Dear Prospective Shark Parent,
Not everyone has familiarity with a swim team, so I wanted to give you a general idea of what our team is about, and what a summer swim season is like. To begin with, your child does not have to be a great swimmer to join our team. They must however, be able to make it one lap across the pool, unassisted. If that can be accomplished, our coaches can then help in working on all four strokes of competitive swimming.
Our season starts in late May, and ends in late July, for a duration of about 8 weeks. Practices are held every weekday morning at the Wood Dale Park District Pool. Swimmers are encouraged to practice every day, but your child can choose to take their training progress as intensely and competitively as they wish. Our team competes against 11 other towns in DuPage County. There are 8 regular season meets and 2 conference meets. The conference meets are the last 2 weeks of the season, and can be thought of as something like a mini-Olympics. Competing in meets is not strictly required, but it is highly encouraged. Swim meets are what make us a team and they exemplify sportsmanship. Swimmers regularly congratulate each other after races, and parents commonly cheer for young swimmers of opposing teams.
At the meets, our swimmers race against other children of the same age and gender, typically in 2-5 races (events) per meet. The events are spread out over the duration of the meet (always in the same order), so that there are designed breaks in between any given swimmer’s events. During these breaks our swimmers rest and socialize with their teammates. It is a great opportunity for kids to meet other kids and develop what could be life-long friendships.
As a parent, you will play an important part in the meets as well. Unlike other sports, swim competitions are managed and officiated solely by volunteer parents. Only the coaches and lifeguards are park district personnel. In an effort to ensure that the necessary roles at meets are filled, all our families are expected to volunteer, and are required to agree to a refundable deposit. Once the volunteer minimum is met, the deposit is returned. There are many different volunteer roles you can choose from, depending on your experience and comfort level.
Whether in their first season or their tenth, swim families typically make a meet into an almost picnic like atmosphere. Most parents bring their own food, blankets, chairs, or even tents for their families and extended families to enjoy. A family of four, for example, at any given time, may be found all over the pool. One parent may be volunteering as a timer, while the other parent might be drinking coffee with a neighbor. One child might be at the “course” area waiting for an upcoming race, while the other child is buying ice cream with some teammates.
The most important thing I want you to take away, is that the Sharks Swim Team isn’t all about competing. Far from it. Swim team teaches a life-long skill, and its health benefits are second to no other activity. Many of our kids find that swimming helps them significantly in other sports. Our swim season includes many social events and activities that have nothing to do with competition. Annual events often include: Tee-Pee Night, Friday practice donuts day, a mock trial pizza party, a Swimathon, a year end banquet/pool party, and a Water Park trip. Our summers are something your whole family can participate in and enjoy together. We are very much like a community within the community, and we look forward to welcoming your family into ours.
Wood Dale-Addison Sharks Parent Club President