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Parent Handbook

Kingsgate Gator’s Swim Team

Parent Handbook


SECTION 1: Introduction to Gators

Welcome to the Kingsgate Gators Swim Team. The Gators is a summer swim team program made up of 125 swimmers ranging in ages 6 to 18. Swim season begins each year in mid-May and continues through July. We are part of the Midlakes Swim League, which includes 26 teams in its region. The primary focus of our program is to encourage the sport of swimming for all ages and abilities with an emphasis on technique, sportsmanship and fun.

Team Goals and Philosophy

  • To promote the sport of competitive swimming amongst all qualified ages in a positive manner
  • To instruct, model and develop sportsmanship, teamwork and cooperation among all swim team members; swimmers, coaches and parents.
  • To facilitate a fitness activity supporting life-long health and wellbeing.
  • To introduce, encourage and develop proper technique in all 4 competitive strokes, dives, starts, turns and finishes.
  • To encourage excellence through hard work and dedication both in and out of the water 
  • TO HAVE FUN!!!!!
  • SECTION 2: Policies & Procedures

    Anyone who meets the minimum requirement may join the swim team through the summer following High School graduation up to and including age 19. There will be a swim test for all new swimmers at the start of the season. Lessons are available at the pool to those who don’t yet meet the requirements so that they will be qualified to join the team next year.

  • 8 & Under Swimmers: must be able to safely swim 25 yards freestyle without stopping or touching the sides or bottom of the pool and be able to follow age appropriate instruction.
  • 10 & Under through 15 & Over Swimmers: must be able to safely swim 50 yards freestyle without stopping or touching the sides or bottom of the pool and be able to follow age appropriate instruction.
  • 8 & Under, 10 & Under and New Swimmers: will be required to participate in a skills assessment at the beginning of the season unless the coaching staff can validate their skills from prior experience.
  • Swimmers must meet the minimum requirements.
  • All swimmers must attend practices regularly
  • All swimmers must be suited in appropriate swim attire for both practices and meets.
  • No High School or year round competitive team logos are allowed on swim suits or caps during meets by Midlakes rules.
  • All swimmers need to observe both pool and swim team rules and regulations (see code of conduct).
  • Swimmer Code of Conduct

    It is expected that all swimmers read and agree to the Swimmer Code of Conduct.

  • All athletes are required to gather on deck quickly and quietly prior to the start of practice.
  • Athletes must be dressed and ready with all needed and appropriate equipment.
  • Athletes must wait patiently and quietly on deck for their coach to start practice.
  • All athletes must act responsibly and respectfully to coaches, staff, teammates and family members at all times.
  • While on the premises athletes may not engage in any ball play, tag, or running that is not part of practice and/or under the direct supervision of their Coach.
  • Athletes will not engage in any destructive behavior in or around the property. This includes, but may not be limited to, defacing property, damaging personal or pool owned items and inappropriate horse play.
  • Athletes are to get ready for practice quickly and to exit the locker rooms quickly after practice has ended.
  • Athletes waiting to be picked up after practice may wait on deck or in the lobby of the pool. No waiting will be allowed in the locker rooms or in the adjacent outside play area. Athletes waiting to be picked are still subject to code of conduct.
  • Athletes will refrain from using profanity, having discussions of an inappropriate nature or any otherwise unacceptable behavior.
  • Athletes will behave in a courteous and respectful manner while at the Kingsgate facility, or any other facility for Gator events and meets.
  • Use of the baby pool in not permitted at any time during practice. Even if you are a homeowner or pool pass purchaser.
  • While visiting other facilities for meets athletes are to behave in an appropriate, courteous and respectful manner just as they would at the Gator pool.
  • Athletes will not let down their fellow teammates. Unless proper notice has been given, athletes are expected to show up for all meets and/or races especially those that affect other athletes.
  • Infractions will be dealt with quickly. Below is a general guideline for dealing with infractions.
  • Offenses of a less serious nature may result in verbal warnings while others of a more serious nature may result in escalation of consequences. This is determined by the coaching staff and Kingsgate Gator Board.




