Frequently Asked Questions

We know that there is a lot to learn in the world of swimming and it can get quite intimidating.  The Piranhas Swim Club hopes to answer some of your basic questions in this FAQ section.  Of course, if you cannot find your answer please don’t hesitate to ask one of the coaches or board members.  Below you can find answers to questions regarding swimming in general, registrations, team policies, meets, practices, and a variety of other topics. 

General Swimming Information

Do the Piranhas offer coaching to swimmers of any skill level?

The Piranhas Swim Club offers coaching to swimmers of almost every skill level.  Our groups range from Novice swimmers (swimmers who have completed basic lessons programs) through Senior level swimming and all the levels in between.  We partner with the community to help swimmers get involved with the sport for beginning swimming lessons.  Bloomington/Richfield Community Ed and Olympic Style Swimming lessons are a great intro to the sport of swimming and will help any inspiring new swimmer gain the skills necessary to become a Piranha.

Will every swimmer get a chance to compete?

Yes!  One great aspect of USA Swimming is that it allows for competition at every level from Novice swimmers to the highest levels of our sport.  USA Swimming separates its athletes by age group and within each age group by time-standards. It is a great way to ensure that everyone competes, but it also helps to motivate swimmers.

When are the swimming seasons?

This is a somewhat loaded question, but we will simplify it.  There are two seasons within Minnesota Swimming (the local swimming committee within USA Swimming in charge of all MN swimming teams).  The two seasons are separated into Fall/Winter season (or "Short Course" season) which runs from early-September through the end of March (end of season is dictated by end of season Championship meets).

The Spring/Summer season (aka "Long Course" season) runs from early-April – the beginning of August (again, dependent on end of season Championship meets).

We always take at least two weeks off in between Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer and we always take at least three weeks before the Fall/Winter season starts again.

What is Short Course?  What is Long Course?

Short Course and Long Course refer to the length of the pool that competition is set in.  Short Course competition (Fall/Winter) is set in a 25-yard pool.  It is the type of pool that the majority of our practices are conducted and are the most prevalent types of pool in the US. 

Long Course competition (Spring/Summer) is set in a 50-meter pool aka Olympic pools.  Our Junior/Senior groups get to practice long course, outside in the summer months and the majority of our summer competition is set in a 50-meter pool.  There are only seven 50-meter pools in the entire state of MN and of those seven, only two are indoors. 

FYI: Almost all major competition at the National and International level are conducted in 50-meter pools. College competition is conducted in 25-yard pools.


Membership & Registration Requirements

All of the membership/registration information can be found under the MEMBERSHIP TAB on our website.  Below are questions/answers that may stem from our policies along with questions/answers about joining.

Does my swimmer have to participate in Splash Night?

We encourage all new swimmers to participate in our hosted Splash Night before each season.  We do not require new swimmers to participate in Splash Night, but we do require new swimmers to be evaluated by the coaching staff before joining the Piranhas.  Interested in being evaluated?  Contact Head Coach, Chris Schmitz.

What can we expect from the evaluation of new swimmers?  Does every swimmer automatically get a spot on the team?

The evaluation is a very casual experience for all involved. Aspiring new swimmers should expect to show their skills in swimming through a five to ten minute evaluation.  In general most swimmers who have passed the Community Education swimming lessons, or similar, are ready to join the Piranhas Swim Club.  With that said, not every swimmer will be ready to join the club as we do not have the capability to run our own lesson program. New members must be able top complete 25 yards of freestyle and backstroke, while showing a certain level of comfort in the water.

What is MSI?

MSI is the governing body for all clubs within Minnesota swimming.  USA Swimming separates its governing bodies mostly by state or region called LSC’s (Local Swim Committees).  Each LSC within the US reports directly to USA-Swimming. Learn more about our LSC on their WEBSITE.

Why do we need to be registered with USA Swimming?

All swimmers are required to be registered with USA Swimming.  USA Swimming provides general liability insurance for it’s members, athletes not registered with USA Swimming are not covered under USA Swimming’s insurance program.  Also, non-members are unable to participate in USA Swimming competition.

Can my child join the team for part or half of the season?

Yes, we do allow participation at any point of the season.  Please note that we will still require volunteer hours regardless of when a family has joined.  We also have a $25 cancelation fee.  Please be sure to take a look at our Membership FAQ's for more details and to be aware of our membership policies.

Why are there family volunteer requirements?

