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Team Handbook


The purpose of this handbook is to outline the policies of the Sweetwater Surfers Swim Team and to provide useful information for parents. It should be read by all families so that they may become familiar with important facts and rules of the team.

Team Background

The team is a member of the Southwest Houston Recreational Swim League (SHRSL). This league limits a team's roster to 200 swimmers. The team consists of Sweetwater Country Club members and non-members. Please see the Surfers website (www.swsurfers.org) to review a copy of the team's bylaws regarding the specific eligibility and registration requirements.

The SHRSL is composed of approximately twenty community and subdivision swim teams in the Southwest Houston area plus Alief, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Meadows, Stafford, and Richmond, Texas.

There are currently five divisions in the league. Teams are assigned to divisions based on their team enrollment and past performance. This way, teams are able to compete in a more equitable environment. Each team will compete with other teams in their division to determine the divisional championship team.

Why Swim?

Many physicians and pediatricians consider physical development swimming the ideal activity for developing muscular and skeletal growth. Why do doctors like it so much?

Swimming develops high quality aerobic endurance, the most important key to physical fitness. In other sports, an hour of practice may yield as little as 10 minutes of meaningful exercise. Age group swimming teams use every precious minute of practice time developing fitness and teaching skills.

Swimming does a better job in proportional muscular development by using all the body's major muscle groups. No other sport does this as well.

Swimming enhances children's natural flexibility (at a time when they ordinarily begin to lose it) by exercising all of their major joints through a full range of motion.

Swimming helps develop superior coordination because it requires combinations of complex movements of all parts of the body, enhancing harmonious muscle function, grace, and fluidity of movement.

Swimming is a sport that will bring kids fitness and enjoyment for life. Participants in Masters Swimming programs are still training and racing well into their 80's.

Why Sweetwater Surfers?

The team's coaches and Board Members are dedicated to providing a fun and positive summer swim league experience. They will foster a solid foundation in swimming technique and sportsmanship.

Summer league provides an opportunity for young people to: begin the summer with an active lifestyle; improve their swimming abilities; make new friends and share good times; gain self-confidence through healthy competition, perseverance, success and failure. This is not a “learn to swim” program. Swimmers are expected to cross the length of the pool by the first week of practices.

Keep in Touch Electronically

The Surfers web site (www.swsurfers.org) is a valuable tool in staying informed. The site includes maps, practice changes; rain out information, contact numbers, schedules, photos and more. Your swimmer's times will be posted on the site usually a couple of days after the meet.

E-mail is the best way to communicate with coaches and board members. A list of e-mail addresses is on the website. Reminders about upcoming events, tips from the coaches, volunteer assignments as well as important announcements are made via email. It is important to keep a current email address that is checked regularly on file with the team.


Nothing has a greater influence on the quality of children's sports than excellence of the coach. Surfers’ coaches have a variety of swimming backgrounds. They have been trained in youth coaching. For a detailed overview of each coach's experience and background please visit the Surfer website.

The coaches’ main responsibilities include:

Stroke instruction and physical training

Maintain discipline thus providing a positive environment for all swimmers

Making all decisions regarding in which events a swimmer will participate

Making all decisions regarding the makeup of relay teams

Supervises meets

Problems with the Coach?

Please keep in mind that you and the coach both have the best interests of your child at heart. If you trust that the coach's goals match yours, even though his/her approach may be different you are likely to enjoy a good rapport and constructive dialogue.

Please communicate any concerns directly with your child's coach. If your child swims for an assistant coach, always discuss the matter first with that coach. If the assistant coach cannot satisfactorily resolve your concern, then ask the Assistant Head Coach or Head Coach to join the dialogue as a third party. In the rare instance that you are unable to reach resolution with the Head Coach, you may bring your concern to the Board of Directors.

Due to the fact that practices run back to back, e-mail is the most effective means of communication. You may also leave a note with your question or concern in your coach's box or ask for a call back. It is never appropriate to discuss concerns on the pool deck or in front of swimmers or other parents.

