General Information

The information in this manual has been informally assembled to provide an explanation of how the Quince Orchard Otter Swim Club, Inc (QO) functions. Further details on the Montgomery County Swim League (MCSL) can be found in a separate handbook available by request. Specific questions regarding the MCSL or QO should be addressed to the Head Coach or the Swim Club representatives. Information can also be found at the MCSL web site:

Team Contact Information for Coaches, Board, and Staff is available here.

MCSL Divisions

There are fifteen divisions in the MCSL rated from "A" Division through "O" Division. Teams are placed in divisions each year based on a computer swim-off using times from the previous year. In 1996, QO was ranked #1 in the "A" Division - 1st overall in a league of 80 teams. For an uninterrupted 12 year period from 2000 - 2011, QO was in the "B" Division; longer than any other team.  For the upcoming season, QO will swim in the "F" Division.  See for league information.

The Otters and Our Swim Club

The Quince Orchard Swim and Tennis Club is privately owned and not directly involved in the operation of the Otter swim team. The Otters are an independent organization founded in 1979 by members of the swim club who wanted their children to have the opportunity to compete in the MCSL. An Executive Board governs the swim team and represents the interests of our swimmers in the MCSL.

The parents of our swimmers run the team and are responsible for all expenses. The dues and fees reflect the cost of paying our coaches, buying equipment and paying for all other swim team expenses, including MCSL dues. The annual financial contribution of the Quince Orchard Swim and Tennis Club to the Otters and the grant of pool time for Otter practices is gratefully appreciated.

Social Activities

Aside from practice and meets, the Otters schedule social activities throughout the Summer. During the swim season, we schedule pancake breakfasts, spaghetti dinners, pizza nights,and other events. These activities help our swimmers get to know one another and build team spirit. Otter parents also sponsor other activities such as bowling, movies, and bagel/donut Fridays.

Parental Responsibilities

Swimming, especially summer swimming, is a parent intensive sport. Without a great amount of work by the parents of the Otter swimmers, we would not enjoy the success we have as a team both in the water and out. In order to make the summer swim team a safe, fun filled activity, we need as much parental involvement as possible. For example, in order for a swim meet to take place parents are needed to set up and take down equipment, to time the events, act as stroke and turn officials, starters, referees and announcers. To become an MCSL certified meet official, parents must attend clinics sponsored by the MCSL; you do not have to be MCSL certified to work at a swim meet as a timer. Parents who do not wish to officiate at meets can help in other ways including selling refreshments at home meets, helping with the social events, acting as Clerk of Course, ribbon writing, and many other jobs. The funds raised by the sale of refreshments and Otterwear help pay for our coaches and equipment. Parents can also support the team by donating food and paper goods. Ideally, each family should participate on one of the parent committees and also sign up for a job at the swim meets. Please contact one of the Board members if you have any questions about how you can help. Remember that we are all doing this for our children and we are all volunteers. The summer swim season is only as good as we make it.

Swim Teams

There are six teams in each division. The MCSL schedules five dual meets so that each team can compete against each other once before Divisionals. Although MCSL rules limit the number of events in which each swimmer may participate on Saturday, we are in the enviable position of having more qualified swimmers than places in "A" meets. In order to allow each swimmer to swim a full quota of events in a competitively scored meet, we participate in a Wednesday night "B" league. The "B" league is not an MCSL league, rather it is an informal league of like-minded swim teams that provides additional opportunities for competitive swimming.  Those swimmers who do not have the opportunity to swim three individual events and an individual medley (IM) on Saturday will swim on Wednesday. Two relay carnivals, one "A", the other "B" are also scheduled during the summer so that everyone can participate.

Team Equipment

Team suits, caps, shirts, goggles, and other equipment are available as a convenience to Quince Orchard swim team members and their parents. No swimmer is obligated to purchase our team suit, although wearing the same suit does provide a feeling of team unity and pride. If your child is having trouble with their hair while swimming they might want to try a cap. Both girls and boys use caps.

