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Team Handbook

This handbook details the philosophy of the Henry Sibley Girls Swim & Dive team and expectations of student-athlete members of the team.

For school-wide activities policies, please see the Activities and Athletics Handbook on the Henry Sibley High School Activities Office webpage. That handbook has many more details pertinent to our team and its student-athletes.

Welcome!

We are excited about your consideration of joining the team! We welcome 7th through 12th graders in the Independent School District 197. We also welcome area students in home school programs or private school middle schools that plan to attend Henry Sibley High School.

We are a competitive swim and dive team of the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL). Competitive means the sport revolves around racing in various fixed distance events for swimmers and judged diving competition for divers. For the unfamiliar, track and field provides a good analogy. The swimming events are like the running races in track and diving is like a field event.

Team Philosophy

Participating in high school athletics is a large commitment of your time. We place value on the following:

  • Being a member of our team is personally rewarding and fun.
  • The team is before the individual athlete, but team improvement is driven by personal improvement. We place great value in personal improvement, whether that be improving your time in swimming races or increasing your points in diving.
  • Every practice and meet require great effort and often won't be physically comfortable. This effort will give you a sense of accomplishment when the hard work turns into higher personal performance.

Team Expectations

Participation on the team is intended to enhance your school experience by providing an avenue for personal growth. Even so, academics is the priority for our student-athletes before athletics. Students are expected to maintain a 2.0 grade point average to remain members of the team.

Participating in a high school sport is a privilege and unique part of the high school experience. Athletes are expected to follow the rules set by the MSHSL, the high school Activities and Athletics Handbook, as well as our team rules.

Personal improvement comes from regular attendance, listening and being respectful to coaches and teammates, and following workout plans provided by the coaches. Every practice has a goal and is important. An athlete that wishes to perform at their highest level at meets must start the habit of putting in their best effort from the first day of the season. Athletes cannot expect, and will likely not get, season-best results without this daily effort.

Teammates are to consider themselves examples for each other. They must provide this example by completing practices as provided, not stopping during a set, and putting in their best effort.

Special note should be made of sportsmanship and hazing rules in the Activities and Athletics Handbook. Team members are expected to treat each other with respect in and out of the pool. This treatment applies to both personal interactions as well as other forms of communication, such as texting and social media. In particular, team members will refrain from teasing or team or teammate focused rants though any form of communication. Some forms of online communication can feel private, but they can come to the notice of the coaching staff.

Practice & Meet Attendance

Practice will be every day Monday through Saturday except those days with meet scheduled. Practices and meets are mandatory, though a parent reserves the right to excuse their child if they deem it best for their student-athlete. Please note that those absences will count as absences per the letter winner policy in this handbook. However, if this practice schedule is not compatible with a student-athlete's academic, family, or other extra-curricular schedule, the swim & dive team will likely not be a good fit for them.

Athletes who miss one or more practice during a week may not be eligible to swim in the meet that week.

Vacations

Per the Activities and Athletics Handbook, vacations during the season are discouraged. Our season typically spans the Minnesota Educator Academy (MEA) conference, which unfortunately comes during an important time as we prepare for the championship meets. Athletes grade 9 - 12 will need to discuss with the coaching staff about alternative arrangements if they plan to miss the practices during MEA or take other vacations. With the season starting at the end of summer, please notify the team of any end of summer family vacations prior to Labor Day.

Practices

Practices will be in the afternoons approximately from approximately 3:45 to 6:00. The times may be adjusted slightly earlier or later depending on pool time availability and team needs. There will also be Saturday practices, typically in the morning.

Competition

The team competes in the Metro East Conference during the regular season. We have dual meets against each conference team as well as some multi-team meets with both conference and non-conference teams.

We also compete in MSHSL Section 4A. At the end of the season, a Section meet is held to decide which student-athletes will attend the state meet. Our section includes some member teams from our conference as well as non-conference teams.

Meets

Nearly all meets consist of a twelve event program. This includes eight individual swimming races, three relays, and one diving event. The exception to this rule is a relay meet. In our schedule, we typically participate in a conference relay meet at the beginning of the season.

Meet Types

Meets are either two team dual meets or multi-team competitions. High school swim and dive does occasionally include "triangular" and "double dual" meets with three teams. Our schedule has not included one of those meets in recent years, so they are not explained further in this handbook.

Dual meets are against a fellow teams in our conference. Our team will compete in one dual meet against every team in the conference. Each dual meet will include all twelve events and typically two heats of each event: one junior varsity and one varsity heat. The places in the varsity heats determine the number of points a team scores in the event. The total points ultimately decides the outcome of the meet. Each team can enter three individual competitors or relay teams in the junior varsity and varsity heats.

Divers compete in six dives at dual meets and most other meets. Certain championship meets hold an eleven dive competition.

Invitational meets include multiple teams and our also scored based on place. Typically the score includes the top twelve or top sixteen finishers.