Parent Responsibilities

Encourage consistent attendance at practices

Ensure you child arrives promptly at all practices and meets

Support the team with the required volunteer hours

Communicate any scheduling conflicts for practices or meets in a timely fashion and in writing

Do not interfere with training - let the coach do the coaching

Supply love, recognition and encouragement to your child

Communicate any questions or concerns with the coaching staff appropriately

Treat meet officials with respect, remembering that they are volunteers

Drop off and pick up swimmers no more than 10 minutes early or 10 minutes late

Age Groups

Your swimmer will compete against other children of the same age and sex at six swim meets. The age groups are divided as follows: 6 and Under, 7/8, 9/10, 11/12, 13/14 and Open (15 -18). The swimmer's age on May 31 will govern the group they are in for the entire season. Swimmers must be 18 years of age or younger. Practices are also scheduled by these age groups.

6 and Under (6U) swim freestyle only during meets. Swimmers usually swim the individual event and the freestyle relay. The coaches may use their discretion to enter a 6U swimmer in other strokes should their abilities allow. All events for this age group are 25 yard or meters.

7/8's and 9/1O's practice all four strokes including freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. They are allowed to swim 2 individual events and 2 relays at a meet. The coaching staff decides which strokes each swimmer will participate in. All events for this age group are 25 yards or meters.

11/12's, 13/14's and Open practice all four strokes as well as an individual medley. They are allowed to swim 3 individual events and 2 relays during a meet. All events for this age group are 50 yards or meters (the individual medley is 100 yards).


Practice is held after school during late April and May until school is dismissed for the year. After school is out, practice is held in the morning.

As a general rule, the least possible interruption in the training schedule will produce the greatest amount of success.

Swimmers should arrive at the pool no later than 10 minutes prior to their work out time. They should be picked up no later than 15 minutes following the conclusion of the practice. Parents who disregard this policy and leave children unattended will be reminded of the policy and ultimately, if abuse of the policy continues, the swimmer may be removed from the team. Swimmers should be suited up and ready to swim on time. It is distracting to the coach and other swimmers when someone arrives late. Furthermore, the swimmer may not receive the appropriate warm up to avoid injury.

If a swimmer has an ongoing conflict with their practice time a written request to change practice groups will be considered by the coach. The coach should be contacted via e-mail or by placing a note in the coach's mail box.

Parents should not discuss concerns or comments with coaches or swimmers during practices. Parents are allowed to watch practices from the pool deck as long as their presence is not disruptive to the practice.

Swimmers who go to the clubhouse before or after practice should be aware of the dress code. Shirts, pants and shoes are required (no swimsuits, cover-ups or bare feet are allowed).

Practice Meet / Time Trials

A practice meet is generally held prior to the first league meet. There are several purposes to holding a practice meet.

Swimmers are timed in each stroke. These times are used to seed swimmers for the first meet.

Swimmers get to practice with a starter and a horn.

Volunteer timers can be trained and practice timing races.

Stroke judges can be on hand to review strokes and make coaches aware of violations.

Swimmers can be more relaxed during the first meet because they have experienced meet conditions.  Swimmers who are not able to participate in the practice meet will need to make arrangements with their coach to be timed prior to the first meet.

Swim Meets

Sweetwater Surfers compete against four other teams in our division. We swim against each team once. Most years, we have two home meets and three away meets. If we have three home meets, more volunteers will be required due to extra volunteer responsibilities in the case of home meets.


Swimmers are seeded by time. The fastest three swimmers from each team swim in the first heat. The first heats are used for tabulation of team point totals. Points are awarded as follows for a 6 lane pool:


1ST PLACE 7 points 5 points
2ND PLACE 5 points 2 points
3RD PLACE 4 points
4TH PLACE 3 points
5TH PLACE 2 points
6TH PLACE 1 point

Meet Rules and Regulations

A swimmer will be disqualified (DQ'ed) for one of the following:

Use of lane rope or pool bottom to speed up or enhance forward progress

First false start for age 13 and up, second false start for others

Early take off in relay event

Violation of a stroke rule: Disqualification in a first heat will result in the swimmer not receiving points. All swimmers who are DQ'ed will receive a purple participation ribbon.

A swimmers age for competition will be determined by his/her age as of May 31st.

No alcoholic beverages are allowed at meets and smoking is not allowed inside the fenced areas of the pools.

