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High Point Hippos Swim Team Handbook


Welcome to the High Point Pool (HPP) HiPPos Swim Team! Our handbook contains comprehensive swim team information.

If you still have questions after reviewing the information, please feel free to speak with a Team Rep or Swim Team Booster Board Member. Thanks for joining the HPP Swim Team. 

What is Swim Team?

HPP is a member of the  Northern Virginia Swim League (NVSL). Our team participates in a series of swim meets during the summer, primarily in June and July. The goal of our team is to provide every member a chance to participate in competitive swimming, to develop his or her skills, and to HAVE FUN!

Who Can Join Our Team?

Our team welcomes all swimmers 18 years of age and under. Swim team families must be HPP members in good standing. In addition, all swim team registration fees must be paid in full along with a completed, electronic registration packet prior to the swimmer’s first practice. This is to ensure proper coverage of each swimmer for insurance purposes. Children eight years or younger MUST be able to swim the length of the pool without stopping, touching the bottom of the pool, the ropes or wall. Children nine years and older need to be able to swim TWO lengths of the pool (50 meters). Our swim team is not a swim lesson program. In the interest of safety and fairness to other swimmers, all team members must be able to swim on their own.

What is the NVSL?

The  NVSL was founded in 1956. As one of the nation’s largest swim leagues, there are over 10,000 swimmers on 102 teams in the NVSL. Skill levels vary from five year old beginners to Olympic qualifiers. The NVSL ranks each team based on swimmers’ times, and then divides the teams into 17 divisions of 6 teams. The fastest teams are in the lower numbered divisions. Each team competes in a practice meet (ours is called the Blue & Purple meet) which serves as a time trial for initial swimmer seeding, five Saturday NVSL sanctioned meets, six Monday night developmental meets, a Divisional Relay Carnival meet and a Divisional Championship meet. Individual relay teams and swimmers may be invited to participate in the All Star Relay Carnival and the individual All Star meets. Visit the league website to keep up with all the NVSL team stats, standings and league information, as well as individual swimmer stats and standings.

When Do We Practice?

Swim practice begins the Tuesday after Memorial Day and continues through July. Practice times are scheduled by the swimmers age group. June practices are on weekday afternoons until area schools close for the summer. Morning practice begins once all area schools are released for summer. Practicing regularly is the best way to improve your swimming. It is crucial for swimmers to get in swim shape as soon as possible so please be on time to practice.

Parents are welcome to attend practices, but we ask that you remain off the deck (outside the blue line) during practice. If there’s a concern you would like to discuss with the coaches, please schedule an appointment with them via email or wait until practice is finished. During morning practices (when the pool is not yet open), keep in mind that the coaches are busy coaching and are not responsible for unattended children. Please be prompt in picking your younger children up from practice.

What are Saturday Morning A Meets?

Saturday morning meets are sanctioned, competitive meets. Scores are kept and reported to the league. The six teams in our Division swim against each other on five consecutive Saturday mornings in a series of dual meets (aka A Meets). The coaches choose swimmers for each meet and determine which events they will swim so as to score the most points for the team. A day or two before each Saturday meet, the coaches will inform the team of who is swimming and their assigned events via email. They will also prepare and post a meet sheet, that indicates who is swimming in which event(s). Swimmers are selected based on skill level, attendance at meets and practices, performance, as well as best times in meets and time trials. 

There is a LOT of strategy that goes into creating a meet sheet. Swimmers may be asked to swim events that are not their fastest or favorite stroke for the good of the team. The coaches have the big picture in mind and will put swimmers in positions to best help the TEAM. Each competing team has three swim lanes per stroke and will enter swimmers in each individual event (Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Butterfly). Swimmers may swim no more than two relay events in addition to two individual events. Based on the outcome of these five Dual Meets, a Division champion will be named.

NVSL Saturday meets begin at 9 a.m. Swimmers are required to report earlier for warm-ups. Carpooling to away meets is optional, but strongly encouraged, to have a cohesive team prior to the meet. The meet consists of 40 individual events and 12 relay events. Swimmers compete in the four individual strokes within each age group (8 and unders, 9-10s, 11-12s, 13-14s, and 15-18s). The relay events are also separated by age groups with 4 swimmers in each event. Boys and girls compete separately. The point schedule for the individual events are: 1st place earns 5 points, 2nd place earns 3 points, and 3rd place earns 1 point. Relays are scored by means of 5 points for 1st place and 0 points for 2nd place. The team with the most accumulated points at the end of the meet is determined to be the winning team. All HPP competitors in NVSL Saturday meets will receive ribbons for the events they swim unless they are disqualified (DQ'd) in that event.

