Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct 

Howard County Aquatics 

Code Conduct 

Howard County Aquatics (HCA) has experienced, professional coaches working to develop our children into better swimmers and at the same time teaching and instilling important life skills. These skills include time management, self-discipline, perseverance, and sportsmanship. Your swimmer will reap the benefits of swimming long after their participation with HCA ends. 

As the parent of an HCA swimmer, you agree to follow the rules for behavior and sportsmanship. 

• Set a good example. Show respect and be polite to EVERYONE. 

• Have your swimmer arrive early to allow the swimmer time to prepare for practices and meets. 

• Help your swimmer to organize their time so that they will be successful in school and in the pool. Attendance is essential to experiencing success in the pool. 

• Demonstrate good sportsmanship. Win gracefully. Lose graciously. Congratulate our opponent(s). 

• Assume the best from coaches and officials. We all want to see your swimmers succeed and meet their individual goals. 

• While at FA functions, facilities and meets always represent the team in a positive and respectful manner. 

Know your Role 

• Swimmers - swim. Coaches - coach. Officials - officiate. Parents - parent. 

• Love your kids with positive reinforcement and encouragement. 

• Do not coach your child at practice or during meets. 

• Parents shall refrain from disrupting the practice in any way. Parents are not allowed to talk to their swimmer or interrupt practice unless an emergency or immediate safety concern, as this disrupts the entire group and focus of the practice session. 

• During competitions, questions or concerns regarding swimmers will be addressed at the end of the meet when the coach is no longer on deck. 

• If you have a concern about your swimmer, please make arrangements to meet with the coach after practice. 

• Pay all registration fees, re-occurring dues, meet fees, and travel expenses on time. 

Meet Etiquette 

• Respond in a timely manner for meet entries. The coaching staff has final approval on each swimmer’s meet entries. 

• Show up to the meet early to ensure your swimmer has time to check in and relax before their swims. 

• Questions about a disqualification? Direct your questions to the coach. Do not approach officials at a meet. 

• Do not step onto the pool deck, unless registered with USA swimming and you are officiating or timing. 

• Hold a positive image for our team. Wear our Logo! Keep setting that good example. 

Get Involved! 

• Become a USA Swimming Official. 

• Help plan a group social. 

• Volunteer at meets. Every meet requires a number of volunteers from each team to operate smoothly. Typically they will call for timer volunteers before the start of the meet. This is an easy job and allows you to watch the meet from right at the water’s edge. 

All policies set forth in the USA Swimming Code of Conduct (Article 304-306) apply to HCA Parents, Guardians and Visitors. 

If you should conduct yourself in a manner that brings discredit or discord to HCA or USA Swimming, you subject yourself to disciplinary action. HCA maintains the right to suspend or terminate any membership with or without cause. 

Howard County Aquatics Swimmer Code of Conduct 

As an HCA swimmer, you represent the club at practice, swim meets as well as outside of the pool. Swimmers agree to follow the rules for behavior and sportsmanship representing HCA with excellence, respect for others, team spirit, good sportsmanship, and politeness. 

Show respect and be polite to EVERYONE. 

• Respect the property of HCA and of others. Do not use others’ property without their permission. 

• Do not steal or vandalize anything that doesn’t belong to you. 

• Do not use profanity or foul language. Do not make ugly comments to others. Do not lie. 

• Do not behave in a manner that makes coaches or other swimmers uncomfortable (public displays of affection, sexual harassment, bullying). 

• Do not hit, trash talk or belittle other team mates, competitors or coaches. 

• While at HCA functions, facilities and meets always represent the team in a positive and respectful manner. 

Swim Practice Etiquette 

• Arrive on time to practices and meets. 

• Show respect for coaches. 

• Listen to coaches and follow their direction. 

• Do not disrupt your coach or bother others in your lane. 

• Practice good sportsmanship and encourage teammates. 

• Promote team spirit. 

Meet Etiquette 

• Wear your HCA swim cap

• Show up to the meets on time for check in. 

• Demonstrate good sportsmanship. Win gracefully. Lose graciously. Congratulate and encourage our opponents. 

• See your coach before and after your races. 

• Questions about a disqualification? Talk to your coach. Do not approach officials at a meet. 

• All swimmers qualified for finals (including consolation finals) are expected to compete unless approved by the Head Coach or Age Group Head Coach. 

• Swimmers will not scratch events for any meets without coach approval. Swimmers will not declare false starts or intentionally no-show for an event. 

• Remember to be a positive representative HCA


Prohibited Behavior 

• Use or possession of drugs, firearms, alcohol, tobacco, or any other hazardous substances. 

• Theft. 

• No rough-housing of any kind including but not limited to while in the pool, on deck and in the locker rooms. 

• Any demonstration of disrespect to property or individuals (vandalism, bullying, harassment). 

• Anything that is against our governing body’s rules: IN Swimming or USA Swimming. 

All policies set forth in the USA Swimming Code of Conduct (Article 304-306) apply to HCA swimmers/athletes. 

