Q: How do you prevent swimmer’s ear?

A: Swimmer’s ear is a very painful outer ear canal infection caused by chronic moisture in the ear canal most often seen in swimmers who are swimming on a daily basis. Caution: If you have tubes in your ear drums or any perforation of your eardrum DO NOT USE these drops!!

Mix 1 part rubbing alcohol with 1 part white vinegar and place in dropper bottle.

Place 3 to 4 drops in each ear at the end of the day after swimming.

Q: What if my child doesn’t know all (or any!) of the strokes?

A: As long as your child can meet our minimum requirements, we’ll take care of the rest. Our minimum requirements are:

Hatchlings (ages 8 & under): Be able to comfortably swim at least 5 meters in a horizontal position with face in the water.

Eaglets (ages 5 – 10): Be able to comfortably swim one length of the pool on their front and on their back.

Eagles (ages 11 – 18): Be able to comfortably swim two lengths of the pool on front and back without stopping.

Learning – and improving on – good stroke fundamentals is an integral part of practices for all our swimmers, from beginners to the most advanced. We have several “levels” within each practice group so that coaches can meet and work with swimmers where they are with regard to ability and experience.

Q: What does my swimmer need for practice?

A: Practice Suit: Many people save the “team” suit to wear only at meets, keeping it in good shape for two years or more. (Absent a major growth spurt, most swimmers can wear the same suit for 2 years) Less expensive suits are perfectly adequate for practices and recreational swimming. Girls should have a one-piece suit. “Jammers” or briefs are preferable for boys because they create less “drag” than trunks, but trunks are acceptable if that’s what your child likes.

  • Goggles: Put your name on the strap.
  • Cap: Caps are optional for practice, but very helpful especially for those with long hair. The team cap is Latex (thinnest and “fastest”); Silicone is thicker and easier to put on over hair – makes a good “practice” cap.
  • Sunscreen: Put it on before practice.
  • Water or sports drink
  • Towel
  • Bag To carry it all!
  • Your Manners: Each swimmer is expected to treat the coaching staff and other swimmers with respect. The Head Coach will advise the Swim Team Coordinators of any discipline problems so that the issue can be resolved with the help of the swimmer’s parents.

Q: What if my child can’t make it to practice – or a meet?

A: We know that summer is a very busy time for kids and their families – with competing activities, camps, vacations, etc. Without question, the more regularly your swimmer attends practice, the more s/he will improve – and we will be recognizing swimmers who have perfect attendance in a given week.
But we certainly understand that swimmers may need to miss a few days or even a few weeks of our season. While we don’t need to know when they’re going to miss a practice, we do need to know which swimmers will attend each meet (or not).
Please make sure that you confirm with your child’s coach whether or not s/he will be attending a Meet by the Friday before each swim meet. If something unexpected comes up over the weekend, or your child gets sick, and you have to miss a meet that you had already confirmed as attending, please contact Coach Sandi ASAP.

Q: We’ve never been to a swim meet. What should we expect?

A (short): Organized Chaos!

A (real): The average QL dual swim meet consists of approximately 120 heats/races organized in 56 events. They are highly organized, with swimmers lined up behind their assigned lanes at least six (6) heats before they are to swim, and races often starting within 30 seconds of the previous heat’s finish.
Events always follow the same order, and progress from youngest age-group to oldest, alternating boys and girls, through each stroke. The age groups are:

  • 6 & under: swim only freestyle and backstroke – 25 meters
  • 7-8: swim freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly – 25m
  • 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-18: swim the 4 strokes (50m), 100 IM, and graduated relays

The stroke order of events are:

  • Individual Medley (IM)
  • Freestyle
  • Breaststroke
  • Backstroke
  • Butterfly
  • Relays

So, for example, the first several events are:

  1. Boys 9-10 IM
  2. Girls 9-10 IM
  3. Boys 11-12 IM
  4. Girls 11 -12 IM
  5. Boys 13-14 IM
  6. Girls 13-14 IM
  7. Boys 15-18 IM
  8. Girls 15-18 IM
  9. Boys 6 & under 25 Freestyle
  10. Girls 6 & under 25 Freestyle
  11. and so on

Depending upon the number of swimmers there may be 2 or 3 (sometimes more) heats for every event. Meets begin at 6pm (with warm-ups before), and usually conclude between 9 and 9:30 pm.