What are Monday Developmental B Meets?

Monday evening meets (aka B Meets) are for developmental purposes and are more relaxed than Saturday meets. All swimmers of all abilities and ages are encouraged to swim in the developmental meets. They are held on Monday evenings, beginning at 6 p.m. Swimmers should arrive at 5 p.m. for home meets and 5:20 p.m. at the host pool for away meets. Scores are not kept at Monday meets. Monday meets include the same four individual strokes and age groupings as Saturday meets. Relay events are replaced by Individual Medley (IM) in which the swimmer swims one length of each stroke (100 meters/4 lengths). Swimmers may swim up to two events. Strokes will open for selection in Swimtopia on Saturday afternoon and close Sunday at 6 p.m. Parents must submit their swimmers selections before the close. This allows the coaches and the B Meet reps enough time to prepare the Monday meet.
 All swimmers receive ribbons for the events they swim unless they are disqualified (DQ'd) in that event.r Developmental meet eligibility is at the discretion of the coaches.

What Does it Takes to Run a Meet?

More than forty volunteers are required to run a smooth meet. Every family is expected to volunteer for a job at each meet. Volunteers are vital to the success of the team. When every parent is involved it makes the entire season more fun for all!

The NVSL offers clinics at the beginning of each season in all areas of officiating. Meet officials include the Referee (Ref), a Starter, and Stroke and Turn Judges. These positions require pre-certification.

Most jobs do not require official training and can be learned “on the job” such as Marshal, Clerk of Course, Timers, Relay-Take-Off (RTO) Judges, Runners, Table Administrators and Parking Lot Attendants. We also operate a concession stand during home meets and need volunteers to sell food and drinks.

Each year the Swim Team hosts two to three Monday night meets and two to three Saturday NVSL meets. The schedule varies year to year. To prepare the pool for a Monday night meet, it is necessary to close the pool to regular swimming at 4:45 p.m. and promptly arrange chairs, tables, set out timer boards, put the lane lines in the water and set up the concession stand for the beginning of the meet. Once the meet is over, everything must be put away so that the pool is ready for general membership use the next day.

Preparations for a Saturday morning meet take place on the Friday night prior to the meet, right after the pool closes. Once the meet is over, everything must be put away so that the pool is ready when the pool opens for general membership use.

All able bodies are needed. Meets do not just happen, people make them happen.

What is a Meet Like?

Your first Saturday NVSL swim meet can be a bewildering experience as you encounter a horde of adults dressed in blue shorts with white tops along with two very large groups of splashing, cheering kids. Once you understand what’s going on, the meets are very exciting. The individual freestyle events come first, followed by backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers are announced on the public address system. Excitement mounts as the cumulative team scores are announced at the conclusion of each stroke. Once the individual events are completed, there is a short break as the coaches assemble the relay teams and give a last round of encouragement. The relay events are the most exciting part of all. The outcome of the meet is often determined in the final minutes!!!

Monday Developmental meets are exciting too, but in a much more relaxed setting. HPP participates in a McLean area group for developmental meets. Meets will be in our McLean vicinity when not at HPP.

Are There Other Meets?
Divisional Relay Carnival

All six teams in the division converge on the host pool for a meet of only relay races. This is the most fast-paced and exciting meet of the season. Boys and girls compete separately in 22 events (medley relays, freestyle relays, and mixed age relays). The team with the most points is awarded the Division Relay Championship trophy. The 18 fastest relay teams in each event from the seventeen divisional relay carnivals held that night are invited to compete the following week at the All Star Relay meet.

Individual Divisional Championship

Commonly known as “Divisionals,” the Individual Divisional Championship meet is held the Saturday following the last dual meet. Each age group competes in Free, Back, Breast, and Fly (No relays). Swimmers age 9 and above also compete in 100 Individual Medley (IM). Swimmers may only compete in 2 events and each team is allowed two swimmers in each event. Each team chooses their two swimmers with the fastest times, per event, to compete in Divisionals. If either swimmer with the best time chooses to not swim in a given event, the swimmer with the next best time is then given the opportunity and so on. Seed times are based on Saturday meet results. The fastest 18 swimmers in each event from all the divisional meets around the league are invited to compete the following week at “All Stars.”

