Barrington Handbook

Barrington Handbook - Summer 2021


Dear Swim Team Parents, 




Much of what is in this handbook has been inserted into the category sections of the website for quick reference.


We look forward to working with returning Blue Fins swimmers as well as our first timers.  Get ready for a fun and busy summer.  We have planned a season that encourages a healthy sense of competition and team spirit.  In addition to our Colonial Swim League meet schedule, we also have lots of fun social activities planned. 


We value parental involvement in the swim team.  Because it takes a minimum of 30-40 people to conduct a typical swim meet, we cannot function without your help.  Your participation in volunteer jobs is vital!  Also, your attendance at as many events as possible is encouraged and the swimmers’ participation in team activities helps to build spirit.  The more help you are able to give, the better the season will be for all of our swimmers.


See you on the pool deck,


Steve and Beth Van Beek        

Blue Fins Team Reps



Team Philosophy and Goals


The philosophy of the Barrington Blue Fins Swim Team is to provide a positive swimming program that:

  • Develops self-esteem, confidence, and a sense of personal achievement among our swimmers by teaching sound swimming mechanics and techniques.
  • Develops discipline, responsibility, and commitment to the sport by our swimmers.
  • Teaches our swimmers how to accept both victories and defeats gracefully.
  • Provides an environment of healthy competition in which our swimmers can succeed by improving time and skill level.
  • Provides an enjoyable social experience for our swimmers and their families.


Organization of the Barrington Blue Fins Swim Team


The Barrington Blue Fins Swim Team is a member of the Colonial Swim League (CSL).   The Blue Fins Team Reps act on behalf of the Blue Fins at CSL activities and meetings.  To register children to participate on the Blue Fins, a valid Barrington Pool Pass is required, which is obtained through the Barrington Homeowners' Association.


The Blue Fins’ team is comprised of approximately 100-120 swimmers made up of approximately 65-75 families.  Swimmers’ ages typically range between rising kindergartners and high school graduating seniors.  If a Blue Fin is still 18 on June 16th, they are eligible to swim for the entire swim team season (this is a Colonial Swim League rule). 


Funds necessary to run the swimming program come from two primary sources: team registration fees and team fund-raising events such as ice cream sales, concessions at meets, Spirit Wear items, and a Swim-a-Thon.


Volunteer Support


Swim teams, more than most other children’s athletic activities, require a large number of parental volunteers.  All parents are required to help so our children can continue to enjoy this summer swim team.  If your child typically swims at the Saturday "A" meets, please be prepared to volunteer at those meets no matter what other volunteering you've done for the team.  Our team is smaller than most others, and we can't function without volunteers, especially when needed on the pool deck for meets.


Volunteer Opportunities and Job Descriptions


STARTERS AND REFEREES - Requires training at a Stroke and Turn clinic offered by the Colonial Swim League (see clinic dates in "Volunteers" and then "Barrington Officials" in the dropdown menu.  The Starter is responsible for announcing the event and the start of each race.  The Referee is responsible for making the final decision on a possible infraction by a swimmer or team and is responsible for the smooth running of all meets.  Referees must be Starter and Stroke and Turn certified.  Starters must be Stroke and Turn certified.


STROKE AND TURN JUDGES - Requires training at a Stroke and Turn clinic offered by the Colonial Swim League (these clinic dates and times appear in the "Volunteer" category in the "Barrington Officials" dropdown menu.  These individuals are responsible for monitoring the swimmer’s strokes and recording a possible disqualification (DQ) during a meet.


TEAM REPRESENTATIVES - The Team Reps participate in League meetings and act as the spokesperson for the team at these meetings. They act as the meet manager for home meets. They coordinate swim meet dates and locations.  The Team Reps also act as the liaison between the referee at a swim meet and any party with a dispute over a referee's decisions regarding any swimmer's performance.  Your team reps have responsibilities that go on throughout the entire year, so please support them by volunteering as needed too.


CLERK OF COURSE - These individuals set up the swimmers in order of events and lane, so that the meet runs smoothly.


VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR - Monitors the volunteer sign-ups for meets and social events.


HEAD TIMER AND LANE TIMERS - These individuals record the official times of swimmers in each lane.  Three timers are required on each of the six lanes plus one or two additional timers for backup.  The Head Timer coordinates and recruits Lane Timers for each meet.


