At the end of the summer each year, we always receive inquiries from families looking to sign their children up for a competitive swim team. They have gone through a learn to swim program (many times ours in either Schenectady or Albany), and are looking to have their child swim on a team during the school year.
As Excel Aquatics is primarily a learn to swim program, one of our goals is to prepare children for that "next level", if they choose swimming as a sport they enjoy and would like to try. Past our Pre-competitive program, we do not offer a full competitive team, but we do have some tips for parents looking for one.
1) Location-when looking at teams, it is often easiest to start the search based on your family's location. Having a team close by will make life a lot easier as a parent, and can potentially provide you child with a more familiar atmosphere, especially if they already know other swimmers on the team.
2) Commitment level-different teams require different levels of commitment. Most often, teams have their structure posted on a website, which will outline the various swimming groups they offer, practice times, and expectations. It is very important that the team's expectation is in line with your family's commitment level, and nothing can take the fun out of a sport than doing too much, too soon.
3) Atmosphere-making sure the atmosphere is a good fit for your child can be difficult to gauge, but most swim teams provide resources that will allow you to make a good judgement call. When shopping around for teams, we always recommend visiting a practice or two, sitting in the stands with your child, and just observe. How do the coaches interact with the athletes? Is the practice environment focused on fun, or is it more competitive? After the practice, don't be afraid to approach one of the coaches on deck to ask any questions you may have. Getting to know the program before you sign up is key.
Overall if done correctly, it is fairly easy to find a swim team in the Capital Region that fits your child's needs. Take the time to research, ask questions, and observe, and you will find a program that can help positively develop your child for years to come.