When are the Meets?

Competitive meets are held on Saturday mornings and Development meets are held on Monday evenings. Please keep the swim team in mind and try NOT to schedule family vacations during the regular season. When a swimmer misses a Saturday meet, it hurts the entire team. Also, keep in mind that just because your child may not have been a major contributor to the team last year, it certainly doesn’t mean they won’t swim on Saturdays this year! Make sure you mark your swimmer's availability early in the season. Plus, EVERYONE IS VALUABLE. We need every single swimmer present at NVSL meets for cheering and support. Every single child, regardless of skill level or experience, is extremely important to the team!!!

What About Those People in White & Blue?

The people wearing white & blue at a meet are the meet officials. Each team provides half the officials for the meet. NVSL rules require a white shirt to be worn by all officials with Navy blue shorts/skirts/pants (NO DENIM). Positions that require a NVSL “uniform” are listed below with their responsibilities:

  • The Referee is the chief official for the swim meet. He/She is responsible for the conduct of the meet and is the final authority on the interpretation and enforcement of all swimming rules.
  • The Starter is responsible for ensuring that all swimmers are given a fair start.
  • Stroke & Turn Judges are responsible for ensuring that all swimmers obey the rules for the stroke they are swimming. They disqualify (DQ) a swimmer when they see a violation of the rules.
  • Relay Take-Off Judges ensures each swimmer on a relay team touches the wall before the next swimmer takes off.
  • The Clerk of Course directs the swimmers to the correct lanes for their event.
  • Timers stand at the end of each lane and determine each swimmers official time for their race. Being a timer is an ideal entry-level job.
  • Table Administrators determine the order of finish for each event, score the meet, and prepare ribbons.
  • The Team Rep organizes the meet and acts as a liaison between parents, coaches, NVSL officials and the guest/host team.

Referees, starters, and stroke and turn judges all must attend training offered by the NVSL at least once every two years in order to remain eligible as officials. No swimming ability/experience required.

How Can I Become a Meet Official?

Tell a Team Rep that you are interested! Clerk of Course, Relay Takeoff Judges, Timers, and Table Workers do not require formal training. A few instructions from our existing officials is enough to get you started. Stroke-and-Turn Judges, Starters, and Referees however DO require some training for which the  NVSL offers clinics.

How Should I Behave at Meets?

Listen to the coaches and meet officials! All swimmers, family members and guests are expected to abide by the pool rules at all times during meets and practices. Visiting teams are our guests and we want them to feel welcome. HPP swimmers are strongly encouraged – and expected – to cheer for their teammates. Rude and obnoxious behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated at HPP. During meets, our team will be assigned to a specific team area where swimmers must stay unless they are reporting to the Clerk of Course. After they swim each event, swimmers should report back immediately to the team area and speak to their coaches. Please tell your children to remain in the team area at all times. The coaches will need to locate them quickly AND they should participate in cheering their teammates on from the team area. After every meet, home OR away, HPP swimmers are expected to clean up their team area before leaving the pool. Swimmers should not leave an A meet without first checking with their coaches. Occasionally, we have a swimmer scratch at the last minute and your child may be asked to swim an event they were not expecting.

How Should I Prepare for Meets?

The two nights before a meet is your last chance to “fuel up” for competition. Good choices for these evening meals (Thursday and Friday nights, for Saturday NVSL meets) are spaghetti with meat sauce, noodles, broiled or baked (not fried!) chicken or fish, fresh vegetables and fruits, and LOTS OF WATER! On the day of the meet, swimmers will be at the pool for about 3 hours (counting warm-ups and competition) so pack a water bottle, sunscreen, granola/fruit/Power bars, fresh fruit, bagels, pretzels, Gatorade, etc. While the home pool sells a variety of snacks, the less nutritious items like pizza, hot dogs, nachos, and soda should be saved for AFTER the meets. Swimmers cannot swim fast if their stomachs are filled with junk food! Hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, and more are for sale during every home Saturday meet. Immediately following away Saturday meets, the team will meet for lunch at a neighboring restaurant. Ask for detailed directions from the team reps.

