Note:  Updated 8/30/16.  This information will be updated as needed.


The USA Swimming age group swimming program is one of America’s largest programs of guided fitness activities for children. Age group swimming builds a strong foundation for a lifetime of good health by teaching successful fitness habits. The four competitive strokes of swimming are freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. In addition, there is the individual medley that features one race with all four strokes: fly, back, breast, and free, in that order. Relay events are comprised of four swimmers per relay team, each swimming ¼ of the total distance of the event. There are two types of relays: freestyle relay and medley relay: back, breast, fly and free in that order.

Swimmers compete in different age groups depending on how old they are on the first day of the meet. Nationally recognized age groups are 10 & Under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18. Senior competition has no upper or lower age limitations. Montana Swimming also provides events for 8 & under swimmers.

Each swim meet offers a variety of events and distances, depending on the age group and classification. Each meet has limitations on the number of events a swimmer may swim per day as well as a total number of events a swimmer can swim.

Competition pools may be short course (25 yards or meters), or long course (50 meters). The international standard used in the Olympics is 50 meters. The two sets of world records are accomplished in 50-meter pools and 25 meter pools. USA Swimming maintains records for 25 yards, 25 meters, and 50 meters.

The technical rules of swimming are designed to provide fair and equitable conditions of competition and to promote uniformity in the sport. Each swimming stroke has specific rules designed to ensure that no swimmer gets an unfair competitive advantage. The technical rules for each stroke may be found in the publication, “USA Swimming Rules and Regulations.” – an annual publication.

Trained officials observe the swimmers during each event to ensure compliance with these technical rules. If a swimmer commits an infraction of the rules he/she will be disqualified from that event, which means he/she will not receive an official time nor be eligible for an award for that event.

Officials are present at all competitions to implement the technical rules of swimming and to ensure that the competition is fair and equitable. Officials attend clinics, pass a written test, and work meets before being certified. All parents are encouraged to get involved with officiating.

The Helena Lions Swim team (HLST) was organized in 1973. HLST is a non-profit coach/parent-run team. It is a year-round swim team for children age 6 and up. HLST is for the beginning swimmer to the most competitive and skilled swimmer. To begin swimming with the team, a swimmer must try out preferably September or April. They must also be able to follow coaching instructions without distracting other team members. The final determination of swimmer’s eligibility is the Coach’s discretion. When a young person becomes a member of the Helena Lions Swim Team, he/she learns the values of sportsmanship and teamwork. Swimming provides physical, emotional and intellectual skills lasting a lifetime.

Enrollment in the Helena Lions Swim Team requires the payment of seasonal dues and an annual registration fee for USA swimming. A 10-month payment schedule allows the payment of dues to be spread out over the course of the season. HLST is funded in part by swimmer dues, fundraising events, and meet entries. The Helena Lions Club is a supporter of the Lions Swim Team.

The enrollment in USA Swimming includes insurance. USA Swimming is the ruling body for competitive swimming in the United States. USA Swimming meets are designed to protect the swimmer, provide fair and equitable conditions of competition, and promote uniformity in the sport so that no swimmer shall obtain an unfair advantage over another.

Helena Lions Swim Team hosts at least one swim meet each year. This meet is usually in July. We ask for parent assistance before, during, and after the meets.

The swim season is broken down into two courses for training/competition. The winter or Short Course season runs from September to March with training at the YMCA and Capital City Health Club's 25-yard indoor pools. The summer or Long Course season runs from mid-April to mid-August. During the Long Course Season, training continues at the YMCA and Capital City Health Club's 25-yard indoor pools (through early/mid June) and at Memorial Park Pool (50-meter pool) in the mornings when it is open (Early/mid June). Check the schedule for the particular training hours that pertain to your swimmer.

