Tornadoes Swim Team General FAQs

Joining the Team

How do we join the team?

To join the Tornadoes Swim Team, your swimmer will need to try out with one of the team's coaches.  For most 12 & under swimmers, the tryout consists of: 50 yards freestyle, 50 yards backstroke, 25 yards breaststroke, and 25 yards butterfly. 50 yards is equal to two lengths of the lap pool and 25 yards is equal to one length of the lap pool. Swimmers 13 & over will do a similar tryout with double the length of each stroke minimum. See the requirements page for each swim group.

Our normal tryouts occur at the beginning of Short Course (August/September) and Long Course (March/April). Because of COVID19 our normal Short Course tryouts have been postponed. If you are interested, send an email to Coach Sophia. Any questions that you have about the team can be attached to that email.

After the tryout, the coach will identify the training group your swimmer would join. Complete the Tornadoes online registration and YMCA membership registration. Once both registrations are confirmed, you will receive an email from the head coach with as start date for the swimmer to begin practices.


What is the registration process?

Tornadoes offers online registration.  After your swimmer does a tryout (see previous question) and our coach tells you what group your swimmer will be in, go to our Registration page.  It should take about 15 minutes to complete the process.  It will help to have your swimmer information and credit card handy.  The Tornadoes policies are outlined in detail during the registration process so please read carefully.

How do I know which team level is right for my swimmer?

All new swimmers are evaluated on an individual basis.  A Tornadoes coach assigns the team level based on the one-on-one assessment during tryout.

How much does it cost to join?

Check out our membership prices page.

What is the cancellation policy?

A 30-day notice is required for all cancellations.  Complete a membership discontinuation form and send it via email to the head coach and our team treasurer. The account owner remains responsible for any fees incurred by the swimmer prior to their last practice date (i.e. meet fees, swim cap, purchases, USA Swimming registration fees) Any unpaid balances will be collected if/when the swimmer wishes to return to the club.  Tornadoes Swim Team reserves the right to send any unpaid balances to a collections agency if not resolved in a reasonable amount of time.

What if my swimmer is transferring from another USA Swimming Swim Team?

Your swimmer's USA Swimming membership can be transferred from another team when you join the Tornadoes.  In addition to the tryout and registration (see questions above), you MUST complete and submit a Transfer Form before your swimmer can swim as a Tornado. Once you have submitted the form, your swimmer will be a Tornado, but will swim as "Unattached" at swim meets for 120 consecutive days since their last swim meet in order to comply with USA Swimming Rules.

How do I know what equipment my swimmer needs and where do I buy it?

There is a basic list that all swimmers need for training. Go to the Team Equipment page to see what is required and where it can be purchased. You can also see requirements specific to the group your swimmer is assigned to under the Training Group tab.

Swimming Basics

What is a time standard?

Competitive swimming is broken into time standards in order to appropriately group swimmers and provide achievement milestones. For the latest Oregon time standards, please see the following link:

Oregon Swimming Time Standard

We are also a YMCA Swim Team and will compete in meets that follow the YMCA time standards. 

YMCA Time Standards

What are A and B Times?

Every year USA Swimming sets swimming time standards or "cuts" for age group swimmers so that swimmers know what time they need to achieve to make that next cut.  Swimmers who achieve A times for their age group during the season qualify to attend the state swim meet.  B times are known as motivational times and are used to show swimmers that they are close to the A time and can push harder to achieve that time. Swimmers with B times are able to attend AB swim meets to try to make that A time cut in their event.

What are Short Course and Long Course Seasons?

Tornadoes operates in two seasons (which makes us a year round team) in accordance with USA Swimming.  Short course vs long course refers to the length of the pool, not the length of the season.

