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We have discovered that many parents new to swimming or new to the “Titans Family” have similar questions about our sport.  


This website area will address those recurring questions.  If there are additional inquiries you would like to see answered and included on this site, please ask a coach or a Titans Board Member or send us an email.


Questions addressed are as follows:


  1. When is my child ready to compete in their first swim meet?
  2. What are the differences between the various meets that the Titans attend?
  3. How can I become an official?
  4. What is the club’s policy/philosophy with regard to lifting weights (resistance training)?
  5. Besides attendance at practice and working on perfecting stroke technique, what other factors will affect my child’s performance? 


  1. When is my child ready to compete in his or her first swim meet? 
    • As with all concerns regarding your child’s progression in the sport of swimming, speak directly with his or her coach.  They see your child swim at practice and will have the best insight as to how prepared your child is for competition.
    • Competitive situations do not necessarily mean United States Swim meets.  The Stroke Development and Level One groups have a team time trial, called the Balloon Meet, twice a year.  This is an excellent opportunity for swimmers and parents alike to be introduced to the ins and outs of swim meets.  Furthermore, practice is an opportunity for swimmers to test their skills in a safe environment and only the coach who sees your child on a daily basis is competent to make this assessment.
    • There is no set age that a child will be ready for a USA meet. There are several types of meets that are more appropriate for beginning competitors and they are offered throughout the year. Typically, we encourage first time competitors to attend meets with a clerk of course.
    • The primary goal of competition in meets is skill development.  If a child has been instructed on how to correctly do a start, a turn, and can swim one of the four competitive strokes legally, they might be ready for competition.
    • The question a parent needs to ask is:  “Does my child want to compete”?  If the answer is a resounding yes, by all means speak to your coach and find out when the next appropriate meet will be.  If the child is unsure, again speak to the coach and see what his or her assessment of the situation is.  If a swimmer is ready, the coaches will do their best to prepare them.
    • A helpful hint is to speak to the coach when the practice is over and the child is in the locker room changing.  Whatever decision is made can be relayed on to the child after you have discussed it with the coach.


  1. What are the differences between the various meets that the Titans attend?
    • There are several types of swim meets that your child will experience as he or she begins to swim competitively.  One type is referred to as an A-B-C or a Gold-Silver-Bronze meet.  These are generally the best meets for swimmers to “cut their teeth on” as there are no qualification standards, which allows all swimmers to compete.  This meet is scored for points at three separate levels: Gold, Silver and Bronze.
    • Parents and swimmers should take note of where the meet is being held.  At ECC, UB or Town of Tonawanda AFC, swimmers stay on deck with their coach.  At other meets, such as those held at area high schools, swimmers usually wait in the school’s gym for their events to be called.  The swimmer in these cases should be prepared with a blanket, towel, or chair to sit on.  The team will sit together in an area designated for the Titans.  The coaches will remain on deck to watch, evaluate and critique each swimmer’s performance.  The parents usually wait in the gym with their children until the meet clerk-of-course calls their event.  In either type of venue, the swimmer should bring some water or sports drink and a light snack.
    • Other meets that the team will participate in are referred to as Championship Meets.  These are usually divided into three different levels:  Gold Championship, Silver Championship, and Bronze Championship.  These meets are held during both the short course and long course swim seasons.  These are run in a preliminary and final format where the swimmers compete in the morning and MAY return at night and compete again if they are the fastest qualifying swimmers.  All swimmers who have achieved the time standard for that level are able to swim in their particular event in the morning session.  The top 16 times swum (without exceeding the time standard for that level) must return at night to swim in the finals portion of the meet.  This is an honor for a swimmer.  The Titans have special “night caps” for the swimmer who qualifies to swim in a finals event.  If, for some reason, a swimmer cannot come back to compete at night, he or she must have their coach officially scratch their event within the 30-minute period after the results have been posted.  Failure to do this results in a district-imposed fine and the swimmer not being allowed to swim the remainder of the meet.
    • There are other meets beyond the Gold Level Championship Meet for which a swimmer can strive.  Each of these meets has a time standard that a swimmer must achieve in order to compete.  There are applicable Cut Times: Region One, Eastern Zone, Speedo Sectional, National US Open, and Olympic Level.
    • The Eastern Zone Meet occurs twice a year and involves swimmers from the Northeastern states.  The Eastern Zone Meet held in the spring is held in short course year format.  Each district (we are in the Niagara District consisting of teams from Niagara Falls through Syracuse) can send two swimmers per event and per age group to compete in this meet.  The swimmer must have the 1st or 2nd fastest time in the Niagara District within his or her age group and have achieved the zone time standard.  The swimmers chosen will travel, eat, and live with the team.  The parents are allowed to attend these meets, but the child must remain with the Niagara District Team under the close observation of the team chaperons.  During this meet, the swimmer is considered part of the Niagara District Team, not the Town of Tonawanda Titans Swim Club.
    • The Summer Zone Meet (Long Course) is different in that all swimmers who achieved a zone time standard are allowed to participate in the meet.  The parents of these swimmers will be responsible for all the swimmers’ expenses.
    • The Speedo Sectional Meet is also held twice a year.  The sectional time standards are even faster, and there are no age group divisions.  The sectional meet encompasses the same Northeast region as the zone meet. The Titans may send swimmers who qualify for an individual event or others may participate as part of a qualifying relay.  A swimmer does not have to have an individual qualifying time to be part of a relay.  During this meet, a swimmer competes as a Titan.  A swimmer who qualifies for an individual event or a relay will be reimbursed for part of their traveling expenses by the Niagara District in an amount determined by the District’s Board of Directors.  The Titans do not pay for the swimmer’s expenses.
    • The other meets, such as the US Open and Olympic Trials, have extremely fast qualifying times and are for the most elite swimmers.  These swimmer’s expenses are also reimbursed by the Niagara District, and not by the Titans.