Only swimmers participating in upcoming events, coaches and volunteer parents are allowed on deck.

Swimmer Responsibilities

In order to assure the best possible outcomes at our swim meets, we feel a certain code of behavior needs to be followed. At a sporting event, proper behavior is expected. Disrespect and general misconduct is unacceptable. Please be sure your child understands the following rules:

Report to the Team Parent assigned to your gender/age group when you arrive.

Arrive promptly. If you know you will be late to a swim meet the Team Parent MUST be notified as early as possible. Please keep their cell phone number handy in case of unforeseen delays or absence.

Swimmers should never leave a meet prior to its conclusion without notifying the Team Parent.

Swimmers are to stay in their age group area so that the Team Parent does not have to search for them. If the Team Parent is not able to find the swimmer they will lose their place in the heat. Tardiness is detrimental to the team and the swimmer.

Team Parents are to report any lack of cooperation or disrespect to the Team Parent Coordinator.

Foul, abusive or otherwise unseemly language will NOT be tolerated.

All pool safety rules shall be followed during and after practices and at meets.  Swimmers should never enter the water unless instructed to do so by a coach.

Unruly behavior such as pushing, fighting, running or dunking will not be tolerated.

Each swimmer/parent will be held financially responsible for damage to any pool or piece of swim team equipment caused by the swimmer.

Swimmers should treat all adults with respect, especially Stroke Judges, Team Parents and Coaches, including Opposing Coaches and Team Parents.

Keep your area clean and pick up trash.

Parents Responsibilities at Meets

If your swimmer will be absent from a swim meet you must e-mall the Head Coach a minimum of one week prior to the meet, earlier if possible. Absences due to illness or other unforeseeable circumstances should be communicated as soon as possible via email to the team's V.P. Secretary and Head Coach. If the swimmer must pull out of the meet after the Monday morning practice is held, please call the Team Parent.

Ensure you swimmer arrives on time for warm ups.

Parents of swimmers 10 and under must be present at meet or make arrangements with another parent to be responsible for your child.

Parents of swimmers ages 11 and up should notify the Team Parent if you will not be present at the meet.

Ensure that all of your child's possessions are labeled.

Ensure that your child cleans up his trash.

Fulfill your obligations as a parent volunteer as outlined in the Volunteer section of this handbook.

Provide your child with a positive sporting experience by following the Ten Commandments listed in the back of this handbook.

Heat Sheets - Why we need to know who will swim

Starting several days before the swim meet the coaches start compiling a heat sheet. This sheet lists the heat and lane assignment for each swimmer, for each event. Swim meet events are heated (division of an event when there are too many swimmers to compete at the same time) by time. In addition, each heat is seeded, faster swimmers swim in the first heat and so on. Swim lanes are also seeded with the fastest in lane 4 (at home meets) the second fastest in lane 2, etc. Some events have 6 or more heats. Relays are also heated. The "A" relay team is made up of the four fastest swimmers. The "B" team of the next four and so on.

Keep in mind that there are approximately two hundred swimmers on the team. Each swimmer has a time in four different events. Times are recorded to the one hundredth of a second. You are now working with over 800 swim times. Heats sheets put all these times in order for each event and each lane.

In order for the coaches to put together an accurate heat sheet it is imperative that they know who is and is not swimming at a meet. Removing one child from an event requires shuffling of all the other swimmers heat and lane assignments. Removing a swimmer from a relay team means that another swimmer must replace them. Most likely the replacement will come from another relay team and once again, everyone is shuffled around.

Compiling a heat sheet that is fair, balanced and competitive is one of the most challenging aspects of the coach's job. Having swimmers no show or forget until the day of the meet that they have a conflict, causes considerable hardship to the coach and the team.

Home Meets

Warm ups for home meets begin 3:30

Remember we are hosts. Please be pleasant and helpful to our guests.

We swim in EVEN numbered lanes.

Please keep swimmers and siblings out of baby pools.

Proper attire is required in the club house. Swim suits and bare feet are not permitted.

Concessions may be put on account.

Our pool is a 25 meter pool.Away Meets

Warm up begins 4:00

Remember we are guests. Please be respectful and display good sportsmanship.

