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Swimmer and Parent Handbook

Swimmer and Parent Handbook


SECTION 1: Introduction to Gators

Welcome to the Kingsgate Gators Swim Team. Our summer swim team program is made up of swimmers ranging in ages from 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 the 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.

a: Team Goals and Philosophy

  • To instruct, model, and develop sportsmanship, teamwork, and cooperation among all swim team members, swimmers, coaches, and parents.
  • 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 promote the sport of competitive swimming amongst all qualified ages in a positive manner
  • To facilitate a fitness activity supporting life-long health and wellbeing.
  • To foster a sense of community for swimmers and families.
  • TO HAVE FUN!!!!!

SECTION 2: Policies & Procedures

a: Swimmer Requirements

Anyone who meets the minimum requirement may join the swim team through the summer following High School graduation up to and including age 19. The head coach will conduct an informal swim evaluation at the beginning of the season for all swimmers in order to validate minimum participant expectations.

Team participant expectations:

  • 8 & Under Swimmers: 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: swim 50 yards freestyle without stopping or touching the sides or bottom of the pool and be able to follow age appropriate instruction.
  • All swimmers must attend practices regularly. Maximizing weekly practices results in increased meet placement and increased events.
  • 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. Wearing one of these team suits or caps will result in a disqualification.
  • All swimmers need to observe both the swim team and pool rules and regulations. The swim team leases the pool, so it is very important that all swimmers and families respect the rules as posted and communicated.

b: Parent Responsibilities

Support the Swimmers

Parents contribute to the success of the Gators by helping to build a positive community. Parents serve as role models for sportsmanship; parent attitude is reflected by swimmer attitude. This support is a key factor in fostering enjoyment and learning as well as contributing to the child's individual success in the pool.

As a swimmer and/or participant at Kingsgate Gators, you are required to take one of the following trainings before you will be allowed to swim in practices or participate in one of our meets or functions:

  • Swimmers 12 and Under are required to take the free15-minute “SafeSport training for Kids”
  • Swimmers 13 and Over are required to take the free 15-minute “SafeSport training for Youth Athletes”
  • Parent/Volunteer at Kingsgate Gators, you are required to take the free 30-minute “Parent’s Guide to Misconduct in Sport”.

SafeSport is REQUIRED for your swimmer to enter the pool. If SafeSport training is not completed by the second day of swim practice, your swimmer will not be permitted into the pool until it is completed.

c: Mandatory Participation Commitment

Gator swim team is completely volunteer run. It takes about 68 parents to run a home meet. It is mandatory that each swimmer's family volunteer for a set number of jobs as defined at the beginning of each season. A complete list of jobs and descriptions/requirements can be found on the Gator website. Minimum age for all volunteers is 16.

The open date of job sign-ups will be set by the Participation Coordinator and generally occurs the second week of practice. Volunteers will sign-up on the Gator website. Be sure to check the start time and end time of the shift.

Each family is required to fulfill all participation shifts each season. If a parent does not participate for the required number of shifts during the season, the family will not be given priority for registration the following season and all unfulfilled shifts will be added to the required number of shifts in the following season. If a parent does not report for their shift for the entire duration of the shift or does not arrange for a substitute, the family will be issued a $50 fine. Swimmer(s) will not be allowed to swim during a practice or a meet until the fine is paid to a board member.


d: Weekly Swim Meet Declaration

Weekly declaration, means identifying which meets your swimmer(s) will/will not attend. By declaring as ‘will attend meet’ you are commiting to staying for ALL of your swimmer’s events.

It is the responsibility of the swimmer/swimmer’s family to declare every week by Friday at 9pm for the next week’s meets. If no commitment is given for a meet by the deadline, the coaches will assume your swimmer is not available for the meet and they will not be entered in accordingly.


The deadline for meet declaration is Friday by 9pm before each week of meets.

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. Please take responsibility and remember to declare your swimmer(s) for each meet.

If a swimmer declared and either did not show or withdrew for reasons not considered acceptable by the coaching staff and/or Gator Board (examples of acceptable reasons include emergencies and/or illness) there will be a $50 fine assessed to the swimmer/family .Swimmer(s) will not be allowed to swim during a practice or a meet until the fine is paid to a board member.

e: Gator Refund Policy

  • All registration fees are refundable only until May 1st. This allows the Gators to include a swimmer from the waitlist. After May 1st no refunds are available.
  • For first-year swimmers in the 8 and Under group, all registration fees can be refunded within the first 2 weeks of practice if the swimmer or head coach decides they are not ready for the swim team.

