FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


What league are the Aqua Bears affiliated with?
Our swim team is part of the Valley Swim League (VSL). We compete against teams from Pleasanton and Livermore.


Where do the Aqua Bears swim?  
We currently swim at two different swim facilities:  Dougherty Valley Aquatic Center and San Ramon Olympic Pool.


How big is the team?  
We have over 200 swimmers ages 4-18 years old on the team.


When is registration?  

  • Registration for returning swimmers is February 1-15th.  The team registrar will email all families from the previous season with registration information.  If you do not register by the deadline, your spot will be opened up for general registration.
  • Siblings of a current swim team member must be on the waitlist to join the team.  The registrar will contact wait listed families in the early spring if there are any possible openings.  The sibling waitlist is first-come-first-served and may be joined at anytime. We suggest putting your babies on the list when they are born.
  • For new swimmers who will be 7-18 years old on June 1 of the swim season you want to join, there will be a first-come-first-served open registration after returning swimmers have registered. We expect any open spaces to fill very quickly. THE 2019 TEAM IS FULL. Check back in January/February of 2020 for registration info for next season.


When does the practice season start and end? 
We start practicing the first week of May.  In May, Practices are usually Saturday mornings with after-school practices 2 to 3 days a week at Dougherty Valley High School.  When school is out, we have daily practices M-F in the mornings at Cal High. 


When are the swim meets?  
Usually on Saturday mornings from about 7am to 2pm except for the Invitational Meet held on a Wednesday evening.  Our first meet of the year is called “Time Trials,” (June 1st) where we do not swim against another team; the kids just swim every event to log a baseline time.  After that, we usually have five or six “dual meets” where we swim against one other VSL team.  The season culminates with an “Invitational Meet” on the season's last Wednesday evening (July 17th this year) and a “Championship Meet,” on the season's last Saturday morning (July 20th) where multiple VSL teams compete against each other.  Our home meets are held at the Dougherty Valley Aquatics Center.  Away meets are held at various locations in Livermore and Pleasanton.


Does my child have to participate in the swim meets?  
Well, sure! That is part of being on a swim team.  We are not a means for simply working out or conditioning;  swim team is an organized competitive sport, and the meets are the “competition” part.  No worries…our meets are fun!!  We do have a team policy that swimmers aged 13 and below must attend at least half of the meets (4 out of 8) for the season.  Failure to meet this minimum meet requirement for 2 years in a row will result in losing priority registration status of a returning swimmer.  We encourage older swimmers to participate in at least 3 meets during the season.


Does my child need to know how to swim, or swim well in order to join the team?  
Children ages 6 and under do not need to know how to swim well but should be comfortable in the water, able to hold onto the wall and safely wait for their turn. Those children can develop their swim ability in our Aqua Cub program IF there is space available (explained below).  Children ages 7 and older, however, must be able to swim freestyle with side breathing across the pool without stopping in order to join the team.  It is recommended that children ages 9 and above are able to swim at least two official swim strokes across the pool without stopping.  The coaches can take it from there – introducing all four strokes, as well as starts, turns, and relay racing.  Please note that our practices are NOT swim lessons. Please see additional info below.  Practices are in large groups of 24-40 swimmers with large group instruction and conditioning.  Swimmers who do not know all 4 swim strokes or who want more individualized instruction/attention are encouraged to seek additional swim lessons. If your child is not a strong swimmer, we recommend continuing lessons over the winter/spring before the swim season starts.


How much does it cost to join the swim team? 
The registration fee to the team is $225 per family and $160 for the first swimmer, $140 for the second swimmer, $120 for the third swimmer, and $100 for the fourth+ swimmer (subject to annual changes). We also require each family to perform Mandatory Team Service Hours (formally volunteer hours).  Failure to complete the service hours will result in a $350 fee.  

There is also the cost of purchasing the team suit, cap, and practice equipment.


In what age group will my swimmer participate?  
Swimmers are placed in the age group which corresponds to the swimmers age on June 1 of that swim year.  The swim groups are Cubs (4-6 year olds), 6Us (5-6 years old), 7/8s, 9/10s, 11/12s, 13/14s, and 15-18s.  There are 36-40 swimmers in each age group except for cubs and 6Us which are kept smaller for safety reasons.

Are there Volunteer requirements?

YES! This is a MANDATORY part of your family joining our swim team. It takes approximately 40 volunteers to run each meet. We require a signed agreement during the registration process.   It is mandatory, not optional, to volunteer.  We have many different types of jobs that fulfill the volunteer agreement.  Our families find it easy to fulfill their commitments.  If your volunteer hours are not fulfilled, there will be a $350 charge at the end of the season.


