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About the Team

What's our Swim Team Philosophy?

The Northern Virginia Swim League (NVSL), founded in 1956, has adopted the following mission statement: To develop in the children affected by this program a love for the sport, advanced aquatic skills, teamwork and the principles of good sportsmanship.

On the Riptide team, personal development is what is most important and for a swimmer that means improving your times. We believe that by establishing a healthy environment that encourages the kids to do their best, recognizes their contributions and is fun for the entire family, we will have met our goals. To keep focused on improvement, our team has a Wall of Stars near the diving well that has each child's name and a star for each time a swimmer achieves a personal best time in any stroke. At the end of the season, both A and B meet swimmers with the most stars will be recognized.

We've all taken our kids to soccer or other sports and probably stood by as two or three parents ran the team. Swimming isn't like that. You can't run a swim program without parental help. In fact, it takes over 450 different parent activities over the course of our season to time, officiate, score a typical swim meet, perform pool set up and tear down, running concessions or doing non-swimming team activities.

Swimming is unique in that there's a place on the team for anyone eighteen or younger who can swim across the pool without assistance. How many other sports have kids five years old to eighteen years old and their parents on the same team participating in the same competition?

Who is eligible to be on the swim team?

The Virginia Run Community Association owns the facility that we use, and the Virginia Run Swim Team members are limited to those who live in Virginia Run and pay association dues. The one exception to this is a swimming age child of the head coach. A variance has been approved granting them pool privileges, and thereby eligibility for the swim team, as long as they too pay association dues. The funds to meet our team's expenses come through registration fees, concession sales, vending machine sales, clothing sales and the yearly $3500 Community donation (thank you Community Board of Trustee members!).

The Virginia Run Swim Team is not a swim lesson program, and for safety reasons, all swimmers must be able to swim a length of the pool to join the team. Stroke technique will be taught in a group setting, and we'll help your swimmer become a better swimmer. Per NVSL rules, the maximum age limit for swimmers is 18 years old.

Who can be on the Board?

The Swim Team is governed by the By Laws (a copy is available by request) that requires a minimum of 5 Board members (Administrator, Secretary, Treasurer and at least 2 other members). To be on the board, you must have a child on the team. The current Swim Team Board encourages parent representation on the Board. This way, the tasks of the team are shared, and future leaders of our team are developed as current leaders and their children leave the team. Currently, our team has about 20 Board positions of which all are filled. Elections for Board Members are held at the October Annual Meeting and a person's term lasts for 2 years. Each registered family gets one vote for each open position. If you are interested in being a board member and want to make your voice heard about the direction of the team or have new ideas, talk to any current member concerning opportunities.

Parents & Swimmers Responsibilities

What is expected of Parents?

General - Parents are responsible for transportation to/from, attendance at, and behavior at practices, swim meets, and other team activities. It is important that everyone be on time. All swimmers should bring their pool passes to practices. A parent or responsible adult is required to remain at practice for all 10 and under swimmers. Swimmers may not be left unsupervised at the pool before and/or after practice. Coaches are often busy with other sessions, or setup/breakdown and cannot supervise them before or after practice with the exception of personal lessons.

PARENTS AND SIBLINGS ARE REQUESTED TO STAY AWAY FROM THE DECK AREA ADJACENT TO THE PRACTICE LANES. The Riptide coaches feel that the swimmers are distracted when parents are "on deck" during practice sessions. The full attention of the coaches to activities in the water is required at all times during the practice sessions to ensure a safe and beneficial workout. Riptide coaches will schedule appointments and make time available to talk with swimmers and parents.

Please direct any ideas, concerns, or suggestions to a Swim Team Board member. If it involves coaching, the Team Representative will communicate the item to the coach.

Parents, we also feel it's important that you stress to your swimmers that their main competitor is their own personal best time. Regardless of the swimmer's place in an event, the swimmer had a "great" swim if the time is a personal best! We hope every swim is a personal best time.

Notification to team if you cannot swim on the Saturday Dual Meets - If you are unable to attend a Saturday Dual Meet, please be sure to decline the meet in advance so that substitutions can be made. It would be greatly appreciated if you could indicate at the beginning of the season your swimmer's availability for all A Meets.

