Frequently Asked Questions


Q.      What is the overall BSL Philosophy?
A.      We are thinking long term. We base our daily decisions on what is in the best long term interest of the athlete. We strive to promote sportsmanship, physical fitness and the development of leadership qualities while fostering self-discipline, building self-confidence and providing a safe and competitive swimming experience for every swimmer, every practice.

Q.      Is there a phone number I can call for more information?
A.      Yes.  The BSL Office number is 205-832-0669.  Leave your name, phone number, and a detailed message.  We will return your call as soon as possible.

Registration and Joining BSL:

Q.      How do I sign up for the team?
A.      Please begin by contacting our coaching staff, at [email protected], to schedule an evaluation date for your athlete.  Your online registration will NOT be processed until your athlete has completed a successful evaluation.  When contacting our coaching staff, please provide information concerning your athlete’s age and any previous swimming experience.  After your athlete’s evaluation, you will be given information on how to complete the registration process.

Q.      What do we do if our child is not ready for the team?
A.      If your child is not quite ready for the team, there are several options.  BSL offers a Learn-to-Swim program designed to teach or enhance your child’s basic skill level.  In the summer there are several Summer League programs around the area that can help provide a fun introduction to competitive swimming.  Most swimmers that have completed a Summer League season are ready to join BSL. 


Q.      How much does it cost to be on the team?
A.      The monthly swim fees will be $95 to $185 depending on the training group the coaches put your swimmer in.  For new/younger swimmers, it will more than likely be either $105 or $115.   When you join, each member pays a registration fee of $150, and an annual USA Swimming registration fee of $76.

Q.      How are monthly dues paid? What if we choose to leave the team?
A.      We use a direct charge to your specified credit or debit card as our method for paying dues.  When initially registering online, you will have to choose credit card, but you can change to ACH after the registration is complete by logging into your account and using the “Set-Up Autopay” link under “My Account”.  If for any reason you need or wish to leave the team, you can suspend your membership by notifying our coaching staff via email with a 60-Day cancellation fee. 

Q.      What if we would like to rejoin the team?
A.      To reactivate your BSL account, please DO NOT re-register your swimmer online. Simply email our coaching staff at [email protected] to activate your previous account and swimmer's membership. You may be responsible for a re-activation fee, your swimmer's monthly group dues, and the $76 USA swimming registration fee (if your swimmer is not registered for the current year).  If your swimmer joins after being a member of another team, a USA Swimming transfer fee of up to $10 may be applied.


Q.      How does communication occur with the team?
A.      The team has a website that is maintained regularly and the coaching staff and board of directors send out emails often with important information.  We also send out a Weekly Update email to keep our membership informed of upcoming events and various information.  It is critical as a member of BSL to check emails regularly.

Q.      How do I contact my swimmer’s coach?
A.      The coaches have a compacted schedule while on deck, often coaching from group after group, and it serves the athletes well if our attention is focused towards the group.  For this reason, we prefer that you contact your coach through email.  Each coach’s email address is found under the “Coaches” link on our website. From time to time your child’s coach will make himself/herself available for a few quick minutes between practices, after a practice if no other scheduled practice right away, etc. If the coach looks free, please feel free to approach the coach and ask if they have a moment to answer your question.  Please do not attempt to contact the coach during a practice.

Q.      How do I find out about meets, entry deadlines, and schedule changes?
A.      We consistently update the BSL website to keep you updated on current team news, schedules, etc.  If you do not see the information you are looking for, the coaching staff is happy to answer your question(s).  


Q.      Does the team practice year round?
A.      Yes, BSL practices year round.  We do take team “breaks” a few times a year to allow the swimmers time to rest and recharge.  These can range between a few days off to as much as two weeks off depending on the time of year and the group each athlete is in. 

Q.      Is there a plan/objective for each practice?
A.      Yes. We coaches construct our workouts based around the skills we feel need the most improvement at that given time, or at that time of the season. For example, for our younger/developmental groups, kicking is a cornerstone of any quality swim program, so you will see some aspect of kicking in every practice. As the group levels progress, the skills/drills/intervals also progress in complexity and intensity. However, we coaches deviate from the “plan” from time to time if circumstances dictate.

Q.      What is my role during my athlete’s practice?
A.      You are always welcome to view the practice from the bleachers, but are not required to stay in the swim area during your athlete’s practice. However, we do ask that you pick up your child on time from practice. Please refrain from coaching from the bleachers, giving hand signals, getting their attention, or otherwise disrupting the group. We try hard to keep their attention, and we don’t need the added competition from the bleachers, behind the coaches, or at the end of the pool.

Q.      What are the RIGHT and WRONG ways to view a practice?
A.      The wrong way is to sit in the bleachers and critique what the group, the coach, and/or the athletes are doing wrong and how you believe you could do it better. The right way: Resist the temptation to get pulled into “discussions” like that. Better yet, take a stand for youth sports and speak up if you hear another parent going down the negative path. Let them know that it is not appropriate and you don’t appreciate it. Taking a positive approach will result in a better outcome for us all.

Q.      Is practice attendance mandatory?
A.      There are NO required practices or minimum attendance requirements for our athletes.  We encourage you to come as much as your individual family’s schedule will allow, as consistency is one of the most important aspects of our sport.

Q.      Is it OK to come to practice if we are going to be late?
A.      Yes. While we prefer each athlete to be on time, we teach younger swimmers that we understand that they are not in control of the time they get to the front door.  However, we ask our families to do everything possible to avoid getting to practice late (aside from the few things that drivers can’t adjust such as unusual traffic), as being late can heighten the athlete’s anxiety and therefore start the practice on the wrong foot.  If your athlete has to be late, they become in charge of their time once the walk through the door.  We expect them to hustle to the locker area, get changed, and walk quickly to their group. The coach will let the athlete know what the group is doing. 

