History of the Novato Riptide Swim Team 

In 1986, the Novato Aquanauts, a swim team sponsored by the Novato Parks & Recreation Department, merged with the Indian Valley Aquatics to form the Indian Valley Aquatics of Novato or (IVAN),  a year-round swim team competing in the United States Swim League. However, two former Aquanaut coaches, Rock Morgan and Rob Pine, decided that Novato's young people needed a recreational swim team that they could join for team camaraderie, physical conditioning, and recreational competition. So, Mr. Pine applied for membership to the Marin Swim League (MSL), his application was accepted, and in 1987 the Novato Riptide Swim Team began its first season with 109 swimmers. In the year 2000, the City of Novato and the Marin YMCA created a partnership, and both partners supported the Novato Riptide Swim Team until 2008. In 2008, the Novato Riptide Swim Team Booster Club, a nonprofit corporation, took over the management of the Team as an independent team in the MSL.  For more Team Information browse this website.


The Riptide Season Plan

Riptide Culture

The Novato Riptide is a volunteer run member team of the Marin Swim League (MSL), a spring/summer league dedicated to providing and preserving quality amateur competitive swimming events. The Riptide fosters and promotes the ideals of good sportsmanship, fair play and good fellowship for our swimmers of all ages and abilities.  The Riptide aims to develop positive self-esteem in our swimmers in a fun environment with focus on developing proper swim technique and supporting each swimmer in his or her personal goals.  We encourage swimmers of all levels and ability to join.  Our home pool is located at the Indian Valley campus of the College of Marin.

Riptide Team Goals

The MSL is comprised of ten teams that compete in a dual meet format through the regular season and culminates at a League Championship meet where all teams compete together.  The MSL also sets target times for each swim event roughly equivalent to ‘A’ qualifying times in USA swimming.  These serve as stretch goals for our swimmers, are used to qualify for the league All-star Meet, and the team aims to help any swimmer committed to achieving one or more of these times. 

At the Championship Meet there are team scores and three individual high point places within each gender - age group.  Unlike a few MSL teams which may have some form of year round program The Riptide is a Spring/Summer league team running from March through June.   While we expect to become more competitive in dual meets through the season our focus is on overall improvement at the League Championship meet.

Board and Parent Responsibilities

The primary role of the coaching staff is to coach.  The board and parent volunteers will bear primary responsibility for all other team functions and management including web site maintenance, updating the team calendar, news announcements and more.   Team events and ‘fun’ days will be coordinated with the master training and competition schedule before the season begins.  The board and parents primary goal is to support our coaches as they help our swimmer reach their goals.

The Board will organize an orientation focused on new parents but open to all families covering the team goals, practice and meet basics as well as overall expectations and responsibilities.

Swimmer Goals

   Each swimmer, unless too young, is responsible for identifying and recording their personal goals for the season.  Swimmers may work with coaching staff, parents or individually to identify goals which will vary for each swimmer according to their ability and desire.  Examples include but are not limited to target swim times, making an All Star time, swimming in their first meet or becoming legal in a new stroke.

Season Plan

   The MSL is a short course sprint league with most events set at 50 yards and no individual event longer than 100 yards.  Swimmers 8 years and under generally compete in single lap 25 yard events.  Competitive success in short course is a result of efficient stroke technique, superior starts and turns and how hard a swimmer is willing to race.  Therefore the focus of The Riptide coaching staff will be proper swimming technique and sprint training.

Ahead of the season the coaching staff will meet, document and publish to the board a comprehensive season long plan that covers team training focus from March through League Championships in June.  A repository of workout plans, sets and drills will be developed to facilitate consistent practice content across coaches and groups.  Sets and drills will be matched to target stroke development or technique correction.  Practice sets, including warm ups, will generally be purposeful and structured in a way that helps engage swimmers in their workouts.

Coaches will observe swimmers in practice and at swim meets in order to provide specific feedback but also to help identify focus areas for the next week’s practice sessions.  It is understood that the season plan may be adjusted based on team performance.  Coaches shall have a weekly re-group to compare notes on swimmers and to share swimmer goals which will lead to practice adjustment based on meet observations.

Weekly team focus is to be supported by pre-planned warmups, workouts and stretching activities as appropriate for all practice sessions.  Each coach will implement the practices according to group level.  Each group has the same focus, same drills but modified sets.  The weekly plan shall be comprehensive enough to allow one coach to fill in for another if the need arises.  As the season progresses swimmers may eventually focus on specific events for the All Star and League Championship meets.  Otherwise the intent of The Riptide is to help develop swimmers capable and legal in all four individual strokes.

Focus on Fun and Team Spirit

The Riptide aims to provide a good balance between competitive focus and play.  Happy swimmers are more likely to bring focus when needed, are more likely to support each other and more likely to come back to the team. 

