meets that will cover this topic in greater detail.

Questions you may have are:

How often will my child compete in meets?

Beginning in late May of each year, we have weekly dual meets (usually) that we encourage every team member to participate in. We realize that you may have plans that will cause you to miss a meet or two and we ask that you let us know in advance if you cannot attend a particular meet as we must submit our entries 48 hours before the meet actually begins.

Each season culminates in the River City Swim League Championship meet, usually the last full weekend in July. Again, we encourage all our swimmers to participate in this meet. In order to swim in the Championship meet, a swimmer must have competed in three dual meets during the season and must have swum any event they want to be entered into in the Championship meet at least once during the dual meet season. The coaches will monitor these requirements closely and notify any swimmer and his/her parent that is in danger of not meeting these conditions.

The meets are include in the General and Group Calendars on our web site and also have a page that covers just the meet schedule for the season in the Membership Info section of our web site - click the appropriate link in the link bar at the top of the page to view these pages.

Each meet will have a meet information page posted to the web site 2 or 3 weeks before the meet. This information page will have information about the location, date and time of the meet as well as links to pages that will allow you to let us know if you can or cannot swim in that meet, review your entries and for parents to volunteer for the various jobs we need to fill at each meet. After the meet is over, there will be a link on the web site to the results for every meet.

Who does the meet entries?

The Head Coach does our entries for all our meets. She will often seek input from the swimmers and/or parents as she is putting together the entry; however, she is also trying to make sure everyone is eligible to enter all the events they want at the Championship meet and have a competitive line-up to give us a chance to win the dual meets so you may not always get entered in the event(s) you want.

Who is responsible for providing transportation to meets?

You are responsible for making certain your swimmer gets to the meet. If you know of another family on the team that lives near you, you may be able to arrange for car pools and we will publish a roster for all our members sometime around the time of the first meet to help you with this. Please, if you drop off your swimmer at a meet, try to return prior to the estimated time the meet will finish to retrieve your swimmer.

Volunteering and Parental Responsibilities

Like most teams, we depend heavily on parent volunteers to perform a variety of tasks. In addition to the transportation and financial responsibilities listed above, we also expect our parents to participate in a wide variety of activities necessary to keep our team operating as efficiently and economically as we do. Our Team Organization page has details on what we need from our parents and we have a separate FAQ page on the Parent's Role.

Questions you may have are:

How can I contribute to my child’s team if I know very little about swimming?

Like most other organizations that depend on volunteers and members, we have several opportunities that require little or no knowledge of our specific activity, competitive swimming. For those tasks that do require some specific knowledge of our sport, we have several of our experienced folks that will be glad to take you "under their wing" and teach you what you will need to know. We encourage all our parents to get involved in the team as it will improve your family's experience with our team while enriching the team experience for all our members.

Who can I ask when I have questions?

The obvious answer is the professional coaching staff but remember that their primary focus and function is to coach your child in our sport. If you truly need to speak with your swimmer's coach, please try to do so before or after practice. You can also e-mail your questions through the Contact Us link on the left side of each page in our web site. Finally, we try to have at least one of our veteran parents available at every practice to help our new folks get acclimated.

What is expected or required of parents?

Throughout this FAQ we have addressed much of what is expected of our member parents. It all comes down to the fact that for our program to continue to thrive and succeed, we need all of our families to be involved with the team beyond just dropping the kids at the pool.

Specifics of what is needed for each season can be found in the current Membership Info section of this site and in our printed Membership packet - click the appropriate link in the link bar at the top of the page to view these pages.

Will my child and I be expected or required to participate in fundraising?

We believe our program is one of the lowest cost programs of this type in our area.

Each year we have tried to provide opportunities for the swimmers and their parents to participate in various fund raising activities.