Mission and Values


Our team strives to provide an enviroment for its swimmers and families that is a safe, healthy, and positive place for them to be. We want to give them the best place to grow as athletes and people in an encouraging and supportive environment. Swimmers of all ages and abilities can learn that through hard work, they can develop skills that will help them throughout their lives.

Our team strives to use technical coaching, support, and competition to help each swimmer reach their greatest potential in the sport of swimming as a youth and to love the sport for life. Goal-setting team building, and skill work are used to build the plan, competition is our evaluator, and swimmers come out of our program as well-rounded athletes with a deep understanding of their sport. To train swimmers well technically, and teach them to be good teammates. To encourage them to be competitive with themselves and learn to set, and achieve, goals.




Children registered in any group from Novice - Senior do have to participate in meets, building to the appropriate postseason meet. Each group has meet requirements to it, you can see those requirements on the 2019-2020 Meet Requirements page. 


Competition can mean many things to a young athlete, and we feel it should be a celebration and recognition of the swimmer's own quest for improvement.We believe in the concept of Arete, an idea dating back to ancient Greek mythology. Competition serves not as a method of bringing others down, but of helping the individual realize their greatest potential. It is a celebration of skill and effort, which has been trained and rewarded through practices and learning from coaches and other swimmers. Swimmers who add a balanced schedule of competition continue in the sport longer, care more about what is going on in practice, and support the efforts of their teammates better.


We cannot make special rules for this requirement, but we can offer suggestions on how to approach any challenges in the form of group or private lessons to build confidence before joining Otters, or before a their first meet. To a coach, the kids tend to be more prepared for competition than their parents will recognize, and the worst signal can be sent is for a mentor or parent to add doubt to their readiness to compete. If they've met the requirements for the Otters swim team, we feel they are ready to see where their racing is.


Team History

The Otters were started as a recreational swim team in 1989 at the Uptown YWCA. At the end of a session of swim lessons, graduating students were given a cookie shaped like an Otter by the mother of the team's first coach, and the name has stayed with us since.

The team stayed at a size of 20-40 swimmers for the next 12 years. As the YWCA opened its new location at Midtown in 2000, there was suddenly an opportunity to grow and improve the program.

Since 2001, the Otters have grown beyond their roots as a team in the YMCA league into one of the largest clubs in Minnesota. With over 300 swimmers, from age 6 to 22, the Otters compete in USA Swimming competition around the state of Minnesota and beyond. We also have had several active Paralympians, including a 2012 Can-Am Champion.

The Otters finished first and second, respectively, in the winter and summer Minnesota Regional Championships meets in 2013, and they came in 3rd in Class A in the winter 2013 State Championship Meet. In the fall of 2013, they finished as runner-up in the Minnetonka Team Challenge.


Who we are

Swimmers on Otters come from most schools in Minneapolis, and we also have team members from Golden Valley, St Louis Park, Edina, Richfield, and St Paul. The team is split up into five basic levels of swimmers, and we have numerous practice options at our three sites in Uptown, Midtown, and Downtown Minneapolis for each group.

In addition to regular practices, the Otters hold technique sessions for practice groups, special events like team parties, movie nights, banquets, picnics, and lake swims. The Senior and Presenior group is able to use some of the best strength and conditioning equipment any team in Minnesota has access to on a daily basis as part of their training.

All of our lead coaches have been with the YWCA for numerous years, and our staff includes coaches with a combined 60 years of experience.

Through our continued development of researched and evolving technical standards, our club looks to rebuild the sport of swimming within the city limits of Minneapolis, enhancing understanding and safety around the water while supporting and driving competitive excellence around the state, nation, and world. Through scholarship, planning, and clear direction, our program can help any swimmer reach their goals in the sport regardless of economic or other obstacles.