SCORING/COMPUTER ADMINISTRATOR - The computer administrator and his or her assistants record the swimmers’ times into the computer during a meet.  He/she also prints time and event labels of place finishers for ribbons and posts team scores if applicable and when available.  


RIBBON WRITERS - At the meet, these individuals prepare ribbons to be distributed to the swimmers. 


MEET SET-UP/TAKE-DOWN - These individuals help prepare and dismantle the pool for a home swim meet. This includes laying and removing lane lines, moving tables and chairs, erecting tent canopies, and cleaning up the pool area. Set up can be accomplished very quickly with many participants.  Traditionally, set up for a Home A-meet is combined with a Pep Rally for the swimmers and families.  Take-Down after the meet can be done rapidly with the help of other parents, coaches, and swimmers.


CONCESSIONS - In order to keep registration cost at a minimum and to cover the expenses of ribbons and awards, the Blue Fins raise additional funds by selling concessions during home meets.  Volunteers are needed to contribute their time as a server or a cashier.   


Colonial Swim League (CSL) Division of Northern Virginia


The Colonial Swim League was founded in 1962 to sponsor competitive swimming among community swimming organizations in Northern Virginia.  


The objectives of the Colonial Swim League are:

  • To foster a high level of competition by grouping teams of comparable strength in the same division in accordance with the League team seeding procedure.
  • To develop the potential of individual swimmers of different ages and abilities by sponsoring a full summer dual-meet season which concludes with Divisional Qualification Meets and a Colonial Swim League All-Star Meet.
  • To single out for distinction individual swimmers, age groups and teams.

The Colonial Swim League currently consists of 24 swim teams.  The teams are divided into four divisions depending on competitive strength.  Each year the CSL evaluates the teams’ performances during the previous season and then determines the teams’ Division placements and meet schedules.  The current year’s CSL Division assignments for the teams are included below.  


The Barrington Blue Fins swims competitively in Saturday “A” dual meets.  In addition, they swim in Wednesday evening “B” developmental meets that are not scored, but are essential to the development of all the swimmers. 


2021 Colonial Swim League Divisions.


2021 RED DIVISION                   2021 WHITE DIVISION

Burke Centre Penguins               Broadlands Piranhas

Ashburn Village Aquajets           Burke Centre Stingers

Franklin Farm Froggers              South Riding Stingrays

Cascades Rapids                         Fort Myer Squids

ManorGate Marlins                     Ashburn Farm Barracudas

Arlington Knights of Columbus  Chinquapin Wahoos


2021 BLUE DIVISION                 2021 GOLD DIVISION

Armfield Farm Stingrays             Chantilly Highlands Dolphins

‚ÄčFranklin Glen Gators                   Suglarland Run Dolphins

Hayden Village Villains               Chantilly National Blue Fins

Countryside Waves                     Barrington Blue Fins

Chase Club Sharks                      Saratoga Stingrays

Sequoia Farms Stingrays           Glen Cove Pirates            



Blue Fins' Expectations


Team Expectations

  • Be a swimmer!  To qualify for the swim team, a child meet must be confident and comfortable in the water, move around unassisted in the water, and be willing to follow directions from the coaching staff. The coaching staff will assess these performance criteria during a scheduled tryout: a child needs to be able to swim across the pool unassisted (we don’t care how fast, or how slow, or how ugly, or how legal the stroke is); float on the back for 30 seconds; and tread water for 30 seconds.   There will be a scheduled tryout held for our youngest swimmers and those new to the team to make sure they can meet the criteria.


  • Be involved!  The Blue Fins' swim team is a fun family experience.  We hope everyone can participate fully and enthusiastically in swim meets, social events, and fundraising activities.  This will help keep our team spirit alive!  


  • Pay attention to the coaches!  With approximately 120 swimmers on the team, the coaches work very hard to communicate effectively.  The swimmers have to work very hard to listen carefully to instructions.  Remember that disruptions are not fair to the other swimmers.


  • Be committed!  Come to all the practices and be available to swim at the “A” meets.  Because Barrington is a small team, when families go away on vacation during our swim team season, this means that sometimes we have the issue of being unable to fill an Age Group slot or field Relays at an “A” Meet.  When this happens, we lose points and can potentially lose the meet.  


  • Safety is of paramount importance!  Observe all pool safety rules both at our pool and every other team pool.  If the lifeguards or the coaches ask you NOT to do something, please listen to them.  