    Parent Responsibilities

    Support the Swimmers

    Parents contribute to the success of the Gators. Parents serve as role models for their own and other children and the swimmers emulate their attitudes. Be aware of this and strive to be a positive role model. Most importantly, show good sportsmanship at all times toward coaches, officials, opponents and teammates. Remember that you are teaching your child and the other swimmers at all times. The most important thing you can do as the parent of a swimmer is to love and support your child, both in and out of the pool. This support is a key factor in fostering enjoyment and learning as well as contributing to the child's individual success in the pool. hosts a wealth of information for both parent and swimmer. There are articles on technique, sports psychology, nutrition, rest etc.

    Mandatory Volunteer Commitment

    Signing up to volunteer is straight-forward. Volunteer sign-ups are located on our website, Sign in on the site then click on the meet you wish to volunteer for and you will automatically be directed to volunteer options open for that meet. Click on which volunteer slot you would like to fill and you will be signed up instantly. The system will let you know which slots are open and which are filled. You will receive a reminder about your volunteer commitment in your email prior to the meet. You are responsible for positions that you sign up for, you may trade with other parents, but it is your responsibility to make sure that position gets filled. You may notify the volunteer coordinator of the trade by email.

    Each family is required to sign up for a set # of volunteer slots during the season, determined at the beginning of each season. Failing to meet your volunteer commitment for the entire length of the assigned slot is considered a code of conduct infraction and will be dealt with in a manner outlined about. There will be an additional $50 fee for each missed slot, we cannot run a meet without volunteers so meeting your volunteer commitment is extremely important to the Gators!

  • Timing: Using a stopwatch to mark a swimmer’s time at both home and away meets.
  • Hospitality/Concessions: Provides concession help (cashier/serving/cooking/clean-up) at home meets. Set up of concessions before start of meet (1st half volunteers) and clean-up of concessions after the meet (2nd half volunteers)
  • Runner - runs timing sheets and stroke and turn sheets to data entry, other tasks as need by the Team Parent Volunteer, Head Concessions Volunteer, or Starter/Referee.
  • Set Up: involves setting upbarriers, roping off areas, setting up computer area, drive through area, bleachers and all set up on deck before meet, begins at 3:30pm.
  • Staging: Helps to organize swimmers behind blocks before races.
  • Stroke & Turn Judge (requires training): Provides impartial judgment to determine if strokes are performed correctly.
  • Starter (requires training): Starts swimming events and ensures a fair race.
  • Announcer: Announces current swim event, those upcoming and Meet announcements.
  • Awards: Attaches result labels to the back of ribbons in real time through the end of home meets.
  • Computer/Data Entry (requires training): Inputs all meet information in real time and prints out result labels for awards. Must be trained in Hy-Tek Meet Manager. (Home meets)
  • Clean up: Involves clean-up of pool deck, computer area, drive through area, bleachers and all clean up after the meet.
  • Weekly Swim Meet Sign-In Policy

    Weekly sign-in or sign out means identifying which meets your child(ren) will attend or will not attend. Signing-in as ‘will attend meet’ is a commitment to attend the meet from start to finish. Even if your child is finished swimming, the team needs to support all swimmers to foster camaraderie and encourage swimmers to do their best.

    The purpose of sign-in/sign-out of meets is to decrease the number of last minute changes to meet line up for reasons other than emergency or illness. This is one of the biggest problems coaches face during a swim season. Coaches need to plan for meet line ups well ahead of a scheduled meet date. Any additional changes that occur after the meet line ups have been created take significant time. Understand when a family or a swimmer makes a change it does not only affect them - every single change causes many others. It is the goal of the coaches to make sure every swimmer swim as many events as possible. It is the goal of every swimmer to swim as many events as possible. Please make sure you are giving the coach and your teammates every chance to meet their goals.

    Every week the swimmer or swimmer’s family is required sign-in or sign-out for the following weeks meets on-line through our website under the menu header “Schedule”. You'll need to login and use the tool to sign-up for each meet that your swimmer will attend or will not attend. You will be asked if your swimmer with attend the meet or not attend the meet and also if they are available for relays. Additionally, you can choose stroke preference for the meets and the coaches will consider this when putting the line up together for each meet. If you commit to the relays that means you are available to stay through the end of the meet. Remember the Coaches have final say in what events a swimmer will swim to ensure swimmers are entered in appropriate events and have a positive racing experience.