Volunteering is very important to our club in maintaining a resilient organization.As a non-profit with our only paid employees being our coaches, we require a lot more external work than just coaching.  While volunteering can initially sound like a burden to a family, it can be a very fun experience and a great way to meet the other families on the team.  We outline our policies in depth on our website, please become familiar with these policies - Volunteering Policy Overview


Swim Meets

Inexperienced families/swimmers can be overwhelmed by swim meets when, in fact, they offer the greatest opportunity for team unity and support.  Of course, if you have any other questions Never Hesitate to Ask! 

How do I register for swim meets?

First and most important – YOU MUST BE LOGGED IN TO YOUR PIRANHAS SWIM CLUB ACCOUNT.  Once logged in, all of our scheduled meets for the season can be found on our EVENTS PAGE.  Go to the Events Page and click on the meet you wish to attend. Each meet will require you to register/commit to attend the swim meet. From there you can also leave a note to the coaches about availability or requests (ie – if you are only available one day).

What are time standards?

USA Swimming and MN Swimming set up different levels and standards for it’s athletes to strive for.  Time Standards are used to determine eligibility for certain meets and used by coaches for motivation.  Please check out our Swim Meet Info page for a full list of Time Standards.

Are all swimmers eligible to compete in every swim meet?

Remember, one great aspect of USA and MN Swimming is that it offers competition to every skill level.  See below for the different types of swim meets offered.  Eligibility for each meet will also be explained under each meets registration page on the EVENTS PAGE.  Please note, understanding what meets your swimmer is eligible for also requires understanding of Time Standards (see explanation above).

“Novice Meets” – These meets are for our youngest or least experienced swimmers.  They are a low key meet and will help our Novice swimmers understand the environment at swim meets.  We encourage ALL Novice swimmers to participate in scheduled Novice meets.

"ABC Open Meet" - These meets are open to all swimmers who have competed in at least one other meet previously, youngest to oldest, beginners to the most skilled.  All Age Group 1, Age Group 2, Junior, and Senior swimmers are encouraged to participate in these meets.  They are great meets to learn how to race, try new races, and to gain meet experience.

"BC Open Meet" - This meet is open to all swimmers with times no faster then a B times.  These meets are more focused to those swimmers in our Novice, Age Group 1, or Age group 2 training groups.

"A Meet" - This meet is for those swimmers who have achieved an A time.  You must at least meet this standard in any event that you swim.  These meets are more focused towards our Age Group 2, Junior, and Senior training groups.

"C Finals" - This is a championship meet for those swimmers who have achieved a C time, but not faster.  The coaches will prepare your swimmer to swim their fastest times of the season for these meets.  Remember if “B” times are achieved your swimmer is then eligible for “A/B” finals!

"A/B Finals or MRC (Minnesota Regional Championships)" - This is a championship meet for those swimmers who have achieved at least a B but not faster than an A time.  The coaches will prepare your swimmer to swim their fasted times of the season for these meets.  Remember if a “CH” time is achieved or the swimmer wins an individual event, they are eligible for the State Meet!

"State Meet" - This is a championship meet for all of those swimmers who have achieved a state (Champ) qualifying time.  This is one of the largest meets in Minnesota every year and like any other Championship meet, the coaches will prepare the swimmers to swim their best of the season.

"Zone Meet" - This is a summer championship meet for 14 and unders that requires a swimmer to have achieved a Zone time standard.  It is swum long course and usually out-of-state.  This meet takes teams composed of swimmers from the State of Minnesota and has them compete against other swimmers from different states in our CENTRAL ZONE.  It is a privilege to compete for Team Minnesota.

Who registers my child for the events they will compete in at the swim meet?

The group coach will register each participating swimmer from their group in meet events.  The coaches will talk to each swimmer at practice about events.The coaches will encourage each athlete to swim every event as they see fit and as each swimmer shows the ability to swim all of the competitive strokes.  Finally, you may also leave requests in the comment box for each meet about events that your swimmer wants to swim.

How much do swim meets cost?

The cost of a swim meet varies from meet to meet, but cost for each meet can be found in the Meet Information under each meets registration page on the EVENTS PAGE.

Where are the swim meets?  Are there travel meets?  If so, who is responsible for hotel accommodations?

Most swim meets will take place within the State of Minnesota and within the Minneapolis metro area. Minnesota Swimming Championship level meets (MRC and State Champs) have the potential of being outside of the metro area, along with any travel meets outside of MN (Zones or team travel meets), or National level meets.  The Piranhas Swim Club will set-up room blocks when hotel accommodations are needed.

Where can I keep track or view my child’s times?

Times can be found one of two ways:

  • The most accurate way to keep track of times is through USA Swimming's Time Search
  • You can also search times through our website. YOU MUST BE LOGGED IN then under “My Account” click on “My Meet Results” where you will be given several filter options to view times.

