Pacific Swimming
Excellence 300

Menlo Park Site – PASA

Parents Manual


The Menlo Park site of PASA has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success over its short history because of its tight community and family feel.  Building a community/family is not an easy task.  It requires all parties of the community to be involved – swimmers, coaches and parents.  The swimmers work hard everyday in practice – listening, learning, trying and training – in an effort to achieve both their personal goals and the team’s goals.  The swimmers also work hard to support and encourage their teammates.  The coaches provide the knowledge, encouragement, guidance, examples and environment for the swimmers and the team to achieve their goals.  Finally, the parents are the un-sung heroes.  The parents make the whole thing run.  The parents get the swimmers to practice, always support the swimmers, financially support the program and volunteer their time for the team. 

Since the parents play such a vital role, the coaching staff wanted to take this opportunity to: 1) thank you and let you know how much we appreciate your support of the program; 2) explain how the team operates – communication, practices, social events and swim meets; 3) provide you with some information about the sport of swimming and how you can help your swimmer enjoy it; and 4) inform you of some of the volunteer work the team needs from you.  Therefore, we have put together this Parent’s Manual.  It covers the following items:

  1. Team operations
    1. Team Mission Statement, Overview & Philosophies
    2. Team Policies
    3. Meet Information
    4. Social Event information
    5. Team Communication – folders/emails
  2. The Sport of Swimming
    1. Swimming Basics – background about the sport of swimming
    2. Parents Role - helpful hints on how to enhance the swimmers experience.
  3. Parent Volunteering


Bruce Smith – Co-Founder of PASA; Site Director of PASA – Menlo Park


Section A – Team Operations

Team Mission Statement, Overview and Philosophies

PASA Mission Statement

To develop strong, dynamic and successful individuals in a safe sport environment, who positively affect their community both in and out of the water.

Our Vision

To provide a positive, yet competitive environment structured by professional, highly trained coaches guided by the long-term growth of the individual and the team, where each member of our organization is provided with the opportunity to excel and succeed to their highest potential through proper technique, confidence, and a love for the sport of swimming.

PASA Team Overview

Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics is a member team of USA Swimming and Pacific Swimming.

There are 6 different PASA sites:

Rinconada - Palo Alto              Alpine Hills - Portola Valley

DKS - Los Altos Hills               LAGCC - Los Altos

DZS -South Palo Alto              Burgess - Menlo Park

These sites operate independently (financially & operationally), but work together to give young people the opportunity to grow as swimmers and people to achieve success in life and in the pool.

We are the PASA–Menlo Park site that practices out of Burgess Pool and Menlo-Atherton High School. Our team is comprised of ~175 swimmers of all abilities and skill levels.

Menlo Park Site’s Philosophies (Goals and Objectives)

The Menlo Park site of PASA promotes the sport of swimming by adhering to the following philosophical goals & objectives:

  1. Provide swimmers with an excellent, experienced and dedicated coaches.
  2. The coaches’ objective is to teach and train the swimmers to be great swimmers, and use the sport of swimming to help create great people.
  3. The program is aimed at long-term success with the objective of producing versatile and well-rounded swimmers at all ability levels. This is achieved with the driving principle of the development of Foundational Skills – both swimming skills and life skills.  A strong foundation is needed to build success and to become the best one can be.
  4. The program will strive to bring out the highest potential in each swimmer.  This will be achieved through providing:
    1. A supportive environment that encourages the individual to do the utmost to become the best he/she is capable of becoming.
    2. An environment that teaches our swimmers to strive for and to hold themselves to the highest standards both in and out of the pool, a skill they can use to achieve their highest potential in any aspect of life – school, work, relationships.
  5. Menlo Park will provide a multi-level program, geared to the needs of our swimmers.  We will emphasize fundamental skills, physical conditioning, strong work ethic, character growth, self-reliance, healthy competition, team building and most of all enjoyment.
  6. Construct a fun and positive environment for our swimmers to be part of and feel safe in by emphasizing the team culture in all aspects of the program – practices, social events, swim meets, etc.  It is relationships that are created within this program that will be their lifelong memories.

Team Policies

The team policies have been set up to ensure the success of the team and to maintain a positive relationship with the Menlo Park Burgess Pool.  We ask that all parents, swimmers and coaches know these policies and abide by them, because without them the team would not be as fun and successful for the swimmers.