Time Trials

The purpose of time trials is to establish official times for the swimmers prior to the first Saturday meet. For summer swimmers, these times can be used to measure individual progress throughout the season. Time trials are typically held one week before the first Saturday meet.

Saturday MCSL "A" Meets

The results of these meets determine our Swim Club's league standings each summer season.  Each place in an event is awarded points and the total meet points for our team is compared against those of our opponent to determine the winner of the meet.  League standings are based on each team's Win/Loss record in a given division.  Even so, individual times are important as it is each swimmer's best times at the end of the season that are used to determine our division and placement for the following year.  MCSL swimming is unique among youth sports in that individual achievement is at least as important as team results, not only to each individual athlete but in the larger team context.

It is the responsibility of both the swimmer and the parent TO INFORM THE COACH IN WRITING IF HE OR SHE WILL BE UNAVAILABLE ON A SATURDAY.  This should be done via the team web site using the Attend This Event button associated with the appropriate meet.  Not only do we want to give as many swimmers as possible a chance to swim, but also we do not want to lose points because of empty lanes.

The Head Coach of the QO Otter Swim Club has the right and the responsibility to take any action necessary to protect the safety of our children and to preserve team discipline. Therefore, the Head Coach may prevent a swimmer from practicing with the team, competing in any meet, or in a worst case situation, expel a swimmer from the team. Parents will notified if any such situation exists.

For complete details on A Meets including seeding, eligibility, and sign up instructions, go to Team Info->A Meet Sign Up.

Dual Meet Relays

The four relays swum at each dual meet are the Boys and Girls Open Medleys (events #3 and #4) and the Boys and Girls Graduated Relays (events #45 and #46). The Open Medleys are open to the fastest swimmers regardless of age. They are swum in the following order: back, breast, fly and free. The Head Coach prior to the start of the dual meet chooses the participants. Two Graduated Relays are swum in the following order: 9-10 (25M), 11-12 (50M), 13-14 (50M), and 8 & Under (25M). The participants are chosen by the Head Coach after the events are completed for that meet. Usually the fastest freestyle swimmers at the dual meet in each age group will swim in the graduated relay that week.

Wednesday "B" Meets

The Wednesday night "B" league is structured to give ALL swimmers the opportunity to participate in a meet, particularly those swimmers who do not regularly swim in the Saturday MCSL meets.

Through our "B" league we hope to encourage full team participation and spirit. Our goal is to give ALL swimmers the opportunity to compete in an actual meet. This includes our future stars - six-year-old and under swimmers have their own events in both freestyle and backstroke.

Superstar Meet: Superstars is a tri-meet at the end of the B-league season. The rules and eligibility for the SuperStar meet are different from the normal B meets.

For complete details on B Meets including eligibility, sign up instructions, and the Superstar Meet, go to Team Info->B Meet Sign Up.

Please don't forget to go into the system to sign up for events or ro indicate "No" if your swimmer is not available for a meet.

Eligibility/Seeding between "A" and "B" Meets

There is an inter-dependency between the Saturday and Wednesday meets with regard to swimmer eligibility as outlined below:

  1. In any swimming week (Saturday-Friday) a swimmer is eligible to swim a total of three individual events and an IM. This includes both "A" and "B" meets. For example, if a swimmer participates in two individual events at a Saturday meet they may only swim one individual event on Wednesday. A swimmer is not eligible for a place ribbon at the Wednesday night "B" meet if he/she has won two or more ribbons on the previous Saturday. Exhibition swimming will be used only at the discretion of the Coach and the team representative.
  2. All events are seeded by entry times from the fastest to the slowest.
  3. The rules for the Superstar (B league) and Divisional meets in the last week of the season are different. See those sections for details.