There are approximately 8 or 9 meets throughout the state during each of the two seasons. Meet entry information is available from the Helena Lions Swim Team and Montana Swimming websites. The meets differ in terms of events offered, entry fees, meet duration, and awards. Meet entry fees, transportation, food, and lodging are the responsibility of the swimmer and their family. Meet attendance is optional, but strongly encouraged. Swimmers are encouraged to discuss meet entries with their coach. It is the responsibility of each swimmer to enter their events for the meet. However, the Head Coach may choose to change any event at their discretion. Coaches will enter swimmers into relays. Please check with your swimmer's coach before leaving the meet to insure the swimmer is not on a relay.

USA Swimming (formerly United States Swimming) is the National Governing Body for competitive swimming the in the United States. It was founded in 1980 as a result of the 1978 Congressional Amateur Sports Act. USA Swimming establishes the rules that govern all aspects of competitive swimming in the United States, and provides support and assistance to Local Swimming Committees. USA Swimming is funded in part from the annual dues that each swimmer must pay.

Montana Swimming is the Local Swimming Committee (LSC) that the Helena Lions Swim Team belongs to. It is one of the 59 LSC’s throughout the country that are members of USA Swimming. Montana Swimming establishes the meet schedules, provides timing equipment, and facilitates coordination and cooperation amongst the member teams. Montana Swimming is funded in part by a surcharge on all meet entries.

Coaches will be 10 to 15 minutes early for practice. They will be prepared with workouts and some equipment needed for that practice. The coaches are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner at practice and meets.  They too, are role models. The coaches will look out for every swimmer’s best interest and act accordingly. They will be respectful to swimmers, parents, and officials. They will be supportive, encouraging, and realistic. The coaches are expected to keep communication going through the team by posting any information for events, meets, or schedule changes on the team website or through emails to team members. The club/coaches will further educate themselves in the sport, thus enhancing your swimmers potential.


The following information reflects the PRIDE the Lion swimmers show for their family, team, and community:

Perseverance - Respect - Integrity - Dedication - Embrace

Be Positive A positive attitude leads to positive swims. Every day swim with a, “Can Do” attitude.

Respect Coaches, Parents, and other swimmersCoaches and parents want what is best for you. Listen to them. Also treat other swimmers how you would like to be treated.

Encourage teammates at practice and meetsWe are all on the same team. Encouragement creates a positive fun environment where everyone swims better.

Be Role ModelsYounger swimmers learn from the example older swimmers set. Be a good example.

Be PunctualBeing late impacts not only your time but the coaches and your teammates. Practice and meet warm-ups have a set time, take advantage of it.

Know your prioritiesLife has many priorities, such as family, church, and school, besides swimming. Know where swimming fits into your set of priorities. If you have high expectations, aspirations, or goals for yourself in the sport of swimming, then make swimming a high priority.

Be Helpful Help with set up and tear down of practice and meets. Parents and coaches are here for you so take responsibility for your swimming by helping out.

Take Responsibility for Your SwimmingYou are the swimmer. You chose to be on the team. Parents and coaches are working for you. It is your responsibility to be punctual, get meet entries in on time, listen to your coaches, help and encourage your teammates, and have fun.

Be SupportiveThis is an activity your child has taken an interest towards. Positive reinforcement of practice and meet attendance only furthers their interest and abilities.

Be PunctualCoaches are doing their best to use practice time efficiently. Being late only inhibits your child from getting the most out of the entire practice. The first part of practice is important for explanations, warm-up, and injury prevention.

Pick up swimmers on timeCoaches are at the pool before during and after practice every day. Please pick up your swimmer promptly at the conclusion of their practice.

Support your coach– Coaches do a great deal of work behind the scenes. They are professionals in the sport, and have dedicated much time to ensure your kids achieve the best results.

Help with meetsSwimmers practice everyday for self improvement and to work towards meet goals. We practice to have fun and compete. Meets would not be successful or even possible without parent help.

Check your emails Emails are a consistent source of communication and information – they may contain anything from newsletters to meet information.

Get meet entries in on timeDeadlines are set for a reason. One late meet entry is a huge time consuming headache for coaches. It is not the coaches’ job to sign swimmers up who are late.

