SAIL of Greenville
Swim Association Invitational League
Greenville, South Carolina
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Historical heat sheets from the Ancient Days posted!
Take a look and see who was in SAIL in the 70s and 80s!

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SAIL Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does SAIL stand for?

Swim Association Invitational League

When did SAIL get started?

SAIL marks its founding in 1964 at a swim meet including nearly 300 swimmers between Stone Lake, McCarter, Botany Woods, and Chetsu held under the direction of the Greenville Parent-Youth Association (PYA). PYA (sponsored by Greenville's Junior League and Area III PTA Council) had been organized a year earlier with the goal of providing "wholesome" recreation activities for young people.

Who is the "Father of SAIL"?

Willard Metcalf is credited with starting SAIL. In 1964 he was PYA's recreation chairmain and a former collegiate swimmer. By 1967 ten neighborhood pools were participating in the PYA summer swim meets - Botany Woods, Croftstone, Gower Estates, Greenville County Club, McCarter, McForest, Northside Gardens, Stone Lake, Wade Hampton Gardens, and Wellington Green. SAIL was created as its own entity at a meeting in September 1967. Mr. Metcalf chaired the meeting that included Bruce Buchanan, Dotty Hartnett, Jack Wightman, Betty Blanck, Gloria Banks, Ben Baggott, Bruce Parsons, and Bill Sondley.

How fast did SAIL grow?

According to Mr. Metcalf, four pools were involved in 1964, ten pools in 1967, 21 in 1975 and 26 in 1984. Today 39 pools participate with approximately 4,100 swimmers involving more than 1,500 families. The teams were organized in three divisions (red, white, and blue) in the early 1970s, with a green division created in 1976. The gold division was added in 1982 followed by the purple in 1992.

How were SAIL's bylaws created?

Jane Callaway, SAILs first president, wrote the league's first official bylaws. The objective was to increase order and efficiency while ensuring standardized rules, officiating, and record-keeping.

What is the difference between Divisionals, Championships, and Classics?

Each SAIL division (there are currently six divisions with five or six teams) holds a swim meet in which all teams in that division compete as a team for the Metcalf Cup (most points earned by their team) and the Quality Points award (team points divided by number of swimmers). The results from all of the division meets are combined as if it was one meet to identify the fastest 40 swimmers in each event to compete individually in Classics (top 16 swimmers) and Championships (next fastest 24 swimmers).

What is "Bloody Sunday"?

During SAIL's first three decades, the record-keeping was done entirely by hand, utilizing time cards. Each swimmer had a card that followed them thoughout a meet, for recording race results. After the divisional meets, these cards were sorted by age group and time to determine who was eligible for Championship/Classic and how to seed the heats. From early Sunday morning to well past dark over 50 volunteers sorted, stacked, and laid out cards on seeding grids - and then everything had to be typed, rushed to the printer, and delivered to the coaches by Monday morning.

Why does SAIL allow year-round swimmers to compete with summer-only swimmers?

Many see the SAIL program as an introduction to competitive swimming. Some kids find they like swimming and pursue it year-round, many decide swimming is not their thing at all, and most just stick with summer swimming until summer jobs and other interests take them away. Nevertheless, we believe the exposure is to swimming through SAIL is extraordinarily valuable (if not perfect). SAIL is much more than Championships and Classics. It's giving our children a structured activity in the summer. It's teaching them the discipline to get up every day and go to practice, to participate in the meets, be mentored by older kids, and to support their team even though they may not be the fastest swimmers. It also gives them the opportunity to learn to swim well without the commitment that the year round teams require. Finally, it helps to develop a sense of community as the swimmers and their parents come together once a year and work toward a common goal as well as have fun together.

Most year-round swimmers dearly love to swim for (and with) their neighborhood friends during the summer. We would have a hard time telling them they are too good for that opportunity. We are aware that (at least during the 1960s) SAIL did not allow some swimmers to compete. They prohibited a swimmer who placed high in that year’s AAU meets. This, ironically, prevented the only Greenville swimmer who ever made an US Olympic swim team to compete in SAIL when he was 9 years old – not a mistake that we wish to repeat.

Why do we need to complete the intent to swim form for Championships and Classics? It seems a bit overkill to have to commit (or risk paying a $25 fine) for something that is supposed to be fun for kids. We would like for our children to swim if they qualify, but also know that there is a possibility we will be out of town that weekend (we won't know until that week).

Managing the C&C meets requires the cooperation of almost 4,000 participants. All swimmers who earn their spot in this meet are encouraged to participate. However, when unable to compete for any reason, we want to allow other swimmers to fill these limited spots. A scratch denies a swimmer an opportunity and leaves an empty lane diminishing the quality of the meet. Therefore, it is imperative that all swimmers make a commitment to swim (or not) in C&C by an announced date. A swimmer scratching after that date incurs a meaningful fine.