Volunteering To run a meet it takes over 40 parent volunteers. In addition to officiating, scoring, and timing at meets, volunteers are needed throughout the summer to set up before and clean up after home swim meets, work at the concession stand, help with social and fund-raising activities and to perform other necessary services. At Registration we asked each family to volunteer for 5 slots. Please help the team where you can, and keep your commitments. We're planning on you being available for those events you volunteered to do. If you cannot make that activity, it is your responsibility to find someone to cover for you.

Meet Officials/Helpers - Officials, timers and table workers are essential to run the meets. Persons working as deck officials and timers should wear White Shirts and Navy Blue Shorts. You are representing the NVSL and should look, act, and be unbiased and professional. One exception for our home B-meets is that timers are encouraged to cheer and encourage all swimmers - even those on the other team. Timers should not cheer at A-Meets.

While officials are on duty please refrain from smoking, eating and cheering. Please turn off electronic devices. This helps set the proper tone of professionalism and objectivity during swim meets.

Officials: PLEASE arrive at scheduled meets no later than 30 minutes before the official starting time.

What is expected of the swimmers?

To have fun and improve. All swimmers should be aware of the rules and follow them:

  • All swimmers should bring their pool passes to practices
  • Attend practices on time (10 minutes early is on time)
  • Know the required strokes
  • Participate in events as assigned by the Coaches

During Meets:

  • Arrive on time (Coaches will announce times)
  • Wear your RIPTIDE team cap when competing
  • Remain in the designated team area

If you must leave, please advise a coach. We don't want anyone to miss an event because they wandered away from the team area. Coaches cannot leave the pool to search for missing swimmers.

Swimmers are required to clean up the team area after all Meets (both home and away). A helpful hint: try to keep the area clean during the meet so the clean up will be quick.

Please demonstrate good sportsmanship and appropriate behavior at all times. Failure to do so may result in a swimmer being removed from a meet or practice session.

In addition, swimmers are required to sign and follow a code of conduct. The code of conduct form is available in the "Documents" section of this website.

League Organization and Events

What is the Northern Virginia Swimming League (NVSL) "A Meets"?

In 1956, 8 Northern Virginia Pools founded the NVSL. Today, the NVSL has over 14,000 swimmers on 102 teams and is the largest summer swim league in the United States. Obviously, with this many teams, there has to be some division of teams. During the offseason, the NVSL ranks each team from 1 to 102 based primarily on swimmers times, and then divides the teams, based on these rankings, into 17 Divisions of five or six teams. This means that the fastest teams are in the lower numbered Divisions and the less competitive teams are in the higher numbered Divisions. The other teams in our division and meet locations can be found on our website. The NVSL also has a very informative website at www.mynvsl.com. It contains a wealth of information on the league, team standings, and even individual times.

The competitive dual meets or "A meets" held on Saturdays and other competitive meets (Relay Carnivals, Divisionals, and All Stars) are part of the NVSL program

What is the West Fairfax Developmental League "B Meets"?

The Greenbriar, Brookfield, Little Rocky Run, Oakton, Poplar Tree, Sully Station, Pleasant Valley and Virginia Run pools have joined together for the conduct of un-scored swim meets on Monday nights. Swimmers who have taken a second or third place in any Saturday A Meet cannot "officially" swim the stroke that they ribboned in and a swimmer who took first place cannot "officially" swim any stroke except the IM, since this stroke is not swum in Saturday meets. However, they can swim unofficial events, but are limited to only one unofficial event. The idea is to get ribbons to as many kids as possible, even if only a participation ribbon. See section 6 (Swim Meets) for more information on these meets.

What are Time Trials?

