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Team Information

The Westport Weston Family YMCA Water Rat Swim Team is a year-round, nationally recognized competitive swim program organized and operated by the Aquatics Department of the Westport Weston Family YMCA. The Westport Weston Family YMCA has been part of the fabric of community life in Westport since it opened its doors in 1923. Consistent with the Y’s mission, the team focuses on building strong kids, strong families and strong communities.

The Water Rat Swim Team competes in dual meets against other YMCA teams in Fairfield County and in state, regional and national championships. The team is also a registered USA Swimming Club – and a member of Connecticut Swimming, Inc. – and competes in USA Swimming-sanctioned meets at the local, regional, state, zone and national level.

Team Vision Statement

To become a world-class competitive swim team.

Team Mission Statement

The Westport Weston Family YMCA Water Rat Swim Team embraces a team philosophy that commits it to develop the highest level of competitive excellence for every swimmer, while simultaneously encouraging spirit, honesty, team pride, personal commitment and individual growth.

Team Fundamentals

The swimmer, coach and parents are all necessary links in carrying out this philosophy. In order to accomplish these goals, team members have the following responsibilities:

  • Attend training sessions on time and with all the necessary equipment (cap, goggles, swimsuit and towel).
  • Attend required meets wearing team apparel. (Labeling all items with indelible marker is highly recommended).
  • Keep communication lines open with your coach. Always share your goals, concerns and questions to ensure the best season possible.
  • Inform your coach when you cannot make practice or fulfill other team obligations.
  • Establish reasonable and achievable goals and practice to succeed.
  • Compliment and encourage your teammates and build a positive team spirit.
  • Practice good sportsmanship by also complimenting your competitors on a good race.
  • Respect the Westport Weston Family YMCA facility and follow “Y” rules and regulations.
  • Participate in fund-raising activities to support the team and to promote our program in the community. Remember, you represent the Westport Weston Family YMCA and your team.
  • Most important, HAVE FUN!

Team Name and Identity

We are proud of our team and the accomplishments of our members and we like to insure that we are consistent in our team identity. Our official team name is the Westport Weston Family YMCA Water Rat Swim Team. The term WRAT refers to our USA Swimming Club code. It should not be used with other team terms. For instance, we are not the “Water WRATS”, nor are we the “Westport WRATS”. You may see the term “WRAT” on bathing caps or as a stand-alone term, but we’d prefer to refer to our swimmers as “Water Rat” swimmers and not “WRAT” swimmers.

Team History

The Water Rat Swim Team was established in 1949. From the beginning, the team was a perennial state champion. The team originally practiced in the Brophy pool, which was built in 1929 at the original YMCA on the Post Road. The team became a year round program in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s with the co-sponsorship of the Westport Parks and Recreation Department. The team used the Longshore Pool during the summers. Legend has it that the name “Water Rats” was established at that time when water rats were actually found in the Longshore Pool, which is located outdoors on Long Island Sound. As a result of the construction of the Y’s Stauffer Pool in 1978, the team grew in size and stature and added its first full-time coach.

Team Structure

The Water Rat Swim Team uses a “progressive” age group program designed to develop the child physically, mentally and emotionally in a systematic fashion. A well-defined, long-term approach of gradually increasing degrees of commitment is essential to reach peak performance levels during a swimmer’s physiological prime. The emphasis in the early stages of participation is placed on developing technical skills and a love for the sport. In the later years, a more demanding physical and psychological challenge is introduced to the training program.

In addition to emphasizing long-term rather than short-term results, we have established training groups for swimmers that are compatible in respect to abilities, commitment levels and goals. At each level, the goals and objectives are specific and directed toward meeting the needs of the swimmer. The long-term goal of total excellence is always in mind. As each child is different, he or she will progress at his or her own rate. The coaching staff recognizes this fact by making team assignments based on a swimmer’s physical, mental, and emotional level of development.

8/Under Program

Red Group
Ages: 8/Under

Description
This group is for beginner level swimmers ages 9 & Under.

Focus
Emphasis will be to introduce the proper technique for all four competitive strokes through drills and games. Dives and turns will also be introduced. Basic swimming etiquette such as circle swimming will be taught. Swimmers should attend at least two practices per week and are encouraged to attend any meets that are offered.

Prerequisites
• Able to swim 25 yards freestyle with face in the water
• Able to swim 25 yards backstroke with arm recovery
• Able to listen and work well in groups
• Demonstrate a willingness to wear proper swimming attire such as competitive suit, swim cap and goggles.