  1. What do I have to do to become an official?
    • The Niagara District periodically holds classes during the year for those interested in officiating.  Becoming a Certified Official involves attending one of these initial classes, taking an open book test at home or online, and serving as an apprentice at a district meet for at least 4 sessions.
    • New officials start out as Stroke and Turn judges.  Stroke and Turn judges advance to become Starters, and Starters can advance to the level of Referee.  Officials work at meets hosted by their own club, as well as meets hosted by other clubs.  Even if you are a new official, you are encouraged to work at championship level meets like the Junior Olympics or District Championships.  It is fun and there is always something to learn, regardless of how much experience one has.
    • Parent involvement is a very rewarding experience.  Volunteering as a USA Swimming Official gives one insight into the sport of swimming and introduces you to the more dedicated people in the sport.  Your participation is greatly appreciated, and you are always welcome on deck.
    • If you are interested, please contact a Titan Board Member or Coach, who will be able to notify you of upcoming clinics for new officials.


  1. What are the club’s policy/philosophy with regard to lifting weights (resistance training) and suggestions for meet preparation?
    • Swimmers will begin to use the weight room in the Aquatic and Fitness center when they reach the senior group, usually at the age of 13. 
    • Benefits of Constant Resistance Training:

i.Lowers the injury potential to many joints of the body.

ii.Strengthens muscles, tendons, ligaments and increases bone density.

iii.Allows the athlete to be more powerful and stronger in his or her event or sport.

iv.A balanced program increases athletic performance:  running and swimming improves, strokes become more efficient, the athlete is stronger throughout their event and will be less fatigued at the end of the event or game.

  • When Should the Athlete Begin Resistance Training?

i.Exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups and sit-ups (those using your body as resistance) can be done at a very young age.

ii.Exercise that needs to be completed in the Fitness Center (those using barbells, dumbbells or weight machines) usually can begin at age 13.

iii.Chronological age is not always the deciding factor.  Maturity level, attention span and how well a student takes direction are also important indicators.  Athletes are not always under direct supervision in the Fitness Center.  How he or she acts when the coach is not watching is a very good gauge.

iv.It is always best to check with a Family Physician before a prepubescent athlete begins resistance training in the Fitness Center.

  • Cycle (Periodization) and What to Expect

i.Change weight programs every 4-6 weeks.

ii.Strength Phase.

iii.Power Phase.

iv.Endurance Phase.

v.In-season, off-season, pre-season cycles.

  • What to Expect When Lifting Weights

i.Phase 1– The body is in shock from the new training stimulus. The body develops soreness and performance level decreases.

ii.Phase 2– The body adapts to the new training stimulus and performance increases.

iii.Phase 3– Body staleness, the body has adapted to the new stimulus and performance stays the same or decreases. This usually occurs after 4-6 weeks. It is time to begin a new resistance-training program.

  • Proper Form and Safety

i.Best strength gains come from a full range of motion while lifting.

ii.Use appropriate weight and perfect form.

iii.Never lift alone.

iv.Always use a spotter.

v.Do not hold your breath during resistance training.

vi.Lifting weights without a spotter can be very dangerous for the young athlete. Injuries can occur from; weights being stuck on the lifter, weights sliding off the bar or when the lifter loses balance.

  • Spotter’s Responsibilities

i.Be alert at all times and focus on the lifter.

ii.Make sure the bar is properly loaded.

iii.Make sure you are strong enough to lift the weight that the lifter is using.

iv.Know the number of reps.

v.Keep eyes open for sliding weights.

vi.Know if the set is a warm-up, easy set or max set.

vii.Use two hands when spotting. The use of fingers should be discouraged.

viii.Give proper feedback and emphasize proper form for the lifter. Be careful where you put your fingers when spotting. They may get caught between the bar and the equipment.

  • Stay Away From Risky Exercises for an Athlete

i.Lat pull-down behind the neck increases your chance of shoulder injuries. It is best to do the Lat pull-down in front of the head/neck area.

ii.Shoulder press behind the neck increases your chance of shoulder injuries. It is best to do a shoulder press in front of the head/neck area.

iii.Wide grip bench press places more stress on shoulder joint.  Shoulder width grip is recommended.

iv.Pec flys, when the elbows drop down too low, added stress is placed on the shoulder joint.

v.Upright rows, if the elbows are raised too high, increase the chance of shoulder injuries.