The week before the first meets of the season, we conduct time trials. We recognize that some of the spring sports are still going on, so time trials are conducted both on Saturday morning and the following Monday night. The purpose of time trials is to initially determine the fastest swimmers in each stroke so that we can field our best team at the first Dual "A" Meet described below. Swimmers are allowed and encouraged to get times for all four strokes. As the season progresses, faster times swum at "A" and "B" meets will re-establish each swimmer's personal best. Swimmers cannot swim the same strokes at both Time Trials. If you can?t attend the make-up, or if it gets canceled due to storms, your next opportunity to get times and be eligible to swim in an A Meet will be at the first B Meet (which is AFTER the first A Meet) and B Meet event rules will apply (meaning, you can only swim two strokes and Individual Medley).

What are Dual or Saturday Meets "A Meets"

The six teams in each division swim the other five teams, one at a time on five consecutive Saturdays, in a series of Dual Meets, so called because there are two teams competing. Based upon the results of these five meets, a division champion will be named. See Section 6 (Swim Meets) for more information on these meets.

What are Relay Carnivals?

Another NVSL event is the Division Relay Carnival, which takes place on the Wednesday between the third and fourth weeks of the season. All six teams in each division converge at one pool for an evening of relay races. These include both Freestyle relays (each swimmer swims the Freestyle) and Medley relays (each swimmer swims a different stroke). The next night, all the Division Coordinators meet, and relay teams are selected to swim at the All-Star Relay Carnival the following week. The sole criteria for selection to the All-Star Relay Carnival are to have one of the eighteen fastest times in events swum in the Division Relay Carnivals.

Substitutions may occur at any time subject to the approval of the meet manager. A team that qualifies for the All-Star Relay Meet may have one substitution under certain circumstances. That is, three of the four swimmers who qualified must remain on the relay team. Substitutions will only be allowed for sickness, injury or absence. However, Riptide team policy is that if a swimmer misses the Divisional Relay because of absence such as vacation or camp, (s)he will not be put on the All-Star Relay even if they are a faster swimmer.

In Relay Carnivals, teams are not seeded. Each team's lane assignment for the first event is based upon luck of the draw and the teams then rotate one lane to the left after each event. The meet sheet lists only the team swimming in each lane in each event (except for All-Star Relay Carnival).

What are Divisionals?

The sixth week, each Division has an Individual Championship meet, commonly referred to as "Divisionals". Each team is allowed to enter two swimmers in each event and a swimmer can enter no more than two events. If a team does not have two swimmers for an event, the other teams can bid in other swimmers to fill the empty lanes. At Divisionals, the Individual Medley (IM) is also swum. This is an individual meet and is not scored.

What are All Stars?

After the Divisionals, all the Division coordinators meet to select swimmers for the All-Stars meet the following week. The sole criteria for selection to All-Stars is to have one of the eighteen fastest times swum that day in an event in the Divisional meets. All Stars can be overwhelming for a first time swimmer as approximately 600 swimmers plus parents, coaches, and officials converge on a pool for a meet that takes about six hours. If your swimmer is fast enough to be named an All Star, it is a thrill they will never forget.

How is United States Swimming (USS) involved in the summer program?

USS Swimming is the governing body for swimming in the United States. USS establishes rules for the different strokes and for the conduct of competition. The swimming rules that we use in NVSL are US Swimming rules with minor changes to accommodate the facilities and skill levels found in our league.

How is Potomac Valley Swimming (PVS) involved in the summer program?

Potomac Valley Swimming (PVS) is the local "branch" of USS Swimming. It consists of year round swim clubs in the Washington area. PVS conducts "Short Course" competitions (25 yard pools) from October to March and "Long Course" competitions (Olympic sized 50 meter pools) from May through July.


What strokes do they swim?

If you're not a former swimmer, the strokes and their rules can be a cause of bewilderment. While the stroke rules are simple enough for a six year old to understand, most people do not have a copy of the US Swimming Rules, so we'll briefly describe the strokes below. The rules below are the US Swimming rules as modified for use in the NVSL. Teams in other leagues may have slightly different rules. A summary of key requirements for each stroke is included in Chapter 8 on Disqualifications.