Blue Group
Ages: 8/Under

Description
This group is for beginner level swimmers ages 9 & Under who understand the basic concepts of all four competitive strokes and can swim 25 yards of legal freestyle & backstroke and either butterfly or breaststroke.

Focus
This group will focus on developing four legal strokes through drills and games. Racing dives and turns will be taught. Basic understanding of pace clock work will also be introduced. Swimmers should attend at least two practices per week and are encouraged to attend any meets that are offered.

Prerequisites
• Able to swim 25 free in under 23 seconds
• Able to swim 50 free in under 55 seconds
• Able to swim 25 backstroke in under 28 seconds
• Able to listen and work well in groups
• Demonstrate a willingness to wear proper swimming attire such as competitive suit, swim cap and goggles.

Age Group Program

Discovery III
Ages: 9-11

Description
This team is the entry level to the WRAT Age Group program. Swimmers will demonstrate the ability to swim freestyle and backstroke proficiently and have a rudimentary knowledge of breaststroke and butterfly.

Focus
The primary emphasis of this training group is on stroke development and basic competitive skills. Practices are designed to focus on very specific instruction at a pace that is geared toward the beginner level of competitive swimming. Swimmers are encouraged to attend at least two practices per week. Swimmers may participate in a number of dual and invitational meets. Attendance at these meets is encouraged and swimmers must attend at least one of these events.

Prerequisites
• Able to listen and work well in groups
• Able to wear proper swimming attire such as: competitive suit, swim cap, training fins and goggles.
• Able to swim 50 yards freestyle under 55 seconds
• Able to swim 50 yards backstroke under 65 seconds
• Able to swim 3X50 freestyle on an interval of 1:30
• Able to kick a continuous 100 yards of freestyle

Discovery II
Ages: 9-11

Description
This team is the intermediate level to the WRAT Age Group program. Swimmers will demonstrate the ability to swim freestyle and backstroke and breaststroke proficiently and have a rudimentary knowledge of butterfly. The must also have the ability to start from the starting block.

Focus
The primary emphasis of this training group is on continuing stroke development and competitive skills. Swimmers will learn stroke drills and a basic understanding of interval training. Swimmers are encouraged to attend at least two practices per week and participate in a number of dual and invitational meets.

Prerequisites
• Able to listen and work well in groups
• Able to wear proper swimming attire such as: competitive suit, swim cap, training fins and goggles.
• Able to swim 50 yards freestyle under 45 seconds
• Able to swim 50 yards backstroke under 55 seconds
• Able to swim 4X50 freestyle on an interval of 1:15
• Able to kick a continuous 100 yards of freestyle

Discovery I
Ages: 9-11

Description
This training group is the top level of the junior age group. Swimmers must be legal in all four competitive strokes and show a willingness to make a commitment to their training and competition.

Focus
The primary emphasis will be on developing stroke technique through advanced drills. Swimmers will learn to use the pace clock and must be able to complete “sets” of 15-20 minutes in duration. Swimmers are encouraged to participate in all scheduled practices and are expected to attend a minimum of three practices per week. Swimmers will also be expected to attend all scheduled swim meets.

Prerequisites
• Able to listen and work well in groups
• Able to wear proper swimming attire such as: competitive suit, swim cap, training fins and goggles.
• Able to swim 5X100 freestyle on an interval of 1:45
• Able to swim 1X100 IM in under 1:35
• Able to kick 4X50 freestyle on 1:15
• Able to swim 5X50 non-freestyle stroke on 10 seconds rest
• Must be willing to swim 500 yard freestyle in competition
• Must be willing to swim 100’s of non-freestyle in competition

Challenger I
Ages: 11-13

Description
This team represents the highest level of training available in the Age Group program. Swimmers must show a high level of commitment to training and a willingness to maintain consistent practice attendance, training intensity and focus. Swimmers should also be willing to travel to out of state competition and train over weekends and holiday breaks.

Focus
The training continues to build on the technique-oriented base that also includes a large component of aerobic conditioning. Swimmers must be able to complete challenging sets with complex intervals that are 30 to 60 minutes in duration. Swimmers are expected to train as often as their schedules allow with a minimum of 5 practices per week. Multiple dry-land sessions will also be required. The SAG team is required to participate in all scheduled meets for the season.