Q: What should we bring to meets?


  • Team Suit
  • Cap: All swimmers are strongly encouraged to wear their team cap at meets: they’ll swim faster and it allows the coaches to easily identify our swimmers. Team caps will be distributed on the day of the first Meet.
  • Goggles: Bring an extra pair in case one is lost or broken
  • 2 or more towels: They’ll be in and out of the water several times, needing to dry off.
  • Something to wear over suit to keep warm between events: If necessary – by the end of the season, we’ll all wish we could be wet all the time!
  • Dry clothes to wear home
  • Blankets or Chairs to sit on during the Meet: Most pools have some lounge chairs available, but with the large numbers of participants and spectators, you can never count on getting one.
  • Games or books to pass the time between events
  • Water or Gatorade: Can also be purchased at concession stand
  • Small, healthy snacks to eat between events: (some examples: peanut butter and crackers, a banana, apple or grapes, pasta, trail mix, power bar. Candy is not recommended!) Some can be purchased at concession stands, but please have your swimmer avoid heavy foods such as hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, etc. until after they are finished swimming for the night.

Q: How can I best prepare my child for a meet?

A: Your child will be ready to swim their best if they:

  • are well rested: make sure they get a good night’s sleep the night before
  • avoid strenuous, outdoor play the afternoon of the Meet
  • have an early (about 4pm) dinner – substantial but not too heavy. This will give them the fuel they need to perform and keep them from being hungry, but still allow ample time for their food to digest before they race.
  • leave plenty of time to arrive at the meet site (whether at home or away) at least 15 minutes prior to scheduled warm-ups. Remember to allow for traffic!
  • maintain a relaxed, but upbeat, positive attitude about swimming and express faith in your child that they’ll do their best and have fun!

Q: How many events will my child swim?

A: VPSU league rules limit swimmers to 3 events plus a relay. We will almost always enter swimmers in the maximum number of events if they are capable of performing the strokes and interested in swimming them.

Q: What if my child is afraid to swim in the Meet?

A: It is normal for inexperienced swimmers of all ages – but especially young children – to be nervous about their first few meets. This fear almost always evaporates with the successful completion of their few first races! We encourage all swimmers whom we feel are capable of competing to do so. In no way is a child ever required to swim in a meet, even if already entered, and more than one child has gotten to the starting blocks only to decide that they weren’t yet ready to “take the plunge”. There is absolutely no penalty for doing so.

We want swimming, whether in practice or meets – to be a positive experience and will never pressure a swimmer to compete. Likewise, we discourage parents from pressuring their swimmers. Encouragement, reassurance and expressions of faith in their ability are the most helpful approaches – and when they’re ready we’ll all know.

Q: How will my child know when it is their time to swim?

A: At each meet, we will post sheets with the names of each child and the event # , heat #, and lane # for each race in which they are entered. A coach or older swimmer (or you, if you like) will make sure that these numbers are written on the back of their hand with a Sharpie marker (so it won’t wash off in the pool). This provides a ready reference for you – and them – as to when, what and where they will swim.

In addition, the coaches and designated parent volunteers will be gathering swimmers approximately 10 minutes before they are scheduled to swim to make sure they are lined up, have their time cards and are checked in with the Clerk of Course – who is responsible for organizing the heats. Each very young swimmer will have a more experienced “big brother” or “big sister”, who will make sure they get to where they need to go, and keep them company while they wait for their event.

Please make sure that your child stays in the team area during the meet. (Sometimes they are lured away by a nearby playground or concession stand). Try to make sure that they use the restroom before the start of the meet and/or during longer breaks between their events.

Q: How do you determine which events my child will swim?

A: We aim for a balance between capitalizing on a swimmer’s strongest (and therefore most comfortable and competitive) strokes, and giving them experience swimming each of the strokes in competition. The coaches will be observing each swimmer in practice over the week to determine which events will be most successful for them. If there is a particular stroke that your child would like to – or not like to – swim in a meet, please talk to their coach, or encourage your child to do so.

Q: How do you determine which heat my child will swim in?

A: We strive to place (or seed) swimmers in heats with others of similar ability – which is the best environment to support their personal success. We do this on the basis of their “seed” time – their fastest official time for that event. Heats are then organized with the six fastest swimmers in the first heat, the next fastest in the second heat, and so on.

