Team Handbook

Don't be overwhelmed by all the unknowns about being on a recreational swim team. Most of all the information you could ever want to know is organized right here. Simply click on a section below to jump to FAQs.

Age Groups
Awards Guide

Hair Treatment

Mini Sharks Program


Recreational Swim

Shark Buddy Program
Swim Gear
Time Trials
Volunteering Requirement

Water Safety Evaluation

Age Groups

How are age groups determined?
Age groups are determined by a swimmer’s age on June 15th of the season in which he or she is swimming.

What are the different age groups?
6 & Under, 7-8 year olds, 9-10 year olds, 11-12 year olds, 13-14 year olds, 15-18 year olds.

Will my swimmer be competing with younger and/or older swimmers?
Swimmers compete in dual meets based on the age groups listed above. However, at the end of the season SSL Champs meet, swimmers in the 15-18 age group compete in two separate groups: 15-16 and 17-18

Awards Guide

Does the team provide awards, trophies, or other forms of recognition at the end of the season?
Please click here (link coming soon) to read our Awards Guide and learn all there is to know about end-of-the season recognition.


How does the team communicate with the swim families?
We are planning to shift most of the team communications over to the Stack Teams app. We feel this gives us the best chances of getting information passed along and received. The app also provides us with a greater flexibility at meets to communicate with age groups and volunteers. So, head over to the app store and download the Stack Teams app so you can stay connected with all the Shark events and shenanigans.

How do I set up my Stack Teams account?
We want to make sure you get the most out of the Stack Teams app. Please click here (link coming soon) for detailed step-by-step instructions we've created to help ensure you receive all pertinent communications throughout the season.


Why did my swimmer get DQ'd at a meet?
A DQ is a disqualification due to an infraction. Swimmers are disqualified if they do not swim with proper form or complete the strokes as required. In general, the SSL follows the rules of USA swimming, with only a few exceptions.

DQ’s are an extremely important part of the sport of swimming because they ensure fair competition and reinforce areas where swimmers need to improve technique. Younger swimmers are generally not given leniency because this can, in turn, lead to long term negative patterns that have to be undone later in their swimming career. Learn more here.

How do I find out why my swimmer was DQ'd?
If your swimmer is DQ’d, it will first be listed on the mobile app that posts results. You may approach your coach to ask them about the DQ. Never approach a Stroke & Turn Judge or Meet Referee to contest a DQ. There is a process for formal a protest, and you may consult your coach for more details.

Will the coaching staff work with my swimmer to help correct the infraction?
Yes. Meet officials will provide the Sharks coaching staff with copies of all DQs so they will know who DQ'd and why. A blank DQ slip can be reviewed
here. Together at practice, the coaching staff and your swimmer will discuss the infraction and work towards correcting it. Depending on the type of infraction, it may take up to a few weeks (and meets) to correct.

Where can I find out more information about why my swimmer is being DQ'd?
For those who may not have a background in swimming, understanding why your swimmer is being DQ'd may be frustrating. There are two ways to learn more about DQ's: You can click here to go to a dedicated Stroke & Turn page or email us here and someone from our Stroke & Turn team will get back to you with helpful information.

Hair Treatment

How can I avoid having my swimmer's hair turn a greenish color due to the cholorine in the water?


How do I register my swimmer for a meet?
Registering your swimmer for a meet is easier than you think. We've got the process all laid out for you right here.

Our family has never been to a swim meet, so how will we know what to expect?
Swim meets can be a bit overwhelming for new swim families. But not to worry.
Click here to read through our Meet Survival Guide.

How many swim meets are there in the season?
There are 7 meets against other teams. These meets are called “dual meets.” There is also a Time Trials at the beginning of the season to orient swimmers and families on how a swim meet works, and to get seed times established for future meets.