Prerequisites
• Able to swim 10X100 free @ 1:30
• Able to swim 4X200 IM @ 3:30
• Able to 5X100 non-freestyle stroke @ :10 seconds rest
• Able to kick 5X100 @ 2:00
• Must be willing to swim the 1650 free in competition
• Must be willing to swim 200’s of non-free in competition
• Able to understand intervals and use a pace clock

Challenger II
Ages: 11-13

Description
This group is designed for the development of the older age group swimmer. Swimmers in this group should express a desire to improve their competitive swimming through conditioning and continued development of stroke technique.

Focus
Emphasis is placed on promoting increased commitment to training and conditioning. Practices include complex sets with a focus of 40 percent technique and 60 percent conditioning. Swimmers are expected to train as often as their schedules permit, but are expected to attend a minimum of four practices per week. TAG swimmers also are expected to participate in a majority of the team’s scheduled swim meets and attend all championship meets for which they qualify (including Connecticut Regionals, YMCA States and the Connecticut Age Group Championship). TAG swimmers come from a wide spectrum of ability levels and have varied goals. They include high school junior varsity and varsity swimmers who want to keep in shape during the “off season”; middle school or high school athletes who are cross training to keep in shape for other sports; and Water Rats who are preparing for the next level of competitive swimming.

Minimum Prerequisites
• Able to swim 5X100 freestyle @ 1:45
• Able to swim 4X100 non-free stroke on 2:15
• Able to swim 1X200 IM @ 4:00
• Able to kick 4X50 @ 1:15

Senior Program

Senior Prep
Ages 13/Over

The Senior Prep group is a bridge program offered to those age groups swimmers who need more time to transition to the Senior program.  The group is also open to high school students who want to stay in shape during the off season.

Senior II
Ages: 13/Over

Description
The Senior II group is a training group with high practice and meet expectations.

Focus
This training group is for swimmers aspiring to train at a higher level but not yet ready to make the commitment of attending four double practices per week. Swimmers in this group are introduced to a more intense aerobic and anaerobic training than they experienced in the Age Group program. Additional stroke development and refinement is incorporated into the training. Senior II swimmers must be willing to work hard during practice and they must compete in all meets.

Prerequisites
• Age 13/Over
• Show the desire to become more committed.
• Ability to swim all four competitive strokes
• Ability to learn new training techniques which will take them to the next level.
• Ability to swim 10 x 100 on 1:20 or 1:25
• Ability to kick 10 x 50 on 1:00
• Must compete in meets and represent the Water Rats in a championship meet.
• Attend 5 or more practices per week based on the season (short course or long course).

Senior I
Ages: 14/Over

Description
The Senior I group is the highest level of training for the Water Rat Swim Team and has very high practice and meet expectations.

Focus
Swimmers in this group develop their individual technical and racing skills in order to advance in their sport. This is the highest training group within the Water Rat Swim Team and it places more responsibility on its members than other groups. Members of this training group dedicate themselves to training, racing and their swim team. Athletes understand that being in the Senior I group makes them role models for younger swimmers and ambassadors to the community. Swimmers commit to excellence in their sport and to achieving high-level results in state and national championship meets.

Prerequisites
• Age 13/Over
• Has shown a commitment to the sport
• Has shown a steady practice attendance of six to ten per week based on the season (short course or long course).
• Can swim all four competitive strokes for 200 yards/meters, 1650 freestyle and 400 IM.
• Ability to swim an intensive 2½ hour plus training session both mentally and physically.
• Ability to do two practices per day and wake up early for the first practice.
• Ability to listen well to the coaching given and apply what has been given.
• Ability to swim 15 x 100 freestyle on 1:15 (short course.)
• Ability to kick 12 x 50 on 55.
• Participate in a championship meet representing the Water Rats.

College Swimming

We offer a college swimming program that runs during summer and winter breaks. This serves our former Water Rat Swim Team members who want to continue training when their collegiate teams are not holding regular practices. It is also available to other visiting college swimmers, but only by invitation. All college swimmers must be approved by the head coach.

Westport Weston Family YMCA Mission Statement

The Westport Weston Family YMCA enriches the community by developing youth and strengthening families while promoting healthy lifestyles for adults, and emphasizing caring, honesty, respect and responsibility in its programs and services.

Financial Assistance

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization, the Westport Weston Family YMCA endeavors to provide financial assistance to those who qualify.