If you would like to build on your summer success by continuing to swim in the fall and winter months, there are several options available to you. Though more practice will generally result in the biggest improvements, that does NOT mean that families have to make a huge commitment to year-round swimming.
For many, enthusiasm for competitive swimming is at a high at the end of the summer. And why not? Summer swimming is a lot of fun! Even if you have no ambitions beyond JRAC swimming, the coaches recommend regular swimming in the fall and winter as a way to maintain some level of swimming fitness and feel for the water. Even swimming seriously once per week is FAR better than staying out of the water for nine months.
Swimming is a technical sport, and one of the best ways to improve is to increase your efficiency. Many Ridgetop swimmers report success with the UR Swim Clinics. As a former UR swimmer, coach Mali has a lot of knowledge of the specifics of these clinics and you are welcome to contact her for more information. I have swum with UR coach Matt Barany for a couple summers and have a lot of respect for his expertise; highly recommended.
If you also want to join a year-round swim team, there are basically two types of options. The YMCA and JCC teams are perhaps a little more low-key than the ones below but still provide a good experience for many and a foundation for swimming next summer. The JCC hosts a USA-S club (the Dolphin Club) while the YMCA appears to have its own league. Coaches Emma and Kathryn have both spent some time on the Dolphin Club team, and other Ridgetop families have experience with both programs.
The Richmond area hosts a few other USA-S swim clubs; please check out the Virginia LSC page for more details and links to specific club websites. I think any of the local programs can provide a great experience, so perhaps logistics (location, practice times, carpool possibilities) should be the major factor determining an initial choice of club. There are several Ridgetop families with experience with both NOVA and Poseidon and I can put you in contact with them if you want more information than the club website shows. I encourage you also to talk to these or other local coaches and take advantage of any “trial” period that a club offers.
Let me know if you have any questions!