Dubuque Area Swimmin’ Hurricanes Parent Handbook


Welcome to the Dubuque Area Swimmin’ Hurricanes - we are so excited for the upcoming season!! The DASH Board of Directors and the coaches recognize that swimming terms and structure can be confusing and overwhelming.  This handbook is meant to be a tool and reference in answering some or those questions or concerns.  All of the information in this handbook can be found on the DASH website under the Athlete/Parent tab. 


What is DASH?

Dubuque Area Swimmin' Hurricanes, aka DASH, is a non-profit educational corporation, whose primary focus is to provide a high quality, competitive swimming program for the youth of Dubuque and surrounding areas.  Founded in 1991 to establish a year-round competitive swimming program in the greater Dubuque area. We are a member of USA Swimming and affiliated with both Iowa Swimming, Inc. and USA Swimming.  DASH trains its swimmers according to age, gender and ability with encouragement to compete in swim meets throughout the year. 

DASH swimmers and coaching staff are members of USA Swimming which is the National Governing Body for the sport of swimming in the United States. USA Swimming is divided into 59 Local Swimming Committees (LSC’s), which administer USA Swimming activities in smaller geographical areas. Iowa Swimming Inc. is the LSC that serves as the governing body of USA Swimming for the State of Iowa.

DASH is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors who are elected at the DASH Annual General Meeting held yearly in September. The head coach is a voting member of the board. The board of directors determines swim club policies, develops and approves the annual budget, determines financial policies for the club and provides direction and leadership for the club per the bylaws. DASH is constantly looking for new and exciting ways to improve the club. All parents are welcome to attend DASH board meetings. They are held monthly and information regarding the date, time and location can be found on the DASH website calendar.

Swim Seasons

DASH has two seasons: Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer.


The Fall/Winter Season begins in September and concludes in February/March depending on swim group level and participation in Championship meets.  Competitions are short course yard meets, which are held in a 25-yard pool.  The Fall/Winter season is also referred to as “Short Course” because training and competition occur in yards. The season concludes with championship meets: Bronze Championship Meet and 8 & Under Championships, Silvers Championship Meet, Age Group (14 & Under) Championships, Short Course Championships (15 & over) and SPEEDO Sectionals. 


The Spring/Summer Season begins in late March and concludes in late July, depending on swim group level and Championship meet participation.  During the spring/summer season an additional group is offered for high school students called HS Camp. Competitions during the spring/summer season are referred to as “Long Course” because most competitions are done in 50 meter pools.  Fifty meter pools are not always available in every community so training and some competition is completed in 25 yard pools during the season. The conclusion of the spring/summer season is a series of championship meets which include the Bronze Championship Meet, Silver Championship Meet, 8 & Under Championships, Long Course Championships, SPEEDO Sectionals, Age Group Central Zones and national level meets for those who qualify.



As a vital part of every child’s life, parents are the central figures in the growth and development of their children. Parents are the primary example after which children pattern their own behavior and beliefs. 

Parent Responsibilities:

1. Provide a stable, loving and supportive environment regardless of performance and achievement level.

2. Encourage good diet and sleeping habits.

3. Demonstrate good sportsmanship at all times toward coaches, officials, opponents and teammates.

4. Volunteer!! It’s important to the sport of swimming. Unlike most sports where the “coach/manager does everything”, participation in the swim team is a family effort. DASH relies on parent volunteers to help run swim meets, to help with team activities and to serve on the Board. It takes everyone’s help to ensure DASH runs smoothly. Please serve with enthusiasm and willingness to help DASH realize its goals! 


Swimmer Responsibilities

1. Respect your coaches, your teammates, the pool facilities and equipment, as well as, yourself and your abilities.

2. Develop and maintain the essential qualities of good sportsmanship both within the team structure and while representing DASH at meets.

3. Be responsible for your actions, words and swimming. - Attend practice regularly. - Be on time. - Be prepared by remembering all equipment.

4. Swim with pride. - Give an effort in which you can be proud. - Maintain an attitude of which you can be proud. - Develop team pride by encouraging teammates to do the same.

*Maintain a “safety first” attitude which includes refraining from doing anything that might cause injury to yourself and others. - Report any unsafe actions taken by others to the coaches. 



*Please read the COVID policy on the website for entrance/exit procedures


  • Plan to arrive about 10 minutes before practice begins.

  • The coaches want the kids getting in the water at the start of the practice time, not just walking in the door

  1. Pay attention, be a GREAT teammate, work hard and have fun.

  2. Please have your ride pick you up within 20 minutes of the end of your practice time, unless you are waiting for other carpool members or siblings in a later group. 

  3. DO NOT go into areas of the Hempstead High School that are not authorized by your coach(es).When waiting for your ride, stay in the pool lobby area.

