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Swim Team FAQs

Questions about Season Start

What happens during 8 & under Swim Team Assessments?

  • For the 2024 season, all 8 & under swimmers will be assessed by our Developmental Swim Director, Coach Kelli. She will observe each swimmer individually to determine proper placement on the General Swim Team or on WHOMPERS, which is the Swim Team's developmental group. If the coach determines that a swimmer is not yet ready for WHOMPERS, she will refer the swimmer to Highlands' 5-week Swim School. We have designed our practice schedules to allow for easy transition between programs. During the season, swimmers can, and often do progress from from WHOMPERS to General Swim Team or from Swim School to WHOMPERS. Parents are asked to respect the assessments made by the coach.

What is Swim Team Open House and why do I need to come?

  • The Open House is an opportunity to meet the Highlands Coaches and pick up your team t-shirt and swim cap. Stop by to have all of your questions answered or just to say "Hi!" We also hope to have some favorite Highlands spirit gear for sale, including car flags, WHOMP magnets, Highlands towels, silicone caps, and some "vintage" Highlands t-shirts, along with some new, never seen before Highlands items! We look forward to seeing you at the 2024 Swim Team Open House -- May 18th from 11:30am - 1:30pm!

What equipment will my swimmer need for practices and meets?

Every swimmer should have the following equipment:

  • Good fitting pair of goggles (and always good to have a spare pair of goggles in your swim bag).
  • Swim cap - (our coaches prefer for all swimmers to use a cap) - Standard green and white "H" latex cap is included in Swim Team Registration fee.
  • Fins - 12 & under swimmers (swim team and Whompers) will need a pair of fins this summer. Coaches recommend this style of fin, available in the Team Store. Similar fins are available at Sport Fair in Arlington (5010 Langston Blvd).
  • Practice/Team suit - Practice suits are lycra jammers or briefs for boys and lycra one-piece suits for girls. Board shorts and bikinis are not appropriate for swim practice or meets.
  • Swimmers can use their own kickboard this summer or one of the Highlands kickboards.
  • Water bottle - Keeping our swimmers hydrated at all times is very important!
  • Swim bag - Encouraged to keep track of all swim equipment and personal belongings
  • Towels
  • Sunscreen - Apply, apply, apply!
  • Insect Repellent - Optional, but recommended, particularly during Monday night meets

What is Expected of Parents During the Season?

Pulling off the summer swim season with a team as large as Highlands is truly a team effort! To run all of our Monday night B meets and Saturday A meets this summer, we will need to fill over 350 volunteer slots. Volunteers will also be needed to run each of the fun social events that the kids love so much like pep rallies, penny dives, and pancake breakfasts. By signing your child up for swim team, you are committing to being an active participant in their summer experience and there are so many ways to help. Plus, we promise you that it is a lot of fun!

*****How can I become more involved with the team???

  • Summer Swim Team literally cannot happen without volunteers. We are always looking to train new officials, and there are many deck and weekly volunteer duties that require no training at all. Being a timer or a marshal at a B Meet is a great way to get a feel for what's going on up on deck and allows you to meet other swim parents and watch the swimmers connect and get ready for the weekend and Monday night meets! We wouldn't ask if we didn't need you, and we will never ask anyone to do a job they cannot handle.

Who are all of those officials in blue and white and where did they train?

  • There are many officials on deck at the meets, including the Starter, the Referee, the Chief Timer, the Clerk of Course, the Stroke and Turn Judges and, in A Meets, the Relay Take-Off Judges. The officials require training by the NVSL. The NVSL holds clinics each summer to train for these positions.

Who are all those people at the table area during a meet and what are they doing?

  • Every meet requires the work of numerous table volunteers. There are the Table Chiefs who check the times on the time cards in every event and put them in place order. There is the Data Coordinator who carefully enters every single swimmer time into the team computer. There are the folks putting labels on the swimmers’ ribbons. At A Meets some Scorers keep track of the team scores and the Announcer, the voice of the Whomping Turtles at Home Meets!