    Remember it is the responsibility of the swimmer or the swimmer’s family to sign-in or out every week. If no sign-in or out is done for a meet, the coaches will assume that swimmer is not available for the meet and, therefore, will not be entered. YOUR SWIMMER WILL NOT SWIM IF YOU DO NOT SIGN IN THAT YOUR SWIMMER WILL ABSOLUTELY BE AT THE MEET.

    The deadline for meet sign ups is Friday before the meet by 8pm.

    After this, entries will be closed and you will no longer be able to make adjustments. The coaches will not allow additions to the meet after this deadline. It is possible that a swimmer can be deck entered at the meet if there is an open spot(s) in their age group or above. This is not a guarantee and at the discretion of the coaches. Please take responsibility and remember to sign your swimmer(s) up for each meet.

    If a swimmer was entered into a meet and either did not show or withdrew after the above deadline for reasons not considered acceptable by the coaching staff and/or Gator Board (examples of acceptable reasons include emergencies and/or serious illness) there will be a $50 fee assessed to the swimmer/family. The swimmer will also not be entered in the following meet. A swim meet "No-show" is considered a code of conduct infraction and will be dealt with in a manner outlined in the parent handbook. Penalty fees must be paid prior to a swimmer being entered in remaining season meets.

    If you forgot to enter your swimmer(s) into a meet, you are still expected required to be present at the meet to cheer on the Gators. Be sure to let the Coach or team parent know you are there so any vacancies can be filled with your swimmer. Even better, be sure to sign them in on time to ensure they are swimming!

    Note: Swimmers who forgot to be entered are still expected to be present at the meet to cheer on their fellow team mates.

    Gator Refund Policy

    If a team member decides to not be part of the swim team for any reason a refund will be given up until the day before the first swim meet of the season.

    Team fees are reimbursed using the following criteria:

    1)All registration cost will be fully reimbursed starting from the time registered up until fees are due to Midlakes and the Home Owner Association (See calendar for date, usually June


    2)Notice needs to be given in writing and dated by the Parent or Guardian of the withdrawing swimmer(s).

    3)Verbal notice needs to be given to the Parent or Guardian of a swimmer if the coaching staff decides a swimmer is not safe to participate on swim team.

    4)After June 1st (or date Midlakes/Home Owner Association fees are due) until the first Friday of June, 75% of remaining team registration after payment of Midlakes and Home owner fees will be reimbursed.

    5)After the first Friday of June up until the day before the first swim meet 50% of remaining team registration after payment of Midlakes and Home owner fee will be reimbursed.

    6)After the first swim meet reimbursement is no longer available.

    Note: Swim team fees are not subject to proration for any reason due to the recreational nature of our team.

    If an already registered swimmer has incurred a medical complication and is unable to start practice until a later date the swimmer will be allowed to do so given team availability. All Midlakes and Home Owner association fees must be paid. Remaining fee will be determined by team registration cost divided by the number of weeks the swimmer will practice. Kingsgate Gators must have signed documentation that the swimmer is cleared to begin practice.

    SECTION 3: Practice

    Practice Season and Expectations

    Swim team practice begins in Mid-May (exact date depends on when Memorial Day falls). Practice continues for most swimmers through the 3rd or 4th week of July ending with the season Division Championship meet. Those swimmers who qualify for League Championships will have an additional week of practice.

    Swim season is short, so it is really important for swimmers to come to practice as often as they can. Swimming requires technique, endurance, and speed. Come on time and be prepared daily with swim suit, goggles, towel, water bottle, and positive attitude.

    Coaches understand it is summer and the importance of family time and vacations. However, if you want to gain the most from the swim team experience, please try to schedule this time when it does not impact the swimming schedule. Improvement is positively impacted by coming to practice every day, being prepared to work hard, and most importantly to listen to your coach.

    Practice Groups

    Swimmers will practice primarily in their competitive age groups. However, coaches reserve the right to place swimmers in a practice group they feel is appropriate and will maximize their potential.

