Below are a number of questions that new families have asked throughout the years. Please let us know your questions via email at [email protected].

What are the requirements to join the team?

Swimmers must be 5 before June 1 and may swim for the team until age 18. Swimmers must either live in Park Paseo, attend school at Santiago Hills Elementary or Sierra Vista Middle School, or live between Culver/Irvine Blvd and Portola/Jeffrey. Children must be water safe and be in the process of being able to swim across the pool (25 yds.) without assistance.

What are the age groups?

The age groups are: 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, and 15-18. The age of the child is determined as of June 1.

How do we join the team?

Please see the registration page. You can also contact the team membership coordinator at [email protected].

When can we join the team?

Registration opens in early March for Park Paseo residents and mid-March for nonresidents.

What do we need to register on the team?

First time swimmers will need two copies of a birth certificate or passport in addition to registration forms.

What is the ISL?

The Irvine Swim League is a nonprofit organization of neighborhood and city swim teams in Irvine that compete against each other during the summer. The league has been in operation for nearly 25 years. The league’s website is

What is the difference between an HOA team and a city team?

An HOA team is sponsored by a neighborhood homeowner’s association and their membership requirements are governed by that association. ISL city teams are open to all Irvine residents. Both follow ISL rules for registration.

What obligations do we (as parents) have to the team?

Payment of registration fees & fulfillment of Volunteering, which consists of participating in a required level of meet work assignments.

What do we do if we need to miss a practice?

You do not need to notify the coach if you need to miss a practice.

How many practices per week are we required to attend?

There is no set amount of required hours; HOWEVER, progress is best achieved by attending three or more practices a week.

Are we required to wear the team swimsuit at meets and practices?

Team swimsuits are to be worn at meets but not necessary at practices.

What happens at a swim practice?

The coaches work with your kids on the fundamentals of each stroke & build up their stamina so each swimmer can improve and progress. The coaches focus on striking a balance between having fun at practice and working to improve swimming skills and stamina, which will lead to time improvements.

What do we need to bring to swim practice?

Your child, their swimsuit, goggles, sunscreen, footwear and towel, and – most importantly – a positive attitude!

What is the difference between a home meet and an away meet?

At a home meet, our team hosts another team and handles most of the meet jobs. We also typically run a concessions booth, whose profits benefit our team. At an away meet, our team will travel to another team’s pool and we will have less meet work assigned to us.

How do I know where a meet is located?

Please see our website Events page.

I’ve never been to a swim meet before, what can I expect?

Please see the Meets page for a general outline. To families who have never attended a swim meet before, it will appear especially busy and crowded because there are so many people on deck. However, rest assured we have some of the best volunteers in the Irvine Swim League and the team organizers do their best to make every meet run smoothly. At check-in, swimmers have their Heat # and Event # written on their arms. In the corner behind the swim blocks, there will be an event number sign that shows which event numbers are being called up to the Ready Bench. When that counter shows your kid’s event #, please bring them to the Ready Bench immediately. Once you’ve dropped them off there, the Ready Bench volunteers and coaches will take care of the rest. The best piece of advice is to stay as positive as possible. This is a volunteer organization and it’s a learning experience for everyone. More importantly, the swim meets are designed for your children to have a fun time and take pride in improving their times each week. In swimming, setting goals and then seeing them reached is one of the best feelings ever for individuals, teams, coaches, and parents.

What do we do when we go to our first swim meet?

Please bring your child on time for check in with the coaches (typically 8am) and the following pre-meet warm-up. Team newsletters will provide additional meet information.

What happens if I come to a swim meet late?

Parents are asked to check in their swimmer on time to ensure the smooth running of swim meets. It is a long day for everyone and can only end on time with everyone’s cooperation. Swimmers who are late for their designated age group warm-up will not be allowed to swim with another age group’s warm-up since their skill level will likely slow down the warm up of other swimmers. Warm-ups are important for children to prepare for the day’s events and perform their best. Please do your best to come on time.

How do I declare for a meet? What do we do if we are going to miss a meet?