Scoring and Ribbons

Scoring will be done through five places. For individual events, the team gets 6 points for First Place, 4 points for Second, 3 points for Third, 2 points for Fourth, and 1 point for Fifth for each event. For relay events, the team gets 8 points for First Place, 4 points for Second, and in the case of the Graduated Relay, 2 points for Third Place.

  1. Ribbons will be awarded through sixth place at Saturday meets and through eighth place at Wednesday meets.
  2. All Quince Orchard swimmers will be awarded participant ribbons for each event they entered but did not place in.
  3. Ribbons will be given for all heat winners (with the exception of exhibition swimmers).
  4. Super Star ribbons will awarded 1-24 places.

Pre-Team and Little Otters

The goal of the Pre-Team program is to prepare swimmers to participate at a swim meet once they acquire the necessary skills. The Pre-Team members must be able to swim one length of the pool without touching the bottom of the pool. The Head Coach will decide when a swimmer is ready to participate in a meet.

The Little Otters program is designed to introduce new swimmers to competitive swimming. Children signed up for the Little Otters program should also be enrolled in a formal swimming instruction program. The Little Otters program can augment formal instruction and assist the children learn the four basic competitive strokes.

For more information, go to Team Info->Little Otters/Pre Team.


Every QO swimmer who competes for the Quince Orchard Otter Swim Club, Inc. will receive a trophy. Trophies will be awarded according to star level achieved. The Quince Orchard Executive Board believes that this award system will reward and promote individual achievement and promote the overall team goals of the Quince Orchard Otter Swim Club. The star level standards are posted on the Team web site under Records->Award Times.

Relay Carnival/All-Star Relays

In addition to the dual meets on Saturdays and Wednesdays, the Otters will participate in Relay Carnivals. The Saturday and Wednesday Leagues will hold separate Relay Carnivals. Each team from the Saturday League and the Wednesday League will be invited to swim in the Relay Carnivals. The Head Coach will decide who swims in each relay.

The Relay Carnivals feature competition in the four relays swum at dual meets (Boys Graduated, Girls Graduated, Boys Open Medley, and Girls Open Medley), but they also include relay races that are not swum at the dual meets. Many of these other relays involve mixed gender teams. Many of the winning relay teams at the Divisional Relay Carnival will qualify to swim at the All-Star Relays held at the end of the season. The All-Star Relay qualifiers for the four relays swum at each dual meet (Boys Graduated, Girls Graduated, Boys Open Medley, and Girls Open Medley) are based on the times recorded throughout the season. For those four events, the fastest relay teams in each division (based on all the five dual meets, Divisionals, and Relay Carnival) are chosen to swim those relays at the All-Star Relays.

Coaches' Long Course

On the Tuesday after the fourth dual meet, the Coaches' Long Course Meet is held at the Rockville Pool. The events are the same as the non-relay events in the dual meets with doubled distance. Eight swimmers and two alternates are invited by MCSL to participate in each event, based on the fastest times from the first three dual meets. A swimmer may not compete in more than two events.

Individual All-Stars

The Individual All-Star Meet is held the weekend after the Divisional Meets. Sixteen swimmers and three alternates are invited by the MCSL to participate in each event, based on the fastest times from the dual meets and Divisionals. Two heats of eight swimmers will swim each event. The swimmers are seeded based on their times. Each swimmer can participate in 2 All-Star events.

Meet Etiquette

Meets are FUN! Everyone is encouraged to cheer for all swimmers. There are several rules that must be followed to ensure fairness:

  1. As a courtesy, swimmers should wait in the water at the finish of a race until all other swimmers have finished. Be quiet at the start of each race.
  2. Do not talk to meet officials during the meet. Questions and/or concerns should be brought to the attention of our "A" and "B" representatives.
  3. Do not obstruct the view of meet officials, especially stroke and turn judges.
  4. Smoking is prohibited on the deck, in the locker rooms, in spectator areas and in all areas used by the swimmers during the meet or warm-ups.


Most of the Quince Orchard parents will at some time volunteer to time at a swim meet. This is an extremely important job for which accuracy and consistency are vital. Below is a list of points to remember while serving as a timer.