  1. Besides attendance at practice and working on perfecting stroke technique, what other factors will affect my child’s performance?
    • Sleep and the effects of chronic lack of sleep

i.Studies show teens get between 6.1 and 6.6 hours of sleep per night.

ii.Teens need 8-9 hours of sleep per night.

iii.Sleep deprivation affects mental learning skills as well as athletic performance.

iv.A continued sleep debt throughout the week makes learning more difficult, causes athletic performance to suffer and weakens the immune system.  A weak immune system makes one more susceptible to communicable diseases.

  • Sensible Nutrition

i.Athletic performance is strongly influenced by nutritional habits.

ii.51% of polled teens skip breakfast daily.

iii.Skipping breakfast adversely affects mental learning as well as athletic performance.

iv.Plan your breakfast meal in advance. Good choices include yogurt, cereal, bagels, English muffins, French toast, waffles, fruit etc.

v.Sensible nutrition for an athlete means that one is eating three meals a day and having two small snacks per day.

  • Daily Distribution of Food (calories per day)

i.Breakfast       20-25%

ii.Lunch            20-30%

iii.Dinner           30-35%

iv.Snacks           15%

  • Big Six of Nutrition

i.Protein.   The major function of protein in the body is to build, maintain, and repair tissues – muscle, tendon, ligaments, skin and hair.  Protein helps the body keep up its resistance and maintain immunity to infectious diseases.

ii.Carbohydrate (CHO) is the primary source of energy for muscle. If muscle glycogen (CHO) is not replaced after strenuous exercise, further workouts will suffer. It is recommended that complex carbohydrates be eaten within two hours after a strenuous workout.

iii.Fat is a concentrated secondary source of energy. Your body needs fat in moderation!

iv.Water makes up about 60% of the body. A 2-3% water loss causes athletic performance to decline about 15%. Improper hydration increases injury potential. Consume cool fluids at regular intervals during exercise.  Drink 6-8 glasses of water every day. Water loss decreases muscular strength, decreases work performance, lowers blood and plasma level and decreases cardiac function.

v.Vitamins control growth in body tissues. Vitamins do not provide energy.

vi.Minerals give strength and rigidity to body structures. Minerals do not provide energy.

  • The Three Keys to Healthful Eating

i.Variety – there are no magic foods. Example: oranges provide Vitamin C and carbohydrates but not protein. Chicken provides protein but no Vitamin C or carbohydrates.

ii.Moderation – balance out fats and simple sugars by eating more nutrient wise choices at your next meal.

iii.Wholesomeness – choose lightly processed foods. Fresh apples are better than applesauce.

  • Take a Nutrition Course in High School or College to Dispel Misinformation

i.62% of 13-19 year olds are dissatisfied with their weight.

ii.89% of women want to lose weight & diet.

iii.40% of male athletes cannot select a balanced diet to meet their energy demands.

iv.24% of women have used diet pills, laxatives, diuretics or vomiting as a weight loss technique.

v.1000 women die each year from Anorexia Nervosa.

vi.45% NCAA athletes think they should have <12% body fat.

vii.Myth – If you start an exercise program, you’ll lose body fat.  False – If you want to lose body fat you have to create a calorie deficit for the entire day. You need to burn off more calories than you consume. Exercise can contribute to a caloric deficit.

  • Percent of Calories needed for the Athlete’s Diet

i.55-65% Carbohydrates

ii.20-30% Fat

iii.12-15% Protein

  • Supplementation

i.Examples of supplements may include amino acids, protein shakes, creatine, protein bars etc.

ii.“A poor diet supplemented, is still a poor diet”

iii.Eat three meals a day with a couple of healthy snacks and an athlete will not need supplementation.

  • Fundamental Fitness

i.Set realistic goals.

ii.Train smartly and allow for recuperation after workouts.

iii.Train and work out consistently.

iv.Have a Mental Understanding of Your Work Out

v.Know the importance of why workouts are cycled or why they change.

vi.Showing up for practice on a regular basis and how performance improves.

  • Pre-Competition Meal

i.It is best to eat a pre-competition meal 3 to 4 hours prior to the game or meet.  This will help avoid nausea, indigestion and cramps.  Stay away from high fat foods or deep-fried foods on game days.

ii.Suggested foods 3 to 4 hours before activity include fruits and vegetable juices, fresh fruits and vegetables, breads, bagels, baked potatoes, low-fat pasta, cereal, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese, lean meats, sandwiches with small amounts of peanut butter or lean turkey.

iii.Suggested foods 2 to 3 hours before activity include fruit, vegetable juices, breads, bagels, low-fat yogurt, English muffins, oatmeal, banana, or commercial high carbohydrate beverage.

iv.Suggested foods 1 hour before activity include fruit, vegetable juices or toast.

  • Post-Competition Meal

i.It is best to fully replace muscle and liver glycogen 2 to 4 hours after activity. Eating a balanced meal that is high in carbohydrates is highly recommended.

ii.Delaying carbohydrate intake for too long after exercise impairs recovery.

iii.Impaired recovery lowers the intensity level of workouts and increases injury potential.

iv.After an exhausting workout, meals should be rich in complex carbohydrates!