By Wednesday night before a meet, everybody needs to go to Events or the OnDeck app and select the meet and declare Yes/No for each swimmer. If your plans change after Wednesday night, please email the head coach to let them know so they can adjust the relays.

What do we do if we are going to miss a job?

If you are unable to attend a meet at which you are scheduled to work, you are responsible for finding a replacement volunteer and for contacting the volunteer coordinator with the change. If you fail to appear at your designated job, your $50 volunteer deposit check will be cashed (or you be billed directly to your credit card on file) and you will be required to write a new $50 volunteer deposit before the swimmers are allowed to return to practice.

What should my swimmer eat before a swim meet? And what should my swimmer(s) do throughout the meet to be ready for her event?

Many swimmers load up on carbohydrates the night before a swim meet (“carbo-loading”), with food like pasta and bread. For the morning before a swim meet, many competitors try to eat something light but filling like eggs and toast. During lunch, the snack bar’s chicken teriyaki/hamburgers/salads are great choices. Refined sugars like sodas and candy are not recommended, as the sugar will cause dehydration and sluggishness especially in the heat. Water or Gatorade are the best options for rehydration and staying hydrated throughout the day. The jacuzzi (soaking in hot water) and direct sun (heat) can also be especially draining. Try and find a spot with a lot of shade and to rest your legs as much as possible. In swimming, your legs use the most oxygen and it would be best to keep them relaxed.

Are there Park Paseo swim records?

Yes, please see the Park Paseo Northstars swim records page.

What is special about the practice meet?

The first meet of the season is a practice meet, and is conducted prior to the first meet of the season so that swimmers can get a base time in all of their events to gauge their swimming progress over the season. The practice meet is run like a normal swim meet in order to give parents and swimmers a good idea of what to expect at swim meets, with the exception that we don't compete against another team.

What is an “IM”?

Individual Medley. All 4 strokes will be swum by one swimmer in the following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. The IM is a 100 yard event and is only for swimmers age 9 and above.

What is a “Medley Relay”?

A relay of 4 swimmers (must have at least one male AND one female), each swimming one stroke in the following order – backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle. All age groups have a Medley Relay.

What is a DQ?

A DQ is a disqualification due to rule infraction. A DQ results in the swimmer’s time in that race not being recorded. They will receive a participant ribbon for that race but will not be eligible for placement or time improvement ribbons, and will receive no team points for swimming this event. Parents are encouraged to remind their swimmers the rules so every swim counts!

What is a soft DQ?

A soft DQ is a soft disqualification and applies only to swimmers in the 5-6 age group (for the first four swim meets of the season) and the 7-8 age group (for the first 3 swim meets of the season). It represents a rule infraction, but does not penalize your child by altering their placement or time improvement standings. It is intended to be instructional and informative and to provide the swimmer with feedback for correction. The coaches will take this information and work with your child on the cited rule infraction(s).

What is required to run a swim meet?

Every parent’s participation and cooperation.

What should we bring to a swim meet?

Shade is important and folding chairs and activities for the children when they are not racing are helpful. Wear your team colors and support the Northstars with big cheers!

What is the championship meet?

The annual Championship meet is held at the end of the season. All 20+ Irvine Swim League teams compete to determine overall and division Champions. Regardless of times, every swimmer is eligible to participate in at least one event. Swimmers who achieve qualifying times can swim in up to four events. The various ISL teams are split into four different divisions (brackets) for the meet, based on the previous performance level of each team to group teams that are at the same approximate level of competitiveness. Teams within each division compete only against each other. At the end of the meet, a winner of each division is declared, and team trophies are presented.

How does a swimmer qualify for the championship meet?

Per ISL rules, to be eligible to swim in the Championship Meet a swimmer must have participated in at least two dual or tri-meets (practice meet and Pentathalon excluded) AND four events cumulatively during the current season. Once this eligibility has been met, any swimmer can swim at least one event at season ending ISL Champs. Even if a swimmer does not qualify based on times, s/he should attend the ISL Champs for the experience and to swim on relays which are big point contributors for the team. The Champs qualifying times can be found here.