  • Respect others!  Treat other Blue Fin team members, coaches, parents, and other teams with respect.  Bullying (physical or psychological harassment on the part of one or more students toward another by any means) will not be tolerated.


Parental Expectations


Under no circumstances should your child be dropped off/arrive at the pool without first making sure that at least one of the team coaches is present on the pool deck.  All children 10 and under must have a parent or another designated person (16 years or older) responsible for them during practices, meets, and events. 


During swim practice, we ask that parents/nannies please stay away from the training area so that swimmers can give the coaches their full, undivided attention.  For safety and liability reasons, only Blue Fins under the supervision of the coaches can be in the Main Pool and in the Junior Pool. When practice time is over for a group, swimmers need to go home and not distract the coaches who are there to coach the next group. No private lessons are offered during swim team practices. 


If your Blue Fin child misbehaves during practice, the coaches will step in to handle the situation.  Should the situation worsen, a child who acts up might be asked to do some dry land exercises, have a time out, or be sent home.  If the situation persists or escalates, expect a phone call from the Head Coach.  The swim team also has a Swimmer Etiquette Contract that we require swimmers and parent/guardians to sign that clearly spells out expectations during practice and during competitions. 


Summer swimming involves the entire family.  Although swimming is considered an individual sport, our summer league is structured with an emphasis on the team.  Any team is only as good as the people who support the team members, cheer them on, and help in organizing the team’s activities.  The children love enthusiastic spectators.  Cheer on all the kids, as well as your own.   Please show your volunteer support so our children can continue to enjoy this summer program.


Swim Team Practice


To succeed at anything, one must practice!  Swimming is no exception.  During the weeks of participating on the swim team, coaches will teach the rules of competitive swimming, work to improve strokes, and build strength and endurance among the swimmers.  To achieve these goals, it is important that all swimmers come to practice on a regular basis. 


Swim Practice Gear: 

Swimmers need to have at practice: goggles, a towel, a water bottle, a swim cap (highly recommended for long hair), and a snug-fitting suit (no two-piece suits for girls) for practices.  Swimsuits should be comfortable for racing.  Swimmers also need their own kickboards.  The Blue Fins have a team suit and wearing it to competitions is strongly encouraged.  

Practice Protocol: 

Please be advised that only Blue Fins are allowed to be in the Barrington Pool during practice.  For safety and liability reasons, only Blue Fins who are practicing under the supervision of the coaches can be in the water during practices (this includes the Junior Pool too).  The lifeguard who is at the practices is there to guard only our Blue Fin swimmers.  We also ask that parents please be mindful of their children - if they are causing disruptions during practice then this is not good. Our coaches need the full attention of our Blue Fins' swimmers who are in the water practicing.  When swimmers finish practice they need to go home instead of hanging around, so that the next practice group has the full attention of the coaches.  The Barrington Pool officially opens to the community at 11am.

Practice groups

For practice purposes and to allow the coaches to work closely with all swimmers, the team is divided into groups. The practice schedule for each group is appropriately designed for the age and experience level of each swimmer.


Developmental Group: Minnows 


Our Developmental Group (Minnows) is comprised of our youngest swimmers with a wide range of experience.  


Our Minnows must be comfortable in the water and excited to swim unassisted (no floatation devices) across the pool.  We also expect them to be able to float on their backs for 30 seconds and tread water for 30 seconds.  The coaching staff assesses our youngest swimmers and newcomers to the team to make sure they meet the criteria.   If your child is unable to meet the criteria, the coaching staff will let you know immediately after the tryout. 


A new swimmer should be in touch with the Head Coach so that your child can try out for the team.  The Head Coach will assess the performance to make sure your swimmer meets the minimal criterion to safely be on the team. 


We work with the children in the Developmental Group more individually to develop strokes and endurance.  Safety is our primary concern. As always, if a parent wishes to discuss their child's progress, please contact the Head Coach (but not during practice).


The Dolphins (Rising 7th Grade & Under) and the Sharks (Rising 8th Grade & Over):


The Dolphin and Sharks Age Groups are designed for swimmers who have mastered each of the 4 strokes.  The Head Coach will decide when your child moves from the Minnows Group into the Dolphins Group.   Once morning practices begin, these two groups swim for a full hour. 