At the end of the season there are two multi-day “championship” meets. The Suburban Swim League Championships (Champs) pits all 8 teams in the league against each other in a 3-day swim meet. All team members who have swum in at least 3 dual meets can participate in Champs. The second meet is Meet of Champions (MOC), a Sacramento regional swim meet for any league or team in the greater Sacramento area. To swim at MOC, swimmers must qualify by either posting a qualifying time or by placing in the top ten at Champs. This means that a swimmer potentially will swim in 10 meets during the season.

Do swimmers swim every stroke?
No. There are stroke restrictions for every race. During registration, please be aware of stroke restrictions. In general, these are the following restrictions:

Time Trials

  • No restrictions. Swimmers can swim all individual strokes. (No relays events are held at Time Trials)

Dual Meets

  • Mini Sharks: Freestyle & Backstroke (Mini Sharks only swim at home meets).

  • 6 under: 1 Freestyle event, 1 Backstroke event and free relay at coach discretion (up to 3 total). Events are at the coach's approval and may change.

  • All other age groups: 1 Freestyle (short or long free), 2 specialty events (IM except 7/8, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly), Freestyle relay and medley relay at the coach's discretion (up to 5 total). Events are at the coach's approval and may change.


  • 6 and under same as dual meets

  • All other age groups: 1 Freestyle event (long or short), all other specialty events are eligible. Potential of 4 total for 7/8, 5 total for 9/10 and above.

  • Relays are at the coach's discretion and are at the end of each day (Freestyle end of day 2, medley end of day 3)

What is the order of the swim events?
The good news is that the order of events is the same at all dual meets. Click
here to see the order of events.

What time do swimmers need to arrive at the pool and when do meets start?
6:30 AM: Swimmer and volunteer check-in (Swimmers MUST sign in before 7:00 AM or they will be scratched from the meet)
7:00 AM: Swimmer warmups (home teams typically warm up first)
7:50 AM: Sharks team cheer
8:00 AM: Swim meet starts with Event #1

What does it mean to be scratched from the swim meet?
If your swimmer is signed up to attend a swim meet and are a “no-show”, this forces team officials into a last-minute process known as a scratch session in order to remove your swimmer from the meet. Every effort should be made to avoid having this happen to your swimmer. When a swimmer does not show up for a meet in which they have signed up for, each event in which that swimmer was scheduled to swim in must be re-arranged. Because of complicated eligibility rules, if these events include a relay, it is possible that the other three swimmers scheduled to swim in the relay may not be able to swim.

Do swimmers warm up before meets?
Yes. Coaching staff expect all swimmers to warm up before the start of the meet. Home teams

How long do swim meets last?
It really depends on the size of the two teams and how many swim lanes there are in the pool. Team sizes range from 200-400 swimmers. The pools we swim in range from 6-10 lanes. Most meets last 4‐6 hours, and in some cases, they have been known to go a bit longer.

6&Unders only participate in the Free Relay (2nd event of the meet), individual Free, and individual Back. Once your swimmer’s events are complete, you are free to leave, assuming you have completed your volunteering committment for that day. Approximately 2 hours after a meet has started, is when 6&U families begin to leave.

Swim meets can be long, and if the weather is hot, they can be less than pleasant. Please keep hydrated and make sure everyone is wearing sunscreen.

How do I let the coaches know my swimmer will not be at a swim meet or an event?
We have a swim meet signup procedure. You must either sign up or opt out for each meet through the website. In addition, you will also be given the choice to sign your swimmer up for individual events (7/8 and above can participate in no more than 3 individual events per swim meet). It is advised that your swimmer have the opportunity to swim each event, at least once during the season.

With so many swimmers and volunteers on deck during a meet, how can I be sure my swimmer doesn't miss their event?
To Be Completed

What should I do if my swimmer is afraid to swim in the race?
In most cases let the coaches handle the problem. They will encourage the swimmer to complete the event, thereby allowing your swimmer the satisfaction that comes with the finish. Normally when a swimmer is in the water it is best to allow the coaches the chance to solve any problem before getting involved. They will call you if they need your help. Your young swimmer will gain confidence faster if you allow the coaches to do their job.

