WRAT Holiday News

Hard to believe we are in nearing the end of 2014 and are in the midst of the holiday season. Last night was the first night of Hanukkah, Christmas is a week away, Kwanzaa begins right after and before you know it, we are ringing in the New Year and the second half of the short course swim season.

It has been a hectic fall with a great deal of “happenings.” We celebrated new beginnings as we said good-bye to our home of 91 years in downtown to our new home at Mahackeno. We didn’t skip a beat as seamlessly made the transition and our hosted our first swim meet. Fortunately it was an 8 & Under meet which is smaller allowing us to get adjusted to the new facility. The Freestyle Frenzy was much larger in scope and we stepped up to the plate. Due to the many hours of preparation and selfless volunteerism, we ran a fantastic meet.

This brings me to an important topic. We have now raised the bar for hosting swim meets in CT. We are the host team/meet others want to participate in due to the following factors: Meet Organization which is due to pre-meet preparation; Meet Function which means running an efficient and orderly meet; Meet Personnel which are our parent volunteers who oversee many facets of the meet and do so in a very friendly and patient manner. And last but not least is our state of the art facility. All of the above is for the swimmers. Not the parents. Not the coaches. The swimmers. It takes many people to raise the bar to a high level of excellence and we have done so as a team and the pride we feel being part of the Water Rats. We always need your help and look forward to your stepping in filling the shoes of those that will soon be graduating.

The good tidings to the Water Rats keeps coming. Results for the USA Swimming Club Excellence were announced this week. THE WATER RATS ARE ONE OF THE TOP 200 SWIM TEAMS IN THE US! We have achieved the Bronze Level of Excellence. [We are third in the rankings of Bronze.] USA Swimming identifies swimming clubs for their commitment to performance excellence. Swimming performance as well Club Recognition are factors as teams are ranked in the Gold, Silver and Bronze Levels. Club Recognition includes but not limited to a team’s structure of the young swimmer development and growth into higher levels of competition as well as a club’s organizational structure. This is quite an honor to the team and another reason to be proud to be a Water Rat.

Blue vs. Red Inter-Squad Meet: Saturday, Dec 20 All swimmers are asked to report on deck at 945am. The team cheering will begin shortly thereafter and at 10 we look to begin the fun relays and events. The final event of the morning is the Adult – Child Relay. This is the best when parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents or older siblings look to take on their Water Rat in a continuous relay race. Refreshments will be available. We look to be finished by 1130 at the latest. This is one of the few times we are able to get the entire Water Rat family together. Do not miss out. For those interested in participating in the Adult – Child Relay, please email me at ejohnston@westporty.org or bring your suit and pride on Saturday.

Meet Entry Deadlines: We are now fully into using Team Unify (TU) as our meet entry declaration and meet entry program. All meets are posted as soon as the information is available. The deadlines to declare are firm. When sending in entry files to host teams, they need to keep track of entries received and size of the entries in order to run a meet. Communication from Coach Chandler has been constant in sending out deadline reminders. It is YOUR responsibility to be on top of your child’s meet entries.

Meet Clean Up: The last few meets we have attended, the swimmers have been using the pool deck as a garbage can. The clean up having to be done by the coaches and a very few swimmers at the end of a session is unacceptable. Team members must be responsible for their own garbage and to be aware of keeping the team area clean. It is the responsibility of all team members to be respectful of all the facilities we are in whether for practice or meets.

Locker Room Behavior: We have had a recent amount of behavior that has taken place in the locker rooms recently that has bought unwanted attention to the swim team. Such behavior has included but not limited to: Red Gatorade/Vitamin Water sprayed on the ceiling and walls of the locker room; a few incidents of harassment that have involved swimmers towards teammates and non-teammates; shower head pulled from one of the handicap showers, underage swimmers using the adult locker rooms. We do not know who is responsible for the above actions at this time but are continuing to investigate. I remind swimmers and parents that a Code of Conduct is in place for being on the swim team. When incidents occur, we have a system in place that may include but not limited to the following:

Contact parents of swimmer(s) involved and set up a swimmer, parent and coach meeting.
Revoke locker room privileges. This may also include the swimmer having to be escorted to the pool by the swimmer’s parent/guardian; suspension from the team; or expulsion from the team.

We all have the opportunity to help guide and teach our swimmers to be respectful of others as well as property. I ask that you take the time to talk with your swimmers regarding responsible behavior. Thank you for your help with this matter.

Communication: Please be sure to let your swimmer’s coach know if you will be away over the holidays, absent from practice due to school responsibilities, illness, etc.

Yes, a lot of information and news in this email. It was not my intention to end on a not so positive tone. We are a team and as such, need to work together, support every team member and do all we can to encourage the development and growth of our swimmers both in and out of the pool. The scope of the Water Rat Swim Team literally spans the world and with the all that is available with social media, news of our accolades is quickly posted.

Let’s do all we can to continue to strive for improvement – in the pool, out of the pool, team spirit, etc. – as we continue down the path of excellence.

Best wishes to all for a safe and healthy 2015.