Our 2024 Season is Here!

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Greatwood Gators Parent Handbook

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Swim Team Eligibility

A novice swimmer as defined by the West Houston Aquatic League:

  • Be between the ages of 4 and 18 as of May 1st
  • Demonstrate the ability to enter the water unaided
  • Swim one length of the pool without the aid of an adult or coach in the water
  • Swimmers must be residents of the Greatwood subdivision
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Registration Fees & Rules

  • Registration is $160 per swimmer.
  • Registration includes :
    • Team T-shirt
    • Team Swim Cap
    • Season End Trophy
    • 1 Banquet Ticket for Awards Banquet
  • Registration will be open to returning swimmers from February 15th – March 31st.
  • Based on availability, new swimmers will be allowed to register for the team between March 1st and March 31st, or until age group is full, whichever is first.
  • Once an age group is deemed “full” by the Registrar, swimmers may be placed on a Wait List and moved to the team as spots become available. Swimmers will not be charged registration fees until a spot becomes available.
  • New swimmers will be registered to the team after March 31st when there is availability in age groups or by approval of the Registrar.
  • In order to receive a Season End Award (trophy), swimmers must participate in at least two dual meets.

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Refund Policy

As a rule, the swim team has a policy of No Refunds once practice has begun. Any refunds requested before practice starts will require Board approval and will be made less any electronic processing or administration fees already incurred by the team.

By the end of the first two weeks of practice, every swimmer's eligibility will be determined by their coach. If your swimmer is ineligible to swim on the team, we will refund $50 of your registration fee. There were be NO REFUNDS on any discounted registration. Any other drop from the team roster, once practice starts, will result in forfeiture of all registration fees.

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  • All pool rules must be obeyed.
  • Rules of Greatwood Home Owners Association must be obeyed at the pool and surrounding areas.
  • All swimmers must attend the practice time as designated by their age group.
  • Only swimmers swimming in their designated practice time can be in the pool during practice.
  • For the safety of all swimmers, please do not talk to the coaches or your swimmer while they are on deck or in the pool. Any questions or concerns must be directed to the coach by email.
  • In case of thunder or lightning, the coach will make the call to cancel practice and follow Red Cross Procedures to evacuate the facility.
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Standard Practice Schedule

Monday - Friday Afternoon Practice During School Year (April-May)
    6 & Under 4:45 - 5:15 pm
    7/8 5:15 - 5:45 pm
    9/10 5:45 - 6:30 pm
    11/12 6:30 - 7:15 pm
    13 & Over 7:15 - 8:15 pm   
Monday - Friday Morning Practice During Summer (May/June)
    6 & Under 7:00 - 7:30 am
    7/8 7:20 - 8:10 am
    9/10 8:00 - 8:50 am
    11/12 8:40 - 9:40 am
    13 & Over 9:15 - 10:45 am

    *see the Practice Schedule on the Gator website for the most current information.

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Parent Meeting

Each season a Parent Meeting takes place the day before practice starts.  This year we will be doing suit sizing at the parent meeting so please be sure to attend!

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Each year all the coaches and swimmers come together to take a team picture for the current season.  Individual/sibling pictures are also taken at this time.  Swimmers are asked to please wear the Greatwood Gators Team suit or an all-black suit for pictures.  Please plan to participate in the Team Photo even if you are not purchasing photos personally.  We enjoy having a complete picture of the team each year!  Details on when Team pictures will be taken can be found under the "Calendar" tab.

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Swim Suit Policy

All swimmers should wear the GWST suit or an all-black suit for all meets.

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Attendance at Meets

Heat sheets require time and planning on the part of the coaches. It is essential that the coaches have an accurate list of children swimming each meet. We understand that family travel and other commitments may prevent you from attending every meet. Please notify the coaches of your absence by "opting out" of the meet on our Swimtopia web site prior to the deadline. In the case of emergency absences, please contact your coach via text or cell phone call as soon as you can. Coach phone numbers and email addresses can be found on the Gators’ web site.  Swimmers must attend two dual meets to be eligible for an End of Season award.

