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Durham Dolphins Handbook

Click here for a printable copy of the Durham Dolphins 2019 Handbook.


Team Handbook Table of Contents:

  1. Durham Dolphins Mission and Team Philosophy
  2. Codes of Conduct
  3. Parent Responsibility
  4. Swimmer Responsibility
  5. Volunteer Definitions
  6. Swim Terms

1. Durham Dolphins Mission and Team Philosophy

Durham Dolphins Mission Statement: The Durham Dolphins swim program provides a challenging and fun team environment, focused on promoting a healthy lifestyle, goal setting, life skills, and sportsmanship through the sport of competitive swimming. 

DDUR is committed to providing a safe environment for all participants. To do so we have athlete protection policies and guidelines in place for the safety and protection of our athletes, parents and coaches.

Team Philosophy

Our goal is to provide a positive, success-oriented training program for swimmers of all ages and abilities. Our team consists of four integral parts: swimmers, parents, coaches, and board of directors.

Swimmers: Encouraged and coached to focus on improving their technique and conditioning, building positive relationships with teammates, and challenging one another to swim progressively faster and with greater endurance.

Parents: Much appreciated for providing transportation, volunteer support at swim events, and championing the development of their swimmer and all team members.

Coaches: Brian and Zinnia build a team culture that emphasizes respect, an appreciation of hard work in practice, and a passion for swimming. They teach swimmers efficient and effective technique, leading to improved speed, endurance, and enjoyment of the sport.

Board of Directors: A group of volunteers that oversee the setting of policies, financial management, and the general administration of the team.

2. DASA Durham Dolphins Codes of Conduct


The purpose of a code of conduct for athletes is to establish a consistent expectation for athletes’ behavior. By signing this code of conduct, I agree to the following statements:

❏ I will respect and show courtesy to my teammates and coaches at all times.

❏ I will demonstrate good sportsmanship at all practices and meets.

❏ I will set a good example of behavior and work ethic for my younger teammates.

❏ I will be respectful of my teammates’ feelings and personal space. Swimmers who exhibit sexist, racist, homophobic, or otherwise inappropriate behavior will be faced with consequences.

❏ I will attend all team meetings and training sessions, unless I am excused by my coach.

❏ I will show respect for all facilities and other property (including locker rooms) used during practices, competitions, and team activities.

❏ I will refrain from foul language, violence, behavior deemed dishonest, offensive, or illegal.

❏ If I disagree with an official’s call, I will talk with my coach and not approach the official directly.

❏ I will obey all of USA Swimming’s and DASA's rules and codes of conduct.


The purpose of a code of conduct for parents is to establish consistent expectations for behavior by parents. As a parent/guardian, I understand the important growth and developmental support that my child’s participation fosters. I also understand that it is essential to provide the coaching staff with respect and the authority to coach the team. I agree with the following statements:

❏ I will set the right example for our children by demonstrating sportsmanship and showing respect and common courtesy at all times to the team members, coaches, competitors, officials, parents, and all facilities.

❏ I will get involved by volunteering, observing practices, cheering at meets, and talking with my child and their coach about their progress.

❏ I will refrain from coaching my child from the stands during practices or meets.

❏ I understand that criticizing, name-calling, use of abusive language or gestures directed toward coaches, officials, volunteers, and/or any participating swimmer will not be tolerated.

❏ I will respect the integrity of the officials.

❏ I will direct my concerns to first to the coach; then, if not satisfied, to the board.


The purpose of this code of conduct for coaches is to establish common expectations for all members of the coaching staff of the club. It is to be used as a guide to promote a positive team environment and good sportsmanship.

❏ At all times, adhere to USA Swimming’s and DASA’s rules and code of conduct.

❏ Set a good example of respect and sportsmanship for participants and fans to follow.

❏ Act and dress with professionalism and dignity in a manner suitable to his/her profession.

❏ Respect officials and their judgment and abide by the rules of the event.

❏ Treat opposing coaches, participants, and spectators with respect.

❏ Instruct participants in sportsmanship and demand that they display good sportsmanship.

❏ Coach in a positive manner and do not use derogatory comments or abusive language.

❏ Win with humility and lose with dignity.

❏ Treat every athlete fairly, justly, impartially, intelligently, and with sensitivity.

❏ Always place the well-being, health, and safety of swimmers above all other considerations, including developing performance.

❏ Continue to seek and maintain their own professional development in all areas in relation to coaching and teaching children.

❏ Always maintain a professional separation between coach and athlete.