    • Practice times can be located on DASH's website under Team Info/Training Schedule

  4. Coach Doug will send out emails regarding practice time changes or cancelations due to bad weather **Do not contact Hempstead High School or Dubuque Community Schools; practice may be held despite school being cancelled

  5. Locker rooms:a small one stall bathroom is available off the pool deck swimmers may utilize. We ask that swimmers come with their suits on and change/shower at home before and after practice. 

    • Parents are not allowed on deck or in the bathroom/locker rooms per safe sport policies.

What to Bring to Practice

  • Suit, goggles, cap, towel, water bottle

  • Swimmers are encouraged to bring their own water bottle to practice to stay hydrated. Swimmers are discouraged from sharing the contents of their water bottles with other swimmers.

  • Swimmers are not required to wear caps during practice, but may if they so choose. It is strongly recommended that anyone w/hair below the base of the skull wear a cap.

  • DASH recommends that all swimmers carry an extra cap, suit and a pair of goggles, just in case.

  • Coaches do not carry extra items to loan for practice and the facilities do not regularly have extras to loan. Clearly label all items.

  • Swimmers should bring their bags, clothes, etc. onto the pool deck with them. DASH is not responsible for items lost or left in the stands or locker rooms during or after practice.

  • No cell phones will be allowed to be out or in use during practice and should be kept inside the swimmer’s bag once practice has started

  • Due to COVID there is no Lost and Found; all items left will be thrown out

Parents at Practice

Per Safe Sport policy, parents are not allowed on deck. Parents may wait and observe practice in designated areas. 

Practice is time for swimmers and coaches to concentrate on improving the swimmers’ abilities in the water, developing a strong coach-swimmer relationship and fostering cooperation and unity within the group. It is important that parents allow this development to occur with limited interruption. Therefore, DASH requests that parents talk to their children or the coaches during practice only when necessary. The coaches respect parents’ interest in their children’s activities and invite them to observe practice from a designated area. Parents are always welcome to ask questions of coaches before or after practice, as well as contact through email. 

Coaches contact information can be found on the DASH website.


Help Desk

Have questions or need help?? 

Contact DASH’s Help desk support person: Jen Duehr, DASH President

          563-513-1011 or [email protected]


Work Sessions

Swimming is a volunteer intensive sport and we appreciate your willingness to support our swim team! 

Team hosted meets are completely run by DASH parents.

Jobs and Hours

Each family is required to work a certain number of work sessions, depending on which swim group your most advanced swimmer is in.  Work sessions are offered during our home meets and can be signed up for on DASH’s website. 

We will work with you to help you find ways of fulfilling your work session requirements.  Please reach out to us early and do not wait.  Please remember that we prefer to have your time and not your money!

  • Work sessions are determined by the number of meets DASH hosts not the number of meets your swimmer attends

  • You will receive an email when the job sign up is available on line.  

  • Each job on the sign up page will show the number of work sessions credits you will receive for that job.  

  • Meets will have two or three sessions per day lasting approximately four hours long.  

  • Available work sessions are scheduled in either 2 or 4 hour increments

  • Penalties: 

    • If a worker signs up and does not show, the penalty will be $50 fine applied to your account for the billing cycle immediately following the meet.  If a true emergency arises, you need to find a substitute or, if it is too late, call the administrator listed on the job sign up page.

    • If families do not satisfy their work session requirements by the end of the season, they will be assessed $50 fee per work session not fulfilled.

Work session requirements and job descriptions can be found on the DASH website under the Team Info/Work Session


How to Sign up for a Work Session

Log into your DASH account on the website, then click on the Job Sign Up tab next to the Attend/Decline tab for the meet.  This will take you to the signup sheet.  The jobs listed below will be broken down into each job, what time the job starts and ends and how many work session credits they are worth. Click on an open line (one without a name on it) under the work session you would like to work and fill in your information.


Become an Official

Officials and Computer Operators can earn a team credit of $25 per session, up to $100 per season once work session requirements are met (*certification must be completed to receive monetary credit). 



“Dry side issues” covers questions such as how to sign up for a meet, fundraising, work session or really anything that has to do with on-land activities can be directed to your child’s swim group mentor found on the website under Parent Info tab or fundraising, work session coordinator.

"Wet Side Issues", which covers swimming related needs such as placement, training, progress and meets.  Questions regarding these types of issues should be directed to the primary coach of the swimmer's group.  


Modes of Communication

DASH Website 

DASH’s website is best viewed on a non-mobile device: www.teamdash.org is updated regularly and contains general information about the club, team registration and contact information, as well as meet information, practice schedules, links to ISI Swimming, USA Swimming, Simply Swimming team store and other information and updates.