  1. Timers should assure that their watches are functioning properly at all times during the meet by:
    1. Checking for accuracy at the starter's time check.
    2. Watching for proper operation throughout the meet.
  2. Timers should look at the starter system and start their watches at the flash of the strobe light - NOT BY THE SOUND. Start your watch even if there is no swimmer in your lane.
  3. Before the end of each race, timers should position themselves at the end of the pool directly, overlooking the finish line in order to observe, CLOSELY, the swimmers finish. Watch for underwater touches.
  4. The watch should be stopped when ANY PART OF THE SWIMMER'S BODY touches the solid wall. It is NOT the responsibility of the lane timers to judge if the finish touch meets the requirements of the appropriate stroke finish rule.
  5. If during an event, a timer discovers that he/she failed to properly start the watch, or that the watch is not functioning properly, the timer should IMMEDIATELY raise his hand to notify the Head or Assistant Timer.
  6. All lane timers shall promptly report their times to the recorder and present their watches for inspection, if requested. DO NOT CLEAR YOUR WATCH until the Head Timer gives the command to "clear all watches".
  7. One timer in each lane will be designated as the Lane Recorder. The Lane Recorder shall be responsible for the following:
    1. Determination that the proper swimmer is in his lane and that relay swimmers are swimming in the order listed on the lane timer's card.
    2. Determination of and recording of all manual watch times.

Official Time Determination

  1. If the times of two of the three watches agree, that time shall be the official time.
  2. If all three watches disagree, the intermediate time shall be official.
  3. If times from only two watches are available, the official time shall be the average of those two watches.


There are many reasons for the disqualification of a swimmer:

  1. Stroke infractions (determined by Stroke and Turn judges).
  2. False start (determined by Starter and Referee).
  3. Any swimmer who acts in an unsportsmanlike manner may be considered for disciplinary action, at the discretion of the Referee.
  4. A swimmer must start and finish the race in his/her assigned lane.
  5. Standing on the bottom during a freestyle race shall not disqualify a swimmer, but they must not leave the pool, or walk or spring off the bottom.
  6. Obstructing a swimmer by swimming across or otherwise interfering shall disqualify the offender, subject to the discretion of the Referee.
  7. Any swimmer not entered in a race that enters the pool, before all swimmers have completed the race shall be disqualified from their next scheduled competition.
  8. Dipping goggles in the water or splashing water on the competitor's face or body prior to his/her next event shall not be considered as entering the pool unless the Referee finds that such action is interfering with the competition. In other words, check with the Referee before you splash and dip.
  9. Should a foul endanger the chances of success of a swimmer, the Referee may allow the swimmer to swim the race again. In case of collusion to foul another, the Referee may, at his discretion, disqualify the swimmer for whose aid the foul was committed, as well as the swimmer doing the fouling. A foul most commonly is hitting or kicking a swimmer in the adjacent lane.
  10. Coaches are not permitted in the immediate starting area of the swimming pool. Coaching of a swimmer during the progress of an event shall not permitted.
  11. No swimmer is permitted to wear or use any device or substance to help his speed or buoyancy during a race. Goggles can be worn and rubdown oil can be applied as long as it's not considered excessive by the Referee.
  12. Once competitors have reported to the Starter they may receive no assistance such as guiding backstroke swimmers with arm motions or touching the backstroker at the turn or finish to keep the swimmer from striking the pool walls.
  13. Backstroke starts are not permitted from swimmers below the surface of the water.
  14. Stand-up backstroke starts and pike dives are unsafe and will result in disqualification.
  15. Head first diving is not permitted. Racing starts may be done only under the direct supervision of a coach, the meet Referee or Starter.