Is there an easy way to track my swimmer’s results?

Funny you should ask! We recommend you download the Meet Mobile App. This App will sync with our computer ops system and will update swimming results within 15-20 minutes of a race. Otherwise, you will have to wait until the meet results are published 24-48 hours after the completion of a meet.

How are relays formed?
The swimmers who compose the relay teams for any given swim meet are selected by the coaches, at their discretion, on the basis of team needs within the age group for the strokes involved. Relays fluctuate throughout the meet. Please do not assume your swimmer is not in a relay. For meets with 10-lane pools, we often are allowed to field 4 or 5 teams, which means 16-20 swimmers.

What are the different relay events?
There are two group relays:

Free Relay (All age groups)

  • Each swimmer will swim one leg of the race using the Freestyle stroke.

  • 6 and under: 25 yards each, 100 yards total.

  • 9/10 and up: 50 yards each, 200 yards total.

Medley Relay (7/8 and above participate):

  • Each swimmer will swim one leg of the race, each swimming a different stroke.

  • Stroke order: Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly, Freestyle.

  • 7/8 and 9/10: 25 yards each, 100 yards total.

  • 11/12 and up: 50 yards each, 200 yards total.

What is the difference between the Medley Relay and the Individual Medley?
Swimmers in the 9/10 age group and up are allowed to swim in an individual medley race. The individual Medley consists of one swimmer swimming 25 yards of each stroke. The order of the strokes is different than the Medley Relay.

  • Order: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle

How are meets scored?
Swim meets use a cumulative point scoring system... the team with the most points wins! The top three times overall for each event are awarded points. Points are awarded as follows:

  • Individual Events: 1st = 5 points, 2nd = 3 points, 3rd = 1 point

  • Relays: 1st = 7 points, 2nd = 3 points, 3rd = 1 point

Mini Sharks Program

What is the Mini Sharks program?
Mini Sharks program is for younger swimmers who are not yet comfortable swimming across the length of a 25-yard pool. The program focuses on water safety and basic techniques in swimming, using a variety of equipment and coaching strategies to get the athletes comfortable swimming alone. Mini Sharks will be accompanied by an in-water coach who will help guide them in the pool.

When do Mini Sharks Practice?
Mini sharks will practice during the 4-6 age group practice time. Mini Sharks are separated to provide them with the extra attention to promote confidence and the environment to progress their swimming skill. Our coaching program is structured to be effective and efficient in providing our Mini Sharks the skills and assertion to be promoted into the swim team.

Do Mini Sharks swim at meets?
We welcome our Mini Sharks to swim at all home meets. We pause meets so that the crowd can root on our Mini Sharks during their 25-yard Freestyle and Backstroke events. It is completely optional for Mini Sharks to swim at these meets. Please note that Mini Sharks do not participate at away meets. In addition, Mini Sharks do not need to register for meets.

When do Mini Sharks swim at home meets?
Mini Sharks are invited to swim before event #20 for their 25-yard Freestyle and again before event #42 for their 25-yard Backstroke.

Do Mini Sharks swim at Time Trials?
Yes. All Mini Sharks are invited to come swim at Time Trials. This is a great opportunity for our newest swimmers to get the sense of what a meet would like, but without the presence of the other team. Please keep in mind that relay events are not run at Time Trials, so we skip events #9 through #19. This means Mini Sharks will swim their 25-yard Freestyle following event #8, much sooner than a typical dual-meet.

What if my Mini Shark catches on quickly and becomes a stronger swimmer?
Depending on how well a Mini Shark progresses throughout the season, the head coach may promote them on the team so they can participate as a regular Sierra Shark swimmer.


How do practices work?
Practice is offered every day of the week, with practice times based on age groups. Please refer to the practice schedule here to determine what time your swimmer's age group practices.