  1. Team’s Code of Conduct – the Team’s Code of Conduct is attached to the end of this manual.  This Code of Conduct applies to the swimmer, parent and coach.  We ask that everyone read and understand the Team’s Code of Conduct.
  2. MAAPP - USA Swimming’s Minor Athlete Abuse Prevention Policy – All adults who are involved in USA Swimming and will interact with minors within the sport, are required to read USA Swimming’s MAAPP– Coaches, Volunteers, Adult Swimmers, etc.  To be in good standing with USA Swimming and PASA all families must read and follow MAAPP.
  3. Arrival/Departure – It is in the best interest of the swimmer to arrive at practice on time.  This way the swimmer does not miss any important information and does not disrupt the practice.  As a respect to the coaches and the safety of the swimmers, we ask that swimmers be picked up within 10-minutes of the conclusion of practice. If there is an unforeseen reason a swimmer’s pickup is running late, swimmers should wait either on the bleachers on the pool deck or in the pool entrance lobby.
  4. Parents The coaches ask that parents do not sit behind the coaches during practice, as it can be distracting to the swimmers and the coaching staff.  In addition, we ask that parents wait to ask questions of the coach until after practice. 
  5. Swimmers are asked to come to practice prepared - A properly prepared swimmer will have goggles, swim cap (if hair is long and not in a ponytail) and any equipment the group coach would like the swimmers to have (fins, paddles, etc.).
  6. Attendance - Swimmers moving through the program are expected to demonstrate a progressively greater degree of commitment to competitive swimming and to PASA as evidenced by their participation and attitude in training sessions and meets.  The coaches feel very strongly that attendance reflects commitment and regular attendance is needed to plan effectively for training, goals, and meet performances.

Swim Meet Information

The coaching staff feels that swim meets provide the swimmers with great feedback and encouragement.  As swimmers move through the program, swim competitions become the main focus of practice.

The team offers two levels of swim meets – PASA Candy Meets and USA Swimming meets.  What follows is an explanation of each level of swim meet:

  1. PASA Candy Meets – the PASA team offers a total of six inter-squad candy meets (three in the fall and three in the spring).  The purpose of these meets is to introduce young & new swimmers to USA Swimming meets.  These meets are casual, offer candy instead of ribbons and introduce the swimmers to new race distances and events. 
    1. These meets are geared towards both 1st time PASA swimmers and younger swimmers.  
    2. USA Swimming does not sanction these meets – i.e. there are not officials holding swimmers accountable to the legal strokes.
    3. To participate in a Candy Meet, a swimmer must commit to the meet on the team’s website before the stated entry deadline.  There is no meet day entries (deck entries) permitted. 
    4. Each season (fall and spring) there will be two Friday afternoon candy meets and a third Saturday morning meet.
  2. USA Swimming Meets – these are weekend meets offered by the Pacific Swimming region of USA Swimming.  These meets are offered for swimmers of all levels – Novice to National.  USA Swimming Meets are typically offered on both days of the weekend, but swimmers are not required to attend both days.  We encourage it, but understand that many swimmers have other activities that may interfere.
    1. USA Swimming sanctions these meets – i.e. there are officials holding the swimmers accountable to doing the legal strokes.
    2. Overview of a USA Swimming Meet
      1. Different meets will offer different events.  Unlike summer league, more events are available than can be swum at one meet.  Therefore, not all events will be offered at each meet. 
      2. The format of meets may vary between a single session, split session (morning and afternoon, based on age group), Trials & Finals
      3. Swim Meets will have many teams attending.  It can be as few as 5 teams, to as many as 50 teams.  The teams at meets tend to be from the immediate area (San Francisco to San Jose), but can also be from all over the country.
      4. Some meets will have times standard minimums (C, B, A, JO, FW, Senior, Etc.).  Only swimmers who have met these minimum time standards may enter those meets.  A list of the Pacific Swimming Time Standards is available at
      5. The average cost of entering a USA Swimming meet is $25-$35 for one day, $40-$60 for two days and $50-$100 for qualifying meets.  Like concert tickets or running race entries, the swim meet fees are pre-paid and USA Swimming does not offer refunds or transfers. 
    3. Entering USA Swimming Meets (Pacific Swimming website has general information on how to enter meets.  The link is under the drop-down menu of ‘Resources’).
      1. The swimmer must be registered with USA Swimming.  The team registers all PASA swimmers with USA Swimming once they join the team through our website or directly with Ava Thompson, our bookkeeper.
      2. The weekly email updates will notify the swim team about an upcoming meet, which the team is attending (you can also check the following website – ).
      3. If your swimmer is interested in participating in an upcoming meet, you will want to sign them up for the meet ASAP.  USA Swimming meets have a maximum number of participants allowed to insure that the timeline of the meet is reasonable.  Therefore, meets do fill quickly, especially popular ones like Spooky Classic. 
      4. What events to sign up for is always a big question.  Here is a guideline to help with the events for your swimmer:
        1. Swimmers should only participate in events they can complete legally – i.e. a swimmer should not to the 200 IM, if they have not done the 100 IM and/or 50s of all the strokes yet. 
        2. Swimmers should vary the events they swim and should not always swim the same events at every meet.  Many swimmers ‘best’ events will change and vary as they progress through the sport.
        3. Coaches will sometimes have a specific event their group has been training for and will need to enter at a meet.
        4. Ultimately, your coach will approve the events for your swimmer.  
      5. Depending on the meet, there are two ways to sign up for a meet:
        1. Coach entries.  Some meets will be entered by the coaching staff (candy meets, travel meets, zone champs, etc.).  For these meets, you can sign up your swimmer through the PASA – Menlo Park website.
          1. Go to the team website
          2. Login and locate the Meets you wish to attend under the Events Section of the website.
          3. Click on the ‘Edit Commitment’ on this Event.
          4. Click each Member in your Account to select Yes or No. You may fill in details ("wants to swim in 50 Free", "Sunday only", etc.)
          5. If your plans change, you may edit your commitment on the website later, but please contact your coach to inform them of your new plans.
        2. Online entries – this will be either through or These websites host all the online meet entries in the area.  This route is fast (the website walks you through the process).  If you plan on entering your swimmer via one of these websites, you should consult your swimmer’s head coach to determine his/her event line-up for the meet.   
    4. USA Swimming Meet Procedures – these meets run differently from candy meets and summer league meets.
      1. The week of the meet, the information on the meet will be emailed to all participants.   It will contain directions to the pool, time line for the meet, list of who is entered in the meet – which can be used for carpool purposes - and any additional notes which is needed for the meet.
      2. Arrive at the specified time on the information sheet.  If in doubt, arrive one hour before the start of the meet.
      3. Upon arrival, perform the following tasks in the specified order
      4. Check In - Swimmers must check in 30 minutes before the meet starts, or they will be scratched from the meet.
      5. Put your stuff at the team tent – This is the swimmers home base.  This is where swimmers can relax between events.  The coaches will usually be at another tent by the pool to give the coaches the opportunity to see everyone on the team swim
      6. Check in with the coach at the PASA coaching tent
      7. Warm – Up (as specified by the coach)
      8. After everyone has warmed up, there will be a team meeting.  During this meeting the swimmers will get last minute instructions.
      9. Unlike summer swim meets, swimmers will not get their heat and lane assignments when they check in.  Instead, they will be posted about 20 minutes before the event.  Once the meet has started, the swimmers must check their heat and lane assignments for their events.  Follow the lead of the veteran swimmers.  A good rule of thumb is to check about 3 events before yours (If I am in event 23, I will see if my event is posted when they are swimming event 20).
      10. Once you have your heat and lane assignment, check in with the coach.  The coach will give the swimmer advice on how to swim the event.
      11. Head to the blocks and swim the event.  Try to swim as fast as you can with the pointers the coach gave you.  Enjoy the swim and try your best – that is all anyone can ask of you.
      12. After the swim, check in with the coach to get your splits, official time and feedback on the swim.
      13. Meets typically last 3-4 hours, and a swimmer will swim on average once every 45 minutes (as you can see there is a lot of down time when a swimmer can cheer on teammates, do homework or take a nap).
  3. General Advice
    1. Make sure you Eat and Drink during the meet.  It is important to keep the system properly fueled and energized.  Do not eat heavy food (Fried food, Fatty food or heavy meat items).  Stick to easy things (Sandwiches, Bagels, Muffins, Energy Bars, nuts, etc.).  Also, drink water or an Energy Drink to stay hydrated.
    2. Outdoor temperatures can seriously affect your performance and your enjoyment of the meet.  During winter meets, make sure you dry off well and put on warm layers of clothing, especially on your extremities – Wool Hat, Gloves & Socks.   During Summer meets, keep yourself out of the sun so you do not get dehydrated
    3. Warming up before you swim and/or cooling down after you swim will prepare you better for each event.  Talk to your coach about which is best for yo
    4. To Bring List
      2 Swimsuits            Swim Cap & Goggles            2 Towels
                                    Warm Clothing – Parka, Hat & Gloves, Sweatshirts, Socks & Shoes
                                    Chair for sitting, and/or Sleeping Bag for resting
                                    Homework, Games, Playing Cards, Magazines, Ipod, Etc.
                                    Gatorade, Energy Bars, Food, Money for food, Etc.
                                    Clothing to represent your TEAM

e. Keep track of your times to monitor your progress and to help you see what you can do to get faster.