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Swimming Events

Due to the number of swimmers, not every swimmer can swim all events. All swimmers swim free style and back stroke. We are then permitted to have 3 heats per age group, per gender for breaststroke and butterfly, and 1 heat of individual medley for ages 9 and up. The swimmers are placed based on their times. The coaches will use their discretion to update times so that every attempt is made to have the fastest swimmers swimming each meet. Coaches will occasionally time children during practice to update times. Swimmers must have a legal stroke in order for them to be placed in any breast, butterfly or the individual medley event.

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Volunteer Requirements

It takes many volunteers working for our meet to run smoothly. Every family is required to fulfill volunteer jobs for one half of every meet that your swimmers attend. Please keep in mind that some jobs require you stay the entire meet, regardless of when your child finishes his/her swimming.

You will lose automatic renewal status if your volunteer hours are not met during the season. Please note that it is your responsibility to keep track of your hours and requirements and make sure they are completed. If for any reason a meet must be rescheduled, it is still your responsibility to cover your volunteer duties or to find a replacement. Contact the Director of Volunteers with questions.

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Volunteer Job Descriptions

Tent Parent - 2-4 per age & gender group needed at each meet

Responsible for keeping swimmers together in age groups; marks all swimmers with their swimmer number and event info; lines up swimmers for each event; escorts swimmers to heat benches when called by announcers; helps put up and take down team tent; and manages swimmers while in the tent.

Starter - 1 starter and 1 backup needed for each meet

At home meets only, determines that all lanes are properly filled with eligible swimmers for the event; determines that all swimmers are in the proper start position. Starts each event with electronic starter. Determines that all swimmers properly begin the event, disqualifying swimmers for false starts. Must attend annual league training clinic to be certified.

Stroke Judges – 2-3 judges needed per each half meet

Determines if swimmer completed entire swim event according to league rules. Annual Training for this job is MANDATORY. A long training clinic (2 hours) every 3 years; a short clinic (30 minutes) in the intervening years. Must work ½ of a dual meet to fulfill volunteer position.

Console Scoring Table – 2 helpers needed at each meet 

Assists console operator with computer entries and scorekeeping.

Heat Bench - 2 needed per each half of meet 

Seats swimmers in proper order on the heat benches. Directs swimmers to the correct lane at the appropriate time.

Timers/Scribes - 8 timers needed per each half of meet

Times swimmers in each lane with stopwatches; clearly communicate time to scribe. Write swimmers' times on entry sheet. 

Runner – 2 runners per half meet

Deliver time sheets from timers to score table or from score table to awards.

Gator Grill Worker - 4-6 workers needed at home meets only

Assists in preparing and selling food at the Gator Grill. Calculates totals based on menu pricing, collects cash and makes change. Friendly disposition required.


Place labels on appropriate ribbons by event for distribution.

Hydration Specialist

Pass out waters to those who are working the meet.


Home meets, this person will monitor the pool facility for cleanliness and or substitute in a needed area.

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Some Rules to Remember

  • Any times taken during practice can be used to get your child into a meet, but these times cannot be used to qualify for the Meet of Champs. Meet of Champs qualifying times must come from any dual meet.
  • It is the coaching staff’s decision as to which events each swimmer swims.
  • It is also the coach staff’s decision which swimmers will swim in the relays.
  • Questions regarding meet entries should be addressed to the coach or any board member via email.
  • At times, some swimmers will be asked to “swim up”, which means swimming against children in age groups higher than their own. These decisions are made by the coaches based on a variety of factors, but are largely tied to the number of swimmers we have at the meet.
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Length of Meets

Please expect the meets to last approximately 4 - 5 hours. You and your child should be prepared to stay for the entire meet. This rule applies to all age groups except for the 6 & under group (who can leave when all 6 & under events have been completed). Remember – if you are a volunteer at the meet – you may not leave until your duties are complete. If your child finishes early, plan accordingly.

