Swim Groups

The Rockford Marlins Swim Club welcomes swimmers of all ages and ability levels. Whatever your goals in this great sport of swimming, RMSC has dedicated coaches and training plans that can work for you. The Swim Group descriptions below serve as a high-level overview, and are not meant to be all-inclusive. Multiple levels of swimmer development exist within each of these groups. Coaches will assign the swimmer to the appropriate training group based on age and experience.


White Marlins

Designed to bridge the gap between lessons and competitive swimming and with our youngest swimmers in mind, the emphasis of the White Marlins group is teaching the basics of the four competitive strokes along with the fundamentals of competitive swimming, while fostering a love for the sport. To qualify, swimmers must be able to float on their stomach and back, as well as demonstrate the ability to swim at least one length of the pool (25 yards) with minimal assistance.

Swimmers will receive instruction on proper kicking, body position, arm motion and breathing in all four strokes. Swimmers at this level will not partake in competition but will focus efforts on improvement of proper stroke technique as they work toward moving up to the next level. The White Marlins practice with an in-water coach for 45 minutes, a maximum of two practices per week.

Black Marlins

The Black Marlins group is for the beginning competitive swimmer and is the second level of our swim club. Swimmers who are just starting out in the sport typically fall into the Black Marlins group. Practices are designed to teach the four competitive strokes and other competitive skills through drilling and fun activities, along with competitive turns and racing dives. To qualify, swimmers must be able to swim multiple lengths of the pool (25 yards) without stopping, in both freestyle and backstroke, and perform basic rotary breathing. They must be confident in the water and be able to work well with others in a group setting.

Swimmers will begin to learn the use of the pace clock and begin swimming sets. Swimmers will continue to improve body position in the water, kicking, breathing and arm motions while learning proper turns and finishes of all four strokes. Swimmers in this group are also encouraged to start participating in meets. The Black Marlins practice for one hour, a maximum of three practices per week. Dryland training may also be offered for this group.

Blue Marlins

The Blue Marlins group is for swimmers age 9-11 who have mastered the necessary skills to advance from the Black Marlins group. Executing proper stroke technique within the four competitive strokes is still a primary focus in the Blue Marlins group, and more emphasis is placed on swimming sets. This group will also begin to focus on higher level aerobic training as well as other energy systems.

Goal setting and race strategy are introduced to swimmers and dryland training may be offered. Swimmers at this level are highly encouraged to participate in swim meets. The Blue Marlins practice for one hour and 15 minutes, a maximum of five practices per week. Swimmers in this group should attend at least four practices per week.

Silver Marlins

The Silver Marlins group is intended for swimmers age 11-18. This is a dual-track program designed for swimmers who are both newer to the sport in this age group, and those who are already competitive swimmers determined to take their swimming to the next level or those who are seasonal swimmers or multi-sport athletes. The objective of this group for the recreational swimmer is to build endurance, refine swim stroke mechanics and work towards swimming success in local, regional, Middle School and High School competition. The competitive track swimmers will refine swim stroke mechanics and work towards becoming elite-level High School swimmers, and begin thinking about collegiate or national level USA Swimming goals. A stronger emphasis is placed on the conditioning of energy systems from previous groups. Swimmers continue to incorporate dryland on a regular basis. Goal setting and end-of-season focus are constantly reinforced.

Silver Marlins swimmers will truly master practice habits needed to be a successful swimmer, such as starts, turns, finishes, kicking and proper stroke technique. These swimmers are committed athletes and continually work hard at practices, attending as many as possible. Meet participation is strongly encouraged. The Silver Marlins group practices for one and a half hours, up to six days per week.  Swimmers in this group should attend at least three to four practices per week depending on track.

Gold Marlins

The Gold Marlins group is designed for the competitive swimmer age 11 and over who is prepared for and seeking a highly structured and demanding program of training and competition. Eligibility for Gold Marlins is based on a combination of attendance, practice set requirements, Championship meet times, swim meet participation and/or Head Coach’s discretion. The emphasis of this group is continued development of energy systems and stroke technique with a high level of conditioning. The Gold Marlins group is made up of swimmers who continue to excel in local, regional and state level USA Swimming and High School competition, and swimmers who continue to take steps toward advancing to the National Team level.

Gold Marlins swimmers have shown dedication to the sport of swimming and are willing to make the commitment to be the best they can be. Meet participation is required. These swimmers train six days a week, up to eight practices per week, during fall, winter and spring for 2-3 hours each practice. The standard training regimen includes morning practices, varied dryland training, technique instruction and video sessions. During the summer and select holidays, morning practices are offered as doubles, and this group may swim up to eleven practices per week. Swimmers in this group should attend at least 80% of practices each week during the school year (Swimmers falling below this level will be moved to the Silver Marlins group) and eight practices per week in the summer.

National Team

The National Team is the highest level within the swim club. Swimmers in this group are consistent in their work ethic and commitment to the sport of swimming and to our club. The focus of this group is excellence at the national level, with added emphasis on developing leadership skills. More specific training is done based on stroke and distance (sprint, mid-distance, distance, IM). Endurance training, race strategies, mental preparation, video work and a comprehensive dryland training routine are all incorporated into the standard training regimen.

Most athletes in this group go on to collegiate level swimming. All swimmers in this group are expected to compete for the Rockford Marlins in the highest level meet for which they qualify. This group trains six days per week with eight to eleven 2.5 to 3 hour practices, including morning practices, dryland training and group meetings as required. Additional qualifications for admittance into this group include:

  • At least one qualifying time for Speedo Sectionals, Junior Nationals, Nationals, or the Olympic Trials
  • Minimum of 90% practice attendance (Swimmers falling below this level will be moved to the Seniors Gold group)
  • Head Coach recommendation and invitation

High School Prep

The High School Prep program is an eight-week summer training program available to the swimmer who has completed 8th grade and is enrolled or plans to enroll in a High School swim program during the next academic year. The emphasis of this program is on development of energy systems and stroke technique with a high level of conditioning. All swimmers will be grouped within appropriate age and ability levels through an assessment at the beginning of the program.

Athletes in this group are not traditionally year-round swimmers. To be eligible for this special program, the swimmer must not have been a member of the Rockford Marlins Swim Club within the previous calendar year. USA Swimming registration is required for student-athletes who are not attending High School in Rockford Public Schools District 205. The High School Prep group practices up to five days per week for 90 minutes each practice.