3. Parent Responsibilities

Support your swimmer by attending practices/meets with them and volunteering your time throughout the season. These two actions are vital to the success of your child and the Durham Dolphins Swim Team. By working together, we can accomplish great things!

Team Practice

Arrive early; approximately 10-15 minutes. Your child may need time to change clothing, gather necessary gear, warmup/stretch, and/or socialize with teammates before starting a productive practice session.

Coaches will determine practice times for swimmers based on their age/ability. The practice schedule may be revised during the season.

Swimmers must be picked up within 15 minutes of the conclusion of their practice time.

During the team practice, parents may not be on the pool deck.

Provide Swim Gear

The Durham Dolphins Swim Team provides much of the equipment necessary for training. This includes pull buoys, kick boards, training fins, and other equipment.

The Durham Dolphins do not provide swimsuits, swim caps, goggles or any other personal wear equipment. Team suits and caps are highly recommended and can be purchased through the team store tab on the Durham Dolphin Website. Practice gear should include, suit, cap, goggles, sunscreen, water bottle and towel. Please make sure that the swimmer's name is on all personal items.

Below is a list of suggested gear and tips on 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. Swimsuits should fit snug so that “air pockets” are not created while diving/swimming, creating drag. Be aware that there are suits that are somewhat “see through” or have pictures/wording that are not allowed (i.e. alcohol/drugs). USA Swimming prohibits any visible marquee or insignia in the form of advertising (other than that of the trademark on technical equipment or clothing).
  • 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: Although goggles are not mandatory, they are a must for competitive swimmers. 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: Caps are mandatory for any athlete with hair below the ears. 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.


Proper nutrition will provide your child the needed energy to swim well at practice or a meet. Hydration before, during, and after practice will help them perform better and recover more quickly for the following day/s. You will be surprised at how much their appetite will increase, so help your swimmers select healthy foods to refuel after practice or during meets.


For the 2022 swim season, we will be utilizing our Webpage and Facebook page for announcements and schedule updates. If you need to talk with one of our coaches or a board member, please either:

Support Team Fundraising

Your annual fees provide only a small part of the money necessary to operate our team. How much you pay each season is directly related to you and your child’s participation in our fundraisers. We have two main fundraising events each season, our Dolphin Dash and Durham Invitational. Additionally, our snack bar is open during home Dual/Tri-Meets and the Invitational. Sign-up sheets for volunteer hours and donations is located on the Volunteer tab on our webpage.

Family Deposit

The $200.00 family deposit is refundable for families who work a total of 10 volunteer hours during the swim season. Your check will be returned to you at the end of the season.

There is a wide variety of opportunities to accumulate your volunteer hours throughout the season. A detailed description of each role can be found in the volunteer section of this handbook or the volunteer page on our website. Please make sure to sign up for each activity/event, log your hours and turn into our Volunteer coordinator. The Dolphin Dash and the Durham Invitational are the two events that require the most help. We can’t run these events without your help! Families who do not meet their full 10 hour volunteers their deposit checks cashed after the last scheduled dual meet.

Swim Connection

Swim Connection is a website that is part of USA Swimming. It offers clubs and swimmers instant access to individual and team swim times and records, as well as online meet entries (not for dual/tri-meets). You can register your swimmer(s) at www.ome.swimconnection.com. After registration, you can enter your swimmer(s) in meets and pay the meet entry fees online. Swim Connection does charge a small service fee for processing. When your swimmer(s) participates in Sanctioned Invitational Meets their times are automatically forwarded to Swim Connection. You can track their progress, print out their records, see the Sierra Nevada Times Standards for your swimmer(s) age group and have access to numerous swim related sponsors.

4. Swimmer Responsibilities

Safety First

You will enjoy your experience with the Durham Dolphins Swim Team by staying healthy and injury free. For your safety, follow all the pool safety rules as posted inside the Dwight Brinson Pool. Behavior considered to be dangerous will result in disciplinary action, including possible suspension and/or expulsion from the swim program as outlined in our disciplinary terms.

Practice and Meet Preparation

Be on time for practice/meets and have your swim gear ready. This may include suits, goggles, swim caps, towels, cover-ups, sunglasses, shoes, sunscreen, food, liquids and money for meets. During practices, swimmers are never to leave the pool area without a coach’s permission. If a swimmer must leave practice early, they must notify the coach before practice begins. Please be sure your swimmer knows who is picking them up or how they are getting home after practice.

