Training Groups


The Northfield Swim Club offers training and practice groups for swimmers of all ages and ability levels. It is the Club's goal to offer age specific training for all of our athletes geared towards challenging each individual and developing them to the best of their abilities.

Practice times can also be viewed on the Bull Sharks Calendar.

Explanation of Criteria:

Ag​e Range: The general Age Range for the group.  These are guidelines and a starting point. There may be times when younger athletes can move up to older groups but we don't want to rush athletes and we want them to be with their peers first.  Older athletes we want to move along more quickly if possible to get to the groups with their peers.  Again though, they will not be rushed and will only move up when the coaches feel they are ready.

What is Learned: The general skills that are taught in the group.  Each group is a rung on the ladder of our team.  Before going to the next rung, athletes need to demonstrate they have learned the skills in the group they are in to move forward.

Ability for Group: The minimum of what is needed to be in that group.  For athletes to absolutely move up, they should fulfill ALL requirements.  For athletes to be considered to move up, they should fulfill a majority of what is required.  

  • Times: Athletes performance is a good indicator to coaches about what group their athlete should be in.  In order to be in any group, times need to be established through the participation of meets.  The times are listed in priority of importance.  So, for Senior Gold, to achieve a 13-14 A time in an event 200 or longer is more important than just the A time in a free event.  Not all times need to be reached but the ones listed first do need to be reached.
  • Sets: The sets listed are very general sets for that group.  They are not challenge sets but rather they are along the lines of what athletes would experience everyday in that group.  To be in that group, the athlete absolutely needs to be able to make the set listed.
  • IM event: All groups within the club stress the importance of all four strokes.  Therefore the coaches are looking for a required time for a certain distance in an IM event.  

Practice Expectation: The amount of practices coaches expect athletes to be at throughout the session.  In the past, practice expectations have been goals.  Moving forward they will be a critical item when considering group placement and for athletes to remain in a group.  If the athlete can not make the practices then the coaches reserve the right to move them to a different group.  If when starting a session you know your son/daughter may miss some extended time let the coach know so a plan can be formed.

Meet Expectation: The amount of meets coaches expect athletes to be at throughout the session.  Meets are optional in the sense not every single meet needs to be attended.  Depending on your group, there is an expectation that meets are being attended.  Having more bodies at meets will only help our team!  The newer and younger the athlete is, the more we want it in their hands to make the decision to go.  As they get older, hopefully through what they do in practice and encouragement from coaches they will make the decision to go.  For Age Group, Juniors, Senior Silver and Senior Gold, they are expected to be at the highest Championship level meet they can attend.  Dates for the Championship Meets are below:

Minnesota Achievement Championships (MAC) - TBD

Minnesota Regional Championships (MRC) - March 3-5, 2023

Minnesota 14 & U Short Course State Championships - March 9-12, 2023

Minneosota Senior Short Course State Championships - March 16-19, 2023

For the state meets, know that while your athlete may not qualify individually, there could be opportunities to swim on relays. 

Group Switches: Group switches will typically occur at the end of either the short course season or long course season. However, the Head Coach reserves the right to communicate with parents about possible group switches within the season. 


Age Range: 6-14

What is learned: The basics of the four competitive strokes, how to do starts/turns/finishes

Ability for Group: These swimmers just need to be able to complete a length of freestyle, backstroke and kicking without stopping and without too much trouble.  Most will be in an Introductory Clinic first (if we are in the Fall/Winter/Spring sessions) and after two weeks will be notified if they are ready to join.  (We recommend that kids come to our Introductory Clinic at the beginning of each session, where they can gain some instruction and will be assessed for group placement).

Practice Expectation: We hope they can come 2-3 times a week.  More is welcomed.  We want kids in this group to enjoy their first encounters with swim club and do not want it over done.  Come as often as fits your schedule.

Preferred Meet Expectation: We want the athletes to decide the meets are for them at this level.  The longer they are with the club the sooner we hope they reach this decision but we also want to leave it in their hands. (While meets are never mandatory, they are great opportunities to demonstrate skill.  Racing should be fun, and a quick chat with a coach to determine if your child is ready is advised)  1-2 meets a session would be great.