The freestyle is defined as any means of swimming across the pool. Any stroke and kick are acceptable. There are, however, a few don'ts associated with this stroke, specifically: (1)You cannot walk on the bottom or pull yourself along using the lane lines and (2) In a 50 Meter race (two pool lengths) you must touch the wall at the 25 meter end before touching the wall at the 50 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. Watching swimmers learn the backstroke is a perverse sense of fun as they bounce off lane lines and wonder where they are. Eventually, they will learn to guide off the lane lines, use the overhead backstroke flags and the lane line markings to know where they're at in the pool, and count strokes from the flags to the wall.

Backstroke starts are different from all others because the swimmer is in the water feet planted against the wall, and 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. 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 (or Fly) is the most beautiful exhibition of power you'll ever see in a swimming pool. Quite frankly, the fly is the hardest stroke for most swimmers to perfect and while they are learning it many look like they are drowning. 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. Turns and finishes require a simultaneous two-hand touch at the wall.

Individual Medley

The individual medley (or IM) is when an individual swims each of the four strokes in the sequence Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle. We swim a 100-Meter IM, which means that 25 Meters, or one pool length, of each stroke is swum. In a 100 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 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. Running starts or pushes from teammates are not allowed.

Swim Meets

How are Saturday "A Meets" Organized?

Saturday Meets consist of 40 Individual events and 12 Relays. The events swum for each stroke and age group are shown below. Remember, each pool length is 25 meters.

Saturday Meet Events and Distances
Age group Freestyle Backstroke Breaststroke Butterfly Freestyle Relay Medley Relay
8 & Under Boys 25 M 25 M 25 M 25 M 100M
8 & Under Girls 25 M 25 M 25 M 25 M 100M
9-10 Boys 50 M 50 M 50 M 25 M 100 M
9-10 Girls 50 M 50 M 50 M 25 M 100 M
11-12 Boys 50 M 50 M 50 M 50 M 100 M
11-12 Girls 50 M 50 M 50 M 50 M 100 M
13-14 Boys 50 M 50 M 50 M 50 M 200 M
13-14 Girls 50 M 50 M 50 M 50 M 200 M
15-18 Boys 50 M 50 M 50 M 50 M 200 M
15-18 Girls 50 M 50 M 50 M 50 M 200 M
Mixed Age Boys 200 M
Mixed Age Girls 200 M


  • The order of events is to go down each column starting on the left side except that the mixed age relays are the last two events. To make it easier, buy a meet sheet.
  • The Mixed Age Relays are swum by, in order, an 11-12 year old, a 9-10 year old, a 13-14 year old, and a 15-18 year old.

Who gets to swim at a Saturday "A Meet"?

These meets are to see who can score the most points, so generally the fastest swimmers get to swim. Three swimmers can be entered in each individual event and no swimmer can swim more than two individual events. Since swimmers take vacations and go places such as scout camp, and a swimmer can swim in only two events (plus relays) in any meet, you don't have to be one of the three fastest swimmers to swim in a Saturday meet.

Who swims an event may seem to be a mystery. However, after the first meet both teams know the other's swimmers times and we try to position our swimmers to optimize our points and win. While the number one criteria our coaches use to determine who swims is a swimmer's timed speed, there are other factors that come into play and the coaches are given some discretion. This is particularly true when it comes to relays. An illegal stroke can disqualify all four swimmers so it may be better to go with "safer" swimmers. Relay take off skills (either too fast, resulting in a disqualification, or too slow) can be the difference between winning and losing. In the middle age groups, occasionally a swimmer is faster at 25 M (the distance used in the relay) than the 50 M (with flip turn) that they normally swim. Finally, conditions that day like someone feeling under the weather, or perhaps a chronic issue like poor attitude or attendance may come into play.

Line-ups for Saturday "A" Meets will be posted after the meet sheet has been exchanged with the opposing team. PLEASE check the Dual Meet Line-up each week. Swimmers and their events WILL change from week to week. Please confirm your availability for each Dual Meet by initialling the meet sheet. If you are unavailable to swim, please let us know as soon as possible. This will ensure we have the best team available for each Dual Meet.

We highly recommend that if you feel your child should be swimming a particular event, please let the Team Rep or Team Administrator know. If we don't know the reason we will find out. Occasionally, times in the computer are wrong or mistakes are made. Please resist the urge to confront the coaches directly at practice. We want their focus to be on the safety of the children and their instruction.