Support the Team

Please support, cheer and congratulate the other swimmers. Wear your team suit at all official swim meets (Duals, Tri-Meets, Invitational Meets and Championships). Practice good by sportsmanship by never leaving the pool after your race is over until all other swimmers in your event have finished. Treat officials, coaches, and other non-swimmers with respect.

Participate in Dual/Tri-Meets

Dual and/or Tri-Meets are held on Wednesday evenings at 6:00pm, with warm-ups beginning at 5:30pm. Admission and participation is free. Check your Meet Calendar for the dates, times, and locations.Attendance at these meets is strongly encouraged. The Coaches will choose the 2 events for your child and determine relay teams. Swimmers will receive their event cards prior to the start of each meet. A lot of paperwork, effort and time go into entering and organizing a swimmer for these meets. If you have signed up for a meet and cannot make the event for any reason, please notify the Head Coach immediately so that changes can be made.

5. Volunteer Definitions

Our Dolphin Dash, Durham Invitational swim meet and dual meets are where many parents can pick up a large majority of hours toward their required volunteer hours commitment.

Set Up/Tear Down Prior to and after each home dual meet, volunteers prepare the pool (remove/replace ladders, hang/take down backstroke flags, etc.), and arrange the deck (move tables and chairs).
Snack Bar Volunteer’s set-up, run, and tear down the concessions table at all home dual meets.
Timers Every parent whose child swims at a meet will be asked to time. This means you determine each swimmer's official time for each race. Timers start their watches on the strobe light and stop their watches when the swimmer touches the wall. There are three timers per lane and all three times are recorded. If two or three of the times are identical (to the 1/100th of a second), that is the official time. If none are identical, the middle time is considered the official time. Volunteers are required in 1 hour intervals. Note: If your swimmer is registered for 2 days of a meet, you will likely be required to time at least one time each day.
Meet Officials The Stroke and Turn Judges (Officials) attend training at a clinic before officiating at meets and must pass a background check (4 people).
Hospitality These volunteers serve food and drinks to the timers, officials, and other meet staff that will be working at our meet. Hospitality is essential to the success of the meet and may include cooking, serving, and misc. running. (4-6 people)
Awards Table The awards table prints scores to affix to ribbons, medals, and/or trophies that the swimmers win. The awards table hands out these awards to swimmers and parents (2-3 people).
Snack Bar Sells food, drinks, candy, etc. to swimmers and family. Snack bar is essential for fundraising at the meet (4-6 people).
Runners Take the timers records to the table. Volunteers are required in half-meet intervals (4 people)
Warm-Up Pool Attendee Parents are needed to watch and keep the warm-up pool area safe for swimmers. Half-meet shift (1 person).
Announcer Announces the swimmers in water, sponsors, vendors and results.
Head Timer Has a backup stopwatch ready in the event a timers watch doesn't start.

6. Swim Terms

Competition Races

Freestyle: 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.

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.

Butterfly: 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.

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.

Types of Meets

Dual Meets: typically on Wednesday nights, our Dolphins swim against one other team, at either our pool or theirs. These meets are low key and every swimmer gets to swim in two or three events. Six 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.

Invitational Swim Meets: on weekends during the summer, area swim teams will host Invitational Swim Meets, at which several local teams compete together. Medals and ribbons are awarded at these meets and swimmers receive official times for their events.

Junior Olympic Meets (JO’s): a more competitive meet, featuring swimmers that have met minimum time standards and received an invitation.

North Valley Aquatic League Championships (NVALs): the culmination of our swimming season happens at the 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!

Competition 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 underwater; 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. A disqualification alerts the swimmer and coach to what portions of the swimmer's stroke need to be corrected.

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. 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 8 and under, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18. Many local meets feature 6 and under, single age groups, or senior events.

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. All parents are encouraged to get involved with some form of officiating.


“A” Meet: swim meet that requires swimmers to have previously achieved an “A” time standard in the events they wish to enter.

“AB” Meet: swim meet that requires swimmers to have previously achieved an “A or B” time standard in the events they wish to enter.

“ABC” Meet: swim meet that requires swimmers to have previously achieved an “AB, or C” time standard in the events they wish to enter.

Bulkhead: a barrier wall fitted near the middle a long course pool (or any pool longer than 25 yards) to convert one side into to a short course. Serves as a cat-walk for stroke & turn officials.

Clerk of Course: one or more administrators who typically work at a table or behind a counter on or near the pool deck checking in swimmers and ensuring all swimmers and relay teams are properly seeded into their lanes and heats. These officials work especially hard before deck-seeded events.

