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New Parent Handbook

Congratulations and welcome to the Oroville Orca's Swim Team family! We believe that parents play a crucial role to the success of the team. Parents serve as role models and their children emulate their behavior and attitude. Be aware of this and strive to be positive role models. Most importantly, show good sportsmanship at all times toward coaches, officials, opponents, and the swimmers. But above all…….…the most important thing you can do as the parent of a swimmer is to love and support your child, both in and out of the pool. This support is a key factor in fostering a love of the sport as well as contributing to the child's individual success in the pool.

Team Structure & Groups

Swimmers on the Oroville Orcas Swim Team will learn the four strokes (breast, back, butterfly, and free style) and use these strokes to swim in competitions with other swimmers. The Swim Team offers swimmers of all levels and abilities the opportunity to train under highly qualified and experienced coaching staff.

The swimmers are placed into groups that best suit their training needs and are appropriate for their age and ability. The four swimming groups are the Level 4 group (approx. ages 13-18), the Level 3 group(approx. ages 11-12) and Level 2 group (approx.. ages 8-10), and the Level 1 (approx. ages 7 and under). Swimmers are generally grouped by age, however the coaching staff may place swimmers into another group based on ability.

Team Practice

Team practice sessions are the most important aspect of competitive swimming. Consistent training and practice is a crucial in order to make progress and improvement. Practice is offered 4 days a week. We encourage our swimmers to attend as many practice sessions as possible in order to derive the full benefits of the program.

Practice and Attendance Polices:

  • Swimmers should arrive at least 10 minutes early so that they have enough time to get themselves ready for the start of practice. By doing so you accomplish three important tasks:
  1. Reduce stress level by allowing time to change clothing, gather necessary gear, adjust goggles, etc…

  2. Enable your child to have the best opportunity for a quality workout by being prepared.
  3. Allows for brief social contact with other swimmers for team bonding.
  • Swimmers must be picked up within 15 minutes of the conclusion of their practice time.
  • Parents are not allowed on the pool deck (the concrete area surrounding the swimming pool) during practice. It is distracting to both the coaches and the swimmers. Parents are welcome to watch the practice from the bleachers.
  • Parents should be courteous to the coaching staff and to all of the swimmers and refrain from communicating with the swimmers or coaches during practice. However, if there is an emergency please let a member of the coaching staff know right away.

Suggested Equipment and General Care

2 Practice Suits - Polyester suits generally last longer but other suits work as well. Rinse suits with cold water and let drip dry. Do not put suits in washer or dryer as this will shorten the lifespan of your suits.

1 Competition Suit - This may or may not be a team suit but should only be worn at competitions. This will keep it from wearing out. It should fit a little more snug than regular practice suits.

2 Pairs of Goggles - Always have two pairs of goggles ready! Broken straps can be replaced with “bungee” straps that can be purchased at any swim store or from a vendor at the meets. During summer swimming, you may want to purchase a reflective pair to reduce glare from the sun.

2 Caps - You should have 2 caps available as one usually rips at the most inconvenient time! General care for caps is to rinse, dry and lightly powder the inside. Swimmers should wet hair before putting caps on. Swimmers will receive a cap for competitions.

You can find any of the items above at most local retailers (Big 5 in Oroville and Sports Ltd. in Chico), and our team store. Extra swim caps can be purchased at registration. Check with other parents to see what works for them and then decide what will work best for you and your family.

Swimming 101- THE FOUR STROKES

The four competitive swimming strokes are freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. The combination of all four strokes is called individual medley.

In freestyle events, the competitor may swim any stroke. The stroke most commonly used is sometimes called the crawl, which is characterized by the alternate stroking of the arms over the surface of the water surface and an alternating (up-and-down) flutter kick.

Backstroke consists of an alternating motion of the arms with a flut­ter kick while on the back. On turns, swimmers may rotate to the stomach and perform a flip turn and some part of the swimmer must touch the wall. The swimmer must finish on the back.

The breaststroke requires simultaneous movements of the arms on the same horizontal plane. The hands are pressed out from in front of the breast in a heart shaped pattern and recovered under or on the surface of the water. The kick is a simultaneous somewhat circular motion similar to the action of a frog. On turns and at the finish, the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously at, above or below the water surface.

Some consider the butterfly to be the most beautiful of the strokes. It features a simultaneous recovery of the arms over the water combined with an undulating dolphin kick. In the kick, the swimmer must keep both legs together and may not flutter, scissors or use the breaststroke kick. Both hands must touch the wall simultaneously on the turns and the finish.

