Practice Tips

What to Bring

All Tidalwaves swimmers should bring the following gear to practice:

  • Swimsuit.  Any one piece suit is acceptable for practice, but team suits are both beneficial for the swimmer at meets, because of their make, and because they help the swimmers feel like they are part of the team.  We recommend purchasing a team suit.
  • Goggles. Coach Marie highly recommends that all swimmers practice and race with goggles. If you have a swimmer who doesn't want to, let Marie work with them -- she is very good at persuading. It is always a good idea to keep a back-up pair of googles in your car or swim bag.
  • Fins. Fins are required for all Tidalwaves swimmers, including tadpoles.  Please see this flier for the specific type and where to buy them. That said, Tidalwaves does have a number of donated fins that can be borrowed for the season if needed. Please ask at the start of the season. You will want to label your fins with a permanent marker.
  • Swim Cap (optional). Children with long hair should wear swim caps, however, if they don’t want to, you can’t make some point in their training and racing they will realize it is easier and faster to swim with the cap. Tidalwaves sells team caps that can be labeled with your child's name to help you identify them during their race (they do all kind of look alike when they are wet!).  The team would like all swimmers who wear caps during a meet to wear a Tidalwaves' swim cap.  It helps all children feel like they are part of the team if they are wearing their team logo when they compete.

For information on how to order team swimsuits, caps, and other Tidalwaves gear, see Team Gear.

Recommended Attendance

It’s up to you and your child how often your child swims.  The primary goal of most of the swimmers on our team is to improve their swimming ability.  The best way to improve is to practice, practice, and practice! 

Coach Marie strongly encourages swimmers to plan to come at least 3 – 4 days a week. We do track and award attendance to help stress the value of commitment to the sport to obtain personal bests. That said, it is up to you and your child to set the practice schedule that is best for him or her. Some kids come only 2 days per week, but at that level of commitment, the result of the experience will not be as rewarding for your child.

Rules for Swim Practice Spectators

At Redwood, parents are not allowed on deck during practice. You may stay near the pool, just not on the deck. There are numerous reasons for this policy.  Often, the youngest swimmers want to hang onto their parents if they are close by.  It is also a distraction and a safety issue. You are welcome to bring a deck chair and sit outside the fence by the pool entrance or behind the pool. 

At COM, parents may sit in the bleachers near the main gate, but may not go any closer to the swimmers.

Lost and Found

At Redwood, the Lost & Found bin is located in the cage on the pool deck during meets. Additionally, coaches often pick up items left at practice and put them in the cubbies located to the right of the main pool entrance. Parents may look in the cubbies for items before practice begins...that is, before 5:15 pm (during practice, parents are not allowed on the pool deck). Swimmers can look any time.

At COM there is no Lost & Found bin available.

Setting Up Carpools

Setting up a carpool with a few other swimmers is often a parent's ticket to sanity during a busy swim season.

To view the contact information of swimmers and their parents for your practice group:

  1. Sign into the Tidalwaves website.
  2. From the left navigation menu, click Team Tools > Members Search. Team Member Search is only accessible when you are logged into the website.
  3. Click Display ALL to view contact information for all Tidalwaves swimmers for the current season. You can select values in the Roster Group or Location drop-downs to see the names of just the swimmers in your practice group.  

To find other families who are interested in carpooling, try posting your carpool request to our Tidalwaves facebook group

The Power of Private Lessons

No matter what subject is being taught, one-on-one attention provides the greatest opportunity for connection and improvement. That is why, throughout the league, all MSL teams offer and encourage private lessons for their swimmers. Although not required, many parents report that their children showed dramatic improvements in their strokes after just one or two focused lessons.

Coach Marie offers private lessons at a rate of $50/30-minute lesson. Contact her at [email protected] to set one up.

Coach Marie's Season Practice Plan

The Marin Swim League season is roughly 19 weeks long, from early March through the Championship meet ("Champs") at the end of June.  Marie breaks the season into 3 cycles based on the dual meet and Champs schedule.

Base Cycle

8 - 10 Weeks

Pre-season training:  Build a base of aerobic conditioning and stroke technique, team bonding.

  • Less experienced swimmers focus on swimming terms and jargon, lane etiquette, and the basic techniques of freestyle and backstroke.
  • More experienced swimmers focus more intensively on each stroke over 2 week blocks, followed by the Individual Medley (one lap of each stroke).


  • Body Balance
  • Streamline
  • Breathing
  • Kicking
  • Stroke Mechanics
  • Distance per Stroke (maximizing strength of pull and glide)
  • Dives and Starts (position of entry, depth, surfacing and breakout strokes)
  • Wall Touches, Turns and Strong Finishes

Core Cycle

7 Weeks

Dual meet season:  Progression to better technique, preparation for competitions.

  • Less experienced swimmers work on breaststroke and butterfly
  • More experienced swimmers focus on anaerobic conditioning and building speed


  • Anaerobic work-- limited breathing, faster pace, longer interval
  • Race specific sets-- sprints to practice for competition
  • Starts, turns, transitions, finishes
  • Pace clock use

Taper Cycle

2 Weeks

End of Season:  Prepare for Championship meet.

  • Rest and recovery period for all experience levels to allow for fastest times to be swum at Champs.
  • Often the favorite part of the season as the 'hard work' of the Base and Core Cycles ends and the fun of shorter yardage and more racing practice takes over.
  • We hope all swimmers will continue to swim through these last two weeks, ending in participating in Champs.  Champs is a chance for each swimmer to swim their best time, regardless of their overall league standing.


  • Race pace
  • Sharpen skills in starts, turns and finishes
  • Rest (in AND out of the pool)