Team Structure & Practice Groups

North Suburban Aquatic Club’s group structure offers training for the competitive swimmer, ages five and up. Each group is designed to benefit swimmers who are grouped together by age, competitive experience, ability and training commitment. The structure of the club is designed to provide swimmers with the proper progression of skill acquisition. It is important that a swimmer learn proper technique at a young age so the groundwork is set for successful, fast swimming when they are older. The number, duration and intensity of the practices are geared to the elements that define each group as described below.

North Suburban Aquatic Club is committed to providing professional coaching at all levels. When making grouping decisions, the coaching staff considers many tangible factors, such as a swimmer’s age, physical development, stroke development and meet performance, as well as intangible factors such as emotional maturity, motivation and longer range goals for the athlete. All swimmers progress at different rates, so the coaching staff moves swimmers from one group to the next based on many factors. The most important goal is to place swimmers in groups appropriate for their long-term development. All advancements to the next group are at the coaches’ discretion and generally take place after the conclusion of a season. Parents should keep in mind that overlaps in abilities, skills, and ages may occur between the groups. All swimmer group placements and advancements are recommended to and approved by the Head Coach. Any questions regarding placement decisions should be brought to the Head Coach.

Bronze Team

The Bronze Team is designed for children approximately ages 5 to 10 who are new to the sport of competitive swimming and are able to swim at least the length of a 25-yard pool using both the freestyle and backstroke. In this group, the primary emphasis is on teaching the basic fundamentals of competitive swimming. The basics of all four strokes are introduced, in addition to the concepts of racing starts, turns and streamlining. Emphasis is placed on developing positive self-esteem, making new friends and having fun. Also introduced in this group are the social interactions with teammates and the management of a competitive swimming atmosphere. Swimmers in this group experience the fun of competition in developmental team swim meets. The Bronze Team swims year round and offers five practices each week. Two to three practices a week are recommended for proper skill development. Advancement to the next group requires a swimmer to master the freestyle stroke, complete a 50-yard freestyle, and a legal 50-yard length of one of the other competitive strokes. Swimmers must also possess the listening skills necessary to take instruction in a group setting before advancing to the next level.

Silver Team

The Silver Team is for swimmers approximately 8 to 12 years old who are able to complete 50 yards/meters of all four competitive strokes. Swimmers in this group have a basic understanding of swimming skills. Swimmers concentrate on developing a solid technical background while learning consistent interval training and endurance work. There is a major focus on the techniques of each of the four competitive strokes as well as turns and IM transitions. There is intensive work done on starts, turns, finishes, stroke drills and techniques. Swimmers are also introduced to goal setting. Attention, retention, listening skills, and concept attainment are encouraged at all times. The Silver Team swims year round and offers five practices per week. Two to three practices a week are recommended for this group. Participation in all meet types (as qualified) is encouraged. Advancement to the next group requires a swimmer to demonstrate proper technique including starts, turns, and IM transitions as well as demonstrate a readiness to train on intervals. Swimmers must also show a desire to compete in swim meets on a regular basis.

Gold Team

The Gold Team is for swimmers approximately 9 to 14 years old. Understanding proper stroke technique is vital at this level. Swimmers in this group strive to improve aerobic endurance while maintaining proper stroke technique. Swimmers at this level strive to understand how the sport of competitive swimming is structured and how to set goals according to and within that structure. At this level, swimmers are beginning to make a strong time commitment to swimming. The focus of the Gold Team is to improve cardiovascular fitness, refine stroke skills and gain competitive experience. Swimmers work to perfect basic skills such as kicking, proper timing, turns, streamlines, and proper breathing, as well as becoming familiar with more advanced techniques such as head position, body position, balance and alignment, and proper pulling. In addition, race strategy, competitive skills, goal setting and an understanding of time standards are introduced and emphasized. The Gold Team swims year round and offers six practices per week. Four to five practices a week are strongly recommended for this group. Swimmers are strongly recommended to compete in at least one competition per month. Advancement to the next group requires perfection of the skills emphasized, regular meet attendance and a demonstration of the maturity and commitment required to handle an increased workload

Junior Team

The Junior Team is for swimmers in junior high and/or approximately 12 to 15 years old. The primary focus of this group is to transition the technically and aerobically advanced age group swimmer to the senior level. Swimmers in this group begin to demonstrate a commitment to the sport that goes beyond recreation. Swimmers focus on aerobic development and mastering all four strokes. Maintaining proper stroke technique while developing an advanced aerobic capacity is very important to Junior Team swimmers. In this group, swimmers begin to see the link between consistent practice attendance and steady improvement. In addition to time spent in the water, swimmers are encouraged to set goals, focus on their nutrition, and learn to manage their time away from the pool. The Junior Team swims year round and offers six practices per week, including dryland. A minimum of five practices a week is recommended for this group. Swimmers are expected to compete in meet competition on a regular basis. Advancement to the next group is by Head Coach invitation and dependent upon the commitment level of the swimmer.