SECTION 3: Practice

a: Practice Season and Expectations

Swim team PM practices begin Mid-May (exact date depends on when Memorial Day falls). Once school is out for the summer, practices switch to AM and continue for most swimmers through the 3rd or 4 th week of July, ending with the season Division Championship meet. Those swimmers who qualify for League Championships will have an additional week of practice. Improvement is positively impacted by coming to practice every day, being prepared to work hard, and listening to the coaches. All swimmers must attend practices regularly. Maximizing weekly practices results in increased meet placement and increased events.

b: Practice Groups

Swimmers will practice 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. Any questions or concerns regarding the swimmers practice group must be addressed to the Head Coach directly via email.

c: Ribbons

Swimmers will need to regularly check the folders for their Meet ribbons. Folders will be on the pool deck at the first practice following the Meet. Folders are alphabetized by swimmers' names. Unclaimed ribbons will not be kept past the end of the season.

SECTION 4: Swim Meets

a: 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 June 15th of that season without exceptions. The age divisions are: 8 & Under, 10 & Under, 12 & Under, 14 & Under and 15 & Over (Including the summer after high school graduation). Swimmers can “swim up” to the group just above their own age group, as determined by the Head Coach. However, swimmers are not permitted to “swim down” to any age group.

b: Meets

The Gators are part of the Midlakes league. The league is divided into 5 divisions based on size and team record.

The Gators participate in two swim meets per week against other teams in our division; one home and one away.

At the end of the season our team has the opportunity to participate in championship meets. As one of the Midlakes teams, we participate in two championship meets; Division champs and League champs. As a team we participate in Division champs against all other teams in our division. Swimmers on each team in every division can compete in a League Preliminary Meet to qualify for League Champs Finals. For more information regarding championship meets, you can visit the Midlakes Swim League website at http://www.midlakesswimleague.org/

c: 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 when the coach begins warm-ups.

All Meets, Home and Away, begin at 6pm sharp.

Be prepared for warm-ups which usually will start at the following times:

  • Home Meets- 4:45pm (pool deck opens at 4:15pm)
  • Away Meets- 5:15 pm

Away meet information will be provided by the Team Parent prior to each away meet.

d: Meet Preparations

Swim meets can last up to four hours, and are done come rain or shine! Meets are only canceled for thunder or lightning. Temperatures can vary greatly during a meet, so be prepared for all weather variations.

Things you need to bring, or should consider, as you prepare for a meet:

  • Home meets - set-up in the parking lot is not until 3:45. We need to allow cars to get in/out and also space for the Pool Set-up crew to designate the away team areas
  • Team suit and a back-up suit (can be a warm-up suit or a competition suit) – marked with the swimmer's name for easy identification
  • Team cap - one is provided with your registration
  • Goggles and back up goggles
  • Lots of towels- A good rule is to have one towel per event plus one extra
  • Sunscreen
  • Warm clothes - Sweats, swim parka, rain jacket
  • Blanket(s)
  • Folding chair(s) - Both home and away pools do not have enough seating to support all the spectators
  • Entertainment - Cards, books, devices, other items to pass time while waiting at the meet
  • Canopy/tent - Great for all weather. However, not all pools have room for these. Please try and share/coordinate with other Gator families, if possible.

e: Swimmingly App/Heat Sheets

Heat sheets are the schedule of all swim events and will usually be posted by the end of warm ups. Swimmers are responsible for checking the heat sheet to see what events they are entered in; sometimes last minute changes occur. A scheduled list of your swimmer’s events will also be listed on the Swimmingly App. All parents MUST download the Swimmingly App.

Per Midlakes rules, swimmers can participate in a maximum of 4 events at each meet. Gators will swim in at least 1 event each meet, but no more than 4.

Some factors that are considered when coaches are placing swimmers in events might include:

  • Equity - are there enough events to go around to all the swimmers declared for the meet?
  • Ability - Can the swimmer swim all the strokes legally for the distance required in their age group?
  • Participation/Preparedness - Has the swimmer attended practices, worked hard and shown a positive attitude?

f: Starting Blocks

For swimmer safety, no one is allowed to take photos of any kind behind the starting blocks.