Who swims in which lane at "A Meets"?

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

How are "A Meets" scored?

In the individual events, a first place finish earns 5 points for the team, a second place 3 points and a third place finish 1 point. Relays are scored as 5 points for the winner and 0 points for the loser. There are 420 points up for grabs in a Saturday meet. Unless there are one or more places not awarded in an event due to DQs or lack of swimmers, you need 211 points to win.

In the event of a tie, the points for the places involved are equally split among the swimmers. For example, a two way tie for second place, each swimmer earns 2 points (3 points for second plus 1 point for third equals 4 points, half for each swimmer). No third place would be awarded because the next swimmer is fourth. For a third place tie, each swimmer is awarded 1/2 point.

How do we get to an "A Meet", do we need to convene at the elementary school?

For away Dual Meets, swim team members and parents are strongly encouraged to meet in the Virginia Run Community Center parking lot and travel together to the meet in a caravan. It??s important for the coaches to get a head count in case someone is unexpectedly absent and another swimmer needs to be alerted that they are eligible to swim. In general, we leave the parking lot at about 7:20 am for Dual Meets. Actual departure times vary due to meet location and traffic conditions. Parents may arrange for their swimmer to travel with another family in the caravan if the parents wish to go to the meet at a later time.

How are Monday night "B Meets" organized?

Monday meets are basically the same as Saturday meets except as follows:

  • The primary objective is to provide a competitive swim opportunity to everyone on the team. Times are recorded to track improvement through the season and to determine the most competitive swimmers for the team competitions.
  • Ribbons are issued to provide positive encouragement, but there are no team scores.
  • In the Freestyle and Backstroke, a 6 & Under age group is added and the 13-14 and 15-18 age groups are generally combined into one
  • There is an 8 and under competition in the Butterfly
  • IM events are added for 10 & Unders, 11-12s, 13-14s and 15-18s
  • There are usually multiple heats of each event for younger swimmers

Who and what strokes may be swum in "B Meets"?

Swimmers are encouraged to swim all strokes throughout the season. Each age group may compete in five individual events: free, back, breast, fly and Individual Medley (IM). Each week, a swimmer can swim two events plus the Individual Medley (IM). Limitations are listed below. All sign-ups are subject to change at the coaches discretion.

A swimmer who wins any Saturday Dual A Meet race in any individual stroke can only swim the Individual Medley (IM) at Developmental Meets, plus one unofficial/exhibition heat in the stroke of their choice.

A swimmer who finishes 2nd or 3rd in a Dual Meet can swim any stroke at Developmental B Meets except that for that stroke which they placed 2nd or 3rd. They can swim in an unofficial/exhibition heat for that stroke. This counts toward their maximum of two stroke choices. Only one unofficial/exhibition event/heat is allowed. All swimmers are eligible to swim the Individual Medley (IM) event.

Times in Unofficial/Exhibition heats at a Developmental Meet can count as personal best times or team records. Unofficial/Exhibition heats will be run at the end of each stroke. Unofficial/exhibition heats will be mixed age and mixed gender. Generally, the size of the other team dictates how many unofficial/exhibition heats will be allowed. The larger the other team, the fewer unofficial/exhibtion heats run, since the meet should typically end before darkness falls.

How do swimmers sign-up for "B Meets"?

In an effort to make things more convenient for our swim families, we offer online signup for meets. Email instructions on how to sign up will be sent prior to the meet and all sign-ups must be completed by midnight on Saturday so our data rep can set-up the meet and print the cards. Sign-up early so if you run into problems we can help find a solution. If you wait until the last minute or forget to sign-up you may miss the deadline and due to the time intensive nature of setting up for a B meet, no exceptions or late entries will be permitted.

Meet Officials and Volunteers

Who is in charge of the team at the swim meets?

