FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

These questions have been compiled from the ones we hear over and over again. Hopefully they will answer some of yours. If not, ask the Coaches or Summer Meet Manager your question. They will certainly find an answer for it somewhere.

Summer Season Questions

Do we practice in the rain? Even in heavy rain?
Do we practice if the weather is chilly?
Who do we call to find out if a practice or a meet is cancelled?
What if my child cannot make a meet?
What should the swimmers eat before and during a meet – what should they avoid?
What should swimmers keep in their swim bags?
What is a A Meet?
What is a B Meet?
What is the Mini-Meet?
What is the Long Course Meet?
What is the Firecracker Relay?
What are DQs? Why did my child receive one?
Do all swimmers receive ribbons?

School Year Questions

When should swimmers arrive and sign-in for practice?
Can my child arrive earlier or stay after practice to swim?
What should my child bring to practice?
Where can I buy suits and swim gear?
Can I enter the pool area during practice?
What if my child gets out of the pool and doesn’t want to continue practicing?
What if there’s an emergency during practice?
What if I want to talk to my child’s coach?
What if my child misses practice?
What if there is bad weather?
What if practice isn’t canceled but I’m uncomfortable driving in poor weather conditions?
Can my child use the locker room facilities?


Do we practice in the rain? Even in heavy rain?
This question always ranks number one and the answer is YES! Rain is water and when you’re swimming, you’re in the water anyway, so wet is wet – right? The only ones who get “rain wet” during rainy practices are the coaches. Parents usually seek cover. The only time a practice is called on account of rain is during a thunderstorm.
This also means that meets, too, are held in the rain. And there have been during some pretty rainy days. In these situations everyone gets wet, except the chickens.

Do we practice if the weather is chilly?
Practice is still on in chilly weather. If the water temperature falls below 70° F then the coaches will have swimmers doing land exercises such as stretching and running.

Who do we call to find out if a practice or a meet is cancelled?
If you really have questions about a practice, email or call the Coach. We’ll also try and let the front desk at the Aquatic Center know if a practice has been cancelled. They can be reached at 301-397-2204. If you have questions about a meet, call the Meet Manager.

What if my child cannot make a meet?
If your child cannot make a meet, please notify the coaches as soon as possible, particularly if they are already scheduled to swim. Please notify the coaches also, if for some reason your child will be late to a meet.

What should the swimmers eat before and during a meet – what should they avoid?
Your swimmer should eat foods rich in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are classified into starches, which are found mainly in grains, legumes (beans), and tubers (potatoes); and sugars, which are found in plants and fruits. The carbohydrates containing the most nutrients are found in unrefined grains, tubers, vegetables, and fruit, which also provide protein, vitamins, minerals, and fats. Carbohydrates are burned during metabolism to produce energy.

Avoid foods made from refined sugar, such as candy and soft drinks, which are high in calories but low in nutrients and fill the body with what nutritionists call empty calories.

Before a meet, eat a light breakfast such as cereal, toast or fruits, enough to give you some energy, but not so much that you feel too “full” to swim. During the meet you may also want to snack on fruits or foods containing grains to sustain your energy.

And…drink plenty of water! It gets pretty hot on that pool deck between events. Also stay in the shade and wear sunscreen.

What should swimmers keep in their swim bags?
Their bathing suit, towel and goggles are essential. At least two pair of goggles is highly recommended. Many a time goggle straps or nose-pieces have broken during a meet. Not to mention being misplaced.

For girls especially, bathing caps are essential to keep the hair under control. The rubber caps will also help to keep your head warm and lessen heat loss.

Since summer can be chilly, especially after getting out of a cold pool, sweat pants, sweat shirt or T-shirts are also good items to pack. Maybe a hat.

Sun Screen!

Healthful snacks, water, and boredom busters to pass the time between events are also good to have in your swim bag.

What is an A Meet?
The A meets are the Saturday morning meets between two teams in the same PMSL division. They are also called dual meets. These meets are official Prince Mont Swim League competitions that are scored. These meet results determine division and league standings.

What is a B Meet?
B meets are mid-week dual meets with another swim team that that is not in our PMSL division. B Meets are open to swimmers of any age group. The swim club hosting the B Meet can add or modify criterion for participation in the meet. The major rule for a B meet is that a swimmer who has finished 1st or 2nd in an A meet event cannot swim the same event in a B meet. This gives other swimmers a chance to earn higher place finishes. Swimmers in a B meet have a chance to compete in events that they do not normally swim in A meets.