Practice Cancellation


We do swim if it is raining, but if thunder is heard, county regulations require that the pool area must be cleared immediately, and the practice canceled. The practice can be resumed after no thunder has been heard (or lightning is seen) for 45 minutes.  If you are uncertain about the weather conditions prior to practice, please check at the pool.  Swim practices are not made up.  Oftentimes, the lifeguards will post about a pool closure on the Facebook Barrington Connections page. 


Swimmer Apparel and Accessories


Swimmers should wear a swimsuit that will be comfortable for racing.  The Blue Fins have a team suit and the wearing of the team suit to competitions is strongly encouraged.  Alternative snug-fitting racing suits should be worn to practice.  Every swimmer needs a towel, sometimes two for a meet, as well as goggles, a sweatshirt (for cool days), a swim cap (especially for girls), sunscreen, and a bag to carry everything.  Remember to mark everything with the swimmer’s name!   At the beginning of the season, there will be a team suit available for purchase through our swim supplier, Cassel's.   Each swimmer receives a free team t-shirt.


Team Communications


Important information during the swim season is provided in four different ways:


1. Barrington Blue Fins Website.  Since you are here now, you've found us! 


2.  Swim Team Bulletin Board: Posted notices and updates as well as meet event schedules and meet sheets.


3. Team Reps: We are around the pool a lot - feel free to seek us out, call us, or email us.


4. League Website: For league information, check out the website


Suggestions for Good Communication


Put it in Writing: Please put any information or suggestions that you have for the coaches or team reps in writing. The coaches would appreciate receiving a written note when a swimmer is going to miss a practice or a meet.   


Check the Team Bulletin Board: The Team Bulletin Board will be available at each practice.  Stay informed!


Talk to the Coaches: Please feel free to ask questions. This is the only way we learn about the needs and concerns of our Blue Fins. The coaches are happy to answer any questions you may have, but please be aware of their need to focus on the team during practices and meets. 


Problems and Comments: Questions may also be directed to the Team Representatives, Steve and Beth Van Beek. If you have a "how is my child doing in the water?" question, this is something the Head Coach will answer, not the Team Reps.  Likewise, if you have any questions about why your child is swimming x, y or z at a meet, that is a question for the Head Coach, not the Team Reps.


Structure of the Swim Meets


There are a number of different types of meets you will be hearing about throughout the season.  The following is a list of the types of meets and a short explanation of each:  


Time Trials


The Blue Fins hold a time trial meet in the beginning of the season to practice meet procedures and familiarize new volunteers to the running of a meet.  This meet times every swimmer in all strokes at the season’s start, giving swimmers and coaches a baseline to measure progress throughout the season.


Saturday “A” Meets


Saturday “A” meets are typically competitions against teams within your division. These meets are held on Saturday mornings for five weeks.   At an “A” Meet there is one heat for each event.  A heat for each event includes three swimmers from each team.  The coaches decide which swimmers will be entered in each event. There are 52 events in a dual meet.  Generally, it is the three swimmers who have the best times in that stroke who will be entered in the heat.  Ribbons are awarded to the swimmers finishing with the three fastest official times.


An email of who is swimming at the Saturday "A" Meet is usually sent out on Friday morning.  It is the swimmers’ and their parents’ responsibility to check the email.  If your child is listed and can’t swim, please let the team reps or coach know ASAP so we can find a replacement.  


Results of the “A” Meets are used to determine Colonial Swim League awards. A trophy is given to the Division winner - the team with the best win/loss record.  Trophies may also be awarded to the age group winners.  These are presented at the Divisional Qualification meet. 




In Saturday meets, the home team has lanes 1, 3, and 5 while the visiting team has lanes 2, 4, and 6. (Lane 1 is always on the right side as you stand facing the pool at the starting end.)  The fastest swimmers swim in lanes 3 and 4, the next fastest in lanes 5 and 2, and the next fastest in lanes 1 and 6. Swimmers are seeded based upon their fastest times attained in a prior competition. 




Each team chooses up to three swimmers for each of the individual events.

  • First place winners earn or score 5 points for the team 
  • Second place winners earn 3 points for the team
  • Third place winners earn 1 point for the team
  • Winning relay teams earn 7 points for the team (0 points to loser)

There are 444 points up for grabs in a Saturday meet. Unless there are one or more 

places not awarded in an event due to DQ’s or lack of swimmers, you need 223 points to win.