Questions about Practice Equipment - What Does My Child Need for Practices and Meets?

Where can I purchase swim team equipment?

We have a new team suit this year! The suit will be used for the 2024 and 2025 seasons.  Details on the team suit can be found Here. You can purchase the suit through our vendor, Suit Up, or at the Open House in May.

Goggles, practice suits and caps, and fins also can be purchased through SuitUp or locally at Sport Fair (5010 Langston Blvd in Arlington). SuitUp's address is:

SuitUp Water Sports & Alpha ID, University Mall, 10627 Braddock Rd, Fairfax VA 22032/703-278-8202; shopUmall.com

How do I know what size team suit to order?

Suits should be snug with no wrinkles or gaps - it will loosen up when wet and as your child wears it. For sizing information, see the NIKE SIZE CHART. If you want additional help with sizing, you can call SuitUp or visit the SuitUp store to try on suits. In our experience, the Racerback style typically provides the best fit for 12 & under girls. 13 & over girls often seem to prefer the Cut-out style.

Once you receive your suit, try it on immediately to make sure it fits correctly.

Questions about Practices

Do swimmers need to attend both morning & afternoon swim practices?

  • Swimmers are encouraged to attend the morning practice for their age group. See SWIM TEAM PRACTICE SCHEDULE. To accommodate schedules, we have both an early 7:45 am option and an afternoon practice option for those swimmers who are unable to attend their designated morning practice. SWIMMERS MAY NOT ATTEND BOTH MORNING AND AFTERNOON PRACTICES ON THE SAME DAY. Afternoon practices will be offered on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons from 5:30 - 6:30pm for those unable to attend morning practices. On evenings where there are dive meets, there will not be an afternoon practice. An early "all ages" practice is offered Monday - Friday at 7:45am.
  • For the full 2024 practice schedule, please click HERE.

Questions about Meets

What are Time Trials? Does my child have to go to Time Trials?

  • 2024 Time Trials will be on Saturday, June 8th.
  • Most teams in the NVSL have Time Trials about a week or two after practice begins and before the first meet of the season. Time Trials are an opportunity for swimmers to get times in a meet-like setting.
  • WHOMPERS Group does not swim at Time Trials.
  • All other swim team members are encouraged to swim all four strokes and may be asked to swim a stroke that not considered their favorite. There is no scoring in Time Trials. The only swimmers attending Time Trials are Highlands' swimmers. HOWEVER, swimmers must have demonstrated in practice proficiency in a stroke in order to be allowed to compete in that stroke at time trials. We do not want swimmers getting disqualified and starting the summer season feeling discouraged.
  • Each swimmer should try to swim at Time Trials, as it offers the coaches an opportunity to see the swimmers perform the different strokes in a meet-like setting. A swimmer not able to make Time Trials will have an opportunity to get recorded times at a later B Meet.

How do I sign up for Time Trials and Monday B Meets?

Parents need to sign up their swimmer(s) for Time Trials and Monday B Meets via SwimTopia by the listed deadlines. Coaches will NOT deck enter swimmers at the meet. Even if your swimmer is not able to attend, please declare your swimmer is not attending.

  • Click on the green Meet Entry button to sign-up your athletes for meet events.
  • You may see a green volunteer job confirmation window with a link to go back and sign-up for job shifts like this:


  • Underneath the volunteer job confirmation window, you will see a list of athletes associated with your account. Click Edit to add or change their attendance and to add events for your athletes (if your coach allows event selection).

Select an attendance option from the drop-down menu next to each athlete's name. If your coach allows event selection, a list of events will appear if you selected Attending. Check which events you would like to enter for each athlete, up to the limit indicated on the top right.

What’s the difference between a Saturday "A" Meet & a Monday "B" Meet?

