Frequently Asked Questions

Joining HDASC

How old does my child need to be to join the club?

New entrants to the club must be aged over 6 and tend to be aged 7 – 10 when they join.
A certain level of proficiency in all four strokes, stamina to swim lengths of the pool, and an ability to listen and take instruction from our coaches are the criteria to join, rather than age, and these will be assessed at trials.

What are the maximum ages for being a member of the club?

There is no maximum age, and older swimmers will be accommodated in suitable squads where appropriate. We do not have a “masters” section, however swimmers over 18 years of age should contact the head coach to enquire about any possibility of joining the club.

What swimming level does my child need to be at before they can join?

The club is not a substitute for lessons and so we would expect all new joiners to have attended some form of swim lessons and be reasonably proficient at all four strokes. They should also have the stamina to swim lengths of the pool.

We do appreciate that on joining the club, swimmers will often have different abilities and so we offer two possibilities – the full Minnows Squad or the Swim Skills Squad, which is intended to provide a link between swim lessons and swimming club. These sessions are much shorter with higher coach / swimmer ratios.

The squad that a swimmer is invited to join will be at the sole discretion of the head coach.

What if my child has a disability or additional support needs?

We would encourage you to contact the head coach, who will discuss individual circumstances with you. If we feel the needs of your child would be better met elsewhere, we will make recommendations and introductions.

What is the joining process?

Please contact the head coach (fill in a joining form) and your swimmer will be invited to attend one of our trial evenings. Trials are only offered on an invitational basis.

If the trial is successful you will be contacted by the head coach and membership secretary who will take you through the joining process, which includes becoming a member of the Scottish Amateur Swimming Association and signing up to our policies and code of conducts.

Training Sessions

What kit does my child need?

For every training session, a swimmer needs:

  • One-piece costume or jammas
  • Well fitting goggles (plus a spare if possible)
  • Swim cap – you will be provided with a club cap on joining and further caps can be purchased from the club
  • Water bottle
  • Towel

Other kit, such as floats and pull buoys are provided in the Minnows and Blue Fins squads, but may need to be provided as the swimmer progresses.

What are the training commitments?

Each squad has a number of sessions, carefully tailored in length and programme to the stage the swimmers are at, and there is a choice within that squad as to which sessions should be attended.

Commitments start at 30 minutes per week for our Swim Skills squad but can reach 8 sessions (approximately 20 hours) per week for our elite swimmers training with the East Lothian Swim Team.

Generally speaking, a Minnows swimmer would be swimming approximately 2.5 hours per week split over two sessions.

The training times are shown on the Training Information page. 

Do they have to attend every session?

Attendance is very important and ideally should be both regular and frequent. Each squad has a minimum recommended attendance criterion and we understand that our swimmers have other commitments.

If for any reason it is necessary for a swimmer to miss a session which they normally attend, just let the coach know the reason beforehand by dropping them an email.

Remember that the best improvement comes with consistent attendance at sessions.

Can I choose the squad / session times?

Each squad has a number of sessions when it trains. There is generally the option to attend two out of three of those sessions, for example.

As each squad is tailored to the swimming level, it is not possible to choose sessions between the different squads.

How long is a training session?

A swim skills session is 30 minutes, but all other sessions are at least one hour. Some sessions in the Jack Macks and Marlins squads are two hours long. Training times can be seen on the Training Information page.

Where is the training held?

Training is generally held at the Aubigny Centre in Haddington. Some sessions for Blue Fins, Jack Macks and Marlins sessions are held at the pools at North Berwick and Mercat Gait in Prestonpans.

How long before a session should I arrive?

Swimmers should arrive and be ready approximately 10 minutes before a session, although admittance to poolside will depend on other users in the pool at the time. Each session begins with a short land warm-up.

Can we go to other sessions if those times don’t fit?

You can only attend the sessions which are offered for your particular squad as the coaches tailor sessions specifically for training levels.

What will my swimmer do in a session?

Sessions are devised by the coaches to be ability and age appropriate to allow our swimmers to thrive. This means improving technique and stamina. There will be instruction and technique work on all four strokes, turns and diving. There will be sets that are intended to improve fitness and stamina. There may be races within a session to help encourage our swimmers to enjoy the competitive side of swimming, and games and elements that improve technique while the children have fun.