Wednesday “B” Meets (Developmental)


“B” Meets are non-competitive swim meets held on Wednesday evenings. Developmental Meets provide opportunities for swimmers who do not qualify for Saturday meets to swim in a meet situation at their appropriate competitive levels while working to improve their strokes.  All swimmers are encouraged to swim in the Developmental Meets.  There are as many heats as required to accommodate the number of swimmers who desire to swim.  A swimmer cannot swim in any event that he/she has placed 1, 2, or 3 during the previous Saturday Meet.  Individual Medleys (IM’s) may be swum at the end of “B” Meets.


At Developmental Meets, no team scores are kept, and no team winner is determined. Individual times are recorded to determine progress.  Heat winner ribbons are given at the meet and additional ribbons are generally given to all remaining swimmers.


IM Meet


The IM Meet is an opportunity to swim a 100 meter individual medley (25 of each butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle) at a meet against other swimmers in the Colonial Swim League. This is usually the best meet to get a time for Divisionals and All Stars since the IM is the only event (and not swum at the end of a regular A or B meet). Individual ribbons are provided for top finishers.


CSL Relay Carnival


The Colonial Swim League Relay Carnival is a meet usually held on a Sunday morning midway through the season.  This is a team event. No individual events are swum. The Blue Fins will select swimmers for the team events based on the best times and on the coaches’ discretion and strategy for maximum performance at the meet.


Divisional Qualification Meet


At the end of the regular season a Divisional Swim Meet is held by each of the four divisions to determine who will compete at the All-Star Meet.   The location of the meet rotates among the teams.  Each team may select 3 eligible swimmers in the 5 individual events (free, back, breast, fly, and IM).  To be eligible to swim in this meet, a swimmer must have swum in at least two league-sponsored meets during the current season.  A swimmer may swim in a maximum of three events for this meet. Swimmers of each individual event are selected based on the best times and on the coaches’ discretion.  Ribbons are awarded to the first six places.  


All Stars Meet


The All Star Meet is the last meet of the season.  The sequence of events is exactly the same as the Divisional Qualification Meet.  The twelve swimmers with the best times from all Divisional Qualification Meets throughout the Colonial Swim League are eligible to swim in the All-Star Meet.  As always, it is very important to let the coach and team representatives know if a swimmer will not be able to attend the All-Star Meet.  


Meet Protocol


We ask that all swimmers stay in the team area during the meets. Swimmers need to return to the team area as soon as possible after swimming their event. If you wish to congratulate your swimmer, do so in the spectator area and encourage your swimmer to return promptly to the team area. We also ask that when possible, all swimmers stay until the end of the meet to cheer on their teammates.  It is important that we keep our team area clean both at our pool and at other pools. Please ensure that everyone cleans up before leaving a meet.


Cancellation of a Meet


A meet can be postponed by mutual consent of the Team Representatives.  Summer storms (those involving thunder and lighting) tend to be very localized.  The weather might be very bad in the Fairfax Station area, but may not be raining at all at the meet pool.  Therefore, we generally go to the meet pool before making a decision.  We do swim if it is only raining, but if thunder is heard, county regulations require that the pool area must be cleared immediately, and the meet delayed.  The meet can be resumed after no thunder has been heard (or lightning is seen) for 45 minutes.  Unfortunately, Wednesday Developmental meets are subject to delays due to evening thunderstorms.  A canceled meet, due to weather, can be rescheduled by agreement of the Team Representatives.


Swim Strokes and Age Groups


The age of the swimmer is their age on June 15th of the current season.  A swimmer can swim in an older age group at any meet, but never in a younger age group. Swimmers are divided into groups according to their age and sex.  The age groups for these meets are: 8 years old and under;  9-10 year olds; 11-12 year olds; 13-14 year olds; 15-18 year olds. 


We will briefly describe the strokes below. The rules below are the USA Swimming Rules as modified for use in the Colonial Swim League. Teams in other leagues may have slightly different rules. 




The freestyle is defined as any means of swimming across the pool. Any stroke and kick are acceptable. However, you cannot push off or walk on the bottom of the pool or pull yourself along using the lane lines.  In a 50-yard/meter race (two pool lengths) you must touch the wall at the 25-yard/meter end before touching the wall at the 50-yard/meter end.  This may seem obvious, but sometimes swimmers miss the wall at the turning end of the pool.




Like the freestyle, almost anything goes on the backstroke as long as you stay on your back.   The swimmer will learn to count strokes from the flags to the wall.  Backstroke starts are different from all others because the swimmer starts in the water with feet planted against the wall, hanging on to either another swimmer's legs or the lip on the pool awaiting the starter's signal. "Legs" must be grabbed below the knee. Persons serving in an official capacity (such as timers or coaches) may not serve as legs.


