Ultimate Swim Team Gear Guide and Tips

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We have been on a summer swim team for the last several summers. It has become part of the routine for our summer days and gives us enough structure to get up and moving. The kids are outside, active, playing with other kids- a mom’s dream summer day! This post is for moms who are considering or have signed their kids up for summer swim team and need information about how it will all work! Below, you will find all the most important swim team gear and tips. What gear do I buy? What should we expect at practice? How do the meets work? Scroll down for all the details!

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Why Swim Team?

Despite different ages and genders, swimming is the one sport where all our children participate on the same team! It is very popular with larger families for this reason. Practice times are staggered for age, but they all wear the same team suit and swim in the same meets. It is a special and unique experience for them to cheer for each other as teammates. As I will outline in this post swim team is great for many reasons including:

  • Adding a layer to your family’s water safety strategy
  • Siblings can experience being teammates
  • Improving cardiovascular fitness
  • Creating a routine for long summer days
  • Learning a skill/ sport that will last a lifetime
  • A great sport for families with varying ages and genders of kids since everyone can participate.
Swim Team Beat and Tips

How can I join a swim team?

Swim teams can be found at many types of pools. If you are new to your area or have not looked into swim programs in your area check out:

  • Neighborhood pools
  • Local YMCA
  • Nearby Golf or Tennis clubs
  • Public Parks with pools

Registration is usually in the spring. Summer Swim Team usually starts from whenever school finishes for the summer and last about 6 weeks.

What if my child is cannot swim or is not a strong swimmer?

Joining a swim team is one of the best ways to get your kids “really swimming”. I say “really swimming” for a reason. There are a lot of kids that enjoy playing in the shallow end. Others can doggie paddle to the side after going off the diving board. After one summer participating in swim team, your child will have been exposed to proper swim technique and lap swimming form. They will be a much stronger swimmer!

Even if your child has taken swim lessons, a swim team is a great place to improve their strokes and build endurance. Amazingly, a child who struggled to get down the length of the pool at the beginning of the summer will swimming consecutive laps just a few weeks later!  Many swim teams offer a junior or mini swim team program for younger swimmers who cannot yet make it across the pool.  With the coach’s experience, peer examples, and daily practices it is amazing how quickly they improve. In our experience, these have been the most effective swim lessons. Our kids have launched from being comfortable in the water to real lap swimmers. As kids get older, they learn other new skills like all 4 strokes, flip turns, and dives. Their strength as swimmers and endurance improves every year.

Other Benefits of Swim Team

 While there is no replacement for appropriate supervision, lifeguards, and other safety devices and measures, training kids to be strong swimmers is an added layer in an approach to keep them safe in the water. Swimming is also a lifelong sport/ skill and learning at a young age is a gift you can give your children that will last a lifetime.

How will swim meets work?

  • For a Complete Guide of what to pack for a swim meet – Click Here !
  • There will likely be a website or app for your swim team – download it now! Swim Teams have a lot of participants and this is how you will communicate swim meet attendance. Usually, the week before a swim meet you will need to “declare” or “commit” if your child is coming to the meet or not.
  • At each meet there will be a “heat sheet”. Sometimes they are printed and available for purchase (I always bring cash to swim meets ) most of the time there is another app where the heat sheet is posted (MeetMobile is popular and pretty easy to navigate). This is essentially the program for the swim meet. It has the order of events, heat numbers, and lane assignments for each swimmer for the entire meet. Since there are boys and girls swimming across a lot of age groups swim meets move pretty quickly. You don’t want your swimmer to miss their race!
  • When it is available check the heat sheet to see which events your child will swim. Use a sharpie to write their events on their arm or back. Write the event number, heat number, and lane number so they know where to be. This also helps volunteers and coaches get them to the right place.
How to write swim meet events on your kid's arm.
  • Swim team and meets take a village! Coaches and a lot of parents work together to make swim meets happen. Be prepared to volunteer in some capacity. There may be some jobs like working the concession stand or an entrance desk that are self-explanatory and take no swim team experience. Parents are also needed to help line kids up in the correct order for their next event (age group parent/supervisor). If your family is new to the swim team, this is a great way to spend time with your child and get to know other kids in their age group. Parents can also serve as timers for the meet (this sounds kind of stressful but is easy to pick up! It might be good to ask an experienced swim team parent to be a timer with you during your first shift). Other parents are needed to judge if strokes are being performed correctly (stroke and turn judge) or help run or manage the meet. These jobs usually require a little training so talk to your coach or coordinator if you are interested in getting more involved.

Swim Team Fun

Get ready for fun! Swim teams do so many fun events. We have enjoyed the pre-meet pasta dinner, game days, and team trips. The kids love the temporary tattoos and other theme nights at meets. Since summer swim teams are not always tied to schools it is fun for them t0 branch out and meet new friends. At various times during the year, they will talk about missing their “summer swim team friends.” There is something about those daily practices and spending a lot of time together during meets that brings kids together.

Pool Bag/ Swim Team Gear: 

In preparation for swim team it’s a good idea to order the team suit (although a suit in the team color will usually work well too)and good quality goggles. These are a must to prevent them from coming off while diving in during practices and meets.  Our favorite swim team gear is linked below:

Team suit – you will likely need to order this through your team. They should give you plenty of notice. If you just need a suit in a solid color I would get this suit for girls and this suit for boys. The Sizing for team or competition-style suits is different from regular kid’s sizing and can be tricky to navigate: Here is a helpful Chart for the Suits I Linked right above! These suits are supposed to have a snug fit so they stay in place and reduce drag while the kids are racing. Many teams offer a try on night for sizing. You could also go to a sporting goods store or a local swim shop to try-on for sizing. To help the suit last for the whole season ( or two!) rinse it with tap water after a practice or a meet to minimize damage from chlorine then leave it out to dry.

Cap- Many teams also provide these with the team logo. If not these caps are great for new swimmers. It’s a little dated and I wouldn’t recommend using any powder but Here is a tutorial on how to actually get the swim cap on their head! The key is to have the child hold the front of the inside of the cap against their forehead while you stretch it out to the back of their head.

Goggles- these are the best! The Women’s goggles fit my older kids and the junior size fits my preschooler. There are certainly a lot cuter googles out there but if your googles fall off the minute you dive in to race you won’t care how they look! We also swap out the regular straps for these goggle bungie straps that are much easier to adjust and don’t pull hair as much.

Hair Ties

Towels (2)– we love these thin Dock and Bay Towels that are lightweight and quick drying

Pullover or shorts/ T-shirt

Snacks- all my favorite sports snacks for kids are in this post!

Sunscreen

Towel pants- Towel pants and shorts are so fun and a swim team favorite!

Thin sharpee marker (to write kids event, heat, lane assignment on their arm) 

Camp/ game chairs

Cash

Sweatshirts or Hoodies- are great for summer evenings when it’s cools

Swim Bag- If you have an older swimmer who will be in charge of most of their belongings these swim backpacks are great! If your kid’s are younger and you will keep everything in one bag see this post for everything I like to keep in my sports mom bag. I love to use a Scout Bag for the pool- it’s light weight, waterproof, and very easy to clean

Heat sheet – paper copies my be sold or an app (Called Meet Mobile) may be used to let you know the order of events and heat/ lane assignments. Swim meets move quickly and it is easy to miss your little swimmer in the meets. Ask an experienced swim parent on your team at the first meet to show you how your team keeps everyone in the know. 

Other Swim Team Resources:

Swimoutlet.com

USA Swimming

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