Dual meets are on weekdays, typically on Thursdays. Invitational meets are usually on Saturdays.

Championship Meets

The end of season includes three championship meets:

  • Junior varsity conference championships
  • Sections
  • State Championships

The first meet is a one-session conference championships which typically includes only the junior varsity swimmers. The second meets is called Sections and is a two-day meet with a preliminary and final sessions. Our section contains some of the teams from our conference and some other teams as grouped by the MSHSL. The top athletes in the preliminary session compete in a subsequent finals session, typically a day or two after the preliminary session. Those who achieve the top two places in finals session (or achieve a particular time cut), proceed to the State Championships. In diving, the top three places at the section meet attend the state meet. The state meet is also a preliminary and final session meet. It is conducted is a two day meet with separate meets for both Class A and AA.

True Team

There is a second section meet midway through the season called True Team Section meet. The True Team meet has a scoring system which is more beneficial to a team with depth whereas the regular sections and state meets scoring is more weighted towards a team with top-end athletes. True Team is not an official MSHSL event; it is held by the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association (MSHSCA). As such, the meet is optional for our team, but typically is one that we attend. The team that wins the True Team Section meet advances to the True Team State meet. It is sometimes possible for a team to get second at the True Team Section meet and also be invited to the True Team State meet; it depends on how teams in other sections perform.

Transportation to Meets

Per the Activities and Athletics Handbook, athletes will be expected to travel to and from meets using the district-provided transportation. The team does allow team members to drive home with their parent or guardian, but encourages all team members to return on the provided transportation. The bus ride is a fun time for team bonding!

If you wish to drive home with a parent or guardian, that parent or guardian must notify the head coach directly via a spoken conversation or via electronically.

Limited Entry Slots

Meets are limited in the number of entries each team can submit. Only a small portion of the team will compete in varsity events as well as the section and state championship meet. The same is true of multi-team meets. There simply are not enough slots for everyone to compete in varsity or the multi-team meets.

The end of season conference championships meet does not have an entry limit, so it is very likely that a swimmer will be able to swim two individual events at that meet.

Choice of Events

Athletes can talk with the coaching staff about their event preferences. The staff will make efforts to allow that athlete to compete in those events. However, the decision is ultimately based on the team's chances of success. Coaches will enter athletes in events to maximize the probability of winning the meet or other performance goals, like advancing a relay to the state meet.

The decision on who competes in which events at which meets and whether it be junior varsity or varsity is the sole decision of the coaching staff. No external guidelines on this decision making process will be provided. Athletes and parents are expected to accept the decisions of the meet entries, though a discussion can be opened for particular concerns.

At a Meet

An athlete should be sure to bring water and nutritious snacks to a swim meet. The athlete needs to stay hydrated and fueled. The team does not allow sugary beverages like soda or non-nutritious snacks like candy at meets.

An athlete should also bring clothing to stay warm between races. Warm-up pants and jackets work well. Studies have shown that swimmers perform better when their muscles stay warm while waiting between events at a meet.

Tapering

The end of season consists of a tapering period where the duration and intensity of workouts slowly tapers off. For most athletes, this results in a surge of energy for end of season championship meets and often results in fast swims and personal best performances. It is a very fun time of the season as the athletes have more time and energy.

Electronic Timing and Results

Most meets use electronic timing via in-pool touchpads that record the swimmers time by way of a timing computer. These results are then used to determine placing and points. Manual times are also used as a backup should the time not register with the touchpad. The officials are ultimately in charge of deciding the results of each event and can override timing system results as they deem necessary.

When the meet is completed, electronic meet results may be provided to athletes and parents if they are available and if staff has time to post electronically. Please note that providing the results is not guaranteed; it is provided when possible.

Pool Types

Most competitions will be in six-lane 25 yard pools. Some pools, including the new aquatic center, are eight-lane pools. For dual meets at eight-lane pools, only six places will be scored.

It is possible to also compete in the slightly longer 25 meter pools. Currently, no schools in our conference compete in a meter pool. There are also 50 meter pools (sometimes called Olympic-size), but they typically are not used for high school competition.

Performance Requirements

Athletes are expected to meet minimum performance requirements to join the team or remain on the team. Those who do not meet these requirements can be removed from the team.

  • Team members must complete practices as given by the coaches. Practices will be customized to be appropriate to the athlete's fitness level. It is expected that they are completed by each team member. Skipping portions of sets and not completing the given intervals are examples of not completing a practice adequately.
  • Swimmers in grades 9 - 12 will need to be able to complete one of the following to be eligible to join the team:
    • 50 yard swim from the blocks or push in 36.00 seconds or faster
    • 100 yard swim from blocks or push in 1 minute 20.00 seconds or faster
  • All swimmers in grades 9 - 12 must be able to perform the four MSHSL competitive strokes as well as be proficient at flip turns and diving from the starting blocks. The four strokes are butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and front crawl (commonly called "freestyle").
  • Swimmers in grades 7 - 8 must be proficient in the front crawl and either the backstroke or breaststroke. There is no requirement for flip turns or starting block proficiency. There also are not time cut standards for grades 7 - 8.
  • Divers should be comfortable diving in head first from the diving board (preferable front and back)

Injuries

Injured athletes who are unable to swim or dive are not allowed to attend practice. The athlete should not be present at the pool, but use the time for studying, family time, and injury rehabilitation. The coaches do not have bandwidth to conduct practice and monitor students who are at the pool, but not participating in the water. The exception to this rule are team managers who will be on deck assisting the coaches.