We swim in ODD numbered lanes.

Allow extra time if you are unfamiliar with the directions or parking conditions.

Leave the tent area the way you found it.

What to take to a Swim Meet

Team swim suit

Cap and goggles (extras are a good idea)

Towels (2 or 3)

Something to sit on. (folding chair, extra towel, blanket)

T-shirt to prevent sun burning

Sunscreen and bug spray

Activities (There is a lot of down time between events. Ideas: markers/paper, iPods, books, personal music, cards, games, etc.)

Healthy snacks/drinks and or money. Snack and drinks can be purchased from the concessions stands; however you are allowed to bring your own. Personal coolers are allowed.Remember it is very hot at most swim meets. Swimmers and spectators should drink a lot of water.


Thepost-season meet for all swimmers is the Meet of Championsbeing that no relays are swum. This meet will be held in two sessions. 10 and Under swim in the morning and then 11 and Up swim in the afternoon. Official times are posted following each event (usually within 30 minutes).

Volunteers from each team will be required to perform the same jobs as in a regular meet, including timing, stoke judging, team parenting, etc.

individuals in each event as well as each first place relay team qualify for the All Star Meet. Swimmers who are unable to attend the All Star Meet must notify the meet coordinator immediately.

All Stars

All Stars is the Championship meet for the entire Southwest Houston Recreational Swim League. The top two swimmers in each stroke and the first place relay team advance to the All Star Meet. There are 16 participants in the individual events. Each swimmer will receive a medal. Qualifying for the All Star Meet is quite an accomplishment. Only the top swimmers out of the over 4000 athletes in league qualify.

Surfers Swim Banquet

A banquet is generally held the day after the All Star Meet. It is a banquet dinner and dance traditionally held at Sweetwater Country Club. It is the culmination of the swim season and is a really fun evening. Swimmers receive their trophies and awards. Five and ten year medals are also awarded. Senior swimmers are also presented Surfers Scholarship awards. Dinner is typically followed by dancing and activities led by the DJ.


Continued existence and success of the swim team depends on the volunteer efforts of all the families involved, and your hard work is greatly appreciated! Surfer families are required to work 5 half meet shifts or 2 1/2 full meets. Every position on the volunteer schedule must be covered in order to run a successful meet.

Additional volunteers will be required for Meet of Champions and All Stars. If your child swims at these meets you will be required to work an additional shift.

Volunteer sign up will be held online after the Kick Off parent meeting (Age group parent and stroke judge recruitment will be ongoing until the slots are filled. Contact the volunteer coordinator if you prefer one of these volunteer commitments). Parents may choose the type of job they wish to hold and which meets they will work on a first-come first-served basis. Parents who do not sign online will be assigned a position.

If you cannot volunteer and need help finding someone who might work for pay, you must contact our Volunteer Coordinator well ahead of time. Availability is based on a first come, first served basis and it is strongly encouraged that you find your own, reliable volunteer replacements. All volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. The only exception is for volunteer coaches, who need to be 16 or older.

Canceling a Volunteer Commitment

If you sign up to volunteer at a meet, but later learn you will not be able to fulfill your commitment, YOU are responsible for finding a replacement volunteer, and for letting the Volunteer Coordinator know of the change. You must notify the volunteer coordinator of the substitution NO LATER than 2:00 p.m. on the day of the meet. Please let her know who is taking your place.

In the event of an emergency please call the volunteer coordinator on her cell phone as soon as possible. Again this is ONLY in the event of an emergency that would not allow you to follow the guidelines above.

If you fail to comply with these guidelines, the penalties can include the following:

If you miss a volunteer commitment without notifying someone your child may be excluded from the next scheduled swim meet.

If you miss a volunteer commitment your family will pay $400 for not fulfilling the 5 shift volunteer commitment. Unfinished shifts will be charged at a rate of $75 per shift.

Volunteer Positions

There are Two Types of Volunteer positions – SEASON LONG and SINGLE SHIFT. Please reach out to the Volunteer Coordinator or the Team Parent Coordinator for the Season Long Positions. Single Shift Positions will be available for Sign-up online. The responsibilities of the meet volunteer positions are provided below:

SEASON LONG POSITIONS: When you choose one of these positions you are volunteering for the season not just one shift. You must volunteer for the entire season to meet the Volunteer Requirement.