  • B Meets are meets designed to give developing swimmers a chance to compete and improve their skills. B Meets are not NVSL sanctioned and are not scored meets. There are no relay events at B Meets. B Meets are held on Monday evenings. Warm-ups for the home team begin at 5:00 pm, followed by warm-ups for the away team at 5:30 pm. B Meets begin at 6:00 pm. Swimmers are encouraged to swim two events including Individual Medley (IM) if they are legal. WHOMPERS will swim freestyle only, unless directed by Coach Kelli to add backstroke. A swimmer is eligible to swim any event in a B Meet if they are legal in that stroke except an event for which that swimmer earned a first, second or third place in the immediately preceding A Meet. Swimmers may sign up for the B meet online in the Swim Meet section of the Events tab on our Homepage. Ribbons are awarded to every swimmer.
  • A Meets are different from B Meets because A Meets are NVSL sanctioned, include relay events and are scored. A Meets reflect our team’s standings in our Division. A Meets are held Saturday mornings for five consecutive weeks beginning near the end of June. Swimmers qualify for these meets based on their times at Time Trials and at A and B Meets, as well as the coaches’ evaluation of how the team can best match up against our opponent for that week. Our team will have three swimmers for each event in each age group. A swimmer can only swim in two individual events at an A Meet. The swimmers scheduled for the A Meets may change from week to week because of improved times or absences. Sometimes there are unfilled spots, especially in some of the older age groups, and a younger swimmer may be asked to swim in an older group. Every point counts in a meet and there have been plenty of times that points have been scored by a swimmer swimming in an older age group. Swimmers should be aware if they will be swimming in a relay. Relay events are at the end of the meet. If a swimmer needs to leave the meet early, the Head Coach must be informed before the relay events.
  • The list of swimmers for A Meets will be emailed to the team as early as Tuesday evening. If a swimmer is not going to be in town, please Decline the A meet located on the Swim Meets tab under Events on our Homepage. It is helpful to contact the Head Coach or Team Reps as soon as possible after receiving the email. If you are scheduled to swim in an A Meet and become ill or have an emergency, contact the coach immediately so that she can substitute another swimmer. Any corrections should be made by Thursday morning before our information is transmitted to our opponents. Substitute swimmers must also be notified in the event of illness or emergencies, or we won’t have enough swimmers present to fill the lanes.
  • Warm-Ups for A Meets start at 8:00 am for home meets or 8:30 am for away meets, and each meet will begin promptly at 9:00 am. A Meets are usually finished by 11:30 am. In a typical summer, lunches are held at Highlands after home meets, and at a destination to be announced for the away meets.

Can you swim in A Meets and B Meets?

  • Yes, though only those swimmers that have qualified for Saturday "A" Meets, as described above, participate in Saturday morning meets. All swimmers can and are strongly encouraged to swim in Monday evening "B" Meets.

How are meets scored?

  • The score is kept at A meets for the NVSL. In the individual events, a first-place finish earns 5 points, a second-place earns 3 points, and a third-place finish earns 1 point. Relays are scored as 5 points for the winner and 0 points for the loser. There is no scoring at B Meets.

Why do the coaches need to know if we will be out of town for an A Meet?

  • If your swimmer qualifies for an A Meet, the coaches must know if your swimmer will be out of town for that meet so that the coach can substitute another swimmer in that event. We never want to have an empty lane at an A meet!

What is Relay Carnival?

  • In a typical summer, on the Wednesday evening after the third A Meet of the swim season, each of the divisions comprising the NVSL holds a Relay Carnival at one of the division’s pools. This year, the NVSL moved Relay Carnival up by one week. Every team in the division may send one, and only one, relay team for each event competed at the Relay Carnival. Only relays are swum at the Relay Carnivals. The Division Relay Carnivals are scored meets. The winning team is officially recognized and receives a trophy. Times from the Relay Carnivals of all the NVSL divisions are collected, and the relay teams with the top 18 times are invited to the All-Star Relay Carnival.

How do the coaches select the relay teams?

  • Just as for A Meets, swimmers qualify for relay teams based on their times at Time Trials and at A and B Meets, as well as the coaches’ evaluation of how the team can best match up against our opponents.

What are Divisionals?