Short Course season:

  • runs Sept-March
  • all training and competitions are run in a 25 yard pool (like at YMCA) or sometimes in a 25 meter pool
  • practices start in September (usually the Tuesday after Labor Day)
  • meets generally start in late September and run through the end of March
  • swimmers build on their training to peak at the end of the season at YMCA Regionals, State Meets, Sectional Meets, or further depending on the swimmer

Long Course Season:

  • runs April-July
  • a long course pool is a 50 meter pool (picture what you see the Olympic swimmers compete in)
  • Tornadoes still does the majority of the training in our 25 yard pool.  Some of the older teams may train in a 50 meter pool during the summer months.  50 meter pool space is scarce in our area, there are very few options and all the teams in the state want to rent space.  We typically try secure lanes at Mt. Hood Community College during the summer months.
  • Competitions will utilize 25 yard pools, 25 meter pools, and 50 meter pools.  However, Regionals and State championships are swam in a 50 meter pool.
  • There are different time standards for short vs. long course


Swim Practice

How do we know if practice is cancelled due to weather?

The coaching staff will determine any practice cancellations as soon as possible.  If practice is cancelled it will be communicated via email.  We leave all final decisions to the parents on attending practice due to poor weather conditions.  Tornadoes Swim Team does not provide refunds for cancelled practice. Practices that are cancelled in advance (due to meets, coach trainings, YMCA closures, etc.) will be listed on the calendar website page or communicated via coach emails.

What is the best way to drop off and pick up my swimmer? 

The Clark County YMCA offers a circle drive to facilitate easy drop off and pickup of your swimmer.  Do not leave your car unattended in this zone.  YMCA policy requires that all swimmers under the age of 12 be accompianed into and out of the facility by a responsible adult.  Please park your car in a designated parking place and walk your child into the facility to check them in or pick them up.  The YMCA allows parents to sit in the lobby, sit in the community room, or sit on the bleachers in the pool area during your child's swim practice without being a member.  You need to first check in at the front desk before leaving the lobby area.  Please review the YMCA Code of Conduct for specific information about facility use.

When do I know when my child is ready to move to the next swim level?

Each season the coaching staff evaluates swimmers to determine when they are ready to move to the next level.  Coaches will communicate this information to the swimmer and parents. Training group level requirements.

How are the training groups determined?

Our coaching staff is constantly working together to insure that the swimmers are getting the training they need based on the swimmer's development. Go to the Training Groups tab and click on a specifc group to see the general description of the group and the minimum requirements to be in that group.  Group descriptions and requirements may change depending on the ages and abilities of swimmers on our team.

Do you offer private swim lessons?

Yes! Tornadoes swim team members can schedule private lessons with any of the coaches.  Go to our Swim Lesson page to see coach availablity.  The cost is $35 for a 30 minute lesson. If your swimmer is not a current Tornadoes Swim Team member, you can schedule private lessons through the YMCA Lesson Program.

Swim Meets

Which swim meets should my swimmer attend?

Contact your swimmer's coach for guidance on which meets are a good fit for your swimmer.  Usually, there is a description of the level of swimmer who should attend a particular competition within each meet listed on our meet schedule.

How do I sign up my swimmer for a meet in Team Unify?

  • Log in to your Team Unify account
  • Under Team Event Signup on the main page, click on the meet
  • Click on the swimmer’s name
  • Use the drop down menu to choose “yes” or “no”
  • Use the notes section to tell the coaches any special information.  For example, if your swimmer can only participate in one day of a two day meet.
  • DO NOT choose any events—the coaches will do that
  • Scroll past the events (if they pop up) and hit the SAVE button.  Your information will not be saved if you don’t hit this button.

How do I know which events my swimmer should enter in a meet?

The good news is that you don’t have to worry about this.  The coaching staff has a training and meet plan for each swimmer and will choose those events.

Where do I get information/pricing on each swim meet?

Meet information is posted on the website as it becomes available.  If it isn’t posted on our website then we are still waiting on it and will post as soon as possible. The fees for each meet are listed in the meet document as well.  The fees are charged to your account/credit card on file once entries are sent in.  When meet information is updated, there will be links for attachments from the meet host posted at the bottom of each event page that will contain the most accruate information on timeline, events offered, and facility information, such as seating and parking. Any last minute changes and updates will be communicated via email from the coach.

