►Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)  
View commonly asked questions on a range of topics. If you have a question that is not listed, or have corrections, comments, and/or suggestions, email the Head Coach.
FAQ Topics
General Swim Team Questions 
Q: Why should my child swim?
A: There are many benefits to getting your child involved in competitive swimming, including:
  • Swimming promotes physical development.
  • Swimming develops aerobic endurance and is one of the most beneficial forms of cardiovascular exercise.
  • Swimming enhances a child’s natural flexibility and promotes muscle development.
  • Swimming develops superior coordination.
  • Swimming is the most injury-free of all children’s sports.
  • Swimming is a sport that will bring children fitness and enjoyment for life.
  • Swimming promotes time management and is one of the top academically achieving sports.
  • Swimming is an important safety skill for young children.
Q: What is the swim team and why would I want my child to participate?
A: It’s fun. It’s great exercise. It builds confidence. It’s a great way for your child to meet other kids in the neighborhood. It’s a great way for you to meet other parents.
Q: Who can answer my questions about the swim team?
A: Send your email questions to the Head Coach. Your question will be answered or we will direct you to the right person.
Q: What strokes do the swimmers use in competition?
A: Freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly.

Q: What swimming strokes does my child need to know to join the team?
A: If your child is 7 years or older and can
swim 25 yards (1 length of the pool) freestyle (crawl stroke) with side breathing, 25 yards backstroke, and have an understanding and basic recognizable form of the breaststroke or butterfly, then you can set up an appointment to have a coach give them an assessment. Contact our membership chair to set up an assessment.

Q: What is an assessment and what should I expect?
A: An assessment is an evaluation done by our coaching staff which will help us place the swimmer in the group that will match their age and ability level.  Each swimmer is different and may or may not be ready. The assessment will last about 10 minutes. Swimmers should be ready to swim with swimsuit, goggles, and a towel. If you are a senior level swimmer, please send an email
to the Head Coach with a list of your previous times.

Q: What to wear?
A: Swimmers should come to the assessment ready to swim. This includes:
  • Proper swim practice attire. Baggy shorts or ’beach wear’ are not acceptable.  Call or email if you are unsure what this means.
  • Goggles are mandatory, and a swim cap if the child needs one.
Q: I just want my child to learn how to swim better.   Do they have to swim in competition?
A: We are a competitive swim team, and swimming at meets is part of what we do. We like to use competition as a way to evaluate a swimmer’s progress using many different criteria, not just technique. For those who have never competed before, we do our best to make it fun. Most kids find that what at first seems scary, is actually a lot of fun!
Q: I see that there are different age groups for the swimmers. How does that work?
A: The age groups in competition are 8 & under, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-18, and Senior (usually 15 and older). Every other year your child will have a year when they “age up” and are the youngest in their division and a year when they are the oldest in their age group.
Q: What entities regulate the sport of competitive swimming for the team?
A: Pacific Northwest Swimming ( PNS ) and USA Swimming (USAS) are the governing bodies of competitive swimming in our area and the U.S.A. respectively.

Q: How can I join Bellingham Bay Swim Team?
A: Contact the membership chair and schedule an assessment. You can get a feel for which group might be right for your swimmer by visiting the Training Groups Descriptions page. The coach may ask you to attend a practice session to be evaluated. The practice times for all groups can be found on the Practice Schedule page.

If you’ve trained/competed under a previous USA Swimming-affiliated club, complete a Pacific Northwest Swimming ( PNS ) Transfer Form. Send this form along with your registration form to the BBST membership chair.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: BBST dues structure
Billing and Registration
Q: How do I register for BBST if I am a returning swimmer?
A: We are no longer registering swimmers with paper forms.  You should receive an email  that includes a login name and password.  If you have not received login instructions, please email us at [email protected]. Using the login information, go to the BBST website ( and click the sign-in button on the menu bar on the left.  This will allow you to review and update account and swimmer information.  Once we have received authorization from you to automatically deduct payments from your checking account via ACH withdrawal, or have received a check in the payment box inside the filing cabinet at the pool, we will consider you registered.
Q: How do I register for BBST if I am a new swimmer to the team?
If your child has never swum on a competitive team before, the best way to join BBST is to join our Summer League that runs from June to August.  Summer League is a great starting point for swimmers interested in year round swimming and this group offers lower swimmer/coach ratio and an excellent record of preparing kids for year round swimming. If you are interested in joining the Summer League, please follow the "Contact Us" on the left hand navigation bar.
Q: How much are practice dues?
A:  BBST dues schedule
Q: With the new on-line registration, do I still need to sign a hard copy of the liability form and code of conduct?
A:  No. This year we will be doing this by scheduling an “event” in the new on-line system.  You will receive an automated notice from the system to attend this event.  This will ask that you review the standard language and indicate your agreement. However, swimmers will have to sign an code of conduct agreement with their coaches at the beginning of each year.
Q: When and how do I receive my bill?
A: Every month on the night of the 20th prior to the actual billing month, an invoice is created online. All activity in the system at that time will appear on your invoice.  All other activity after the 20th will be on your next invoice the following month. In order to view your bill, log into the website using your email address provided by BBST.
Q: What does it mean when I receive an invoice email notification that says I have a balance due?
A: This means your BBST account had charges posted since the previous invoice and that you need to make a payment to BBST (if you have a balance of a zero or a credit, you don’t need to make any payments for that month).
Q: When are payments due to BBST?
A: Invoices are available to view online the 21st of each month. Payments are due on the 1st of the month.