If your swimmer is a backstroker, he or she will eventually learn the backstroke flip turn. This is the one exception to staying on your back and can be used only as part of a turn (not a finish) at the pool wall.



The Breaststroke has two components, the kick and the arm pull. The pull and its recovery must both be under the breast and cannot extend further back than the waist area except on the first pullout stroke at start and turns. The head must break the surface of the water before the arms reach the widest part of the second arm pull.  The kick is a "frog" kick and the toes must be pointed outward during the propulsive part of the kick. The arm pull and kick must be in an alternating sequence and the elbows must stay below the water except for tagging the wall at the finish.  Breaststroke turns and finishes require a simultaneous two-hand touch.



A well-executed butterfly (Fly) is the most beautiful exhibition of power you will ever see in a swimming pool. Quite frankly, the fly is the hardest stroke for most swimmers to perfect. There are two components of the fly: the arm pull and the kick. The arm pull must be an over the water recovery (elbows breaking the surface of the water) with the arms moving simultaneously. The kick is a dolphin style kick with both legs moving simultaneously. Unlike the Breaststroke, there is no requirement to alternate the kick and pull. In butterfly it is not permissible for the swimmer to be submerged for more than 15-yards/meters.  Turns and finishes require a simultaneous two-hand touch at the wall. 


Individual Medley (IM)

The Individual Medley (IM) is when an individual swims each of the four strokes in the sequence Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle.  We swim a 100-yard/meter IM, which means that one pool length of each stroke is swum.  In a 100-yard/meter IM, every turn is a stroke change and stroke finish rules apply. This means no Backstroke Flip Turns.



There are two kinds of Relays, the Freestyle Relay and the Medley Relay. Both involve a team of four swimmers, each swimming one-quarter of the total distance. In the freestyle relay, each swimmer swims the freestyle. In the medley relay, the sequence of strokes is Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly and Freestyle. In all relays, each swimmer must wait until the previous swimmer touches the wall prior to leaving the deck.  In 2019, the CSL added a mixed age, mixed gender relay too.


Disqualification (DQ) and False Starts


In swimming, the rules must be followed or a disqualification, (DQ), is committed. This can be traumatic the first time a swimmer is “DQ'd” for just one mistake, but in fairness to other swimmers, this rule must be followed.  




A DQ is any violation of the rules observed by any appropriate official. Some of the more common reasons for DQing in a particular stroke are as follows:



  • Failure to touch the wall at the turning end of the pool
  • Walking on or pushing off the bottom
  • Pulling on the lane lines
  • Exiting the pool before swimming the specified distance



  • Body moving past vertical towards the breast at any time except during a flip turn
  • Leaving the wall after a turn with body past vertical towards the breast
  • Improper flip turn (older swimmers)



  • Incorrect kick, such as a Scissor kick or Flutter kick
  • Non-Simultaneous two-hand touch or one hand touches at turn or finish
  • Toes not pointed outward during the propulsive part of the kick
  • More than one stroke underwater (double arm pull) per kick
  • Arm recovery past waist except on first stroke after start or turn     
  • Head didn't break surface by widest part of second arm pull underwater after a start or turn



  • Non-Simultaneous or one handed wall touch at the turn or finish
  • Non Simultaneous leg movement during kicks/ (scissor or flutter)
  • Arms not brought forward over the surface of the water
  • Non Simultaneous arm movement during recovery




Unlike football, we do not blow a whistle and announce to the world that a rules violation has occurred. Except during relays, when a Stroke and Turn Judge observes a violation, he raises his hand to signal the referee that he has observed a violation.  He then writes it up on a DQ slip. The judge then takes the slip to the referee, who verifies that the rule has been broken and can question the Stroke and Turn Judge to ensure that he was able to see the violation that was cited. The referee then gives one copy of the DQ slip to the Team Rep and another copy to the Table Workers. 




Your swimmer will probably know before you do since the Team Rep tells the coach, who then tells the swimmer.   Another way to find out is by reading the official Meet Results, which are posted at the pool as the meet progresses.




Every Official on the deck will always give the benefit of the doubt to the swimmer. The difference between “legal but ugly” verses “ illegal” is sometimes a close call, so any violation called by an official is an "I saw" not an "I think I saw". 