Encourage your children to have funEvery one wants to win, but we believe in bettering our own times, and having fun. It is not just about winning or beating the other kid.

Encourage your child, but let the coaches, coach-They are professionals, let them do their job.
Coaches love to talk to parents, but please try and do it before or after practice. Please stay off the deck during practice, talking to you during practice only takes away from the swimmers.

Be supportive of the officials– Officials are volunteering their time making this sport possible. If you do not agree with an Officials decision, talk to your coaches.

Helena Lion’s Swim Team would like to remind all swimmers and parents that safety at practices and meets is of concern. We strive to have zero accidents.

No running or horseplay on deck – if you arrive early or finished with practice early, you need to be seated quietly in the bleachers or in the entry area. A parent should supervise younger children if they are not involved in a practice session.

Locker Rooms are not play areas – Locker Rooms are for changing, not unsupervised play. We are guests of the YMCA, Capital City Health Club, and Memorial Pool.

Swimmers who are not practicing should not be on the deck bothering the coaches, or swimmers in the water – they should watch and wait in the bleachers.

The YMCA and Capital City Health Club has requested that swimmers treat their facilities ans members with the highest level of respect. Our swimmers are guests of the establishments.

At the discretion of coaches, any behavior by a swimmer that is disruptive to any Helena Lions Swim Team activity will result in discipline.

Depending on the nature of the first offense, the swimmer will be warned and the parents will be notified.

The second offense will result in the coach talking to the swimmer’s parents or guardian.

The third offense will result in the swimmer being suspended from practice for a week.

Any subsequent offenses will result in dismissal from the team for the rest of the season.

When the offense endangers the health, safety or well being of the Helena Lions Swim Team or any of its members, the Helena Lions Swim Team board of directors may immediately dismiss a swimmer for the rest of the season.

It is the intent of the Helena Lions Swim Team board of directors to provide a safe, healthy environment for all swimmers. The Board of Directors will support the coaches in their disciplinary decisions.

Athlete Protection Policy

Bullying, Harassment, and Intimidation Policy
The Helena Lions Swim Team Board of Directors and coaching staff are committed to maintaining safe environments for all swimmers that are free from hostility, harassment, and intimidation.  Swimmers shall feel safe and cared for by fellow swimmers and adults.  In the event, a swimmer feels bullied or harassed by another swimmer or an adult, the swimmer and/or his/her parents should notify the coach or a board member as soon as possible.

Examples of bullying, harassment, and intimidation that are not tolerated are:

  • Unwelcome comments or advances
  • Threats
  • Offensive jokes, swearing, commenting on body parts
  • Ridicule, mean remarks or actions about another person
  • Inappropriate touching

Swimmers who participate in any type of bullying, harassment, or intimidation are subject to the Helena Lions Swim Team Discipline Policy.  Behaviors determined severe enough by the coaching staff or board of directors may indicate immediate dismissal from participation with the swim team.


The HLST board is comprised of seven parent members and two swimmer representatives. Board members serve two-year terms, and are elected at the annual Fall Banquet in late September. The board meets monthly, and all parents are encouraged to participate in board meetings.



A newsletter is distributed each month via e-mail. The newsletter summarizes current events and pertinent information.

The Website is in place to keep the members informed and will be up-dated as needed throughout the swim season.

The Helena Independent Record publishes meet highlights and results in the sports section.

The Helena Lions Swim Team has a specific training program that is designed to meet individual swimming levels. This is a tiered workout schedule that allows more pool time and more specific training as a swimmer advances in their abilities.  The Coaches are trained professionals with the swimmers best interest always in mind.


Dues Payment Policy

The swim year is divided into two seasons: Short course and Long Course

The short course season commences in September and concludes in March. It is swam in “short course” pools which are either 25 meters (Butte and Havre) or 25 yards (most other pools). The first meet is usually sometime in October; there are generally several meets per month through February. The state championships are in early March, and “Sectionals” are held in late March.