Why do we do fundraising?

The Northstars is a nonprofit, volunteer-run summer swim team. Team expenses each year exceed registration fees, and we raise funds from individuals and corporations to make up the difference.

Is team membership tax deductible?


How can I contribute to the Northstars?

Businesses and individuals can support the team through donations of goods, services, or funds. The Northstars are part of the Irvine Swim League (ISL), a charitable 501(c)(3) organization that is recognized by the IRS. As such, all contributions are 100% tax-deductible. Sponsors are mentioned on the team’s website. For more information, please contact the Fundraising Managers.

What are our social events?

Typically the team will host a number of social events during the season such as a movie night in the Clubhouse, ice cream socials, pizza night, etc. All these events will be listed in the team newsletter.

How can I stay informed about the team?

Make sure your email address is correct and check your box on the pool deck. Emails are sent out almost weekly once swim meets starts. Current and past announcements and general team information are available on our team website.

How long has the team been together?

Since 1985.

How do I get more involved in the team?

Being a member of this all-volunteer team means you are already involved – thank you! However, we can always use additional help. If you have more time to contribute or are interested in a board position, please contact any member of the current board.

Does everyone have to work at the swim meets?

Generally, yes.  We need a contribution from each family at each swim meet.  If you have special needs, please contact the meet volunteer coordinator.

How are the teams we swim against chosen?

Team match ups are selected by team presidents prior to the season. They do their best to match their team against teams with similar skill levels.

How is it decided which heat and lane a swimmer is in for the meets?

Heat and lane assignments are based on a swimmer’s time in that event.  The fastest swimmers in a given event are included in the same heat.  Within each heat, the fastest previous times will be placed in the middle lanes (3,4,5), with the slower times moving progressively towards the outside lanes.

How is it decided which event a swimmer will race in the meets?

The coaches decide which events a swimmer will swim. According to the ISL rules, a swimmer may swim a maximum of 3 individual events, and a maximum of 2 relays (medley or freestyle) for a combined total of 4 events. So most kids swim 3 individual events and 1 relay, space permitting. Of course, you can swim 2 individual events and 2 relays. You can discuss with the coaches the events your child swims.

How does a team win a swim meet?

Scoring a meet is optional during the regular season. If we choose to score the meet, points are awarded for each place (1st through 6th) a swimmer finishes. Tallying those points at the end of the meet will determine the winner. Our emphasis remains on individual achievement, whether or not the meet is scored.

What does a swimmer get for swimming an event?

The first six swimmers are awarded ribbons for their place in the event. All others receive a participant ribbon. Every swimmer who improves his or her time also receives a time improvement ribbon.

What is a rainbow ribbon?

Our prettiest “rainbow” ribbons are reserved for time improvements.

What is a “Fun Race” and who can swim in it?

A fun race is for underage children and their parent to swim at halftime during a regular season meet. To participate, you must be registered with ISL.

What is the schedule of events at a swim meet?

Please see our description of Meets here.

What is the duration of a typical swim meet?

Check in usually begins at 7:45 AM with warm-ups beginning at 8:00 and events beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing until 1:00 PM.

How can my child be a better swimmer?

Practice, practice and practice. The coaches are experienced and energetic. They will help your kids improve if you come to practice at least 3 times per week. Coaches also offer individual lessons outside of practice. These lessons are arranged by the family and the individual coach and are not required by the ISL nor are they covered by ISL insurance.

How do I communicate with the coaches during practice?

The coaches are usually available before and after each practice for a brief discussion. Otherwise, they can also be reached via email.

How do I let the coaches know my swimmer has preferred events for meets?

When declaring for the meet, put comments in the notes section of your preferred events NO LATER than Wednesday before the meet. The coaches have to enter the swimmers in each meet, so please don’t wait until the last minute.

What certifications do the coaches have (i.e., CPR, life saving, etc.)?

All members of our coaching staff have been certified in CPR and life saving.