    Swimmers must attend the training group they are assigned to. Any questions or concerns regarding swimmers practice group must be addressed to the coaches directly.

    Team Gear

    Team Swim Suits

    Swimmers must have a current team suit. A Gators suit is the one and only mandatory item that needs to be purchased by the family or swimmer. Team uniformity promotes spirit, pride, and a sense of belonging. It allows you to easily identify fellow teammates. It is a Midlakes requirement to have a team suit. The Gator organization tries to minimize this purchase by choosing what is called a 2-year pattern suit. This means that the suit vendor promises to manufacture enough of a pattern to last for 2 years. With good care and proper sizing, most swimmers can wear the same suit for two years. Sizing experts will be on hand at our Team information meeting at the start of the season, and you will be able to purchase your suit at this meeting at the best rate we can negotiate.

    Warning: High school or year round suits or caps with a logo are prohibited by Midlakes during the Meets; only the official suit and team cap are acceptable. Wearing of an improper suit will, at a minimum, result in a warning and may even result in disqualification. A Gator swim cap is included with your registration, and additional caps, both latex and silicone can be purchased through Gators’ website. Most officials work High School or other league meets as well, so don’t take the chance!

    In order to keep your team suit looking good for meets as well as ensuring maximum wear time, a daily practice suit is encouraged. If you happen to have the previous year(S) team suit and it fits make that your practice suit. If that is not an option, purchasing a poly-blend suit that is virtually indestructible by chlorine or sun is the best. Keep in mind there is a tradeoff, the poly-blend suits do not have the same type of stretch as a lycra-blend suit. This can take a bit of getting used to by the swimmer, but may be a better option financially.

    Tip: has the cheapest swimsuits by far and, if you are not particular about pattern, the grab bag suits are a great deal.

    Team Spirit Wear

    Team Hoodies, sweat pants, and shirt, are not required team items. However, these clothing items are strongly recommended to keep your swimmer warm, especially during meets. All our practices and meets are outdoors and in the Northwest it can be in the 50’s and 60’s throughout the entire swim season!

    Note: We will notify you when you have the opportunity to purchase Gator specific spirit wear early in the season.

    Training Equipment

    The team will provide fins, kickboards, paddles, and any other training device used to promote technique, strength, and endurance. If you or your swimmer prefer to have your own training equipment, please speak with the coaching staff or team parent in order to ensure purchase of the correct gear.

    SECTION 4: Swim Meets

    A swim meet is a competition between two (dual) or more clubs. Events are split by boys and girls, by stroke, and by age group. First time parents may find the first few meets a bit overwhelming. If you are a new parent, you may find it helpful to attach yourself to a Gator veteran so you can learn the ropes. New swimmers will have an older simmer “buddy” assigned to them to teach the new swimmer the ropes.

    Midlakes Definition of Competing Summer Age and Categories

    A swimmer’s age for the Midlakes summer season is determined by their age on or before

    June15th of that season. No exceptions can be made. The age divisions are 8 & Under, 10 & Under, 12 & Under, 14 & Under and 15 & Over (Including the summer after high school graduation). Swimmers in younger groups can “swim up” to an older group, but swimmers are not allowed to “swim down” to a younger group.

    A and B Dual Meets

    Each week the Gator swimmers have the opportunity to participate in 2 dual meets. One will be home and one will be away. One meet is designated the “A meet” and the other a “B meet”. The difference between these two meets is determined by swimmer times. These times are called B DQ times and are set by Midlakes Swim League to ensure a level playing field amongst swimmer abilities (see B DQ times on website). These times, also known as time standards, allow meets to remain both competitive and fun. The B DQ time disqualifies faster swimmers within each stroke from participating in a B meet. Swimmers with B DQ times can no longer swim in a B meet for that stroke. They can only participate in that event at an A-Meet. They can still swim other events at B meets, provided that their time is slower than the B DQ time for that event.

    Most Gator swimmers will be able and are expected to swim in both A and B meets to maximize their swim team experience. There are no time standards to be able to swim in an A-meet and very few swimmers are B-DQ’d in all events for their age group.

    This will become easier to understand once the swim meets begin.

