By Kristina Schnack Kotlus, Contributing Writer
When it comes to sports, I seem to have some kind of a karma block that prevents my children from choosing the ones that happen in the middle of the day. In fact, we pay some hefty cash for our children to play hockey at 5:30 in the morning! On the weekend!
However, there’s something about the sports that requires you to set an alarm that translates to some quality family fun. When I talk early mornings, tacos in a bag, tents and spandex, some of you probably know that I’m not talking about a camping trip with gymnasts, but summer swim team.
I really didn’t think I would enjoy swim team. Practice every weekday morning of the summer and Saturday meets with a show time of 6:30 a.m. didn’t sound like a fantastic way to spend the better part of the break, but it turns out that summer swim team is a great way to enjoy some fun with your kids! Sign ups start early in the year, though, and it’s easy to miss registering your child if you don’t know to look—which brings me to my list of “things you should know if you’ve never participated in a summer swim team.”
First, sign up early. This is especially true for teams that oﬀer an option for younger swimmers. Since the swim team fees can’t be beaten with a stick in terms of cost versus time in the water, slots ﬁll up quickly, especially for programs available to younger siblings, such as the Ridgewood Barracudas “Take Your Mark” and “Little Cudas” programs.
Next, come prepared to hang out. Swim team, while highly supervised with lots of coaches, is not a drop-oﬀ sport. I had a great time at practice, though. Bring your Kindle loaded with a junky novel or two and make sure your water bottle is full. Most parents are happy to sit and chat, and you can make lots of great new family friends on the pool deck.
Third, be prepared for the weather. Swimming is not cancelled for cold, rain or winds. Short of lightening, your kids are going to have their happy little tails in the pool. Most days, that’s ﬁne, but a few of the early practices will be chilly! Bring hot cocoa and clothes to change into after practice when necessary.
Finally, come prepared for meets. Parents bring tents and lawn chairs to wait out the time between their children’s events. Cash is a must for the early morning hamburgers from the grill and games for the kids to play with their swim team friends. It’s a long day, especially for little siblings, but it’s totally worth the time and energy to see a huge group of children become fast friends in just a few weeks of swimming.
You can ﬁnd details about each team by going to the main Prince William Swim League page at www.pwswim.com. The teams in the league are listed below, along with registration or try-out information if it was available at press time:
Ashland Stingrays: Open registration starts early April. No tryouts required.
Ben Lomond Flying Ducks Braemar Blasters Bridlewood Bridlewaves
Brookside Hurricanes: Open registration Feb. 15 through April
Swimmers must be able to safely make it 25 meters across the pool on the ﬁrst day of practice, Tuesday, May 28.
Dale City Frogs: Registration will begin March
Accepts swimmers regardless of speed, as long as they are able to swim the length of the pool without assistance.
Dominion Valley Sharks: Open registration from March 1 through March 15, or until all spots are full.
Kingsbrooke Sea Lions
Lake Manassas Blue Dolphins
Lake Ridge Lancers
Old Bridge Breakers
Ridgewood Barracudas: Tryouts required to ensure a minimum level of conﬁdence in the water.
Southbridge Fighting Seals
Stonewall Park Swim Team
Veterans Park Marlins
Victory Lakes Piranhas
Virginia Oaks Sea Devils
Wellington Dolphins: Tryouts will be held March 17 to ensure a minimum level of conﬁdence in the water.
Kristina Schnack Kotlus and her husband reside in Woodbridge with their three children. She is a born and raised Prince William native and the owner of PwcMoms.com, a resource for parents.