The individual medley, commonly referred to as the I.M., features all four strokes. In the I.M. the swimmer begins with the butterfly, then changes after one-fourth of the race to backstroke, then breaststroke and finally freestyle.


Swimming 101- COMPETITIONS

Weekly Dual Meets- At these Wednesday night meets our Orcas swim against one other team, at either our pool or theirs. These meets are pretty low key and every swimmer gets to swim in 2 or 3 events. 6 swimmers compete in each race and each swimmer will get a ribbon (1st-6th place). These small meets are very fun and a great way for your swimmer to get comfortable with competitions.

Weekend Invitational Swim Meets- On most of the weekends during the summer area swim teams will host Invitational Swim Meets at which several local teams compete together. Medal and ribbons are awarded at these meets and swimmers receive official times for their events. Swimmers typically sign up for 1 to 4 events a day.

North Valley Aquatic League Championships (NVALs) – The culmination of our swimming season happens at NVAL Championships which is typically scheduled on the first weekend of August. Teams throughout the North Valley meet in Redding for the biggest swim meet of the season!

What should I sign my swimmer up for:

Typically level 1 swimmers sign up for 25 yard races for freestyle and eventually 25-50 yard freestyle and backstroke. Typically level 2 swimmers sign up for 25-50 yard freestyle and back stroke. Eventually 50-100 yard of freestyle and backstroke and 25-yard breaststroke and butterfly. Typically Level 3-4 swimmers can sign up for any of the offered races. If you are unsure what your swimmer should signup for ask the Board Registrar or the Coaches.

IM = Individual Melody, swimmer will be expected to swim 25 or 50 yards of each of the four strokes. Relay, swimmers will race with three other teammates. Coaches pick the kids for these races based on behavior, skill, and ability.

RULES: The technical rules of swimming are designed to provide fair and equitable conditions of competition and to promote uniformity in the sport. Each swimming stroke has specific rules designed to ensure that no swimmer gets an unfair competitive advantage over another swimmer.

Trained officials observe the swimmers during each event to ensure compliance with these technical rules. If a swimmer commits an infraction of the rules that is observed by an official, a disqualification (DQ) will result. This means that the swimmer will not receive an official time and will not be eligible for an award in that event. A disqualification may result from actions such as not getting to the starting blocks on time, false starting, performing strokes in an illegal manner, or unsportsman­like conduct.

DQs are also a result of technical rules violations. They include but are not limited to:

  • Freestyle: Walking on the bottom, pulling on the lane rope, not touching the wall on a turn, or not completing the distance.
  • Backstroke: Pulling or kicking into the wall once a swimmer has turned passed the vertical onto the breast. Turning onto the breast before touching the wall with the hand at the finish of the race.
  • Breaststroke: An illegal kick such as flutter (freestyle), dolphin (butterfly), or scissors (side stroke); not on the breast; alternating movements of the arms; taking two arm strokes or two leg kicks while the head is under water; touching with only one hand at the turns or finish.
  • Butterfly: Alternating movements of the arms or legs; pushing the arms forward under instead of over the water surface (underwater recovery); a breaststroke style of kick; touching with only one hand at the turns or finish.

For specific language on any technical rules consult the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations book. Violations of the rules are reported to the Referee. The rules require that every reasonable effort be made to notify the swimmer or his coach of the reason for the disqualification. If your child is disqualified in an event, be supportive rather than critical. For beginning swimmers, a disqualification should be treated as a learning experience, not as a punishment. A disqualification alerts the swimmer and coach to what portions of the swimmer's stroke need to be corrected. They should be considered in the same light as an incorrect answer in schoolwork-they point out areas that need further practice. Disqualifications are necessary to keep the competition fair and equitable for all competitors. A supportive attitude on the part of the official, coach, and parent can make a positive situation out of the disqualification. Level 1 and 2 swimmers are encouraged to swim in Breaststroke and Butterfly races as they feel more comfortable with the strokes but should not be expected to complete a race without DQ's until the coach recommends them for these races.

COURSE: Competition pools may be short course (25 yards or 25 meters), or long course (50 meters). The international standard (as used in the Olympics) is 50 meters. World records are accomplished in 25 and 50 meter pools. USA Swimming maintains records for 25 yard, 25 meter and 50 meter pools.

COMPETITION: Participants compete in different age groups and meets depending on their achievement level and how old they are on the first day of the meet. Traditionally recognized age groups are 10 and under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18. Many local meets feature 8 and under, 6 and under, single age groups, or senior events. Team practice groups are usually determined by age and/or ability.