Team Representatives and Coaches share that responsibility. The role of the coaches is fairly obvious. The "A" Team Rep is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day coaching staff and are the representatives of the Virginia Run team to other swim teams and NVSL. The "A" Team Rep is also the designated recipient of all DQ slips for his team and is the only person with any official standing to challenge any decisions made by the referee. The "B" Team Rep is the primary interface with the other Western Fairfax County Developmental League teams, coordinating schedules, and resolving any meet issues.

Another critical position to the overall operation of the team is the Team Administrator. This individual oversees all aspects of the swim team, and is the true behind the scenes glue that holds everything together. Team Administrator, together with the two Team Reps, are the heart and soul of the team.

Who are the Deck Officials dressed in blue and white at "A" Meets?

There are a number of important parent volunteers needed to conduct an efficient and fair competition, and by NVSL convention are requested to wear white shirts and blue shorts. Among them are:


The Referee is the chief official for each swim meet. He is responsible for the conduct of the meets and is the final authority on the interpretation and enforcement of all swimming rules. Prior to the start of each race, the referee blows his whistle to advise the participants to get ready. After the event is announced by the announcer or starter, the Referee sounds three short blasts of the whistle as a signal for swimmers to get into position for the start or to jump feet first into the water for a backstroke event. For backstroke events, a second three short blasts is given to bring the swimmers to the wall for the start. When the referee sees that all the swimmers are ready, he extends his arm pointing towards the starter. At this point, the starter takes control .


The Starter is responsible for insuring that all swimmers are given a fair and equitable start. The starter will instruct the swimmers to "Take your mark". After all swimmers are ready and still, the starter will start the race, using a "Colorado System" (so called because it is built by Colorado Timing Systems). This system consists of a public address system. a horn, and a strobe light.

Effective with the 2000 Season, a race can be recalled only if it was a bad start by the starter (i.e. not all the swimmers were ready) or for a safety reason. This is done using a recall signal on the Colorado system (you'll know it when you hear it).For more information, see False Starts in Chapter 7.

Stroke and Turn Judges

Once the race has started, the Stroke & Turn Judges are responsible for ensuring that all swimmers obey all the rules for the stroke they are swimming. These people are always at the ends of the pool for starts and finishes and walk the sides of the pool as best they can within the physical constraints of the pool. If a Stroke and Turn Judge sees a violation of the rules, he raises his hand to signify that an infraction has occurred. A Disqualification is recorded on a DQ slip, which the referee reviews and approves and forwards copies to the Table workers and the Team Rep.

Relay Take-off Judges

During relays, you'll see four Relay Take-off Judges at each end of the pool (two per lane). Their job is to ensure that each swimmer touches the wall prior to the next swimmer in the relay leaving the deck. Each Judge notes on a slip of paper whether each swimmer in his lane left before or after the swimmer in the water touched the wall. Relay Take-off Judges do not raise their hands when they observe an early take-off because a disqualification occurs only if both Relay Take-off Judges observed an early takeoff.


The timers are the most important people to every swimmer. They are the people who determine each swimmer's official time for each race. Being a timer is a good volunteer position for new parents. Some parents have been timers for years and wouldn't want to see a swim meet from any other viewpoint. If you can start and stop a stopwatch, you can be a timer. We even provide the stopwatch. Timers start their watches on the strobe light from the Colorado system and stop their watches when the swimmer touches the wall. There are three timers per lane and all three times are recorded. The middle time is the official time. The Chief Timer collects the time cards from the timers, reviews them for accuracy and completeness, and forwards them on to the table workers.

Who else is needed to run a meet ?

There are a few more behind the scenes volunteers helping the meet run smoothly, including:


Marshals are responsible for ensuring that Warm-ups are conducted safely and that order is maintained during the warm-ups. Duties include insuring that diving starts are used in warm-ups only when a lane is ??one way?? away from the starting end, stopping any horseplay and making sure swimmers aren??t hanging or sitting on the lane lines.

Clerk of the Course

The Clerk of the Course is the "gatekeeper" for all swimmers in our meets. The people who perform this function get the swimmers to the right lanes for the correct race. You can't run a race without swimmers and the clerk of the course makes sure the right swimmer gets to the right place at the right time.