If you violate these codes or behave in a manner that brings discredit or discord to HCA or USA Swimming, you may be subject to disciplinary action. HCA maintains the right to suspend or terminate any membership with or without cause. 

Code of Conduct Violations 

Parents, Guardians, and Visitors The coaches/board members have the authority to impose the following penalties for violation of the Howard County Aquatics of Conduct. Based on the severity of the violation, penalties include, but are not limited to, the following: 

• Conversation with coach/board member about appropriate behavior and Code of Conduct. 

• The parent/guardian/spectator will be removed from a practice or meet. 

• The parent/guardian/spectator will be banned from HCA activities for the remainder of the season. 

• The parent/guardian/spectator will be banned from all future HCA actives. 

Swimmers The coaches/board members have the authority to impose the following penalties for violation of the Howard County Aquatics Code of Conduct. Based on the severity of the violation, penalties include, but are not limited to, the following: 

• The swimmer will be given a verbal warning. 

• The swimmer will be removed from practice in addition to a verbal warning and the coach will contact the parent. 

• The swimmer will need to be accompanied by a parent at practice for four (4) consecutive practices. 

• Major violations and/or ongoing disciplinary problems will result in the swimmer being suspended for one (1) week. 

• Severe violations and/or ongoing disciplinary problems will result in the swimmer being removed from the club for the remainder of the season. 

Howard County Aquatics will not issue any financial refunds or credits when swimmers are suspended or removed from the team due to Code of Conduct violations. 

Coaches/Board members have full discretion to assess the severity of any Code of Conduct violations and associate the appropriate penalty. 


Anti-Bullying Policy 

Howard County Aquatics is committed to providing a caring, friendly and safe environment for all our members so they can swim in a relaxed and secure atmosphere. Bullying of any kind is unacceptable at Howard County Aquatics and will not be tolerated. Bullying is counter-productive to team spirit and can be devastating to a victim. If bullying does occur, all athletes and parents should know that incidents will be dealt with promptly and effectively. Anyone who knows that bullying is happening is expected to tell a coach, board member or athlete/mentor. Objectives of the Club’s Bullying Policy and Action Plan: 

• To make it clear that the Club will not tolerate bullying in any form. 

• To define bullying and give all board members, coaches, parents and swimmers a good understanding of what bullying is. 

• To make it known to all parents, swimmers and coaching staff that there is a policy and protocol should any bullying issues arise. 

• To make how to report bullying clear and understandable. If you see something, say something. 

• To spread the word that HCA takes bullying seriously and that all swimmers and parents can be assured that they will be supported when bullying is reported. 

If bullying occurs at the club or it is reported to be occurring at our club, Howard County Aquatics will address the bullying by finding out what happened and supporting the kids involved by following the Howard County Aquatics Action Plan to Address Bullying procedures. 

WHAT IS BULLYING? The USA Swimming Code of Conduct prohibits bullying. Generally, bullying is the use of aggression, whether intentional or not, which hurts another person. Bullying results in pain and distress. 

The USA Swimming Code of Conduct defines bullying in 304.3.7. Bullying is the severe or repeated use by one or more USA Swimming members of oral, written, electronic or other technological expression, image, sound, data or intelligence of any nature (regardless of the method of transmission), or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at any other member that to a reasonably objective person has the effect of: 

• Causing physical or emotional harm to the other member or damage to the other member’s property; 

• Placing the other member in reasonable fear of harm to himself/herself or of damage to his/her property; 

• Creating a hostile environment for the other member at any USA Swimming activity; 

• Infringing on the rights of the other member at any USA Swimming activity; or 

• Materially and substantially disrupting the training process or the orderly operation of any USA Swimming activity (which for the purposes of this section shall include, without limitation, practices, workouts and other events of a member club or LSC). 

REPORTING PROCEDURE An athlete who feels that he or she has been bullied is asked to do one or more of the following things: 

• Talk to your parents; 

• Talk to a Club Coach, Board Member, or other designated individual; 

• Write a letter or email to the Club Coach, Board Member, or other designated individual; 

• Make a report to the USA Swimming Safe Sport staff. 

There is no express time limit for initiating a complaint under this procedure, but every effort should be made to bring the complaint to the attention of the appropriate club leadership as soon as possible to make sure that memories are fresh and behavior can be accurately recalled and the bullying behavior can be stopped as soon as possible. 

HOW WE HANDLE BULLYING If bullying is occurring during HCA related activities, we STOP BULLYING ON THE SPOT using the following steps: 

1. Intervene immediately. It is ok to get another adult to help. 2. Separate the kids involved. 3. Make sure everyone is safe. 4. Meet any immediate medical or mental health needs. 5. Stay calm. Reassure the kids involved, including bystanders. 6. Model respectful behavior when you intervene. 