Special Relay Rules

  1. No swimmer shall swim more than one leg in any relay event.
  2. A swimmer (other that the first swimmer) shall not start until his teammate has finished his leg of the relay race. A swimmer's feet MUST NOT lose touch with the deck before his preceding teammate touches the wall.
  3. A relay team shall be disqualified if a team member other than the swimmer designated to swim that leg enters the pool in the area where the race is being conducted before ALL swimmers from ALL teams have finished the race.
  4. Each relay team member shall leave the water immediately upon finishing his relay leg except the last member.

The time and place of any swimmer or relay team disqualified either during or following an event shall not be recorded in the results of that event. Points are not scored by those individuals or relay teams that have been disqualified.

Quince Orchard/MCSL Safety Recommendations

Quince Orchard fully supports the MCSL safety guidelines. While we realize that the safety record of competitive swimming in general, and of MCSL in particular, has been excellent, we feel that compliance with these recommendations will assist in prevention of any future problems.

  1. The starting end of the course should be located such that the deepest water possible is available to the greatest number of swimmers.
    1. The starting end should be the deeper end. No Quince Orchard swimmer is permitted to dive in the shallow end.
    2. The 25M races will be started at the deeper end. This will necessitate moving the timers to the shallow end of the pool.
  2. Practice and warm-up safety:
    1. Practice starts will be done from the deeper end only. Swimmers should enter the pool FEET FIRST at any practices or meets, with the exception that racing dives may be done ONLY at the DIRECT supervision of a Coach, the Referee, or the Starter.
    2. Only one-way swimming is allowed in lanes where starts will be done.
    3. The pike dive and Stand-up backstroke start are strictly FORBIDDEN.
  3. Post-meet celebration - any post-meet celebration will be strictly controlled. No one may enter the pool after the meet is completed. No one is to be pushed into the pool. The coaches would appreciate the swimmers' and parents' cooperation with these very important safety rules.

Tips for Swimmers and Parents

  1. Get plenty of rest before your meet! Heat and sun are especially tiring for swimmers.
  2. Eat meals high in complex carbohydrates (pasta, bread) and low in fats. Eat well-rounded meals in moderation. Many swimmers eat spaghetti for dinner the day before a meet. Eat a light meal one-hour prior to warm-up and LIGHT snacks between events.
  3. During a meet, drink water or a sports drink between events.  Even though you are swimming and may not notice, you are still sweating.  You need to replenish the fluid in your body.
  4. Be early for meet warm-ups and practices; if you are right on time, you're late! Work hard at all practices!
  5. Know your event number and report to the Clerk of Course when called.
  6. STAY IN THE TEAM AREA! Conduct yourself in a responsible manner and be proud to be an Otter!
  7. Support your teammates. SHOW SOME SPIRIT!! Stay until the end of the meet even if your events are completed to cheer on your teammates.
  8. When the meet is over, it is the responsibility of all swimmers and parents to clean the pool area. Please do not leave the pool until you have met your responsibility. Parents, we need your cooperation and support in this matter!!
  9. Communicate with your coaches and team representatives; inform them of illness, camp, vacations, etc., giving written notice when possible. This will help our coaches when preparing line-ups for meets and the Relay Carnival.
  10. While we encourage you to talk with the coaches with regard to your swimmer, please respect their team time and approach them outside of meets or practices.  Coaches need to focus on the team during these times and they will not be able to give you their full attention.
  11. Sign up for the strokes you want to swim in the Wednesday meets by the deadline of Monday midnight/Tuesday morning.
  12. The Otters Swim Team is a busy place - there are many things going on all the time.  Make sure you:
    1. Check your family folder. Each family has their own file folder (mailbox). The file folders are in two file boxes brought out for practice each day.
    2. Check the bulletin board located on the outside wall of the clubhouse. Important team updates will be posted there.
    3. Check the email address(es) you provided during registration.
  13. Remember that this is fun, but you do have a commitment to your team.
  14. Have Fun!!! Swim Fast!!!

Frequently Asked Questions

Go to  Team Info->FAQ for the answers to Frequently Asked Questions.