OFFICIALS: Officials are present at all competitions to enforce the technical rules of swimming so the competition is fair and equitable. Officials attend clinics, pass a written test and work meets before being certified. Officials hate to DQ swimmers and while following the rules, they will not DQ a swimmer unless it is obvious and they can defend the DQ to the head Official if needed. All parents are encouraged to get involved with some form of officiating as they are all volunteers.

TIMERS: All families of swimmers at the meet are required to sign up for timer shifts. Each team is required to provide timers for meets. Timers have a front row seat to watch their swimmers race (best seat in the house!). Typically they are offered free snacks and water while working and get to make friends with other swim parents. Timers are expected to either use the provided stop watch or button to time the swimmers in their lane. Typically there is one person who records the times and 2 timers per lane.


Black Swim Suit - team or other as approved by coach - 1 piece swim suit or Jammers.

Extra goggles and an extra cap

2 towels per day

Clothing for between swims

Blanket or a large towel to sit on - Parents should bring a chair. Check in advance to see what spectator seating is available.

Extra fluids & healthy snacks - Check with Coach to see what they suggest.

Fun things to do in between swims - Books, cards, and games help to keep kids occupied while they are waiting to swim. Keep in mind that this is a moist humid area.

Highlighter/Sharpie/ Pens (Double check for a Sharpie)

Cash for heat sheets, snacks, or other items.

For weekend meets, you may want to include the following:


Shade or shelter (Misters if you have them)



Blankets - Again, it is cold in the mornings and in the early evenings, even in the summer.


Arrival: Typically, expect to arrive by no later than 7:30AM. Set up tents with the team. This allows parents to get to know each other and assist each other with race reminders and allows kids to interact and play between races with their team mates. Also makes it easy for the coaches to find swimmers and parents.

Coach Meeting: Typically, the coaches will greet the kids at 7:50AM and instruct them on where to meet them after each race for feedback and instruction, provide any other information needed and tell them what to be at the warm-up area.

Warm-ups: Typically warm ups start at 8am, swimmers will meet the coaches at the pool deck and warm up. Once done, swimmers will head back to the team area and await their first race.

Event/Heat/Lane Info: Typically by 8:30 Event/heat/lane info for swimmers is posted near the pool and on Mobile Meet for parents/swimmers to access. This provides swimmers with their race number, heat number and lane information. Use a sharpie and write it on yourself and your swimmers. Event - Events are listed 1-60ish and are assigned as according to stroke, distance, and age (Ex. 25 Y Free, U8 Girls), this is when your child will race. Heat - This is which heat of the event your child is in. Typically there are 1-6 heats depending on how many swimmers signed up for that event. Lane - This is the lane in which your swimmer will race. Typically there are 6 lanes. Lane numbers are listed on the pool, by the timers or on the starting blocks typically. When in doubt ask the timer if your at the correct lane in-between races.

Swimmer/Parent Responsibility: It is the swimmers responsibility (parents for U8 Swimmers), to pay attention to the Event Number announcements so that they do not miss their race. Swimmers should be in the staging area behind the timers 2 events before their race to ensure they do not miss their race. Swimmers should warm up 4 Events before their race if they are swimming U10 or up. It is the swimmers responsibility to not miss their race.

After each Race: Swimmers are expected to meet with the coach to get some immediate feedback and praise.

During Races: Parents and team mates are encouraged to watch the races and cheer on the swimmers. Swim meets are a magical time where everyone at the race is there to cheer on the swimmers. Be mindful of USA Swim rules and do not record or take pictures from the starting area.

Between Races: Swimmers can play with other swimmers, partake in activities you bring for them, rehydrate, eat a healthy snack, etc. Parents are encouraged to make friends with the other parents and get to know each. We spend a lot of time together all summer long. Swim team is like extended family.

Behavior: Both swimmers and parents are expected to be on their best behavior and treat others with kindness and respect at meets. Remember that timers, officials, meet helpers, are all volunteer. If you have a problem with a DQ or other race related matter talk with a board member or the Coach.

Overnight Meets - Typically the team will stay at a campground or hotel depending on the meet. Families are not required to stay at these accommodations but are encouraged to as some of the best memories are made on these overnight trips. 

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The Oroville Orcas Swim Team is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide swimmers, ages 18 and below, coaching and training for competitive swimming. Orcas encourages self-esteem, sportsmanship, and health and wellness. Orcas' goal is to provide a program that meets the challenges of all swimmers. Orcas strive to provide education and training of individuals to develop and improve their capabilities in the sport of swimming.
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