Swimmers are responsible for getting to each of their events on time. Learn to listen to the Announcer for first, second, and third call announcements. Events are also usually displayed on an event board at each pool. For new swimmers, buddies may assist the first few events. Parents and swimmers need to be prepared and listening for their events.

SECTION 5: Team Cohesion

a: Communication

Good communication is the cornerstone to success. Gator communication will be distributed to families via a variety of means (email, website updates, blast messages, face-to-face). Please be prepared to check your email and the team website regularly. https://kingsgategators.swimtopia.com

The following communication methods are recommended for swimmers and parents to communicate needs and concerns in an effective and constructive manner.


If you have questions or concerns, we would like you to practice advocating for yourself. Please make every effort to talk with your Coach(es) with questions and/or concerns you might have after practice.


During practice, the coaches are exclusively focused on the swimmers, both for furthering their skills and for safety. Please do not attempt to have a discussion with a Coach during practice or during a swim meet. If you have any coach related questions, please contact the Head Coach via email [email protected] . Additionally, parents are encouraged to email our Team Parents, Ashley Gillen and Donna Scotti, at [email protected] and [email protected] for questions, guidance, and all other team needs.

b: Team Gear

Team Swimsuits

A current Gators suit is the only mandatory item that MUST to be purchased by the family or swimmer . The Gator organization tries to minimize this cost by choosing a suit that will be used for two seasons. A Gator swim cap is included with your registration, and additional caps, both latex and silicone, can be purchased through the Gators’ website. We encourage swimmer names to be added to caps for fun team spirit, to help coaches learn swimmers names swiftly, and for the team to cheer on individual swimmers!

Team Spirit Wear

Team Hoodies, sweat pants, and T-shirts, are not required team items, but they are so fun to have! We will notify families when the opportunity becomes available to purchase Gator specific spirit wear.

For questions regarding team swimsuits and spirit wear, please contact: [email protected]

a: Big/Little Buddy Program

We have designed the Big Buddy program as a way to help “new to the team” swimmers with the ins and outs of our swim team. There is a lot to know and learn, and it is enormously helpful for new swimmers to have a point of reference as they join the Gators. As stated before, the Gator’s are 100% volunteer run, and that sense of community and volunteering spirit is not for our parents alone. Our veteran Gators are relied on to be a Big Buddy for our new swimmers. If you are a veteran swimmer, you may be assigned a Little Buddy for the season. Big/Little Buddy duties are outlined below:

Big Buddy

  • Introduce yourself during practice and help answer any questions your Little might have
    • Do they know where the locker rooms are?
    • Do they have their swim cap? Do they know how to put on their swim cap?
    • Do they know that they have to rinse before getting into the pool?
    • Help with basic swim lingo (pool deck, heat sheet, starting block, events?, 25 vs 50)
  • Check in with your Little at the first home meet
    • Do they know where to go for warm-ups?
    • Do they know what events they are in? (maybe snag a Sharpie and write it on their arm!)
    • Help your Little show up for their first event and cheer them on
    • Answer any met specific questions they might have
  • Periodically check in with your Little to see if they are getting the hang of everything and if they have any other questions
    • Where do I pick up my ribbons?

Little Buddy

  • Introduce yourself during practice and be ready with a few questions you have about the team or logistics
    • What are the different strokes I will learn/need to know?
    • What is the best way to have my goggles so no water seeps in?
  • Check in with your Big at the first home meet
    • Where should I set up my stuff?
    • How do I write my events on my arm?
    • Should I be on the block, or to the side?
    • What if I touch the bottom of the pool during my event?
  • Periodically check in with your Big to ensure you are getting the hang of everything and if you have any other questions
    • How do I know what number I am in a relay?

If you have concerns or cannot fulfill the duties above, you will need to connect with a Team Parent at [email protected] or [email protected] to determine if you are excused from being a Big/Little Buddy. This program builds team spirit, fosters family connection and ensures camaraderie for years to come.

Thank you for being a part of the Gators Community! We look forward to a great season and enjoying the famous Gator Spirit!

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