If bullying is occurring at our club or it is reported to be occurring at our club, we address the bullying by FINDING OUT WHAT HAPPENED and SUPPORTING THE KIDS INVOLVED using the following approach: 


1. First, we get the facts. 

a. Keep all the involved children separate. b. Get the story from several sources, both adults and kids. c. Listen without blaming. d. Don’t call the act “bullying” while you are trying to understand what happened. e. It may be difficult to get the whole story, especially if multiple athletes are involved or 

the bullying involves social bullying or cyber bullying. Collect all available information. 2. Then, we determine if it's bullying. There are many behaviors that look like bullying but require different approaches. It is important to determine whether the situation is bullying or something else.

 a. Review the USA Swimming definition of bullying; 

b. To determine if the behavior is bullying or something else, consider the following questions: 

i. What is the history between the kids involved? ii. Have there been past conflicts? iii. Is there a power imbalance? Remember that a power imbalance is not limited to 

physical strength. It is sometimes not easily recognized. If the targeted child feels like there is a power imbalance, there probably is. iv. Has this happened before? Is the child worried it will happen again? c. Remember that it may not matter “who started it.” Some kids who are bullied may be seen 

as annoying or provoking, but this does not excuse the bullying behavior. d. Once you have determined if the situation is bullying, support all of the kids involved. 


3. Support the kids who are being bullied 

a. Listen and focus on the child. Learn what’s been going on and show you want to help. 

Assure the child that bullying is not their fault. b. Work together to resolve the situation and protect the bullied child. The child, parents, and fellow team members and coaches may all have valuable input. It may help to: i. Ask the child being bullied what can be done to make him or her feel safe. 

Remember that changes to routine should be minimized. He or she is not at fault and should not be singled out. For example, consider rearranging lane assignments for everyone. If bigger moves are necessary, such as switching practice groups, the child who is bullied should not be forced to change. ii. Develop a game plan. Maintain open communication between the Club and parents. Discuss the steps that will be taken and how bullying will be addressed going forward. c. Be persistent. Bullying may not end overnight. Commit to making it stop and consistently support the bullied child. 

4. Address bullying behavior 

a. Make sure the child knows what the problem behavior is. Young people who bully must learn their behavior is wrong and harms others.

b. Show kids that bullying is taken seriously. Calmly tell the child that bullying will not be tolerated. Model respectful behavior when addressing the problem. 

c. Work with the child to understand some of the reasons he or she bullied. For example: 

i. Sometimes children bully to fit in or just to make fun of someone is a little different from them. In other words, there may be some insecurity involved. ii. Other times kids act out because something else—issues at home, abuse, stress— is going on in their lives. They also may have been bullied. These kids may be in need of additional support. d. Involve the kid who bullied in making amends or repairing the situation. The goal is to help them see how their actions affect others. For example, the child can: 

i. Write a letter apologizing to the athlete who was bullied.

 ii. Do a good deed for the person who was bullied, for the Club, or for others in your community. 

iii. Clean up, repair, or pay for any property they damaged. 

d.. Avoid strategies that don’t work or have negative consequences: 

i. Zero tolerance or “three strikes, you’re out” strategies don’t work. Suspending or removing from the team swimmers who bully does not reduce bullying behavior. Swimmers may be less likely to report and address bullying if suspension or getting kicked off the team is the consequence.

 ii. Conflict resolution and peer mediation don’t work for bullying. Bullying is not a conflict between people of equal power who share equal blame. Facing those who have bullied may further upset kids who have been bullied.

 e. Follow--?]up. After the bullying issue is resolved, continue finding ways to help the child who bullied to understand how what they do affects other people. For example, praise acts of kindness or talk about what it means to be a good teammate.

 5. Support bystanders who witness bullying. Every day, kids witness bullying. They want to 

help, but don’t know how. Fortunately, there are a few simple, safe ways that athletes can help stop bullying when they see it happening. 

a. Be a friend to the person being bullied; 

b. Tell a trusted adult – your parent, coach, or club board member; 

c. Help the kid being bullied get away from the situation. Create a distraction, focus the 

attention on something else, or offer a way for the target to get out of the situation. “Let’s go, practice is about to start.” 

d. Set a good example by not bullying others.

 e. Don’t give the bully an audience. Bullies are encouraged by the attention they get from bystanders. If you do nothing else, just walk away. 

Source: – a federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services 

A full copy of the Howard County Aquatics Anti-Bullying Policy can be found on our website at under the documents section. 



The Club Handbook, Policies & Code of Conduct may be obtained electronically on Howard Countys Aquatics website.

(Swimmer Name) (Parent/Guardian Name) 

Do hereby acknowledge that I have read the CLUB HANDBOOK, POLICIES, & CODE OF CONDUCT of Howard County Aquatics, and do agree to comply with the statements contained therein. 

Club Handbook Financial Responsibilities (included in Handbook) Liability Waiver Medical Waiver Code of Conduct Anti-Bullying Policy Travel Policy Transportation Policy Electronic Communications Policy Locker Room Policy Photo & Video Policy 

(Signature of Swimmer) Date 

(Signature of Parent/Guardian) Date 

Signature page must be returned to your swimmer’s coach by no later than the first Friday of practice for each season or the swimmer will not be allowed in the water for practice.

Revised 5/2020