The emphasis of all the sessions is on our core values of promoting and valuing health, good nutrition, fitness, sportsmanship, citizenship, honesty, respect, hard work, discipline, teamwork and fair play.

How will I be told if a session is cancelled?

We use Team App for all club communications, and you will be asked to install this app on a smart phone, tablet or computer for all club communications. In the unlikely event that a session is cancelled a post on team app will be made. 

We would recommend coming into the pool when bringing a swimmer to their session, rather than dropping at the door, in case you have missed a cancellation communication, however unlikely this is.

Tips for watching sessions and helping my swimmer?

We encourage our swim families to take an interest in their swimmer’s progress, however you don’t necessarily need to watch every session. These are some important guidelines we would ask you to keep in mind:

  • Young swimmers like their parents approval, and to show them how well they are doing, however we ask you not to communicate with them or interrupt them during a practice, as this takes the focus away from what the coach is trying to achieve
  • Parents should not interrupt the coaches while they are coaching, unless in the case of emergency. If you need to communicate with a coach, please do so before or after training or contact them later. They will always be happy to speak with you.
  • Our coaches spend a considerable amount of time planning weekly training sessions for each of their squads. Each training set or instructional drill has a purpose and often builds on previous sets throughout the week. If you have not attended all training sessions, you may not understand the purpose of what the swimmers are doing on any given day.
  • Please do not try to coach your child based on what you see (or think you don’t see) him/her do. Many times when teaching stroke skills, the coaches ask our swimmers to do things that might not look correct or might actually be illegal according to the rules, but does have an important purpose in teaching skills (ie. swimming one-arm fly or breaststroke with a flutter kick). Please contact your child’s coach if you have any questions.
Can I go in the water with them?

No, the sessions are for the swimmers only. Parents are able to sit in the café areas of the pools to observe the sessions.

Costs

How much does it cost?

Swimming fees are paid monthly by standing order to the club account. The costs are worked out for each squad based on a membership element and a fee to cover the pool hire and coaching cost of the particular squad. Unfortunately, unlike some other sports such as football, athletics and hockey, swimming is not a cheap sport due to the pool hire costs. We calculate the costs over an entire year and divide this by 12 to get the monthly fee amount.

We only ever aim to break even on pool hire and coaching costs and raise other funds to subsidise the club’s expenditure.

Fees in 2020 start at £19.50 per month for Swim Skills and £37 per month for Minnows.

Is there a hardship fund?

The club is in the process of implementing a hardship fund to promote accessibility. In the first instance, any enquiries should be directed to our Membership Secretary after a successful trial

Coaches

Are all the coaches appropriately checked?

All of our coaching team and poolside helpers are members of the Scottish Amateur Swimming Association and are members of the PVG (Protection of Vulnerable Groups) scheme, having undergone the appropriate checks. We have child welfare officers on our committee with the relevant training and have a child protection policy in place. 

What training/qualifications do the coaches have?

All of our coaches are qualified to the appropriate UKCC level or equivalent and hold a lifeguarding qualification. Our coaches, under the lead of the head coach take all available and appropriate opportunities for mentoring and developing their skills and gaining CPD points/qualifications. They work with other clubs in the area and are often given the opportunity to attend regional and national coaching sessions

We actively promote coaching from our older swimmers, enabling them to gain qualifications and experience coaching younger swimmers.

Club Progression, Ethos & Reward

What is the squad structure and aim of each squad?

The club has the following squads, aimed at different stages of a swimmer’s development and ambition. Progress through the squads is based on achievement of specified goals and coach assessment. These goals and achievements have been set by our experienced coaches, and while we work with the parents on their swimmer’s progress, the club will defer to the coach’s experience and assessment for when swimmers are ready to move to the next squad.

  • Skills Squad (in partnership with Enjoy Leisure) – an intermediate step between the learn-to-swim program and our Minnows squad. The focus is on improving stamina and helping the swimmer become more confident in their ability.
  • Minnows Squad – focus on developing good technique in all strokes, learning new skills such as tumble turns and diving, introducing competition skills/experience and building stamina and fitness so that children become better, stronger, faster swimmers
  • Blue Fins – focus on improving technique, fitness and stamina and further developing their competition skills and speed, participating in competitions suitable to their age and ability.
  • Jack Macks – continue to work on technique, fitness and skills and is the main competition squad, aiming for East District level Competitions.
  • Marlins – designed to enable swimmers to continue training and focus on technique and train alongside Jack Macks. Swimmers can still compete but only when and if they choose.
  • East Lothian Swim Team (ELST) – a composite team of swimmers from Haddington, Musselburgh and Tranent clubs. This squad consists of our most talented, committed swimmers who have the ability and ambition to train for, and compete at East District, Scottish National and British National levels.
Is there a progression route?