Virtually all of DASH news is published and sent via email. The practice schedule, upcoming meets, communications to specific practice groups, practice changes, inclement weather notices, meet entries, reminders and last-minute information is usually sent to families via email. 

Text messages 

Text notifications are also available so be sure to enter your cell number into your account information and verify your cell number to receive texts.

  • Text messages are only sent with urgent information 

  • If your text message is garbled, check your email; every text message is sent with an accompanying email

Social Media

Follow DASH on Facebook; the link can be found on the right hand side of the DASH website

File Cabinet/Folders (suspended during COVID)

Will be available before and after practice on a table in the poolside café. Family folders are kept in a file box where ribbons and other hard copy materials are distributed, such as picture envelopes and pictures.  Fundraising information packets will be found in either a file folder or alongside the family folders.


DASH emails out a monthly newsletter with information on upcoming team events, fundraising opportunities and Swimmer of the Month recognition. Newsletters can also be found in the “News” section of the opening page of the website.


We would love to have your feedback regarding the program such as concerns and/or suggestions.  If you would like to share your thoughts login into your Team Unify site and under System is Feedback Zone; click on Feedback Zone and a comment box will appear.



DASH participates in many different types of swim meets. The team hosts several meets a year and will also attend other in-state meets as well as out-of-state meets. 

  • Swim meets provide an opportunity to show off the skills learned and perfected at practice. 

  • Meets also provide motivation and incentive for practice. 

  • Individual improvement, goal achievement, and the development of a championship attitude are the goals of DASH swimmers at meets. 

  • USA Swimming sanctions all meets DASH participates in. This ensures certain standards of officiating, safety, and fairness are observed. All swimmers attending these meets are members of USA Swimming.

Attached to this handbook is a recommended meet attendance list for the season (meets are currently limited due to COVID; please reference the website and newsletter for updated information)


Types of Meets

Most meets take place on weekends and may be one, two, or three days long.  The type of meet being offered depends on the swim season (short and long course) and time standard.

Time Standards: meets that have time standard requirements are more selective in what swimmers may be eligible. These types of meets set time standards and in order for a swimmer to participate in the meet, the swimmer must have the required time standard in the event that he/she would like to swim.

"Q" times - is the time a swimmer must get for an event to be able to swim it at State. State is the championship meet held at the end of the season at which all USA swim teams in Iowa compete against each other. Throughout the seasons, each swimmer’s goal is to try and make a “Q” time. Once a swimmer achieves a “Q” time, this time is good for the entire time that a swimmer is in that specific age bracket.

Each event has their own qualifying state time. These “Q” times are available on the ISI website www.isiswim.org.

"Q" times only: this means that your swimmer must have at least 1 state qualifying time in order to compete in that meet; they may then sign up for any additional events whether they have a “Q” time or not

Non-Q meets: anyone can sign up for these meets.

Q minus: are for those swimmers without a Q time.

Prelim/Finals: 13 and over State meets as well as several meets throughout the season are Prelim/Final meets.  This means that a swimmer will race their event on the morning of the meet.  The top 24 swimmers from each event will than qualify to return that evening to race the same event for the “final” race.  Finals consists of 3 heats but only the top 8 swimmers will have the ability to score/podium.  If your swimmer qualifies to swim their event at finals they must scratch within 30 minutes of it being announced if they do not plan to attend to avoid being penalized.


Championship Meets

Fall: Short course season championship meets are divided by age groups: 14 and Under Championships and 15 and older Championships. These are usually held on different weekends, and hosted by different clubs.

Summer: Swimmers of all ages will compete on the same weekend for Long Course Championship meet.

Bronze Championships: this is an end of season meet for those swimmers who do not have a Silver Championship Q time and/or a Long Course Championship Q time.

Silver Championship Meet: Swimmers must have a Silver qualifying time to participate in the meet.  Qualifying times are slower than the Long Course Championship times.

8 and Under State Championship: all 8 and under swimmers may participate in this meet.  There are no qualifying times.

Long Course Championship meet: swimmer must have qualifying times to participate

All swimmers who have qualified for the state championships are expected to attend these meets and represent DASH. This is beneficial for both the team and for the individual, for it is at the end of the season, when swimmers are best prepared for the final competition of the season.

In addition to state meets, there are other meets which require tougher time standards than “Q” times. Zones is the highest age group meet with a time requirement of AAA in any event swum at Zones. The Zone Meet is only offered in the summer and usually the weekend after Long Course State.  Sectionals and Nationals are non-age group meets that have even higher time standards than Zones

How to Sign Up for a Swim Meet

Sign up for meets is done on the DASH website; it is recommended not to attempt signup on a mobile device. 