AGE GROUP (TEAM) PARENT: Supervises a category of swimmers (example 6U girls or 7/8 boys) in designated area and ushers them to and from pool for races. "Marks" arms for kids with the events they will swim for the meet. Ideally two to three parents will share this job for the entire season.

RIBBON COORDINATOR: Home Meets Only. Oversees the distribution of Ribbons at all Home Meets (2 or 3), assisting the volunteers who choose Ribbons as their volunteer shift. With the help of the Head Scorekeeper and Head Timer, resolves any swimmer place issues. Organizes and stores the Team’s ribbons.

HEAD TIMER: Home Meets Only. Oversees all the Timers at Home Meets (2 or 3). Will gather all timers for training (assisted by Meet Director and Volunteer Coordinator). Acts as a backup Timer as necessary. Maintain Stopwatch inventory.

HEAD SCOREKEEPER: Home Meets Only. Oversees the accuracy of the Meet Scorekeepers at Home Meets (2-3). With the assistance of the Head Timer and Meet Director, resolves any issues of the score or swimmer placement. Set up Scorekeeping area with tables and supplies.

FUN FRIDAY COORDINATOR: Friday Mornings during June and July (5 dates). Organize and oversee donut delivery to pool for each swim group (3 deliveries); provide small prizes (candy/suckers) for “Speeding Tickets”, provide Certificates and awards for Swimmers of The Week.

DECK MANAGER/READY BENCHES: Home Meets and MOC Only. Readies each heat of swimmers and insures they proceed to the correct lane. Consolidates heats if possible to reduce meet time. Keeps unauthorized people off the deck. Requires attendance at the entire meet. Best to have an experienced parent.

SINGLE SHIFT POSITIONS: Each shift counts as one of the required 5 shifts per family.

RUNNERS: Picks up timer slips and takes them to scorekeepers, ribbons, then data manager. There are two volunteers for each shift. There are two shifts and a shift lasts half of the meet. One shift counts as one of your required segments.

RIBBON PRESENTER: Awards ribbons at the conclusion of races. Home Meets only. There are 2-3 presenters per shift. There are two shifts and a shift lasts half of the meet. One shift counts as one of your required segments.

TIMER: Using stopwatches; times swimmers during races. This position requires standing next to the pool for an extended period of time. There are two shifts and a shift lasts half of the meet. One shift counts as one of your required segments.

SCRIBE/RECORDER: Stands next to the timers on the pool deck and records swimmer numbers and times provided by the timers; then gives the time slips for each race to the runners. There are 2 shifts; each shift lasts half the meet. Each shift counts as one of your required segments.

SCOREKEEPER: Keep the dual meet score sheet and add up the points during the meet. (Calculators provided!) The scorekeepers are seated at a table between the pool and the swimmer tents. There are two scorekeepers at all times at the table. There are two shifts and a shift lasts half of the meet. One shift counts as one of your required segments.

STROKE JUDGES: Judge Swimmers' strokes during races by walking alongside swimmers and watching technique. If you desire to be a Stroke Judge you will be required to attend a Stroke Clinic for certification (clinics offered on multiple dates in April and May, every year is different). Clinics are very informative and any parent is qualified for this position if they attend the clinic. Initial clinic is approximately one hour long; the refresher course is approximately 20-30 minutes long. This is a great position for teaching you the swimmers' strokes. There are two shifts and a shift lasts half of the meet. One shift counts as one of your 5 required segments

Other non-meet related positions:

BOARD OF DIRECTORS: If you are interested in serving on the Board of Directors please let a current Board member know. The board meets about 4 times prior to swim season and weekly during the season. Attendance at all meets is required and serving in this position would exempt you from any meet volunteer requirements.

**Some parents like to work at every meet to help the time pass more quickly or for other reasons. Please let the volunteer coordinator know if you are one of these parents. Once all families have had an opportunity to sign up for their shifts you will be contacted to fill in gaps or to act as backup. THANK YOU!

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