What is a disqualification (DQ)?

Each of the competitive strokes has certain rules to follow in order to execute the stroke properly and fairly as determined by USA-Swimming.  Trained officials observe the swimmers during each race to ensure compliance. If an official is witness to an infraction of the rules, a disqualification (DQ) will result, meaning that the swimmer will not receive an official time.  A disqualification may result from actions such as not getting to the starting blocks on time, false starting, performing strokes in an illegal manner, or unsportsman­like conduct. 

DQs are also a result of technical rules violations. They include but are not limited to:

Freestyle: Walking on the bottom, pulling on the lane rope, not touching the wall on a turn, or not completing the distance.

Backstroke: Pulling or kicking into the wall once a swimmer has turned passed the vertical onto the breast. Turning onto the breast before touching the wall with the hand at the finish of the race

Breaststroke: An illegal kick such as flutter (freestyle), dolphin (butterfly), or scissors (side stroke); not on the breast; alternating movements of the arms; taking two arm strokes or two leg kicks while the head is under water; touching with only one hand at the turns or finish. 

Butterfly: Alternating movements of the arms or legs; pushing the arms forward under instead of over the water surface (underwater recovery); a breaststroke style of kick; touching with only one hand at the turns or finish.

When is the championship season?

The Championship season falls at the end of each competitive season.For the Short Course season, the competitive season is usually in March, while the Long Course Championships are normally in late-July or the beginning of August.It is dependent on which meet your swimmer qualifies for.  We encourage and expect all swimmers to compete at the highest level Championship that they qualify for.



Practice is where the swimmers will have the most interaction with each other and where they learn the necessary skills to progress within the sport.  There is a progressive approach to our teaching and preparation as each swimmer moves through the various levels that swimming provides.  Please read through the questions and answers below to understand what to expect at practice and head to our PRACTICE GROUP tab for a more in depth explanation about our groups.

What type of equipment does my child need?

All information about our training groups and equipment needs can be found on our website - Practice Group Info

Where can I find the practice schedule?

The practice schedule can always be found on our easily up loadable Google calendar on our website - Practice Calendar

How do I know if a practice is canceled?

Our Practice Calendar is up to date as far in advance as possible however, last minute practice cancelations are possible as a result of inclement weather or pool malfunctions.  If we have to cancel practice we will communicate as quickly as possible through Email and Text Messages.  To receive Text Messages please be sure that your phone number is verified under your account setting by following the simple steps below.

  1. Sign In to your team's TeamUnify SwimOffice website.
  2. In the side menu click My Account > My Account.
  3. To add an SMS number for one of the athletes in the account, click the Members tab and then click their name; otherwise stay on the current screen.
  4. Fill in the cell number in the SMS field.
  5. Pick the cell Carrier for that phone from the drop down menu.
  6. Click Save in the upper right and it will send that number a verification text.
  7. Check your cell phone for a "Verify your SMS" text from notifications+alias, where alias is your team's alias, and open it. Note that some cell carriers can take awhile to deliver the message.
  8. Tap the link and you should see one of two possible messages.
    • "Success! We have validated your primary SMS." (or "secondary SMS" if that's what you were verifying)
    • "Sorry, your primary SMS has already been validated." Sometimes just opening the text will verify the number, resulting in this message.

In either case the SMS number is verified and ready to receive texts from the team.

  1. If tapping the link doesn't work, note the four digit code number in the text message.
  2. If you get the message "Sorry, the code XXXX did not match any codes," continue.
  3. Back in your team's SwimOffice website, click the Unverified button above the SMS number.
  4. If you got the error in step 10 on your mobile device, click Resend Verification and go back to step 7.
  5. Enter the four digit code from your text message in the Verification Code field and click Verify.
  6. You will see Verified in green above the SMS number. You may need to refresh the screen to see this.

How can I contact a coach?

The best way to have all of your questions answered is to ask!  We request that you talk to coaches before or after practice, but not during practice.  You can also reach out to the coaches through email and they will be happy to answer any questions or concerns.

Chris Schmitz – Head Coach – [email protected]

Haley Foydel  – Age Group 2 Coach - [email protected] 

Kathryn Berg - Age Group 1 Coach - [email protected]

Jack Bowers - Novice Coach - [email protected]

Mary Ann Pichler - Novice Coach - [email protected]

Maureen Mook - Masters Coach - [email protected]

What is taper?

“Taper” is a term used by coaches that refers to a rest period in practice/training as swimmers head into their championship meets. As explained in the types of meets, championship meets are where coaches/athletes want the fastest swimming of the season to take place, referring to the training phase preceding these meets as “taper”.