An email will be sent out by Team Unify when swim meet signup is open and when it is nearing the end of the sign up.

  • Log into your DASH account 

  • On the left side on the screen in the black box click on “Events and Competition” and then “Team Events” or click on “Team Events” on the home page under the scrolling picture section

  • A list of upcoming events will populate

    • If the meet name has a box to the right of it that says "Attend/Decline" it is open to sign up for

    • Click on “Attend/Decline” and pick your swimmers name that your wish to sign up from the drop-down box 

      • A list of all the events in your child's age group that is being offered at the meet will show

      • Click on the box before the event to pick that event

        • **Make sure to click on “Save Changes” at the bottom of the screen before leaving the page**

    • Repeat the process for any additional swimmers your wish to sign up


Swim Meet information 

  • Can be found by clicking on the meet name

    • This section will tell you who can sign up (Q or Non-Q), where the meet will be held and links to other "forms and documents."

    • Under "forms and documents" will be a PDF file with the name of the meet on it.

      • If you click on the meet PDF it will give you ALL the meet details such as: event line up (which events are being held on which day), cost to sign up for each event, if they will have concessions (not every meet does), etc…

Once sign up is complete, Coach Doug will send out an email with meet entry information (the list of events your child will swim at the meet), a relay list and a fee report. All 3 of those reports can be found under the "forms and document" section on the meet's page. Your Team Unify account will be billed and will either be automatically withdrawn on the 1st of the following month or you may login and pay it manually.  Meet fees are not refundable after sign up is closed


Warm-up times for meets 

Will be sent out in an email - unless you have talked to one of the coaches, or a coach has contacted you about not being there at the designated warm-up time, the time for warm ups on the email is the time your child needs to be at the pool.




What to Bring to a Meet

  • $$$ - You will need money for a program and concessions. The program will list what event your child is swimming including which heat and in which lane.

  • Drinks and snacks. - Water, juices, chocolate milk, sport drinks, health high carb easily digested snacks are recommended.

  • 2 towels per swimmer per session per day - Wet towels tend not to dry in hotel rooms so if you are going for the weekend keep this in mind.

  • Sweats, robes, sweatshirts etc… - Something for your swimmer to put on to keep warm in between their events - even during the summer the swimmers can get chilled

  • Some meets will have a "crash site" - This is an area outside the pool (sometimes a gym) where you can set up blankets and chairs you can "crash" at in between your child's events. This info is on the meet PDF.

  • Highlighter!!! - This is to highlight your child's name in the program so you can find it easier. The programs can be like a small book sometimes. It does help to have the list of what your child has signed up for including any relays.

  • A Sharpie in a dark color! You will need this to write your child's event number, heat and lane on either their arm or leg. This helps you, your swimmer, the coach and sometimes the timers behind the blocks to know where your child is supposed to be. This is the format: E H L: E = event H= heat L= lane

CAUTION: Do not try and write on your swimmer while they are wet … it will ruin your sharpie!

**See last page for example of meet sheet and how to write your child’s events on their hand


 What does it mean to be a Speedo Sponsored Team??

Team DASH has been a Speedo sponsored team for several years.  This past year our contract with Speedo was up for renewal.  The DASH Board of Directors took this opportunity to explore other swim gear company contracts.  We are happy to say that Speedo revised their contract to be competitive with the other companies.  The improved contract with Speedo was a win for DASH on two accounts: one, we will not have to re-brand our team and two, Speedo funding for team equipment increased considerably from our last contract.

 How does this impact your swimmer?

All DASH swimmers MUST wear Speedo gear at local, state, zones, semi-national and national meets.  Gear is any product that has a swim company logo on it - it MUST say Speedo on it  Per the Speedo contract, if Speedo finds a swimmer in violation of the contract a $4500 fine will be issued by Speedo; the responsibility of paying the fine will fall on the swimmer, not Team DASH.   Swimmers are allowed to wear any swim company gear during practice. Please contact a DASH Board member with any questions.

SIMPLY Swimming sells DASH Speedo apparel and training equipment.  Once a season DASH processes an apparel order through a local vendor - information is sent out via email.

Team Policies

All Team policies can be found on the DASH website under Policy & Links

Safe Sport

USA Swimming's top priority continues to be keeping our athletes safe. No form of abuse, including child sexual abuse, has a place in our sport. USA Swimming is committed to reducing the risk of abuse in swimming and increasing awareness of red flag behavior through its Safe Sport program. All adults working with athletes are responsible for creating an abuse-free environment.

DASH is proud to be a Safe Sport certified team. 

For more information regarding USA Swimming Safe Sport and concussion information please see the Safe Sport tab on the DASH website.

Tip: Use a sharpie to write the events on your swimmers skin - DO NOT write on wet skin because it will