Table Workers

The time cards from the timers and any DQ slips go to the Table Workers who determine the order of finish for each event, score the meet, and prepare ribbons for the participants. Several people from each team perform these functions to insure that errors are caught before the results are announced.

Other Very Important People

It would be impossible to host a swim meet without a number of people in Other Very Important Positions. These people build and edit the website, set up the pool and sell concessions. They also announce the results, run social activities, act as Marshals in the team area and do other jobs that need to be done. We need the help of every family in order to have a successful swim season.

Disqualifications (DQ's)

What is a Disqualification or DQ?

In swimming, the rules must be followed in total or a disqualification, or DQ, is committed. This can be traumatic the first time a swimmer is DQ'd for just one mistake, but it isn't fair to other swimmers who swim the entire race per the rules to do otherwise. A DQ is any violation of the rules observed by any appropriate official. Some of the more common reasons for DQing are as follows.


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


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


  • Incorrect kick, such as a Scissors kick or Flutter kick
  • Non-Simultaneous two-hand touch or one hand touch at turn or finish
  • Toes not pointed outward during the propulsive part of the kick
  • More than one stroke underwater with arms fully extended at start or turn
  • Arm recovery past waist except on first stroke after start or turn
  • Head didn't break surface by conclusion 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
  • Arms don't break water surface during recovery (judged at the elbows)
  • Non Simultaneous arm movement during recovery

Relay Races

  • A swimmer leaves the deck before the previous swimmer touches the wall or deck

False Start

  • A swimmer starts the race early (more details below)

How will I know a DQ occurred?

Unlike football, we don't blow a whistle and announce to the world that a rules violation occurred. When a Stroke and Turn Judge observes a violation, he raises his hand to signify that he has observed a violation then writes it up on a DQ slip. The judge then takes the slip to the referee, who verifies that rule has been broken and can question the stroke and turn judge to insure 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. Another clue that a DQ has occurred is a Stroke and Turn Judge writing and a longer than normal pause between events.

Disqualifications for early relay takeoffs are done slightly differently. The referee receives all the take-off slips from all the judges. If both judges on a lane agree that an early takeoff occurred, the Referee will stand over the lane that the team being DQd swam in and raise his hand. After each meet, a DQ report is posted on the team website.

What is a False Start?

A false start occurs whenever a swimmer moves towards the pool after having assumed a still position (taking his/her mark) and before the Starter has started the race. When this occurs, a swimmer is usually trying to anticipate the starting signal and beat the other swimmers into the water.

If the false start is detected before the starting signal is sounded, the offending swimmer can be removed from the race prior to it starting. If a false start occurs but the starting signal has sounded, the race will not be stopped. Instead the false starting swimmer(s) will be notified of their false start at the conclusion of the race. The use of a recall signal is now limited to a bad start (i.e. not all swimmers were ready) or for a safety reason. If the starter sounds the recall signal, no swimmer can be removed for a false start.

How do I know if my kid DQ'd?

Your kid will probably know before you do since the Team Rep tells the coach, who tells the swimmer. You'll probably find out if you saw your swimmer finish with one of the top three times but he isn't announced later in the top three places. Similarly, someone else DQd if your swimmer finished in 4th, 5th or 6th, yet is announced as one of the top three finishers. Another way to find out is by reading the official A Meet Results, which by NVSL rules must be posted at the pool by 4 PM the day of the meet. You also can get results by visiting the Riptide or NVSL web sites. After each meet, a DQ report is posted on our team website.

Can DQs be protested?

First a word about Officials and DQs. Every Official on the deck will always give the benefit of the doubt to the swimmer. Although the difference between legal but ugly Vs illegal is sometimes close to call, any violation called by an official is an "I saw" not an "I think I saw".

As for protests, the "A" Team Rep is the only person who can officially question a disqualification or any other call by an official at a competitive meet. If something happens involving your swimmer which you do not think is right, talk to the coach or the Team Rep. The Team Rep will initiate action in accordance with NVSL rules if thought to be appropriate.

Other Stuff

How will Parents be kept informed?