Why is there an entry deadline for swim meets and why do I have to pay the fees if my swimmer does not attend the meet we signed up for?

Swim meets involve hundreds of swimmers and take a large amount of data manipulation to make run as efficiently as possible.  Meet entries and fees are due to the host club weeks before the meet.  Once the entries are submitted, the swimmer’s spot is secured and the Tornadoes have guaranteed payment to the host team and USA Swimming.  Changes cannot be made after the deadline. The meet host does not refund money to the Tornadoes for absences, so we are unable to reimburse you money for a swimmer who is unable to attend a meet, for any reason.

What do we bring to the swim meet and what should we expect when we get there?

Check out our New to the Swim Meet page for some specifics on what to bring and what you can expect. We also suggest you seek out other Tornadoes parents and ask them questions. At the Y you can usually find someone in the lobby or on the pool deck bleachers. At the meet look for parents wearing Tornadoes shirts. Throughout the year there will be new swim parent information meetings announced -- watch for emails for the dates and times of these parent training sessions.

How can I best support my swimmer at the swim meet?

The best way to support your swimmer is to be their cheerleader! We love for our team parents to sit together at meets, so look for the green shirts when you arrive. Early arrivers usually try to save seats for our team, but the earlier you arrive for the meet the better chance you have of getting a good seat. We love to be role models for team spirit by sitting together, helping each other out, cheering for eath other's kids, and getting to know each other. GO TORNADOES!!


Parent Responsibilities

How do I contact a board member or a coach?

Contact information for our board members and coaches is located on the Coaches Contact page. Board members are listed below the coaches on the page.

What are my responsibilities for being a parent volunteer?

Tornadoes depends on families to volunteer in order to operate successfully.  Parents are required to volunteer a set number of hours each season (short course and long course) depending on which group your swimmer(s) belong to.  Please see the details on our parents club tab. All families should sign up for at least one parent job in Parents Club. We have a variety of positions available, and if you have an idea for a job you want to do, please contact our Parents Club Coordinator to discuss it. Click here to see the list of parent club jobs available and sign up. We also require all families to participate in timing at swim meets and locker room monitoring during practice times (these jobs do not count towards your regular parent club job hours). Click here to see details about meet timing and locker room monitoring.

I'm too busy to volunteer, what should I do?

We encourage all our families to volunteer. If you choose not to volunteer and you do not fulfill your required volunteer hours, you will be billed $15.00 per hour.

Why do we have to do fundraising?

The Tornadoes Swim Team is a non-profit organization. We do all we can to keep membership costs down so that families can afford to be on the team. Our two biggest costs are pool rental fees and coach salaries.  Our membership rates alone cannot cover these expenses plus other costs like coach training, coach travel costs, and team equipment. We rely on fundraising to fill the gap. Because of this we require all families to participate in fundraising activities. Please see our Fundraising Page for more details about the events we have and how you can participate.

Who do I talk to if I have a question on my account?

One of our co-treasurers, Breshelle Pedersen, handles swim accounts. Check our our Account FAQs for more answers on your swim account.

Team Unify and the Tornadoes Website

What is Team Unify?

Team Unify (TU) is the name of our website/team management/billing software.  If you ever hear, “it is listed in Team Unify” or “check Team Unify” it is synonymous with our website.

What are the apps I see people using at swim meets to track their swimmer's stats?

There are a couple great apps that parent's can use to track swimmer's stats. 

  • USA Swimming Deck Pass for Parents - Offers features that allow parents to connect and share.  You will need to create an account on and link each of your athlete's memberships to your account.  With Deck Pass for Parents, you can
    • Track your swimmer(s) in Deck Pass and view their times, goals and IMX scores
    • Connect with your friends who are also using Deck Pass, and with your Facebook friends
    • Earn special patches from USA Swimming and your club
    • Follow your friends' activity on Deck Pass through your News Feed
  • OnDeck - This is the mobile app that is tied to our Tornadoes website through Team Unify.  Through this app you can see the meets your swimmer is signed up for, events our team has on the website, swimmer best times, qualifying times, plus cool features like a stopwatch, time converter, and pace calculator.  You will use your Tornadoes website login info to log into this app after you download it.  Search for it where you download apps. If you are required to put in a team code, use OSTST as the code to access our info.
  • Meet Mobile - This app provides real time results at swim meets that use the Meet Mobile system.  There is an annual fee associated with this app to get the premium version (about $5 per year).  Search for the app where you download apps.