    Meet Arrival Times

    Make sure you arrive early enough to get ready and be on deck and behind the blocks for the team’s required warm up session. We recommend arriving at least 20 minutes ahead of time to avoid feeling rushed and to ensure that you are ready to go with swim suit, cap, and goggles on when the coach begins warm-ups.

    All Dual Meets, Home and Away, begin at 6pm sharp. Warm-ups will start promptly at the following times:

  • Home Meets4:45pm (pool opens at 4:15pm)
  • Away Meets- 5:30 pm (possibly earlier if home club allows)
  • Meet Preparations

    Swim meets, although fun, are long events typically lasting up to 4 hours. Here in the Great Northwest, swim meets are held rain or shine. Meets are only canceled for thunder or lightning. Temperatures can vary greatly during a meet, so be prepared and stay comfortable. Also, please have swimmers come to meets well rested and with plenty of water and healthy snacks. Good swimmer food is fruit, bagels, sandwiches, protein bars, veggies… All clubs also have concessions available stocking snacks and sturdier fare such as hamburgers, hot dogs, baked potatoes, salads, along with other swim meet staples. Here are some suggestions of items to bring to meet.

  • Team suit and a back-up suit
  • Team cap (one is provided free at registration, additional caps can be purchased on the Gator website)
  • Goggles and back up goggles.
  • Lots of towels. A good rule is to have one towel per event plus one extra.
  • Sunscreen. Yes, the sun does choose to come out sometimes. Warm clothes. Sweats, swim parka, rain jacket.
  • Blanket(s). To cover the ground or yourself or your swimmer.
  • Folding chair(s). Most pools do not have enough seating to support all the spectators.
  • Canopy, tent for shelter. Warning not all locations have room for these items. Share with other families if possible. We are the Gator Nation and one of the best things about the Gators is our team spirit and the friendships that arise from a season of meets.
  • Books and/or games. Cards are great.
  • Line-Ups

    Meet line ups will be posted on the fence behind the starting blocks (see how to read event lineups on the website). Swimmers are responsible for checking the line ups to see what events they are entered in. The coaches also strive to get each individual swimmer a personal event slip which lists their swims by event number, heat number, and lane number.

    There is usually more than one heat per event, but only one per Midlakes rules can be scored. All exhibition heats are swum before the scored heat. If your child is swimming in an exhibition heat, there will be an X next to his or her name on the line up. It is important to remember that all heats, whether exhibition or scored, are important. Each opportunity to race gives a swimmer more experience and confidence.

    Sometimes last minute changes occur so getting in the habit of checking the personal slip against the fence posting for possible differences is good. That way if there is a discrepancy, it is caught early and you can check with the coach for clarification.

    The maximum number of events a swimmer can swim at any meet, per Midlakes rules, is four.

    Two of which can be individual and two relays. This, however, is not a promise or a guarantee. Realistically, the number of events a swimmer swims at a given meet will vary. When creating line ups, the coaches are not only trying to enter you, but every other swimmer on the team.

    Several things are taken into consideration by the coaches when creating line ups. Fairness.

    Is it an A or B meet?

    Can a given swimmer swim all the strokes legally for the distance required in their age group?

    Have swimmers attended practices, worked hard and shown a positive attitude? There is more to creating lineups than meets the eye and, because of this, it is difficult to give an exact number of events a swimmer will swim ahead of time. However, the coaches will always strive to give each swimmer a minimum of two events per meet. To gain as much experience possible and maximize the number of swims during the season, each swimmer is encouraged to be available to participate in as many meets as possible.

    Starting Blocks

    Swimming is famous for being the “hurry up then wait” sport. You hurry to get behind the blocks for your event then you wait and wait and wait for the next time to swim. It is the responsibility of each swimmer to get themselves to their races on time. Coaches are not responsible to locate, remind or escort swimmers to the blocks. A coach’s job at a meet is to observe swimmers race, take time splits, and give post-race feedback.

    There are three methods used at meets to ensure your swimmer gets to their event on time. 1. Tattoo” your swimmer. Use a black sharpie to write directly on their forearm the event number, heat number, and lane number they are to swim. Additional information of stroke and distance can be helpful with the younger swimmers.