What is the Mini-Meet?
The Knights of Columbus Mini Meet is held on the second Sunday morning in July. This mini meet is for 10 and under participants. This is a wonderful meet for younger kids. Kids compete against other children of the same age: seven year olds compete only against other seven year olds and eight year olds compete separately, etc. There are events for kids as young as five years old (and younger) to swim. The top three finishers in each event are awarded medals in a special ceremony after the competition that kids and parents love–a great photo opportunity for the swimmer with Olympic dreams.
If you have a swimmer who is 10 or younger, please try to make it to this meet. You won’t be sorry.

What is the Long Course Meet?
The Adelphi Long Course Meet is a rather intimidating name for a fun, challenging meet. The meet is held on Sunday July morning. A long course pool is 50 meters in length, or double the 25 meters the team normally swims in competition.

Adelphi has a 50 meter pool and offers the Long Course Meet every summer as an opportunity for kids try out their Olympic dreams in the pool. Attendance isn’t mandatory, but the meet is a great experience for those swimmer who like a challenge and have long term swimming plans and goals.

What is the Firecracker Relay?
The New Carrollton Firecracker Relay Meet is held near the July 4th. An all relay meet is just that all relays–freestyle, medley, graduated/crescendo, mixed for 8 & unders to 18 year olds. The firecracker Relay meet is FUN–fast, chaotic, silly (there’s a coaches relay) and a good time for parents and swimmers.
Attendance at this meet isn’t mandatory, but if your child is looking for more opportunities to swm with the team, this is a great meet in which your swimmer can participate.

What are DQs? Why did my child receive one?
DQs are disqualifications. A disqualification is given to a swimmer who does not perform a legal stroke. The strokes that have the most restrictive rules for start, stroke, kick and turns are breaststroke and butterfly.
Many swimmers just learning these strokes DQ the first time they try them in competition because it’s hard to coordinate all the elements at once without a lot of practice. The rules for disqualifications that PMSL uses (that’s the league our team is in) are the USA Swimming rules. USA Swimming is the governing board for local, year round swim clubs like FAST all the way up to the US Olympic Swim Team.

The reason younger children are judged by the same standards as older, experienced swimmers is to help reinforce proper stroke technique with younger swimmers to perform legal strokes. Younger swimmers who don’t receive that correction early on find it more difficult to change their stroke technique later because incorrect form has become habit.

The stroke and turn judges at the meet are swim team parents who volunteer their time to attend clinics and learn how to judge each stroke. Two judges are supplied from our team, and two judges from the opposing team. Perhaps the most difficult job at a meet is to be a stroke and turn judge. They must judge the opposing team and their own as well. It is not unusual for a judge to give a DQ to his/her own child. It’s especially hard to DQ a swimmer who has just mastered a stroke and has made it through the race. Stroke and turn judges perform an important function at meets–if we didn’t supply S&T judges, we’d have to cancel the meet.

If you’re concerned about why your child was DQ’d in an event, please speak to your child’s coach. Coaches record the reasons why DQs were given in order to work with your child on correcting his/her stroke during practice so that your child can swim the event legally at the next meet.

Please remember that during a meet no spectator can approach the judges or other deck officials–they’re doing their jobs and need to observe the races without interruption. If you’d like to speak to your child’s coach about your child’s performance, please do so after the meet.

Do all swimmers receive ribbons?
PMSL rules stipulate that ribbons are supplied for 1st through 6th place. Many teams, ours included, give out ribbons for places beyond 6th. Our team even gives out participant ribbons to swimmers who receive DQs. But, not every team gives out ribbons for every place.

Younger swimmers love ribbons and the affirmation it brings that they’ve done their best. It can be difficult for a child to watch a friend and teammate receive a ribbon when he/she hasn’t. Please reassure your child that his/her efforts are appreciated by the team and coaches and that the ribbons will come as your child’s swimming improves. Stress goals and future success. The team does recognize each and every swimmer at the end of the year during a special ceremony held at the End of Season Banquet for their contribution to the team.

When should swimmers arrive and sign-in for practice?
Swimmers should arrive up to 10 minutes before practice if they need to change in the locker rooms. If swimmers arrive earlier, they may be asked to wait to enter the locker room by GAFC staff.
Swimmers need to sign in each time they practice on the team sign-in list, which is on the clipboard at the GAFC front desk. Only children registered for the season are allowed to enter the pool for practices.

Can my child arrive earlier or stay after practice to swim?
You must purchase either a day pass or a GAFC membership for your child and have GAFC front desk staff check your child in if he/she wants to visit the pool during non-practice times. Note that the pool requires that children under 12 years of age be accompanied at all time by a supervising adult who is dressed in swim wear.