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What to Bring to Meets

  • A folding camp chair for every member of your family and your swimmer
  • A cooler with plenty of cold drinks (water, Gatorade but not soda or juice)
  • Healthy snacks like fresh fruit, granola bars, dry cereal, popcorn, crackers, cheese sticks and other nutritious items that your family will enjoy.
  • Several towels for each swimmer.
  • Flip flops or “croc” type shoes – not sneakers
  • Quiet activities for your swimmer (only allow electronic devices that your swimmer will be responsible for handling safely and carefully.)
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • A separate cooler of drinks & snacks for any spectators (you will not be sitting with your swimmer.)
  • Cash for Gator Grill or Concession Stand purchases.
  • Team suit, Team T-shirt, cap, goggles, extra cap and extra goggles.
  • Please leave all balls, high-activity games and any electronic devices that you will be unhappy if your child misplaces or leaves out. Tent parents are not responsible for managing electronic devices and will remain with your children during events for safety. Tent parents will not stay at the tent when your child is swimming.
  • Please make sure that your swimmer’s name is on everything they bring to the meet!
  • Patience, good sportsmanlike attitude and excitement for your team!
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Swimmer Markings

Every swimmer must be marked with the events that the swimmer will be swimming (including the event, lane and heat numbers.)

Tent parents will properly mark each swimmer according to these rules:
  • On the left forearm list the swimmer’s events according to the illustration.
    • Stroke abbreviations: BR =Breast, BK = Back, FL = Fly, F = Freestyle
    • Relay abbreviations: MR =Medley Relay, FR = Free Relay
    • Indicate the stroke the swimmer will swim in the MR after the lane#; for example: if the swimmer is in lane 4 and will swim breast, mark 4/BR
    • Indicate the relay position for the FR after the lane #; for example: swimmer is in lane 6 and swimming 2nd in relay, mark 6/2
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  • Points are awarded for the top ten swimmers (except relays), regardless of heat.
  • Any lane will be the scoring lanes on relays.
  • Scoring is per the WHALe policies and procedures, visit www.swimwhale.com for more information.
  • Winning team will be announced at the end of the meet.
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Stroke Disqualification Information

  • Hanging on lane rope more than three times
  • Pushing off bottom of the pool
  • Pulling on lane rope for forward propulsion
  • Missing the wall on the 50 yard flip turn
  • One hand touch on turn or finish
  • Arms/legs not synchronized
  • Any kick other than butterfly kick (Flutter, scissor or breast stroke kick)
  • One hand touch on turn or finish
  • Hands brought beyond hipline (except during pull out at start & turn)
  • Kick is not symmetrical (butterfly kick is not allowed)
  • Arms not brought back simultaneously or symmetrically
  • Missing the wall on the turn
  • Turning over to stomach (except on turn and just before making contact with wall)
  • Taking more than one pull after turning to the breast
  • Major portion of the torso going under the lane line
  • Pulling on the lane rope for propulsion
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Spectators & Parking

For fire safety, walk-ways must be left clear and free of trash. Sit in assigned areas only and please keep your space free of trash. Please remember the pool is in the middle of the neighborhood and per the HOA, we must control the noise level. We do not allow any cowbells, additional air horns, etc. at the swim meets.

Parking regulations vary amongst the pools where we swim. Please follow the posted parking rules and pay extra attention to the safety of the children present.

Per our agreement with the HOA, swim team families we will not park on residential streets while at Pool #1. During practice please park either in the lot at the recreation center (limited space), along Greatwood Parkway, or in the Dickinson Elementary parking lot. For swim meets, parking in the recreation center lot will be limited to Family Sponsors, coaches, Gator Grill, visiting team and board members. Parking along Stone Trail is limited to the pool side of the street only and only as far as the complex extends. Do not park next to houses on Stone Trail. Please note that if parking at Dickinson Elementary, there is a tunnel that allows for crossing under Greatwood Parkway without having to cross through the traffic at the intersection.

We will have “No Parking” signs and cones, as well as a parking attendant, to help guide you to available parking areas. In addition, please abide by the legal limits when parking near a stop sign, intersection, or fire hydrant.