Age Group

Age Range: 7-14

What is learned: Here the swimmer remains in an instructional based practice, but will also be introduced to simple and skill appropriate training sets.  Instead of just knowing how to perform all four strokes, swimmers in this group should to be able to demonstrate the strokes with more confidence and skill. Continued drills, kicking, starts, turns and finishes will be improved. 

Ability for Group: 

  • Times: 8&Under BB times
  • Sets: 6x25s free swim @ :40     6x25s kick @ :50          

Practice Expectation: Above 50%

Preferred Meet Expectation: About 1 meet a month and attending the highest championship level meet they can attend.


Age Range: 9-14

What is learned: Swimmers learn more advanced drills and strategies to become more efficient in the water with all four strokes.  This goes too with starts/turns/finishes.  Swimmers also will use more sets and in longer duration.  The sets will be more complex and have more goals involved within them that athletes need to focus on.

Ability for Group:​​  

  • Times: 9-10 BB times in Free and Non-Free Event
  • Sets: 6x50s free @ 1:10 and 6x50s kick @ 1:20
  • IM event...100 IM time of 1:40 or faster           ​  

Practice Expectation: Above 60%

Meet Expectation: 2-3 meets a month and attending the highest championship level meet they can attend. 


Age Range: 12-18

What is learned: Swimmers in this group will have the widest array of backgrounds of any group in the club.  The basis for this group though will be drills and technique.  A mixture of what was used in AG and JRS will be used as well as what is used in Senior Silver (SS) to help these athletes continue to master all four strokes and starts/turns/finishes. 

Ability for Group:

  • Times: ​Legal 200 free, 100 back, 100 breast, 100 fly and multiple 13-14 C times
  • Sets: Refer to Juniors sets
  • IM Event...200 IM time of under 3:00 in yards or 3:20 in meters

Practice Expectation: This group is designed to help athletes prepare for SS but to also serve as a group where athletes who cannot be fully committed can still train.  There will be no practice expectation in terms of attendance.  Athletes who are looking to move up to SS should achieve the SS practice expectations.

Preferred Meet Expectation:  Same as above...we hope athletes would still want to do meets but if it doesn't fit their schedules right now that is ok.  Those looking to be in SS should attend the SS meet expectations.

Senior Silver

Age Range: 12+

What is learned: Swimmers in this group continue to build all four strokes, starts, turns and finishes through more advanced drills and strategies.  Also they will be introduced to test sets and more advance training.  SS will follow a more complex and structured season training plan.  Race preparation will also become a much more noticeable part of practice. Senior Silver offers the opportunity for flexibility in practice and meet attendance. It is also encouraged to consider this group if the swimmer is unable to meet the Senior Gold time expectations. These athletes have the opportunity to train for the championship sesason.

Ability for Group:

  • Times: 11-12 A Times in IM, Non-Free, and Free event
  • Athletes should be comfortable to make 100's freestyle on a 1:50 interval (scy)

Practice Expectation: Highly Encouraged 3 -5 practices a week

Meet Expectation: Highly encouraged to attend 1-2 meets and highly encouraged to attend the highest level meet during the championship season.

Senior Gold

Age Range: 13 and Over

What is learned:  This is the most advanced group in NSC.  Technique training is focused around gaining the greatest mechanical advantage for each athlete in each stroke.  Athletes will be exposed to full season training including: goal setting, aerobic, anaerobic, distance, sprint, individual medley, taper, relay and race preparation.  

Ability for Group: 

  • Times: 13-14 A times in 200 event or longer, IM, Non-Free, and Free event
  • Athletes should be comfortable to make 100's freestyle on a 1:30 interval (scy)

The goal here is to proudly represent the team.  This includes how we conduct ourselves as much as it is performance based.  We will value our roles as leaders on the team and will demonstrate respect at all times.  While the team is first, our commitment is also to our sport, and to ourselves.  Athletes must make attendance and the work ethic each day a priority to obtain strong goals.  Here an athlete is asked to do what they need to in order to be the swimmer they want to become.  A winning mentality is cultivated from a purposefully positive environment.  On this squad, the swimmers and coaches create that environment together. 

Practice Expectation: Highly Expected 4 - 6 practices a week. Satruday practice is highly expected as well. 

Meet Expectation: As many eligible meets as reasonable.  Coaches will have guidance on recommendations.  Up to 2, rarely 3, meets a month. Here we are always working and focusing upon the highest championship meets to end each season.


Updated: June 2021