What should my child bring to practice?

  • Suits – Girls should wear form-fitting one piece suits and boys should wear either jammers (suits that look like bike shorts) or swim briefs. Board shorts and other loose fitting swim suits create drag in the water and make it difficult to swim with speed and efficiency.
  • Googles – All swimmers should bring a couple of pairs of goggles; one pair to wear and a spare to put in the swim bag in case the first pair breaks or is misplaced.
  • Swim cap – Swimmers with hair long enough to get in the eyes should bring a cap to wear.
  • Towel
  • Water Bottle – Swimmers may be in the water, but they’re still working out and perspiring and need to rehydrate. Water is still the best choice for fluid replacement.

**The team provides fins and kick boards during practice.**

Where can I buy suits and swim gear?
For suits, anywhere, really. Target has suits, as do many other clothing stores. Local sporting goods stores also carry a small assortment of suits and swim gear.

The team’s official vendor is Swimpro, a specialized swim shop in Glenn Dale on Lanham Severn Rd. just south of the corner of Greenbelt Rd. and Lanham Severn Rd. Swimpro provides a full range of suits, caps, goggles, and other swim gear.

There’s also a web discount outlet, Swimoutlet.com, that offers reduced prices on swim suits and gear.

Can I enter the pool area during practice?
Parents/guardians and other family members are asked to watch practices from the GAFC observation to the right of the front desk and adjacent to the family changing rooms.

During the first practice of each season for the 8 & Under and Developmental Groups, we allow parents to escort their young children to the pool deck.  Once swimmers have attended at least one practice, you must ask permission at the front desk at each practice if you want to continue to escort your child to the pool.  Developmental swimmers may be collected from the pool deck by parents at 8:45am.

Once your child reports to his/her coach, we ask that you leave the pool deck and sit in the observation area.

Why is there this rule? This is a GAFC rule that we must follow.

What if my child gets out of the pool and doesn’t want to continue practicing?
It’s up to your child if he/she wants to practice. For younger swimmers, coaches will attempt to speak to the swimmer and encourage him/her to rejoin the group for practice, but the coaches’ primary responsibility is to conduct practice and keep their attention on the swimmers in the pool.
If your child leaves the pool, he/she can remain on the pool deck only if his/her presence doesn’t disturb other swimmers. Otherwise, your child can exit the pool through the locker room and meet you near the front desk.

What if there is an emergency during practice?
If there is an emergency, trained lifeguards are on duty and will assist coaches in attending to your child.

What if I want to talk to my child’s coach?
You can speak to your child’s coach after practice or email your child’s coach at gmstcoaches@gmail.com. The head coach, Stacey Russell, monitors email sent to this address and will forward your comments/concerns to the appropriate coach. If you need a response, please provide both an email address and a phone number for contact.

What if my child misses practice?
We don’t have a mandatory practice rule. If you know that your child will miss practice due to illness, injury or a schedule conflict, please send an email to gmstcoaches@gmail.com to let your child’s coach know. There are no make-up practices.

What if there is bad weather?
During weekday practices, the team follows the P.G. County Schools calendar for closings and cancellations.  We are also bound by the GAFC closure policy– if the pool is closed or if its activities are canceled, we are also canceled. These closures are usually weather related, but occasionally there will be a pool “accident” that forces the pool to close.  If we know about this, we will post on the gmstmembers group to notify you.

If school is canceled or there’s an early release, swim team practice will be canceled. If PGCPS cancels all afternoon and evening activities, practice will be canceled. If PGCPS has a late arrival, the swim team will hold practice as scheduled.

For Sunday practices, the team’s governing board will monitor weather reports and send out email via GMSTmembers to alert parents of cancellations. Emails may be sent as late as early Sunday morning, so please do not select Daily Digest as option to receive emails or you may not receive vital information in a timely manner.

What if practice isn’t canceled but I’m uncomfortable driving in poor weather conditions?
Practice attendance isn’t mandatory, so it’s your call.  Safety first!

Can my child use the locker room facilities?
Your child is encouraged to shower off quickly before entering the pool to rinse off anything that might interact with pool chemicals. Your child can also use the bathroom facilities, before, during and after practice. Your child is allowed to shower off after practice, but your child must observe the rules for proper behavior in the locker rooms and be courteous to other patrons.

Violation of locker room rules may result in limitations/restrictions on use of the locker rooms being places on the entire team by GAFC staff, so please talk to your child about expected behavior. If you need to assist your child with changing, please check with GAFC front desk staff before entering the locker rooms. Family changing rooms are available and GAFC staff can show you where they are.