  • Divisionals is a meet held the Saturday after the fifth and last A Meet of the season. Each of the six teams in the division sends its two fastest swimmers in each event, for a total of 12 swimmers or two heats for every event. In addition to the individual events that are part of the A Meets, the IM events are included in Divisionals. No team scores are kept for this meet; it is for the individual swimmers.
  • Each swimmer can swim only two events. If a swimmer has one of the top two times in more than two events (determined for our team by fastest A or B Meet time from the current summer swim season), he/she will be able to pick the events in which he/she wants to participate. This opens up slots for other swimmers. Also, not all teams enter two swimmers for each event. When this happens, other teams have an opportunity to add an additional swimmer from their team. These slots are filled based on who has the fastest time in the division.
  • The times from each of the NVSL Divisional Meets are collected, and the swimmers with the top 18 times, plus two alternates, are invited to swim in the Individual All-Stars.

What is Individual Allstars?

  • Individual All-Stars is always held the first Saturday in August. The swimmers with the 18 fastest times in each event from Divisionals qualify for All-Stars. Two alternates are also designated. There are three heats for each event at All-Stars. No team scores are kept for this meet; it is for the individual swimmers.

Questions about Logistics and Communications

How will my swimmer know where to go during practice or a meet?

  • Highlands is very fortunate to have 2 main pools. The pool located closest to the bathhouse is referred to as the “Lower Pool.” WHOMPERS practice in this pool. All Swim Team practices and home meets are held in the Competition Pool located on the upper deck with the diving well. Coaches and Team Reps will be on deck to direct the swimmers where to go. At meets, the Coaches, Team Reps, and Meet Volunteers (usually dressed in blue bottoms and white tops) will ensure swimmers are in the right place at the right time.

When my swimmer is with the team during a meet, will my swimmer get lost? Can I go up and see my swimmer?

  • There are plenty of coaches present at each meet to supervise the swimmers and to help get the swimmers where they need to be when they need to be there. Swimmers are encouraged to stay with the team during meets to ensure that they get to each of their events. Please do not go up into the team area at meets.

What do I do if I need to speak with a Swim Team Coach?

  • To ensure the safety of all of our swimmers, we must insist that parents refrain from congregating around the pool lanes during practice, and particularly during swim team assessments. The pool deck becomes very crowded and swimmers may become distracted. Swimmers usually perform best if parents are not in the immediate area. Parents are welcome to watch practices from the stone risers or pool chairs located on the perimeter of the pool. If parents have questions or concerns, please send Coach Jake or Coach Kelli an email, or find the Team Rep. Thank you for helping to keep all swimmers focused and safe.

Who do I contact if my swimmer is interested in Private Swim Lessons?

  • Private Swim Lessons are given by Highlands Swim Coaches. Lessons are scheduled directly with the coach and are 30 minutes in duration. Price per lesson will depend on the level of coach. If your swimmer is interested in Private Swim Lessons (both Swim Team and non-Swim Team lessons), please send an email to [email protected]. Include your swimmer's age, gender, a brief description of this/her swimming level, general or specific skill(s) swimmer would like to focus on during the lesson, a general day/time availability, and the parent's name and contact information. Responses to emails from this account will be sent after the pool opens in mid-May. Click HERE for more information on Private Lessons.

Questions about Times and Ribbons

What happens with all of the swimmers’ times?

  • All of the swimmers’ times from Time Trials and A and B Meets are entered into the team computer by the Data Coordinator. The A Meet times are also sent to the NVSL.

Where can I find my swimmer's times?

  • Your swimmer’s times from A Meets can be found on the back of the swimmer’s place ribbons and on the NVSL website (for A meets). A swimmer’s times from B Meets can be found on the back of the swimmer’s ribbons. All swimmers receive ribbons with their times, even if a swimmer does not place in the top six. The ribbons are a great way to keep track of every swimmer’s progress throughout the season, especially those swimmers who do not regularly swim in the A Meets.

How does my swimmer get their ribbons from meets?

  • Every family registered for swim team has a folder in the "ribbon box" located in the Highlands lobby (next to the fridge, behind the registration desk). Ribbons are are typically filed in the family folders within 2 days following a meet.
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