Q: How do I make a payment to BBST?
A: There are two options to make a payment to BBST.  The first and most preferred is to set up the automated electronic billing system or ACH (Automated Check Handling) transaction. To set up, log on and click on the ‘Auto Pay’ link at the top, change payment method to automatically charge BANK ACCOUNT. Follow instructions to enter Bank Account on File. You Bank Account will be billed monthly on the 1st if there is a balance due. The alternative is to mail a check to:
Bellingham Bay Swim Team
PO BOX 5821 

Q: Where can I see the detailed charges on my account?
A: After you’ve logged on, go to ‘$ My Invoice/Payment’ tab. Under this tab, you can see current and past invoices and all payments you’ve made. You also can see any currently posted charges that haven’t yet been invoiced by going to the ’My Account’ tab as well.

Q: What kind of charges are posted to my BBST account?
A: All practice dues, meet entry fee charges, and BBST Service Hour Fees will be posted to your BBST billing account. Please note, that while it is unfortunate that a swimmer may become ill and unable to attend a meet, the member account is still responsible for those meet fees.

Q: How do I cancel my membership?
A: If you wish to cancel your membership, a written notice must be sent to your swimmer's coach AND to the Team Administrator at: [email protected] thirty (30) days prior to the billing month. If written notification is not received by then, you are responsible for the training fees for that month.
Q: What if my swimmer wants to take a break from swimming for a couple of months?
A: Due to the demand for lane space and membership, BBST no longer offers a hiatus option except in exceptional circumstances. Please speak to the treasurer if you have any questions.
Q: Who do I talk to if I have a question on my bill?
A: If you have a question on your bill, send your inquiry to the Team Administrator at: [email protected].
Website Operation
Q: I forgot my password! What do I do? 
A: On the "Sign-In" page, click the link and your password will be emailed to you. Your password will be auto-emailed to the email address on file with your members-only account.

Q: Can I change my password? 
A: Yes. After you sign in, click on "Change Password" near the top-right corner of the home page. Then type the new password and click submit. 

Q: How can I change my email address or other contact information?
A: After signing in, Click on "My Account" and change your personal information. Make sure to click "Save" at the bottom when you are done.

Q: Why require username/password to use the BBST website?
A: Members-only login protects private information.  Each family’s username and password allows access to their specific family account. Some portions of the website are activated by signing-in and are viewable only by registered Bellingham Bay Swim Team families. 

Q: Do I need a username/password for each family member?
A: No. Membership is set up as ONE ACCOUNT PER FAMILY. A family account can cover multiple swimmers in that family.

Q: Sometimes, some of the choices on the top navigation bar of the website are missing. How do I see them?
A: Some parts of the website are visible only after you sign-in.