While the board will have overall responsibility for managing ‘fun’ days the coaching staff will help to identify appropriate dates for these activities and in some cases integrate the activities into practice.  We will aim to identify ‘fun’ day events that are more closely aligned to swimming and water sports.  Examples include:

  • ‘Drag’ suit day where swimmers wear street clothes during practice

  • Post meet play including swimmer and parent relay competitions

  • Parent practice participation

  • Mix individual and group practice to facilitate older and younger swimmer interaction and to encourage mentoring roles for the more experienced swimmers

  • Some ‘whole team’ practices where older swimmers may demonstrate technique as well as participate in mixed age group relays

  • Team dinners 

Coaching Engagement

Coaches must be engaged in coaching and must watch the swimmers with the objective of having each swimmer receive individual feedback at every practice.  Each coach will have primary groups but will get time with other groups in order to provide different perspective for the swimmers and to build swimmer familiarity with all coaches.

Our coach’s primary responsibility is to coach (board and parents handle everything else) as part of the Riptide coaching staff.  We believe that in general having more coaches is helpful so long as they work together.   For example, depending on staff structure, one coach may lead practice for the team while other coaches run specific lanes, watch and give feedback to swimmers.

Coaches are encouraged to identify and use tools including common equipment like kick boards and swim gates but also new technology tools such as ‘Coaches Eye’.  Where possible junior coaches will shadow more experienced coaches and older kids may be used to facilitate coaching and demonstration.  The team website provides a number of valuable reports that may be leveraged by the coaching staff to assess the progress of the team and individual swimmers.  Training covering web site navigation and tools will be made available to the coaches.

While we expect a season plan Riptide coaches must be flexible and adaptable enough to adjust for observed performance of our swimmers and to share/leverage any unique talents among the coaching staff.  Further, given our short season, coaches must commit to practice and meet attendance as well as participation in a number of social events that support the swimmers.

Swim Meets

Joining the team implies participation in Saturday swim meets (but not manditory) which run from Late April (including Time Trials) through the Championship meet in early June with some breaks for holidays.  Swimmers may swim in up to three individual events per meet plus relays if selected.  Participation in specific events may be requested but final entries will be subject to assessment of the swimmer’s ability to legally swim the stroke as well as team needs. 

Prior to each meet a member of the coaching staff will give a brief ‘pep’ talk and the team will perform a cheer.  Coaches will watch for trends during the meet to be addressed in the upcoming practice sessions as well as individual swimmer feedback.  Coaches will provide brief meet summaries at subsequent practice sessions to help keep swimmers aligned with team goals and to offer perspective on team accomplishments.

Coaches Code of Conduct

  • Abide by the rules and regulations of MSL and USA Swimming.

  • Reject the use of performance enhancing drugs in swimming

  • Exercise standard of care consistent with professional qualifications as a swimming coach.

  • Direct comments at the performance rather than the person. Refrain from public criticism of swimmers or fellow coaches.

  • Do not use profane, insulting, harassing or otherwise offensive language while coaching.

  • Treat members of other teams and officials with respect and encourage swimmers to act accordingly.

  • Coaches will discourage the use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco products by swimmers in conjunction with the sport.

Parent Code of Conduct

  • Demonstrate teamwork by showing respect and common courtesies at all times to team members, coaches, competitors, officials, and parents.

  • Demonstrate good sportsmanship during all practices, competitions and team activities by conducting myself in a manner that earns the respect of my child, other swimmers, parents, officials and the coaches at meets and practices.

  • Recognize the coaches are professionals and allow them to coach your child without interference during workouts and meets.

  • Call or meet with coaches during normal business hours, before/after practice/meets to discuss issues.

  • Do not interrupt or confront the coaching staff on the pool deck during practice or meets.

  • Any questions about disqualifications, judging, etc. should be directed to the swimmer’s coach.

  • Insist that your swimmer refrain from using alcohol, tobacco, drugs, violence, abusive or foul language, inappropriate sexual conduct, or any other behavior deemed dishonest, discourteous, offensive or disrespectful of others.

Swimmer Code of Conduct

  • When the coaches talk, the swimmers will listen. This allows all swimmers to receive the most positive attention, and reduces frustration for the coaches’ and swimmers.

  • The Riptide Swim Team members will respect all property at our pool and at away pools. This includes bathrooms, showers, and grounds. No hanging on lane lines, and NO RUNNING.

  • Riptide swimmers will behave in a true sportsmanlike fashion toward their teammates, opposing teams, coaches, and adults. This could include cheering for all age groups and heats, being congratulatory to the other swimmers in your race and other races, and building team spirit. No put-downs or swearing will be tolerated.