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WHALe Meet of Champs (Divisional)

All of the teams competing in West Houston Aquatic League participate in their divisional meet. Teams are allowed limited entries per event. Entries per age group are limited to (8) Freestyle, (4) Back, (4) Breast,(4) Butterfly and (3) entries for IM. A swimmer must have participated in at least 50% of the meets to be eligible. All parents of children participating in the MOC are required to volunteer at the meet. It is the coach’s decision as to who swims in each event, based on top times.

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WHALe All Star Meet

The top swimmers from the divisional MOC will participate in the All Star Meet. Medals will be awarded to the top 8 swimmers in each event.

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End of Season Awards

  • Every swimmer participating in at least two dual meets will receive a trophy at the end of the season party
  • Top times in each stroke and age group will also receive an award 
  • Top times must be achieved during a dual meet
  • Swimmers must attend at least two dual meets in order to receive an end-of-season award
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  • The team sends out regular email updates with details and information that every team member will need to know. Ensure that you are on this distribution list by providing the team an email that you check daily.
  • Please make sure our emails make it to your inbox by adding our addresses: [email protected] and [email protected].
  • The team also uses Remind, a text-based notification app, to quickly message the team. 
  • Please make a habit of checking our website for additional information, including volunteer job descriptions and schedules: www.greatwoodgators.swimtopia.com
  • For additional information about TAGS, WHALe policies, and procedures, please visit the www.swimwhale.com.
  • Please like us on Facebook.
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The success of our team is due in large part to our sponsors’ generous support. Their financial contributions allowed the swim team board to provide:

  • College scholarships for graduating senior swimmers
  • The best possible coaching staff
  • Lifeguards during home meets
  • Weekly swimmer incentives
  • Bottled water for our volunteers during swim meets
  • Additional tents and equipment needed to keep children safe and comfortable throughout the meets
  • And other numerous essentials for operating a successful team.

Our primary goal this season is to raise more sponsor money to increase the number of scholarships we can offer to our senior swimmers. Please consider assisting us in meeting this goal.

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Corporate Sponsorship Levels

Platinum Sponsor $1,000.00
  • Includes all of Gold sponsorship items, plus
  • Naming rights to an area of sponsorship at home swim meets
  • One swimmer registration fee waived (Gator families only)
Gold Sponsor $500.00
  • Includes all of Silver sponsorship items, plus
  • Personalized banner displayed at home swim meets
  • Verbal recognition during home meets
  • Inclusion in web site banner ad on Gators home page
  • Free family parking spot (Gator families only)
Silver Sponsor $250.00
  • Includes all of Bronze level sponsorship items, plus
  • Business name on back of team shirt
  • Sponsorship plaque with team picture (if requested)
Bronze Sponsor $100.00
  • Recongnition on the team Facebook page and website
  • Regnition at the end of season event
Other Areas of Sponsorship
  • Sponsor one of three "Fun Friday" lunches.  Coaches and select swimmers enjoy lunch and games together. (approximately 20 attendees)
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Family Sponsorship Levels​​

Gold Family Sponsor - $100.00
  • Includes Gold Family Sponsor Web Page Listing
  • Reserved Parking Spot at Home Meets (for the First 20 Gold Sponsors)
  • Recognition at Meets
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Discipline Policy

The Greatwood Gators Swim Team strives to provide a family friendly environment and has adopted a policy to help guide and protect our swimmers and families. The Greatwood Gators Swim Team has a zero-tolerance policy for foul language, inappropriate behavior and incivility toward any swimmer, spectator, parent or coach. Swimmers are expected to respect each other. Fighting, inappropriate touching or intentional striking of another swimmer or coach is not allowed and such actions will subject the swimmer to immediate disciplinary action. 

Parents and spectators should also refrain from foul language, inappropriate behavior and act civilly toward other parents, coaches and meet officials. We are all volunteers. Parents should not behave in a way that brings discredit to their child(ren), the team, or the sport of swimming. 