Yes, there is a set progression through the squads based on a range of criteria involving technique, speed, stamina, competition entry and mindset, appropriate to the age and development of the swimmer.

How is progress rewarded?

Achievements and progress are individual to the swimmer, as development differs between children. The Club and the coaches help children to become the best swimmers that they can be, in a culture of fairness, where confidence is built and individual progress is celebrated. We celebrate improvement in technique as well as achieving personal best times.

We celebrate children having the confidence to join in a competition, as well as any medals gained. We are inclusive, supportive and encourage individuality. Our trusted coaches are there to guide swimmers through their training and support the swimmers as they endeavour to be the best swimmer, and the best club member they can be.

How is the club run?

We are fortunate to have an experienced and well-qualified coaching team supported by a number of volunteer coaching assistants, including a number of our senior swimmers.

Our committee is made up of dedicated volunteers who help deal with the finances, membership services, governance, organise Club competitions and complete external competition administration. The Club’s success is built on their dedication as well as the significant contribution of the parents who get involved, either on poolside or in other ways.

The club is affiliated to SASA (Scottish Amateur Swimming Association) and holds the swiMark accreditation, a quality aquatic development programme for clubs, providing a nationally recognised standard that will enable clubs to:

  • develop safe, effective and child friendly environments, based on good practice
  • improve swimmers, teachers, coaches and volunteers
  • encourage lifelong participation through sustainable swimming development pathways

We have a comprehensive handbook, policies and procedures and codes of conduct to ensure the smooth running of the club.

How does the club communicate with me?

We use Team App for all of our communications. An easy to use free app for smartphones, tablets and computers. We also send emails for specific communications if needed and make use of a newsletter and social media as well as a noticeboard at the Aubigny centre.

We also hold regular parents evenings and all coaches and committee members are contactable.

Are there other activities apart from the swimming?

Our club captains arrange social activities, and there are often squad specific team-building activities.

A major highlight of the club is our fantastic French Exchange which can be seen on our French Exchange page.

Competitions

When can my child start competing?

From the Minnows squad, our swimmers are encouraged to take part in competitions. These will be age appropriate and within a fun environment. Our swimmers are fully supported by the coaching team. 

Does my swimmer have to compete?

Haddington is a competitive club and so our swimmers are encouraged to compete, always in a supportive environment.

We would not force anyone to compete who didn’t want to, but we promote healthy competition and the benefits that can bring to children’s development.

Am I supported in the competition process?

We have full procedures in place and full details are provided once your child is in the club.

The Role Of The Parent/Carer In The Club

What is my role as a parent in the club?

To remain vibrant and successful, the clubs needs participation from all our parents. Those already involved are committed to the welfare of the swimmers and the club as a whole. But they also have an incredible sense of belonging.

Like all clubs, we achieve more as a team with the contributions of the parent/guardians and so we ask parents of swimmers to help out.

Training is always provided where needed and roles include timekeepers and swimming technical officials, committee roles, fundraising and social activity organisers.

Like the swimmers, all of these roles are issued with a clear code of conduct and all are expected to follow it always to ensure we maintain our inclusive, supportive and respectful approach towards members & swimmers.

Do I (as the parent/carer) have to get involved?

We appreciate we all have busy lives, so participation and involvement may not always be possible, but the club is always appreciative of any involvement, no matter how large or small. 

How do I get involved as a parent?

There are many ways to get involved including fundraising, marshalling at competitions or helping out for specific projects and events being run by the club.   As part of the Club’s participation in competitions, we must provide a certain number of these officials.

Timekeeping is the best and easiest first step, with a simple 2-hour training session. We pay for this training and provide on-going mentoring and it’s a great way to get to know how the club and competitions are run.

Do I (as the parent/carer) need to stay on the premises while my child is swimming?

Staying on the premises means you can see your swimmer’s progress and get to know other parents and families, and perhaps get more involved in the club. However, it is not likely you will stay for every session. Our coaches have up to date contact details so that parents can leave the premises and be contacted if needed.