Social Event Information

Social events are offered to the swimmers throughout the season.  We encourage the swimmers to participate in social events, because they really help bond the swimmers as a team.  We have team wide social events – Halloween practice, holiday dinner, awards banquet, scavenger hunt, etc. – as well as group specific practices.  The weekly email updates will notify the team of an upcoming event.  You may sign up for an event through the PASA-Menlo Park website.  As always, we cannot do some of our social events without the help of parents.

Team Communication

Communication is the key to a successful team.  We make every effort to communicate thoroughly.  The coaching staff uses the following forms of communication:

  1. PASA-Menlo Park Website – This is the primary channel of communication for the team.  It posts weekly updates, upcoming events, offers event sign-ups, posts advise and resources for swimmer and parent, archives meet results, has links to important websites, etc.  Team members receive login/password instructions once they turn in their team registration form.
  2. Weekly Team Email Updates – Every Monday, an email is sent, via the website, to every family on the team.  These emails are used to highlight upcoming events, announce when swim meets are available for sign ups and advertise changes to the practice/event schedule. 
  3. Group Email Updates – The head coach of each swim group will occasionally send out an email just to those families/swimmers in that group.  These emails will address specific items for a single training group. 
  4. Circle Time before Practice – During this time coaches will talk to the swimmers about upcoming events.

If a parent needs to communicate with the coaching staff, we ask that communications be done in one of the following avenues:

  1. Email – this is the quickest way to ask questions of the coaches. 
  2. Schedule a meeting – If a parent has a more involved question, feel free to set up an appointment with your swimmer’s coach.
  3. Phone Call/Text– For the coaching staff, this is not the best form of communication.  It is easier for us to get to emails. 
  4. Avoid interrupting your swimmer’s practice to communicate with the coaching staff.  It takes away from your swimmer’s (and the team’s) time.

Finally, as swimmers mature and move up in practice groups, the coaching staff puts more of the responsibility of communication on the swimmer him/herself.  We feel that this helps the swimmer develop independent thinking and encourages self-reliance and self-responsibility.


Section B – The Sport of Swimming

Swimming Basics
The sport of swimming is a simple, yet intrigue sport.  If you are new to the sport, this is a great overview article about the sport – history, stroke technique, training, swim competitions, world records, etc.
Role of Parent
The primary role of the parent in the sport of swimming is to be an outside observer and an unconditional supporter of the swimmer.  The coach’s role is to provide the framework and game plan for a swimmer to learn and achieve their goals in the sport of swimming.  Swimmers need both the parental unconditional support and the coaching expertise and encouragement to be successful.  When a parent picks up the role of coaching their swimmer, the coach has to move into the unconditional supporter role, taking them away from their expertise. 
This is your swimmer’s sport and activity.  This is where they will learn such life skills as rewards from hard work and sacrifice.  But also can gain the tools of how to bounce back from setbacks.  The path that your swimmer takes through this sport will not always be smooth and successful.  There will be bumps along the way.  These are just important to their growth as a swimmer and a person as the successes. 
Here is a wonderful video of Coach Frank Marin – Head basketball coach of University of South Carolina – talking about parents and youth sports.  
The USA Swimming Website – - has a lot of interesting information at their website that can be helpful to parents and swimmers.

Section C – Parent Volunteering

Youth sport teams have three branches – Athlete, Coach, Parent – all of which play a vital role to the success of the team.  Menlo Park’s PASA site depends on parent volunteering to be able to provide this amazing team to the swimmers and the community.  The team needs volunteers in the following areas:

  1. The coaching staff looks for volunteers to help out with the team’s secondary activities, most notably social events and practice group activities.
  2. USA Swimming Meets
    1. Timers/Recorders – The PASA team, as a whole, is usually assigned 3-4 lanes to time/record at meets due to the number of PASA swimmers (from all the different PASA sites) who attend.  Those PASA lanes are then divided amongst the different sites based on entry numbers.  All parents who attend USA Swimming meets are asked to commit to a minimum of one hour of timing at meets.  Parents can sign up for timing slots on the PASA-Menlo Park website (under Event on the homepage).  Also, at the team tent, the sign up list will be posted.
    2. USA Swimming Officials (Stroke & Turn, Starter) – Our zone of USA Swimming implemented an Officials rule in March 2008, to encourage parents to become Officials.  The rule states that each team is required to provide one Official for every 25 swimmers attending the meet. Currently, Menlo Park’s PASA site brings 30+ swimmers to each meet we attend, requiring our site to provide at least one Official. Currently, Menlo Park has only 3 fully certified USA Swimming Officials – Lea Finn, Robin Teague and Andrea Scaiewicz.  If Menlo Park does not provide the required officials, coaches are required to substitute as officials. Coaches acting as officials cannot actively coach swimmers while on duty as officials.
    3. PASA – Menlo Park hosted swim meets – We try to run 2-3 swim meets each season.  We run these meets for three reasons.
      1. Provides an opportunity an opportunity to swim in a swim meet, since non-hosted swim meets can fill extremely quickly, especially in these covid times. 
      2. Fundraiser opportunity for the Menlo Park site of PASA.  These meets can provide a significant income to our team to help us provide more pool time, events, and clinics for our swimmers.
      3. It is a way to help us support the sport of swimming within our local community.

To be able to run swim meets, we will need help from our parents as USA Swimming Officials, Meet Directors, Head Marshals, Head of Hospitality, Head Timer, Computer Operator, etc. 

Currently, unlike many of the other swim teams, Menlo Park’s PASA site does not require parents to work a set number of hours per season.  We have been able to do this because the parents of the Menlo Park site of PASA have always understood the need to give their time to the team.  We would like to continue operating in this way – rules begin to make the team feel like a bureaucratic entity instead of a community of friends who volunteer to support the community.

Below is the requested amount of volunteer work from parents on the team.  The parents are divided into three categories, under which is listed the type of volunteer time needed.  The time needed increases as a family’s involvement on the team increases. 

All Parents

  1. Volunteer once a season to assist in the general operations of the Team 
  2. It might be volunteering to car pool on a Training Trip, chaperoning at the team’s December Holiday Dinner & Movie hosting the Team’s Superbowl Party, organizing the ribbon box, etc.

Parents of PASA Candy Meet Participants

  1. In addition, these parents are asked to work at a minimum of one Candy Meets a season. This might entail timing, starting, marshalling, distributing candy, helping check in swimmers, etc.

Parents of USA Swimming Meet Participants

  1. In addition to volunteering to assist in the general operations of the team, these parents are required to help cover the volunteer responsibilities allocated to the Menlo Park site of PASA at the USA Swim meet in which their swimmer participates.  This is usually as a timer/recorder or as an official.  You may sign-up for timing shifts on the PASA-Menlo Park website (under Events on the homepage). 
  2. Officiating is a skilled position requiring a larger time commitment.  As an incentive the following is provided to any parent official:
    1. USA Swimming Official Annual Registration Fee & Background check – covered by Menlo Park.
    2. Swim Meets where the parent is willing to officiate may offer a guaranteed entry in their meet – even if it is already closed – and might be willing to waive the meet entry fees.
  3. The Menlo Park site hopes to purchase canopies and will brings them to swim meets to shelter the swimmers and parents from the elements.  Parents transport, set up and break down the Menlo Park canopy.


Section D – Code of Conduct

The partnership between the home and the swim team is vital to your child's successful swimming experience.  Our Code of Conduct was developed to define the responsibilities of the PASA – Menlo Park coaching team, the swimmer and the parent in creating a positive environment in which to thrive.  Please take the time to discuss these important guidelines with your child.  Your involvement is extremely important to us and to your child's success in swimming.

- Swimming is a privilege, not a right
- Swimming quality should not be diminished by inappropriate behavior
- Good discipline is positive training to help swimmers make appropriate choices
- Swimmers have the ability to behave appropriately
- Swimmers must accept responsibility for their own actions
- Discipline is a shared responsibility between the swimmer, the parent and the coaches
- Following the standards of behavior and obeying rules of the facility and coaches
- Behaving in the pool and locker room without damage or disruption, or interfering with the rights of other swimmers and members of the community
- Attending practice on time
- Respecting the authority of coaches
- Being familiar with discipline guidelines
- Taking responsibilities for their child's actions
- Abiding by PASA Menlo Park site policies
- Sharing responsibilities with the coaches by working together for the total development of the swimmer
- Providing a positive and safe training environment with swimmer behavior guided by:
      - Clearly defining rules and regulations
      - The consistent use of discipline procedures
      - Effective communication
      - Providing due process