    2.Learn to listen to the Announcer. Each event is given a first, second, and third announcement or “call”. You should be prepared to head to the staging area when the “first call” for your race is announced and be behind the blocks no later than the “second call”.

    3.Watch the Event and Heat flip chart. This is a sign posted behind the announcer that shows what event and heat is currently being swum in the pool.

    Championship Meets

    The season ends with two league meets: Division champs and League Champs. Division Champs brings together all five of the teams that compete in our Division at one location for one big swim meet.

    The Midlakes League Championship brings together the fastest swimmers from each of the 26 competing teams across all 5 divisions. Swimmers qualify for this meet by competing in preliminary meets held earlier in the week. Junior Girls (12 and under) Prelims, Junior boys (12 and under) Prelims, and Senior Prelims (boy and girls 13 and older) will be held on separate days during championship week. The top 16 swimmers in each event qualify to compete in the League Championship held at King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

    Each swimmer can swim in a maximum of three events combined between Division Champs and League Champs. The only exception is that a swimmer that swims in three Division Champ events is still eligible to swim in one relay at League Champs.

    The championship meets are the end of season platform that demonstrate the culmination of a swimmers hard work and dedication over the summer season. It is important that all swimmers participate in Division and/or League -champs. Do not under estimate the importance of these meets to your swimmer. Please avoid scheduling vacations or any last minute holidays during these Championship meets. Most swimmers will only participate in either Division or League champs. Which meet is not able to be determined until closer to the end of the season. If you know that you have conflict ahead of time please tell the coaches at the beginning of the season.

    SECTION 5: Team Communication

    Good communication is the cornerstone to success. The following methods are the recommended ways for swimmers, parents, and coaches to communicate their needs and concerns in an effective and constructive manner.

    Email - use the website

    Flag down a board member or email one through the website

    It is not appropriate to communicate with the Coach during practice. The Coach, whom you may reach via the website, will have “office hours” either before or after practice at which time you may discuss issues or concerns in detail. During practice and the meets, the Coach needs to allocate his or her full attention to the job at hand and will not answer questions. Please be respectful of this as it’s in your swimmer’s best interest.

    Big/Little Buddy Program

    We have designed the Big Buddy program as a way to help younger swimmers transition into being Gators and to help them and their parents navigate swim meets. A “buddy” program in any variation builds team spirit, family and camaraderie by connecting older age groups with the younger ones while hopefully increasing meet efficiency and fun for all involved.

    The Kingsgate Gators will ask all of our 13 & Overs (and 12 Year Olds if they would like to participate) to be a Big Buddy to a younger Gator, all in the 10 and Under or 8 and Under Units. Our goal is to have all swimmers ages 10 and under to have a Big Buddy for the meets.

    Big Buddies' specific responsibilities are outlined below, and include cheering Little Buddies on and “tending” to them just prior, during, and immediately following their races.

    We will try to have our Buddies matched prior to the Kingsgate Invitational so that everyone gets practice at what this Buddy system will mean.

    If Big Buddies know that they will be missing a meet, they will be asked to let the coaches know and try to locate a Big Buddy "sub" so that no Little Buddy goes without “someone” at a meet.

    At the end of the season team party, both Big and Little Buddies can bring each other a little “something” as a thank you (handmade card, candy, gift card, small toy, etc…).

    Big Buddy assignments will be made after registration is closed, and both Buddies will be notified.


  • Greets Little Buddy at each meet.
  • Meets Little Buddy prior to first meet and welcomes them to the Gators
  • Finds out races and help write races on their arm
  • Gets Little Buddy ready for each race – brings them to the blocks with towel.
  • Holds towel during race and cheers them on.
  • Congratulates them at end of race and gives them their towel, and walks them to their parents (if necessary).
  • Answers any questions and supports the little buddy.
  • If the Big Buddy is unable to attend a certain meet, they are responsible for finding a sub and letting the Little Buddy know about the change.
  • Thank you for joining the Kingsgate Gators Swim Team, winner of the 2014 Spirit of Midlakes award! We look forward to a great season and infusing you with the famous Gator Spirit! 
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