Disrupting practices or meets in any way as well as failing to abide by coaches’ direction, parent supervision or disrespecting teammates, coaches, board members and/or the pool facilities will not be tolerated. Destruction or damage to our pool, any facility we visit, or personal property belong to another swimmer is strictly prohibited. Any violation involving alcohol, illicit drugs, weapons, smoking or bullying will result in immediate removal of the entire family from the swim team without refund. Failure to abide by the Code of Conduct by either a swimmer or a parent will result in disciplinary action. Immediate discipline for actions during practice or at a meet may be determined by either the paid coaching staff or a board member. The board will discuss and determine additional discipline if necessary. Discipline may include but not limited to the following actions:

  • Suspension from practice (for a day/several days/one week)
  • Suspension from an event
  • Suspension from a meet
  • Suspension from the swim team program
  • Forfeiture of all payments and/or credits for participation in an event or the program
  • Dismissal from the swim team program
  • Any combination of the above
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Greatwood Gators Swimmer Code of Conduct

  • Be on Time
    • You are an important part of your team. Your teammates are counting on you.
  • Be Encouraging
    • Your words can be hurtful or kind. Choose to be kind. Cheer for your teammates and shake hands with your opponents.
  • Be Positive
    • Help us to maintain a positive attitude among swimmers and parents. Look for the best in every situation.
  • Be Respectful
    • Act appropriately towards your teammates. Keep your hands to yourself.
    • Treat your tent parents in a respectful way. They are responsible for making sure you are in the right place at the right time and they need to know where you are at all times. Please ask your tent parent for guidance in leaving the tent.
  • Be Calm
    • Stay with your age group during practice and at meets. Bring fun and “quiet” activities to stay calm during practice and at meets when you are waiting for your turn. We suggest books, games, cards and healthy snacks.
  • Be Focused
    • We want you to reserve your energy for the swimming! Please do not run, climb, throw balls in public areas, or play on the playground equipment at any location. We expect you to not hit or fight with your teammates. Keep your focus on what you do best – SWIM!

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Greatwood Gators Parent Code of Conduct

  • I will demonstrate fairness and good sportsmanship to all swimmers, officials, other parents, fans and coaches with my words and actions.
  • I will be supportive of my swimmer(s) and our coaches.
  • I will be an active member of the Greatwood Gators swim team and fulfill my volunteer positions to allow the meets and practices to run smoothly.
  • I will be responsible for reading, as well as responding when appropriate, to emails and correspondence from the team and coaches.
  • I agree that all members of our family will abide by the posted Greatwood HOA rules as well as the posted rules at any facility we will visit.
  • I will supervise my children during practices and meets especially those that are not registered to swim on the team.
  • I will bring and retrieve my swimmer(s) promptly from practice so the coaches can focus on coaching.
  • I will not drop off or leave my swimmer(s) at the pool/playground for practice without designated adult supervision, unless the child is 9 years or older.
  • I will not drop off or leave my swimmer(s) at a meet without designated supervision, unless my child is 14 years or older.
  • I will only address officials, opposing team’s swimmers, parents and coaches in a positive, respectful and encouraging manner.
  • I will not disrupt a swim meet or practice. I will choose the right time to express concern regarding any rules or officiating calls to the meet director or the league rep for our team.
  • I will remember that swimming is for our children and not for adults.
  • I will remember that no one (including parents, toddlers, non-participating siblings or swimmers) may enter the baby pool or diving area during practice or meets for any reason. Swimmers registered with the team may be in the main pool during their age group practice and under the direct supervision of the coaches.
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Zero Tolerance Policy

The Greatwood Gators Swim Team strives to provide a family-friendly environment and has adopted a zero-tolerance policy to help protect our swimmers from foul language, inappropriate behavior, and incivility of any swimmer, coach, spectator, or parent. Any swimmer, coach, parent, or spectator that does not adhere to this code of conduct in either a swim meet or practice will be removed from the pool area. A swimmer, coach, parent, or spectator that is removed from the pool area will be suspended for the rest of the season. They will not be allowed to attend any remaining practices or swim meets. There will be no appeal from the suspended parties.

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