How many practices does my swimmer need to attend?
Our swim team’s philosophy is recreational and personal improvement first and foremost. We want children to be excited about coming to practice. Certain age groups are advised to make as many practices as possible. However, for our younger age groups, we recommend they make 3 practices consistently. More practices should be attended when the child is excited and wants to go. We do not want any of our swimmers to become burnt out from attending too many practices.

Do I need to let the coaches know when my swimmer will not be at practice?
In general, no. If your swimmer is going to miss a significant number of practices, over a period of time (i.e. vacation), you may want to let the coaches know. This will provide the coaches knowledge of your swimmer’s absence, rather than concern as to the well-being for your swimmer if they are missing for more than a week.

In the summer, do we attend both morning and afternoon practice?
Your swimmer is only expected to attend the morning or the afternoon practice. Please communicate with the coaching staff if you would like to attend more than one practice from time to time. Swimming both daily practices can lead to swimmer burnout and/or injury.

Can my swimmer practice at a time other than their established age group practice time?
Unless specifically requested or approved by the head coach, your swimmer must practice with his/her age group. This enables the coaches to ensure that each practice session focuses on the skills and techniques appropriate for that age group. This also helps eliminate the possibility of over-crowded practice sessions.

What do we bring to practice?
Your swimmer, who is wearing a swimsuit, cap, goggles and towel. Swimmers should bring a water bottle to remain hydrated during practice. Depending on how many swimmers you have at practice and what age groups, bring stuff to entertain your non-swimming swimmer, as they may get bored.

Sunscreen, water, light snacks, swimmer’s medicine (inhaler), books, puzzles, games, balls, toys for siblings, and anything extra as many families will be so thankful if you can share that something they might be missing.

Recreational Swim

What is a recreational swim team and how are they different from year-round teams?
A recreational swim team, or rec team, is not a USA swimming certified team. This means that swim times recorded during meets are not posted to a USA swimming account and are not tracked. While we observe most of the rules of a USA swim team, we are not bound by USA swimming. Recreational teams are seasonal, while USA teams are usually year-round. Our swim team is non-operational between August and April, with the exception of potential swim clinics that may be offered.

What's this "Quiet Period" I've been hearing about? Can I swim for a year-round or high school team and still swim for a summer recreation team?
The Sierra Sharks is a summer recreation team and has a quiet period. A quiet period helps differentiate from year-round and is a defined period of inactivity. The quiet period begins February 15th and continues until the start of the Sierra Sharks Season.

High School Swimmers: are exempt from quiet period restrictions and are eligible to swim for the Sierra Sharks. High School athletes are only permitted to practice and compete with their school team.

Water Polo Athletes: are exempt from quiet period restrictions and are eligible to swim for the Sierra Sharks.

US Club or Year-round Swimmers: starting February 15th through the end of the Sierra Sharks season, swimmers cannot be actively enrolled, practice, or attend US swimming meets as an independent or member of a team.

NCAA Swimmers: are exempt from quiet period restrictions and are eligible to swim for the Sierra Sharks if they swum for the Sierra Sharks for the previous 2 seasons.

Additional Swim Activities (clinics or lessons): starting February 15th on deck supervised coaching or instruction is limited to 12 hours or less of in-water, coached training until the Sierra Sharks season begins.

Red Cross: Lifesaving or lifeguard training is exempt from quiet period restrictions and are eligible to swim for the Sierra Sharks.

If you swim or recently swam for a year-round team, it is imperative you understand the rules surrounding the Quiet Period. For more information on the Quiet Period, click here.

Can the team teach my swimmer how to swim?
A swim team is focused on introducing competitive swimming to local youth and families. They do not provide swimming lessons. Swimmers who register for the Sierra Sharks must pass a Water Safety Evaluation where they can demonstrate their ability to swim across the length of a 25-yard pool unassisted. We recommend attending a swim school or your local CSD to learn how to swim before registering for a swim team. Click
here for a list of reputable resources.