Q.      Are the pools heated over the winter?
A.      Yes, all of our facilities are heated year-round.   On cold days at Heatherwood, we often slightly reduce the amount of time in the water and increase the amount of “warm up and dryland” time.


Q.      How many meets does the team attend and where are they?
A.      Throughout the year, the team attends meets of various sizes and competition levels. The competitions are usually within a couple hours driving distance from Birmingham.  Typical locations include:  Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Huntsville, Nashville, and Knoxville as well as other cities.  Additionally, BSL hosts several meets per year at the Birmingham Crossplex.

Q.      Is meet attendance required and how much does it cost to attend one?
A.      Much like the practice attendance, you are not required to attend meets at the younger levels.  As the athlete progresses into the more competitive levels, then it will be expected that each swimmer attend as many competitions as possible for your family.  Remember, the greatest overall experience for each child will come if they have the ability to compete.  It helps the coaches and swimmers measure their improvement as well as teaching our swimmers the lifelong values we hope to instill.  The cost varies but will generally range from $40-$80 per meet per swimmer.

Q.      Will my child swim a “best time” every time they race?
A.      No. Impossible. Well, maybe possible ----if they swim only two meets total in their whole lifetime it may happen. Important point: A best time doesn’t necessarily mean it was a good swim. Contrarily, not getting a best time doesn’t necessarily mean it was a “bad” swim either. To clarify: We work on a lot of skills week in and week out. We work on developing good habits, and chasing away the bad ones. Your swimmer may have not received a “best time,” but it may have been the best swim of their lives! We don’t enjoy seeing the kids equate their swimming self-worth to only whether or not they got a best time or not in a meet. This is a long journey. It is all part of the process. Everything we do is geared for the long haul – the life lessons, the ups, the downs, the peaks, the valleys.  Support your kiddo, they are the first ones to know whether or not they got a “best time”, in the big picture it is not that critical, and not a deal breaker. We want them to learn to enjoy the whole process. We also want YOU to learn to enjoy it – the ups and the downs.

Q.      What should our athlete wear at the swim meets?
A.      We encourage all families to go to the Swim and Tri website by clicking on their logo on our website.  This will take you to the customized BSL portion of their site where you can purchase all items you may need for practicing and competing with BSL, including our team suits.  Simply use the code "BSL" to gain access.  You will also be able to browse through the rest of their site to find other great swimming items.  Since BSL is a TYR sponsored program, we always encourage that all swimmers purchase TYR products using the Swim and Tri website.  If you are unable to get our team suit before your first meet, simply swim in the best tight fitting suit you are comfortable with

Training Groups:

Q.      What are the training groups?
A.      BSL offers multiple training groups to keep athletes of the same age, physical and emotional maturity, level of commitment, practice habits, and abilities levels in the same training environment.  Our Age Group year-round training groups are AG Foundations, AG Development, AG Refinement, and AG Performance.  Our Senior level year-round training groups are Senior and Senior Elite.  More details on each group can be found on our website under the “Programs” tab.

Q.      What determines advancement from one training group to the next?
A.      There are no hard and fast rules or requirements that are standardized in our program relating to group advancement. Instead, we as a staff recognize when an athlete has exceeded their stay in a certain group and is ready to move on to a higher level group.  Any athlete that wishes to move up to another level will be considered by the coaching staff on a case-by-case basis.  We want the athletes to be more than ready to move up to the next group.  We at BSL often prefer to allow an athlete some added time in their respective group to master the skills of that group, until we see that the athlete has in effect “outgrown” that group.  At times we may "transition" the athletes into the next level to allow for proper preparation and adjustment.  Keep in mind that our groups continue to get better and improve throughout the course of each season.  Additionally, the groups may have evolved since an older sibling went through the program.  Many times the coaches will approach parents when they have determined an athlete is ready, but please feel free, if your child has shown an interest in moving up, to ask your coach.  More than likely, our coaches have already planned out the move up period for your athlete long before you may have even though of it.

Q.      What is BSL’s coaching philosophy with young swimmers?
A.      Our #1 priority is that the young swimmers have fun.  If they enjoy what they are doing, they will want to keep coming back and will improve just by showing up.  We often play games that improve fitness, create enjoyment and improve team camaraderie.  Our close #2 priority is teaching proper stroke technique for all strokes.  We want our swimmers to learn the strokes correctly before moving up to another group, and often come up with fun ways to teach each of the necessary skills.

Special Reading for Parents

Q.      How can I be a supportive swim parent for my athlete?
A.      Learn to ask the right questions of your athlete: What did you learn today? What was the hardest part of the workout? What was the easiest? What was the most fun? Also, be sure to keep in mind that the number one reason kids swim is because they enjoy it and they have fun. The number one reason kids quit is because it is no longer enjoyable and fun. There are many cases of parents who mean well, but who chase their kids right out of this sport and sports altogether by placing too many demands and too much pressure to perform on their kids – spreadsheets, tracking reports that would make NASA envious, etc. Every athlete has their own individual time line when they “receive” the ability to “flip the switch” and begin to really compete – even if it is on a limited basis. In some swimmers it takes a little longer than others to develop.

Q.      How can I better enjoy my athlete’s sport?
A.      Be more like the grandparent than the parent when watching your child perform. Grandparents are usually happy just to see their grandkids actively involved in about anything! They aren’t usually concerned with any outcome, they just enjoy being in the moment of the here and now, loving life.


If you have any other questions, please email us at [email protected] and we will be glad to help you out.  We may even update our “FAQ” section after we respond with your answer.