Before the first meet, we will hold a “Time Trial” – which will function as both a “practice” meet and an opportunity to get starting seed times for all our swimmers before the season begins. As your swimmer improves over the course of the season, her/his seed time will be adjusted and will be used to place her/him in the appropriate heats at each meet.

Q: What is an “exhibition” heat?

A: Under VPSU rules, only 2 swimmers for each team may earn “points” for the team in each event. These four swimmers (two from each team) always swim in the first heat of every event – which is the “official” heat for meet scoring purposes. Subsequent heats are referred to as “exhibition” heats.

At Queens Lake, we do not attach any status to which heat a swimmer competes in. Our focus is on supporting each swimmer’s opportunity to perform their best – and celebrating their achievements. Achieving a “Best Time” is the most important accomplishment!

Q: Who swims in the Relays?

A: There are four “graduated” relays at the end of each meet, and they are often the climax of the meet. They are: Boys Medley Relay, Girls Medley Relay, Boys Freestyle Relay and Girls Freestyle Relay. The relay teams are “graduated” in that they consist of one swimmer from each age group: 10 & under, 11-12, 13-14, and 15-18, who are generally the strongest swimmers in their age group. We will often field two (and sometimes three) relay teams for each relay – so four to six swimmers from each of those age groups will have an opportunity to swim a relay. Relay swimmers are usually notified on the day of the meet.

Q: Which swimmers are awarded Ribbons?

A: Ribbons are awarded to all swimmers. In each event, ribbons are awarded for first through fourth place for the official heat and first through eighth place for the exhibition swimmers. All other swimmers are awarded “Participation” ribbons – which are rainbow colored, and which many – especially younger – swimmers actually prefer.

On the back of each ribbon is noted the date of the meet, the event and the time swum. Ribbons are usually distributed the day after the meet. They are wonderful mementos of your child’s progress!

Q: What does it mean to “DQ”?

A: There are certain requirements for each stroke that all swimmers must meet for their race to be legal under VPSU rules (which are in accordance with the stroke rules of USA Swimming, Inc. which governs most competitive swimming in the United States). For example: In a freestyle event, the swimmer cannot stand and then push off the bottom, cannot pull themselves along a lane line (although they can rest holding onto a lane line) and cannot swim under water more than 15 meters at the start and turn. If a swimmer does any of these things, they will be disqualified, or “DQ”d. One stroke and turn official from each team monitors swimmers in each event and indicates/documents swimmers who DQ and the reasons why. For more information on the requirements of each stroke, see: http://www.vpsu.com/Page.html and click on the USA Swimming Rule book.

It is VERY common for younger and less experienced swimmers be disqualified. Even very experienced and championship swimmers occasionally are DQ’d. Breaststroke and Butterfly have especially particular requirements, and for older swimmers, turns can be tricky for almost every stroke. So don’t be concerned if your swimmer DQs, even if they do so several times. Our coaches will be aware of the issues/mistakes, and will be working on them with your swimmer. But it often takes time to build new habits, and our top priority will be overall stroke capability – which may or may not require addressing the DQ issues first. If you ever have any questions about your child’s progress of performance, please don’t hesitate to talk with his/her coach after practice.

Q: Do we have to stay for the whole meet, or can we leave after my child has swum their last event?

A: Its nice to have as many people as possible stay to cheer on the swimmers through to the end of the meet. But we know that the meet is long – and can be quite late – for young swimmers, who do not participate in the Butterfly and Relay events in the last part of the meet. So we certainly understand that some families will need to leave early. Our Co-Coordinators will work to ensure that families with young children are assigned volunteer responsibilities during the first half of the meet, so that they are free to leave when their swimmer is finished.

Q: What is “Champs”?

A: The VPSU summer season culminates with the league championship meet, known as “Champs”. Swimmers who achieve league qualifying times are eligible to swim in the champs meet against other eligible swimmers from all teams in the league. A comprehensive record of swimmer times will be posted on the team bulletin board, and as “champs” times are achieved, they will be so indicated. Qualifying times for Champs can be found on the VPSU website at http://www.vpsu.com.

Q: What are the “Summer Awards”?

A: Summer Awards is a multi-team meets hosted the weekend before the Champs meet to give all swimmers who have NOT yet achieved champs times one more chance to do so. It also gives those swimmers not eligible to go to champs the opportunity to swim in a big, multi-team event.