The Team Rep is the only person who can officially question a disqualification or any other call by an official. If something happens involving a swimmer that you do not think is right, talk to the coach or the Team Representative.  The Team Rep will initiate action in accordance with CSL rules if thought to be appropriate.  Please do not question the judges or referee.


False Starts


A False Start occurs anytime that a race does not start correctly.  It could be due to a swimmer who, after taking his/her mark, moves before the starting signal has sounded, or it could happen when the Starter starts a race before a swimmer is ready.  The Starter will recall the swimmers using a recall signal on the starting system.  If blatant, the swimmer may be disqualified or he may be released if the false start is considered accidental. This is the referee’s decision.


For the Swimmer




The vast majority of swimmers on a swim team do one of two things: either they do not drink at all or they drink sport drinks. Both of these approaches are incorrect. Sport drinks were originally designed as a replacement for nutrients and electrolytes that are lost after exercising for hours. Truth is, most of the sport drinks out there are little more than glorified Kool-Aid, and it is not what your swimmer needs. The most important thing you can drink in swim meets and at practices is WATER.  Cells cannot function properly without an ample supply of water, and if you are even slightly dehydrated, it takes quite a while to get the proper water levels back into your system. When you drink water, it contains zero calories and no sugar, so your blood chemistry will remain balanced, allowing you to perform most effectively. 


Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink… by then your body is already getting dehydrated. A good measurement to use is the color of your urine. If it is clear, then you are doing a good job.  Dark urine indicates dehydration and the need to replenish fluids.   Bring water to practice!




Another problem observed at meets is what swimmers are eating in preparation for their performances.  You should be competing at swim meets on a fairly empty stomach. You should not be starving, but not be full either. When you eat food, blood fills your stomach to aid in digestion.  If your blood is in your stomach, then it cannot be in your muscles helping you perform. This can cause all kinds of cramping, not to mention a decrease in performance.  Remember the old saying, “Wait 30 minutes after eating before you enter the water”?

Eventually, though, you will have to eat during a meet, but the kind of food you choose can make a big difference in your swimming performance.  It is always best to stay away from sweets, and foods with little nutritional value around race time, because of what it can do to your blood sugar levels (see above explanation in hydration paragraph.  The best advice on what to eat during a swim meet is fruit, energy bars, or anything with some nutritional value (preferably with some protein in it). After the meet and the night before go ahead and have a big meal (steak, chicken, pizza, etc.). It will have plenty of time to digest and it won’t make you so hungry the next morning.


Pre-Race Meal


Stay within your normal eating habits. Do not try anything unusual right before your event. Eat 2-4 hours before the race. Have your meal be high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein. These two are too slow to digest and require too much additional blood in the process. 


Example: bagel & jam, banana, sport drink, cooked rice or baked potato. 

For the athlete that finds they get too nervous to eat properly as their race draws close, they can consider buying Sports Nutrition drinks. Items like Boost or Ensure Lite fit the bill perfectly. 


Swim Meet Foods


Here's a list of easy-to-take-along high-carb foods for eating during a swim meet

Water, sports drink and juices (limited). Fruit-Banana, apple, grapes, orange, melons, peach, pear, dried fruit, Bagels, bread, low-fat energy bars, low-fat muffins or cookies (fig-bars, ginger snaps, vanilla wafers) .  If there are more than 2 hours between races take some dairy items such as yogurt, low-fat cheese and crackers. 

Try limiting or avoiding these items during and immediately before competition: 

Fatty Foods - Fast foods, ice cream and fries. 

High Protein Foods - Meats, dairy and protein supplements. 


Lack of Sleep


Lack of sleep the night before a competition or consistently poor night sleep patterns leading up to an event can cause fatigue. Sleep is important because it is the time when actual physical growth occurs and tissue recovery from daily activity takes place. 


Winter Swim


Several organizations offer winter swim classes in stroke mechanics.  The objectives are to develop and refine swimmers in starts, turns, and the four competitive strokes in preparation for summer swim teams as well as build life long swimming skills.  Many offer time trials/swim meets during the winter season so swimmers can learn about competition as well as work on achieving their personal goals.  Programs are usually conducted from September to May. Often, in the spring, additional Mini sessions are offered by these organizations so swimmers can start preparing for the summer swim season.  


That's All Folks!


Flap your Fin!  You made it to the end of the handbook... Woo Hoo!