How does my swimmer get priority registration?
Your swimmer will get priority registration by attending 5 of 9 meets and when you fulfill your volunteer commitment. Each dual meet counts as one meet (we have 7), while Champs counts as two meets.

It is also important to realize the volunteer commitment is why we can actually have a swim meet. Without the effort of all parents, your swimmer would not have a swim team to participate with.


Will my swimmer be in a relay?
Relays are determined by the coaching staff and are typically based on fastest times, as well as practice and meet attendance. The Head Coach has the final say on all relays.

Relays are forever changing as swimmers develop throughout the season. Each relay event at a meet will typically have 2-3 relay teams per age group. The “A” relay will consist of the four swimmers with the fastest times within the age group. If your swimmer is scheduled for a relay and is unable to swim, please inform the coach immediately. A fifth swimmer will also be assigned to each relay team as an alternate. Alternates are expected to remain at the meet to be available to swim the relay if needed.


What’s the deal with swim ribbons?
Swim Ribbons are given to all swimmers for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each race. For ages 10 and under, ribbons are also given for 3rd-10th place and consolation ribbons are provided for all other situations. During champs, special double ribbons are given out for preliminaries. Medals are given for finals participants. Additional details can be found here.

How do swimmers get their ribbons?
We have family files/bins and they will sit on deck. Each family has a file and your swimmer’s ribbons will be placed in the file. Please do not have your swimmer pick up their ribbons during a swim meets, unless they are told to do so.

Shark Buddy Program

What is the Shark Buddy Program all about?
The Shark Buddy program is an opportunity for a younger swimmer to be paired with an older swimmer of the same gender throughout the swim season. To find out more about the Shark Buddy Program, click here.

Swim Gear

Where can I get a team swimsuit and cap?
Great question. Click
here to find out more about our team suits and cap.

Are there any rules to what they should be wearing?
A swimsuit is always required (no cut offs allowed in the pool). However, we do not enforce team suits for workouts. Arrive at practice in a swimsuit appropriate for practice. For meets, swimmers are highly encouraged to wear the team suit and Sharks swim cap. This helps build a sense of team unity.

It is recommended girls wear a one‐piece swimsuit that allows for flexibility in the arms without straps sliding down. Boys will find that they will swim faster in racing jammer style suits than in traditional swim trunks.

To save your team suit, we recommend the purchase of any other training style swimsuit or jammer for workouts. Always rinse your swimmer’s swimsuit out with cold water and allow to air dry.

Do all swimmers have to wear caps?
For meets, yes. For workouts, no. It is recommended any swimmer with long hair wear a cap, as it keeps the hair out the eyes, and can slow them down in the water. There are two types of swim caps: latex and silicone. If you have are having trouble with the swim cap, you might try another type to see if it works better.

If you put a little baby powder or cornstarch into the cap before placing it on your swimmer’s head, it will go on with ease. Girls with long hair might want to pull it into a pony first and then pull it all under the cap.

Do all swimmers have to wear goggles?
Swim goggles are required for practices and meets. Please take time to adjust the goggles before practice. If the goggles are new, you might have your swimmer try the goggles in the bathtub to see if they work before coming to practice. Many young swimmers get upset when their goggles don’t fit correctly because they get water into their eyes. The coaches can help adjust goggles, if necessary, but it saves everyone a lot of time if the goggles are fitted prior to practice. There are many different brands and styles of swim goggles. If you have some that are not working for your swimmer, go to a swim shop that will help fit the goggles on your swimmer's face.

Where can I get some cool Sierra Sharks swag?
Click here to check out and purchase some awesome team gear. Walking around on the pool deck never looked so cool!