Those with injuries who are cleared to practice by trainers or medical staff can attend practice, but need to ensure that they wait to be sufficiently healed to make practice worthwhile. It is not beneficial for the healing athlete if they have to sit on the pool deck and miss a lot of the practice session. Additionally, having an athlete in the pool that is stopping often can give the idea to healthy athletes that is OK to stop whenever one desires.

Team Size Limits

The team may find it necessary to cut student-athletes from the team at the beginning of the season, per the cutting policies in the Activities and Athletics Handbook. A team that is large is difficult for the staff to effectively coach. The following guidelines will be used:

  1. The first two weeks of practice will be considered the try-out period. Athletes unable to attend those first two weeks of practice may be able to make arrangements with the coaching staff to allow an alternate try-out period.
  2. Criteria for team selection will be based on those who can swim the fastest intervals in sets and/or times in time trials at practice. However, some consideration may be made for younger athletes who may have slower times for future team development purposes.
  3. The swim team will be limited to forty participants; the dive team will be limited to eight participants.

Communication

The coaching staff will typically communicate with athletes and parents via a weekly email. The team also has a website with a season calendar. Other forms of communication may be used such as text messaging or reminder apps.

Athlete Concerns

An athlete with any concerns relating to the team should feel free to talk to the coach about the concern. The sooner a concern is addressed, the more likely that it can be addressed. Concerns that wait until the end of the season likely will not be addressable in a way that is satisfactory to the student-athlete.

The coaches were once students and understand that it can sometimes seem awkward or difficult to open a discussion with an adult coach. Please know that the coaches most certainly want to talk to you, even if you concern seems minor. You are the best advocate for yourself, so please come talk to the coaching staff as soon as a concern develops. :-)

Addressing Concerns

This process will be used to address athlete concerns. The goal of the process is to maintain lines of communication between the athlete, parents/guardians, and the school.

  1. The athlete meets with coaches to discuss the concerns.
  2. If the student is not satisfied with the results of the meeting, then athlete and parents/guardians meet with a coach to discuss concerns.
  3. If the student and parents/guardians are not satisfied with the results of the meeting, then athlete, parents/guardians, head coach and activities directory meet to discuss concern.
  4. If the athlete is not satisfied with the results of the meeting, then athlete, parents/guardians, head coach, activities director meet with building principal to discuss concerns.

Captains

The team will have one or more captains to provide leadership to the other athletes. Captains will represent the team with a high quality of sportsmanship, respect, hard work, and determination. The captains will be chosen yearly by the coaches and may include other input. This input could include voting by the athletes or recommendations from school staff. The decision is ultimately made by the coaching staff.

Our captains will be:

  • Team players and advocates for the school
  • Extensions of the coaching staff
  • Active listeners to athletes and coaches
  • Respectful role models through sportsmanship and hard work at practice
  • Maintain equality throughout the team
  • Lead by example in the pool by completing all practice sets with their best effort

Being a leader is not about you! It's about the people on your team and how you can help them be successful.

Letter Winner Policy

To be eligible to win a letter award, an athlete must miss no more than five practices or meets, whether excused or unexcused. For example, an athlete who misses four practices and two meets in the season will be ineligible to letter.

Assuming acceptable attendance, an athlete that meets one of the following criteria will gain an end of season letter winner award.

  • Swimmers who earn a minimum of 35 varsity dual meet points.
  • All graduating seniors who competed in grades 9 - 12 and are in good standing. The coaches may deem a graduating senior as not in good standing due to disciplinary, academic, attendance, or other issues.

The coaches will exercise judgement in regards to whether an athlete meets the above requirements to their satisfaction or whether other circumstances make them eligible or ineligible for the letter winner award. Athletes are welcome to ask the coaching staff how their letter award prospects are progressing during the season.

Booster Club

The Booster Club is an organization that is managed by parent volunteers. The Booster Club is instrumental to the success of the team. They provide assistance with:

  • Team meals and or meet snacks
  • Help find and run fundraisers
  • Organizing and setting up the end of season banquet
  • Assisting with host meets and other events
  • Providing money for some team equipment purchases

Thank You!

Thank you for reading the team handbook. There are a lot of rules and other discussion in this handbook; even so, our first goal is team members to have a fun and personally-rewarding experience! We hope to see you on the team!

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