Q: My daughter was kicked off her high-school swimming team for refusing to swim the 500-yard freestyle on a day when she was sick and injured.

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Q: My daughter was kicked off her high-school swimming team for refusing to swim the 500-yard freestyle on a day when she was sick and injured. The coach never returned my telephone calls and neither did the athletic director. What should I do next? The season is long over, but this still bothers me and my daughter may want to swim next year.


A: Call the principal or an assistant principal, but do some homework first. I’m surprised the athletic director never got back to you, but some ADs are inept and hide their heads in the sand to avoid problems. Ask fellow parents who are better acquainted than you with the school (such as a PTSA officer) which administrator is sharpest and most responsive. Then remember that face-to-face meetings have many times the impact of telephone conversations. (Paying attention, kids? This is today’s free life lesson: Face-to-face is the way to get anything important accomplished). Ask for a brief meeting. There probably are two sides to this, but at the least you are owed an explanation.


Q: What’s the deal with guys slapping hands with a teammate on the free-throw line even if he misses? What’s wrong with just shooting the ball and skipping the theatrics?


A: I’m with you. Unless it’s late in a close game, the free throw is one of the most boring plays in sports. What’s the first thing you don’t do in a pickup basketball game? You don’t shoot free throws, because they interrupt the flow of the game. This nonsense of making free throws a community event — with high fives and everything but kisses — is silly. A free throw is the equivalent of a 3-1/2-foot putt in golf. Take a deep breath, release the breath, aim either just over the front of the rim or at the back of the rim (your choice, but be consistent), and remember to follow through.


Year-end cleanup


This is the end-of-the-year notebook clean-out. Here are assorted things I found interesting and some personal observations:


* I once heard Frank Deford, the noted sportswriter, tell a Bellingham audience that performing in school plays did as much for his development in high school as playing high-school basketball. He also said tennis great Billy Jean King told him it bothered her that she never got to be on high-school teams in various sports when she was growing up because it was the pre-Title IX era and interscholastic team sports weren’t offered for girls.


* If I worked in a high school, I’d wash my hands every hour to try to avoid cold and flu germs. If I worked in an elementary school, I think I’d just tow a sink around with me.


* I think I’d rather clean stalls at Emerald Downs than be an assistant high-school principal in charge of discipline.


* The best sports day in the state is the Apple Cup. Just check out how much purple and crimson you see on customers in any grocery store in the state on the morning of the game.


* At one of the most memorable funerals I ever attended, the walk-out musical selection was the Washington State fight song. I still regret not recommending “Bow Down to Washington” for the same purpose when my cousin’s husband, a staunch Husky, died two years ago.


* Whether it’s the Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve, nothing is a bigger waste of time than watching fireworks on television.


Have a question about high-school sports? Craig Smith will find the answer every Tuesday in The Times. Ask your question in one of the following ways: Voice mail (206-464-8279), snail mail (Craig Smith, Seattle Times Sports, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111) or e-mail csmith@seattletimes.com