Neighborhood swim team is a big thing around here. A lot of the neighborhoods are what’s called “swim/tennis” neighborhoods, meaning…they have a pool and tennis courts. People want to live in a swim/tennis. We do. I must admit, it is very nice to know we have a pool we can go to that is very close any time we want without the hassle of having to keep it up. You do have to share, but that’s fun too.
Over the summer, a lot of the swim/tennis neighborhoods have swim teams. And then all the hoods compete against each other. The meets are a good example of organized chaos. They are lots of fun though, hot, sticky, long (ours start at 6 and often goes to 10…that’s withOUT a rain/thunder delay) but fun. It’s all of June. Practice everyday. One meet a week. It’s great exercise and entertainment for my kids.
All my kids swim. And they do pretty well. They usually at least place in every race and often get 1st. We have a lot of those pretty blue ribbons at our house. And yes, there are winners and losers at swim team. None of this, everybody gets a blue ribbon business. And they don’t like losing. However, losing is a good motivator.
Anyhow, as a photographer, you would think I’d have tons of pics of my kids at swim meets. I don’t. I only managed to take my camera out at one meet this year. Parents usually have to volunteer for 1/2 of the meet. So between all the socializing and the helping out, there isn’t really much time for picture taking.
I did want to show a few pics I took this last meet and share with you some tips on how to take good swim and/or action shots. Swim pictures are hard. Their face is in the water 1/2 the time and they are moving so fast. And then there is all that splashing around. So hopefully these tips will help you out a bit.
Tip #1. To get good, sharp swim pics, it does help to have a “real” camera. Meaning, not your phone. Ya, that phone pic you took looks pretty darn good on that 3×2 inch screen, but blow it up a tid. Maybe not so good anymore.
Tip #2. Use a higher shutter speed. At least 200 and maybe 250. You will have to play around with what works best for your lighting situation. You don’t want too bright, but you want it fast enough to freeze the action. Take some practice shots while they are warming up. See what works best.
Tip #3. Set your camera on continuous focus. They are moving so fast, you need to have your camera on a mode that will keep shifting the focus to your subject as it moves. That’s a good tip for those of you with toddlers too. In my experience, toddlers rarely stop long enough for you to snap a pic, they are constantly on the go, so that continuous focus mode helps get sharper pics of them too.
Tip #4 Set your camera to click away mode. Don’t judge me because I can’t remember what the technical name is right now, but it’s that mode where if you hold down the clicker it’ll take pics in rapid succession. I have 2 such modes on my camera. One does rapid succession and one does crazy speed fire rapid succession. This is good for swim, since sometimes, it’s hard to snap quick enough when their head comes up out of the water. Even for me, when I was trying to shoot my daughter doing the breast stroke, I did not do rapid succession and managed to most gets pics as her head was already turned down, heading back under water.
Your camera might not have such a mode. If it doesn’t, that’s ok. As long as you have the shutter speed right and the continuous focus mode, you should be ok.
Here are a few from our last meet. I hope I helped and I hope you are not cussing me because I waited till most swim team seasons are over to post this.
*a little disclaimer…my oldest swims for her school during the year. They do not swim in little, outdoor, neighborhood pools. They swim in huge, olympic size natatoriums. You need a whole other set of tips and even equipment for these types of places, especially if you are trying to shoot from the stands.