Throughout the season, announcements, changes and other important information will be distributed in several ways. The primary communication means will be through the Website (www.variptide.com) and the Riptide bulletin board in the pool lobby adjacent to the pool locker rooms. Upcoming events for the week, stroke clinics, last minute changes, Developmental Meet sign-ups and other important information will be emailed. Text messages will also be periodically sent to team members as alerts especially if there is a pool closure or weather delay impacting an event.

Some flyers and other handouts may be passed out to the swimmers after practice. Please remember to ask your swimmers if they received any handouts.

What swimmer apparel is available, what accessories are needed?

The Riptide, like every other swim team, have a team suit. The boys suits come in both the long jammer type and the short briefs. Most of the boys have opted for the jammer style. Swim team members are encouraged to wear the Riptide team suit and cap for all meets (A and B). A meet swimmers must wear the team cap at each dual meet. Remember that you can not wear USA, high school, or any other teams swimwear at meets. You can wear those items at practice

Please clearly mark all clothes, goggles, caps, towels, etc. with the swimmers name. This will help us return lost equipment.

Every swimmer needs a towel, the bigger and thicker the better. Other accessories you should consider are goggles, a sweatsuit (for cool days), a practice swim cap (especially for girls with long hair), a hat or other sun protection, and a bag to carry everything. You should also have liquid refreshment (Gatorade, All Sport, or a water bottle) and a light snack for during the meet such as fruit, granola bars or other healthy foods. Save the sweets at the concession stand as a reward for swimming a great swim.

Are private lessons available?

Swimmers who wish to schedule private lessons should contact a Riptide coach directly. These are competitive swim lessons and may be helpful if a swimmer has trouble with a particular stroke, wants to improve starts, turns, finishes or just wants additional training. These lessons are strictly between the coach and family and are not an official part of the Riptide Swim Team program. The intent is to provide a service and there is a fee for this service. Contact the swim coach you wish to work with to arrange a time. Please be sure you understand the fees in advance.


I've heard the Summer Swim is the fun league, why's that?

It goes back to our team philosophy. We are a neighborhood organization and are aiming to provide an environment of achievement and enjoyment to all team members. The degree of intensity of individual swimmers varies greatly. Just as we have excellent coaches who will work hard and push swimmers who highly motivated to excel in the pool and get better and better each week, we recognize there are many children who come out to enjoy the social aspects of the team. The team works hard to provide an environment where everybody is welcome and walks away at the end of the season happy they were a member.

What types of Social Events Does our Team Sponsor?

Even though all of our swimmers want to compete and do our best, we also want to have fun. Our parents and coaches try to come up with fun-packed summer each year. Just look at our Website or our team bulletin board. Some of the things we do to have fun are:

Pep Rallies

A Pep Rally is held every Friday night before Saturday meets at the pool. The time, theme, and cost (if any) will be announced by the coaches and detailed on the website.

Team Pictures

We take a team picture every year and we'd like your swimmer to be in it. You are not obligated to purchase a picture, but it makes for a great memento of the summer season. The photographer also takes individual pictures. Watch the calendar on the website for the time and date. Typically, we need to have your children arrive early at 7:45 am. You do not want to miss this opportunity!

Other social events

The Virginia Run Riptide swim team is a family organization with events for the whole family. All swim team members are encouraged to participate in all of their respective swim team activities. See the Social Events on the website calendar or watch for announcements and sign-ups at the swim team bulletin board for all the fun activities this summer.

Team Banquet

We cap of the swim season with an awards banquet to honor our swimmers and their accomplishments. Recently these have been catered events held on deck in the evening after the Divisional Meet. In the past they have been held anywhere from banquet halls to water parks. It is a nice way to wind down after the season, hand out some awards, and for the past several years, view the seasons team DVD. You will see special flyers and announcements giving more details of this great family event.


The Swim Team raises money in various ways, such as concessions, vending machines, clothing sales, etc. We also have a Lap-A-Thon with funds collected to benefit organizations in need. Plan to attend the Lap-a-thon at a time to be announced. A handout will be given to your swimmers during the season that will include more details.