What Should I Bring to Practice and Meets?
  • Water Bottle – every single day, kids should have one at practice
  • Goggles, suit, training suit (for practice and/or warm-ups), fins
  • Towel (extra towel for meets)
  • Dry clothes
  • Healthy snacks – Granola bars, fruit, crackers, bagels, water, etc.
Who Should I Talk To With Concerns of Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns, please speak with our team reps first – Amy and GraceMarie regarding A Meets and Kerensa, Angela, and Liz for B Meets. Please do not approach the coaches during meets or practices. They are busy coaching your children. If you need to schedule an appointment with the coaches, feel free to drop them an email or you wait until after practice.

What is Swimtopia?

Swimtopia is the software we use to publish our website, register swimmers, sign up for meets and volunteer positions, create meet sheets, etc.

New swim families will create a Swimtopia account as part of the registration process. Families can log into Swimtopia to sign up to volunteer, mark meet availability, and select Monday Development meet strokes.

A Swimtopia mobile app is available but the functionality as robust as the browser-based version of the software.

How Do I Join the Team?

Evaluations for new swimmers and all 8 & under swimmers are held to determine the best placement for your child. Swim team families must be a member in good standing of High Point Pool. Swimmers must be registered online (and swim team registration fees paid in full) to participate in team activities.

Competition suits are not required, although they are recommended for practices and meets. Competition suits are made for agility, comfort and speed. Team suits may be purchased (at a discount) through Sport Fair on Lee Highway in Arlington, VA. Coaches would like swimmers to bring fins to practice each day. Practice fins are also available for purchase through Sport Fair.

What Else Do We Do for FUN?

On Friday evenings before NVSL Saturday meets, there is a pep rally for the entire team. The pep rally has a different theme each week. They are announced in the weekly notices sent via email and the coaches will remind swimmers at practices. The pep rallies are too fun to miss! It is the one weekly event that brings cohesiveness to the team. While the team is cheering and participating in their activities, parents are encouraged to join in the Parent Happy Hour, running concurrently with the pep rally. Parents bring snacks and beverages and/or plan their family dinner at the pool and join in the adult fun for the evening. This is a great opportunity to meet more swim team families and relax while getting ready for the weekend ahead.

Other fun events for swimmers may include: Picture Day, Movie Days, Game Days, Teen Progressive Dinner, NVSL Kings Dominion Day, Miniature Golf, and the Swim Team Awards Banquet and pot-luck dinner, which includes an end-of-season Slide Show. Best of all it includes great friendships and memories. After every home NVSL Saturday meet, stick around and have lunch at the pool! The swim team concession stand has hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, chips, fruit, candy, and drinks for sale.

Check the Swim Team Calendar for a full schedule of events.

Swimmer Recognition and Awards

Swimmers receive ribbons for their participation in meets (1 st – 6th place in both Saturday and Monday meets). If a swimmer is disqualified (DQ'd), they will not receive a ribbon for that event. Ribbons can be found in your family folder.

The Team Record Board (located on the wall near the Ladies locker room) is updated each week with the fastest times from the NVSL sanctioned meets. Plaques are issued to 1st – 6th place winners at the Divisional Championship meet. Finally, the coaches recognize various swimmers for achievement, effort, team spirit, and good sportsmanship at the end-of-season Awards Banquet. In addition, all swimmers receive team t-shirts, swim caps, and participation trophies.

What If I Still Have a Question?

Please email the Team Reps at hipposwimteam@gmail.com if you have questions, concerns or offers of help. In addition to our Team Reps, there are several other sources of information about the swim season. Team communication is via email. Accurate email addresses are essential to stay informed of events. Once the swim season begins, weekly emails are sent to all parents of swimmers on Tuesdays. Be on the look out for the Weekly Tuesday 2 Tuesday, also known as the Weekly T2T! Other sources of information are this website and the Swim Team Bulletin Board located on the HPP bathhouse wall. Please check both often for important information during the swim season. 

What is a family folder and where do I find it?

Each family has a folder labeled with the name they used to register their children. There is a crate in the snack room containing family folders. Please check your family folder frequently for ribbons and other important information.

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