Q: How can I get a Member Directory?
A: First, you must sign-in with your member name and password. Then, click the "Members" tab under the main navigation bar- this takes you to the Member Search page. Here you may look up individual members or groups. Swimmer names, parent names, street address, email address and home number are visible for all members who have not indicated a preference in the "My Account" page to not be listed. Note that if you are not listed you can not see the directory either. In this section, you can also direct email any viewable BBST family member. When you are viewing the member search results, click on the postal letter graphic to launch the email tool.
Q: How do I enter a meet online?
A: See ‘Online Meet Entries’
Volunteer Hours (Service Hours)
Q: Do I need to meet a volunteer service hour requirement?
A: Each family is required to fulfill 50 hours of volunteer service. As our team has grown, the opportunities to meet this requirement have increased significantly. Currently we offer the following: Bellingham Bay Marathon, October Challenge Meet, Winter Challenge Meet, Spring Provisional Meet, Aly Fell 5 K Open Water and a host of smaller events including banquets, potlucks and team building events. We can find a way for you to meet your volunteer hours. Please speak to the volunteer coordinator listed on our Contacts page.
Q:  How do I track my family’s progress at meeting our Service Hour commitment?
A:  You can do this easily after you log into the Members section of the site.  Follow these instructions:  1) Sign into the members section of the web site.  2) Click "$ My Invoice/Payment" in the left column.  3) Click the "Volunteer Hours" tab.  4) Review your obligation, history of work performed, and Hours balance.  ’Click here’ for these instructions together with screen shots of what you can expect to see.
Swim Team Practices
Q: How do I know which training group is right for my child?
A: Returning swimmers will receive information regarding changes to their assigned training group. New swimmers will begin with  Bronze group unless they have significant USA Swimming Club experience, in which case they will be evaluated and placed according to space and skills/abilities. For a coach-to-parent discussion of your child’s needs please contact your child's coach (see "coaches" page) by email.

Q: When are practices for my child?
A: The Practice Schedule page shows the practice times for all training groups.
Swim Meet Officials
Q: What steps are involved in becoming an official?
A: By following these steps:
  • Attending an Apprentice Swimming Official Clinic
  • Taking the written PNS /USA Swimming Official test
  • USA swimming Non-Athlete registration
  • Background check
  • USA Swimming Athlete Protection online seminar
  • Finishing a minimum of ten (10) apprentice sessions within a year
Q: Do officials get paid?
A: Officials do not receive monetary funds for working at meets, but on their death bed, they will receive total consciousness (so, they got that going for them...which is nice)
.   They also get volunteer service hours credit for the sessions they work, and the joy of contributing to the success of their son/daughter's favorite sport.

Q: How often do I have to work if I am an official?
A: You are required to work a minimum of 4 sessions per year to maintain certification.

Q: Who can I contact for more information on becoming an official?
A: Please contact the Head Coach.
Swim Meets
Q: Where do I find information on upcoming swim meets that my child may be eligible to enter?
A: Refer to our Meets / Events tab at the top menu for all dates, eligibility, forms, travel information, and results. There is also a season at a glance schedule found under the "Team Information" tab on the BBST website.
Q: What can we expect at a swim meet?
A: Swim Meet Survival Guide and Everything you ever wanted to know....
Q: What are the different types of meets and time standards?
A: Challenge Meets
 are competitions hosted on a rotating basis by teams affiliated with the Pacific Northwest Swimming organization.  They are designed to support a wide range of swimming abilities and comprise the majority of the meets our young swimmers participate in.
Swimmers at Challenge Meets are awarded placing, points and ribbons based on 2 factors.
1) Their race time in an event
2) Their entry (or "seed") time (Gold, Silver or Bronze)
Time Standards are set times used for determining eligibility in a meet. Most are minimum times a swimmer must surpass in order to enter that event, but some meets use de-qualifying times to exclude faster swimmers from a meet.
Time standards, when they apply, are usually included in the official meet information for each meet. Be sure to read the meet information for each meet to determine if the qualification times are met before declaring your swimmer’s Intent-To-Participate.  If your swimmer is very close to a time standard, consult his/her coach to determine if the meet is appropriate for your swimmer.
Types of meets:
Intra-squad Meet:
 Competition among team members.
Dual Meet: Meet between two teams.
Special Meet: Non-championship meets offered by PNS teams.
Challenge Meet: One of a round robin of team competitions regularly scheduled for all participating PNSswim teams. Open to all ability levels. 
Senior: Open to all swimmers (usually older). A time standard may be used.
Pacific Northwest Swimming Championships: Open to all PNS swimmers who meet the times standards.  PNS Champs meets are held in December and July in Federal Way .
Age Group Sectionals: Open to all USA Swimming registered Age Group swimmers within a Region who meet the time standards.  Held during the month of March.  
Senior Sectionals: Open to all USA Swimming registered swimmers within a Section who meet the time standards.  Held in March and July, age groups do not apply. 
Western Zones: Open to all USA Swimming registered swimmers within a Zone who meet the time standards.  Held during the month of August.
U.S. Open: Open to all USA Swimming registered swimmers who meet the time standards.
USA National Championships: Open to all USA Swimming registered swimmers who meet the time standards.
USA Olympic Trials: Open to all USA Swimming registered swimmers who meet the time standards.
Pacific Northwest Swimming ( PNS ) is our local swimming committee (LSC) which operates under the direction of USA Swimming.  PNS is one of 59 LSC within USA Swimming and covers the Western Washington area.