Time Trials

What is Time Trials all about?
The purpose of time trials is to establish a baseline time for each swimmer in each event. The league’s computer system uses this baseline time to determine how individual swimmers should be placed in heats during their first dual meet. The coaches also use this time to establish individual improvement goals for each swimmer. Time Trials also serve as an excellent “practice run” for subsequent swim meets. It is important that you and your swimmer attend Time Trials, so be sure to sign up

Is Time Trials considered a meet?
Time Trials is not really considered a meet. Some call Time Trials a mock meet because it simulates what a meet would look like and how they are run, but without the other team present.

Can Mini Sharks swim at Time Trials even though it's not considered a home meet?
Yes. All Mini Sharks are invited to come swim at Time Trials. This is a great opportunity for our newest swimmers to get the sense of what a meet would like, but without the presence of the other team. Please keep in mind that relay events are not run at Time Trials, so we skip events #9 - #19. This means Mini Sharks will swim their 25-yard Freestyle following event #8, much sooner than a typical dual-meet.

Volunteering Requirement

How many hours does our family need to volunteer?
Each family is required to volunteer the equivalent of 15 points during the regular season, with each point equaling approximately 1 hour. Typically, meets have 2 shifts, with each shift worth 2 points. Some jobs are available before and after the meet, so you won't have to worry about missing any of the action in the pool. Also, certain jobs that are harder to fill or require training, may be worth more points.

If your swimmer attends the SSL Championship (Champs) and/or qualifies and attends Meet of Champs (MOC), there will be additional volunteer requirements for those meets.

How do I register for parent volunteer jobs?
We have a How-To video that shows you how to register for parent volunteer jobs. Click here to watch.

What if our family has more than one swimmer?
All families, big or small, have the same
volunteer requirement; 15 points. Whether your family has a solo swimmer on the team or as many kids as the Brady Bunch, the volunteering requirement is the same.

How can my family volunteer?
There are many parent volunteer jobs available, which you can read all about
here. Please note that some jobs require training. Throughout the season, the team will communicate additional volunteer opportunities to families as they become available.

What volunteer jobs need specific training?
Volunteer jobs that require specific
training will display "training required". If you are interested in a trained job, first reach out to the team's volunteer coordinator here. Some of the trained positions include Colorado Timing System, Computer Ops, Referee, Starter, and Stroke and Turn.

hat happens if our family can't volunteer my time at meets?
There will be several team-sponsored activities and events held throughout the season. Your family can earn points by volunteering at these events. Volunteer points can also be completed on your behalf by other family members and/or adults. However, there are several volunteer jobs that either require training and/or a minimum age.

What happens if our family doesn't reach the minimum required volunteer points?
If you do not meet your volunteer requirement, you will be charged for the remaining points at the rate of $/point.

If our family has reached the minimum required volunteer points for the regular season, do we still need to volunteer at Champs and/or MOC?
Yes, but only if
your swimmer is attending Champs and/or MOC.

Instead of volunteering, can we buy out our volunteer requirement?
Yes. You can buy out the regular season volunteer requirement for $415. If your swimmer is attending Champs and/or MOC, you can buy out of those meets for an additional $/meet TBD.

Water Safety Evaluation

What is the Water Safety Evaluation?
The evaluation is used by our coaching staff to assess your swimmer's safety in the water and their ability to swim across the 25-yard pool with little to no assistance.

Does my swimmer need to complete a Water Safety Evaluation?
All new Sierra Sharks swimmers are required to complete a Water Safety Evaluation. Even swimmers coming from another swim team, including a high school team, or returning Mini Shark swimmers, must complete a Water Safety Evaluation.

When are Water Safety Evaluations held?
Evaluations are held before we officially begin season practice. Please check
here to see when this season's Water Safety Evaluations are scheduled.

What happens after my swimmer's Water Safety Evaluation?
If your swimmer passes the Water Safety Evaluation, the coaching staff will inform you that your swimmer can officially join the team. If your swimmer does not pass the Water Safety Evaluation, you'll have two options: the team can refund your registration fees or you could consider having your swimmer join our Mini Sharks Program. Find out more information about the Mini Sharks here.