What if my child has a day camp to attend, or if my family has a scheduled vacation? Can we miss practice or a swim meet? 
Sure. Missing one week of practice, or one swim meet, is fine. Again, part of being on a swim team is participation, so it’s best to commit to the whole season. At the same time, we realize that it is summer and that families go on vacation, or the kids make it into a special scout camp that they want to attend. Swim Team does not generally work for kids in summer school.


Can a former or current SRVA or other “year round” swimmer swim and compete with the Aqua Bears summer recreational swim team? 
Yes. There are a few rules though. A swimmer can practice and compete in the fall for a year-round team after our season is over. A swimmer can continue to practice with their year-round team from January 1 until the start of our season as long as they do not compete in any swim meets from January 1 until the Aqua Bears season starts in June.


Can a teenager who swims for their high school team swim with the Aqua Bears?  
Yes! All high school swimmers are encouraged to join our team.  We have a fun team, and a special “Granny Bear Award” for graduating high school seniors who have been on the team at least 3 seasons. And the younger kids really love the older kids.


Are there any Aqua Bears social events?  
Yes!  We have potlucks, Chili Cook-off, Talent Show, Pancake Breakfast and more.  We also have many activities to promote team spirit and make it fun for the entire family to be a part of the Aqua Bears swim team.  Socials are a big part of our team culture and we encourage all our families to participate!  

 



What is the Aqua Cub Program?
Our Aqua Cub program is for children ages 4-6 who are still learning to swim. Children who are age 4 will be placed in our Aqua Cub program regardless of swimming ability.  We do not have 4 y/o Bears. This is for safety reasons because these very young children need extra supervision in the pool.  Children ages 5 and 6 will be evaluated by our coaches and placed in either our “6U BEAR” age group or our “6 and under CUB” program.  There are many factors that go into this decision and our coaches have complete discretion regarding placement.

The Aqua Cub program is NOT a swim lesson.  The goals of the Aqua Cub program are to:  

  • Help the cubs be more comfortable and safe in the water
  • Further develop water and swim skills
  • Provide positive first swim meet experiences
  • Facilitate learning about team membership, including good sportsmanship and supporting others.

It is recommended that a Cub take swim lessons in addition to being a Cub member on the team.  This is not a replacement for swim lessons, rather an introduction to being a part of a swim team and attending practices, meets and socials. 

Please note: the goal for all 6-year-old Aqua Cubs is to have them swimming independently by the end of the swim season.  This is important, as there is no Aqua Cub program for children ages 7 years and above.

  • For cubs, how does daily swim practice work with so many Aqua Cubs that don’t know how to swim?  The coaches will be in the water with the cubs helping them become more comfortable in the water and to begin to learn how to swim.  There may also be teen swimmers volunteering to help out with the cubs.  The ratio will usually be 1:3. Sometimes it’s 1 to 1, especially if the swimmer needs individual attention.  
  • Do the cubs compete at the swim meets? Only in the kickboard race, and they have a “spotter” (usually a teenager) in the lane with them to encourage them along and to ensure they make it safely to the other end of the pool! As they are ready and willing, they can try to swim one lap of freestyle during the kickboard race.
  • Can a “cub” become a “bear” during the season?  When the coaches think they are ready, Aqua Cubs who are ages 5 or 6 can graduate to the “6 and under” age group and compete in any or all of the four stroke events at the swim meets.  Aqua Cubs who are four-years-old are not eligible to practice with the “6 and under” age group, but they can swim in some of the “6 and under” events at meets if the coaches approve.

**Please note that there are very few Aqua Cub spaces on our team.  Siblings of current team members have priority to the cub spaces.  If you are looking for your swimmer ages 5-6 to join our team, it is best for them to know how to swim.  



How do I join the team?

THE 2019 TEAM IS FULL


We typically only have a 1-2 openings per age group each season for new swimmers.  

  • For swimmers who will be 4-6 years old on June 1 of the season you want to join, you must be on a wait list.  You may join the waitlist at anytime.  The registrar will contact waitlisted families in Jan/Feb with more information if there are any open spots and your child will need to come to a swim evaluation.
  • For 4-18 year old SIBLINGS of any current swim team members, you must be on the waitlist.  You may join the waitlist at any time.  The registrar will contact waitlisted families in Jan/Feb with more information if there are any open spots. Children 6 & under will need to have a swim evaluation.
  • For those who have never been on the team who will be 7-18 years old on June 1 of the season you want to join, there will be a first-come-first-served open online registration in spring. They must be strong swimmers.

If you would like to add your child to the wait list the child MUST be either

  • A sibling of a current team member
  • Age 6 or younger on June 1 of the season you want to join


Contact us and provide the following if you would like to be added to the 6 & under waitlist for the 2020 team:

  • First and Last Names of Swimmers to be added to the waitlist
  • First and Last Name of Current Aquabear sibling if applicable
  • Genders
  • Birth dates (with year!!)
  • Parent names
  • Phone #