Senior Team

The Senior Team is for high school athletes fully committed to reaching their maximum potential in swimming. The focus is to prepare and develop swimmers to train for stroke improvement while improving racing skills. Equal emphases on energy system conditioning, advanced skills and higher levels of competition offer the determined swimmer with the necessary ability and desire an excellent opportunity to evolve into a top athlete. Time management skills, strong workout habits, dedication, and positive attitude are essential attributes of the Senior swimmer. Communication between the Senior swimmer and coach is critical for high-level training and personal goal achievement. Practice is offered six days per week, including dryland. During the school year, nine practices per week are scheduled (three in the morning before school). During the summer months, 10 practices per week are scheduled (six morning outdoor long course, plus four afternoon short course). It is expected that swimmers attend practices.

National Team

The National Team is structured to provide athletes with a rigorous, high intensity training program to help them achieve qualifying times for the highest levels of competition.

Qualities of National Team Swimmers:
We expect our National Team swimmers to portray exemplary qualities which include effective time management, healthy and positive training habits, dedication to NSAC, willingness to be coached, physical and mental maturity, skill and goal setting, leadership skills, high team ethics and a willingness and ability to meet practice attendance and meet participation requirements (see below) each season.  An athlete who fails to maintain these qualities may, at the coaches’ discretion, be moved to Senior program until the next season.

Age Requirement:
All athletes must be thirteen years of age or older to be considered for the National Team.

Test Set Requirements:
10 X 100 @ 1:15 freestyle swim
10 X 100 @ 1:50 kick
  5 X 200 @ 2:45 IM swim
  5 X 200 @ 2:30 freestyle swim

Invitation & Test Days:
The National coach is authorized to invite any swimmer to test for the National Team at any time. In addition, there will be scheduled test days at the end of each season for continuing swimmers, and at the beginning of each season for incoming swimmers.  High School swimmers will have the option to test prior to their high school season, or upon returning from their high school season.  The actual test days will be determined by the National Coaches, to ensure the timing is right for each athlete.

A swimmer is not automatically accepted onto the National Team by passing the test sets. Other factors such as commitment, goals and practice habits will be taken into consideration before a final determination is made.

Once the test sets are successfully completed, the swimmer is required to have a discussion with one or both of the National coaches.  If the swimmer chooses to participate and has been extended an invitation, the athlete will begin their trial week in the National program.

Trial Week:
Why a trial week? This is both for the athlete and the coach to see if the National Team is a good fit for the athlete. After completing the trial week, the athlete and coaches will have a second discussion in order to determine if National Team is indeed a good fit for the athlete. Upon mutual agreement between the coach and the athlete, the athlete will be admitted onto the National Team at this time and both long-term and short-term goal setting will take place.

Practices Offered:
Generally, practices will be offered for 2 ½ hours on Monday through Saturday, plus three mornings a week for 1 ½ hours each.  Three weekday evening practices will include intensive dryland training for 30 - 45 minutes focusing on strength training.  During this time, we will use medicine balls, stability balls, bands, free weights and individual strength.  The other two evening weekday practices will include 15 – 25 minutes of running for cross-training and aerobic purposes.  Saturday practices will generally include intensive training and skill/stroke building.

Attendance Policy:
Each swimmer is expected to attend 80% of all practices which will be measured each season (short course/long course). Although there are nine practices offered a week, 80% is based on seven practices per week. This is formed under the pretense that swimmers will generally swim Monday – Friday evenings, one morning practice per week and each Saturday.

Every swimmer will be given an optional two-week break after they complete their high school season. If they choose not to use it immediately, their attendance policy will go into effect immediately. Additionally, each swimmer may use up to two practice weeks each season for family vacations or other special circumstances that will not count against the attendance policy.  However, athletes are expected to maintain an 80% attendance rate for the season and may not take off more than two consecutive weeks for vacation.

If a National Team swimmer is not meeting the required attendance policy, they will be moved to the Senior team. They will not be moved back to the National Team until the beginning of the next season, unless a coach invites them back. If a swimmer has an extenuating circumstance, such as illness, the athlete and coaches will meet to discuss an action plan upon return of the athlete.

Competition Requirements:
Athletes are expected to compete in meets during both the short course and long course seasons. Certain meets will be specified and required by the National Team coaches.  In addition, there may be opportunities to compete in out-of-state competitions.  Athletes must compete in Championship meets, including the short course State Meet shortly after the boys’ high school season.  Competition is a way to measure practice outcomes, successes and promotes dedication and commitment to NSAC throughout all programs.


The Maintenance program is for those high school swimmers looking to stay in shape. Practices in this program are primarily based on building and maintaining endurance. Stroke instruction is provided. This group practices three times per week for 60-90 minutes in the summer and cannot participate in club meets.


The Masters group is designed to promote adult fitness and health by offering a year-round fitness/competitive swimming program for all levels and abilities. The focus is to attain the best possible level of fitness for triathlon training, competitive masters swimming, or to stay in shape and have fun. This program is for anyone age 18 and older who can swim. Three to five practices a week are offered for 60-90 minutes per practice.