I forgot my password! What do I do?

On the "Sign-In" page, click the link and your password will be emailed to you. Your password will be auto-emailed to the email address on file with your members-only account.

Can I change my password?

Yes. After you sign in, click on your account icon at the top-right corner of the home page. Then click "My Account" and "Reset password".

How can I change my email address or other contact information?

After signing in, click on your account icon at the top-right corner of the home page.  Then click on "My Account" and change your personal information. Make sure to click "Save" at the bottom when you are done.

Why require username/password to use the Tornadoes website?

Members-only login protects private information.  Each family’s username and password allows access to their specific family account. Some portions of the website are activated by signing-in and are viewable only by registered Tornadoes Swim Team families. 

Do I need a username/password for each family member?

No. Membership is set up as ONE ACCOUNT PER FAMILY. A family account can cover multiple swimmers in that family.

Sometimes, some of the choices on the top navigation bar of the website are missing. How do I see them?

Some parts of the website are visible only after you sign-in.

Other Activities

My child wants to leave the team to do other sports or activities.  What should I do?

At Tornadoes we understand and encourage children to pursue their interests.  That is why we do not require a seasonal commitment. Instead, our billing is done on a monthly basis.  We request that you discuss your plans with your swimmer's coach so that they are aware of your needs and can help determine how to best support your child’s interests and re-entry into our program.  We do allow each swimmer to take up to a 3-month leave of absence each year. We require a 30-day notice for leaves of absence and completion of the Leave of Absence form. If your swimmer is gone for more than 3 months, you will need to pay a $35 reactivation fee on top of any other required fees. Families on Leave of Absence from the team are still responsible for fulfilling Parent Club duties, fundraising requirements, and attending the bi-annual parent meetings. Dues WILL NOT be refunded for swimmers who leave the Tornadoes Swim Team and forget to file the 30-day membership discontinuation form in a timely fashion.


Problems or Issues

What do I do if my swimmer has an issue with a teammate?

First commend your child for confiding in you, then encourage them to speak directly with their coach to let them know about the “issue”. The coach will then work with the swimmers to help them find a resolution. However, understand that some situations and social dynamics cannot be controlled by the coach.

In the case of younger swimmers, parents are encouraged to contact their child’s lead coach if the child does not have the confidence to approach the coach on their own. Don’t wait and let a situation grow worse! The best way to reach your child’s coach in confidence is to email them.

The Tornadoes have an anonymous issue reporting form you can complete if speaking to the coach is not working. The issue will be reported to the board of directors for resolution.

What do I do if my child is having an issue with a coach?

At Tornadoes, we believe it is vital that swimmer-coach-parent work together to help the swimmer have a positive experience. If your swimmer is having an issue with the coach, we recommend that you email the coach and express your specific concern and then request a time to meet in person with all involved (swimmer, coach, parents). Communication is the KEY to resolving any issue!  At various times during the year the board will issue a coach performance survey that we encourage all parents to respond to.

The Tornadoes have an anonymous issue reporting form you can complete if speaking the coach is not working. The issue will be reported to the board of directors for resolution.

What can I do if I don’t think my child is improving?

If you have concerns of any kind, it is vital that you communicate your thoughts to your child’s coach. Developing a trusting relationship between the swimmer, coach and parent is one of the keys to success. The best way to reach our coaches is through our team email system. If you are not sure how to reach your child’s coach, please click here for their contact information from our website.

There are many factors involved in a child’s swim time progression. Our coaching staff works hard to get to know each of their swimmer’s individual stage of progression and growth in the sport. Swimmers improve at different rates, which are determined by numerous factors. Your child’s coach will have unique insight into their training habits, which are related to their meet performances.


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