The long course season commences in April and concludes in August. It is focussed on “long course” pools, which are 50 meters long. In Montana, these pools are usually outdoors (Bozeman has an indoor 50-meter pool), and do not open until June. The state championships are in late July, or early August. The season climaxes with the Western Zones Championships in August.

HLST members have a chance to compete in many different meets during the course of a season. These meets may be within the state or take our swimmers to other regions. Most meets allow swimmers to enter 3-5 individual events per day and may offer different team relays. The information concerning the entry limits is usually available when you are entering your swimmer's events. Individual event entries are the responsibility of the swimmer. However, the Head Coach may change any event at their discretion. The coaches determine the relay entries. It is the swimmer's responsibility to know whether they are on a relay. The fees for all relay races are paid by HLST. All swimmers are encouraged to participate in as many meets as possible, but especially the Helena hosted meets.

On the day of the meet, arrive at the pool 15-minutes before the scheduled warm-up times. The warm-up times will be posted at the pool, or through an email, a day or two before the meet. It is very important for all swimmers to warm-up with the team. Swim programs are usually available at the concession stands that list the swimmers assigned events, heats and lanes. Although the program will be posted at the pool, most parents find it helpful to purchase a program and highlight their swimmer’s races.

Coaches like to visit with swimmers prior to and following their events. This gives the coach an opportunity to discuss the swim with each swimmer. A coach is not responsible for getting the swimmer to the blocks in time to swim the race. If a swimmer misses a race, they will not be able to swim in another heat to make-up for the missed race.

According to USA rules, parents are not allowed on the deck before, during or after a meet unless serving in an official capacity. All questions concerning meet results, an officiating call or the conduct of the meet should be referred to the coaching staff. They in turn will pursue the matter through the proper channels. When your races are completed, the swimmer is permitted to leave the meet, but please check with the coach before you go to insure that you have not been placed in a relay.

Following is a summary of the principal meet types:

Most meets during both seasons are “invitational”. There are generally no minimum time entry requirements, and swimmers compete both individually and as a team.

There is a championship meet for both the long course season and the short course season. Montana Swimming establishes minimum entry times each year. Historically, to be able to swim in this meet you must have at least one “BB” time or better or achieve the minimum time requirements for those age, 8 & Under. Time standards are summarized under the 'Meet tab on the HLST website. For most events, the meet is swum in a preliminaries/finals format. Preliminary heats are swum in the morning, and the final heats are swum in the evenings. Medals are awarded to the top finishers in each event. The distance events, and the 8 and under events are swum as “timed finals” in preliminaries. Relays make or break the team at state. If you are competing at the state meet, more than likely you will be on a relay.

The short course season climaxes with an Age Group Sectional meet that is typically held in Federal Way, Washington. Swimmers from the Northwestern Section compete in this meet which is swum in a preliminaries/finals format. Swimmers compete at each age, rather than in two-year age brackets. Time standards are summarized under the 'Meet tab on the HLST website.

The Western Zones is the climax of the Long Course Season, and is for swimmers age 10 and over. Montana Swimming sends a team that consists of the top swimmers in the state, and competes against the other LSC’s from the Western U.S. The Zones meet is held in a different location each year. Most recently, the Zone Meet has been held in Grand Junction, Fresno, and Maui. The meet format is a preliminaries/finals format.

These meets are held during the Long and Short Course Seasons and are not age group based. Each event has a female/male minimum qualifying time regardless of age.

Most parents find it helpful to keep a record of their swimmers best times. The team also keeps an electronic database of swimmer times from all meets that the coaches attend. The database is primarily used to provide “seed” times for meet entries, and can also be useful to assess swimmer progress. If HLST swimmers participate in meets outside of the state, it is their responsibility to provide the meet results (preferably in an electronic format) to the coaches so that it can be entered into the database. Swimmers may obtain a summary of their best times by contacting their coach or looking at our website under 'My Meet Results'. A USA Swimming website 'Times Search' or using the Deck Pass app are other great places to find best times.

Team records are updated at the end of each season.  Records are available under the 'Team Information' tab on our website.