Club: swimmers belong to individual clubs and meets are hosted by these clubs.

Deck: the area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmers, officials, and coaches. Parents who are not working in an official capacity (e.g., certified official, lane timer) are not allowed on deck during a meet.

Deck Entries: some meets will allow swimmers to enter an event during the meet. See the Meet Announcement to determine if deck entries are allowed and any fees involved. Note that the swimmer or coach must provide proof of current USA-Swimming membership (USA-S Registration Card) before the swimmer is allowed to deck enter.

DQ (Disqualification): if a swimmer commits an infraction of the rules that is observed by an official, a disqualification will result.

Deck Marshall: responsible for maintaining a safe environment during warm-ups before a swim meet. Marshals are stationed at all for corners of the pool and each must be registered as a non-swimming athlete under USA Swimming.

Fly Over Starts: a forward start of heat performed before the swimmers from the previous heat have exited the pool. Fly Over Starts allow swimmers to catch their breath before they exit the pool and allow better management of the meet timeline. The Meet Announcement will indicate if Fly Over Starts may be used (usually at the discretion of the Referee of Meet Director).

Four-hour rule: a USA Swimming regulation for swim meets which reads: "With the exception of championship meets the program in all other age group competition shall be planned to allow the events for swimmers 12 years and younger to be completed in four (4) hours or less for a timed finals session or in a total of eight (8) hours or less per day for a preliminaries and finals meet.” The rule was put in place so not to discourage new (typically young) swimmers and families who are turned off by long meets.

Head Timer: the official in charge of all the lane timers. The head timer signals the meet referee when the lane timers are ready for the event. The head timer starts up two or more backup watches that may be requested by the lane timers whose own watches fail or when they miss a start.

Heat: a division of an event when there are too many swimmers to compete at the same time. An event is completed when all the heats comprising it have been swum.

Heat Sheets: the pre-meet printed listings of swimmers’ heat and lane assignments and seed times in the various events at a swim meet. These sheets vary in accuracy, since the coaches submit swimmers times many weeks before the meet. Heat sheets are sold at the admissions table and are used mainly to make sure the swimmer has been properly entered in all the events they signed up for. Parents enjoy looking at the seedings prior to the race plus swimmers can tell the order the events will be conducted and get a rough idea how long the meet sessions will last.

LSC (Local Swim Committee): SNS(Sierra Nevada Swimming) is the LSC for this geographic region. It consists of year round and seasonal teams from Weaverville to Sonora in the State of California and Fallon, Sparks & Winnemucca, Nevada. There are 59 LSCs that make up USA Swimming.

Lane: the specific area in which a swimmer is assigned to swim. In pools with starting blocks at only one end, the numbering normally goes from right (lane 1) to left (lane 6) from the point of view of a swimmers standing behind the blocks.

Lane Timer: lane timers “are parent volunteers who provide backup timing for each race during a swim meet. Armed with a stopwatch, 2-3 timers are positioned at the end of each lane where a swimmer finishes the race. Timers start their watches on the strobe light (not the horn) fired from the starting unit positioned on one side of the pool next to the meet referee and starter. They stop the watches when the swimmer in their lane touches the wall after swimming their final length of the race. In addition to the watches, one or both timers might also be required to operate button timers. In this case, timers press the button (in one hand) and stop the watch (in the other) simultaneously at the end of each race. Watch times are recorded on “lane timer sheets” which are collected by runners after each event. Parents typically volunteer for 1 or 2-hour slots.

Long Course Pool: an Olympic Size swimming pool that is 50 meters from end to end.

Meet Announcement: the Meet Announcement lists everything you need to know about the eligibility, rules and schedule for an individual meet. Meet Announcements are posted on the AD Website under Meets.

Qualifying Time: official times necessary to enter certain meets, or the times necessary to achieve a specific category of swimmer.

SCY and SCM (Swim Courses): abbreviation for a short course pool which is 25 yards (“short course yards”) or 25-meters long (“short course meters”).

Seeding: the process of assigning heats and lanes to all swimmers entered in a swim event based on each swimmer’s personal best time (“seed time”) in that event.

Stroke & Turn (Rules, Judges): USA Swimming defines the rules for legal swim stroke technique, starts, turns and finishes that swimmers must obey during an event at a sanctioned meet. Certified “Judges” enforce these “Stroke & Turn” rules during each heat of each event in the meet. When the judges see something illegal, they report to the referee (by completing a DQ slip) and the swimmer may be disqualified.

Time Standard: a time set for a meet or by an LSC or Section or Zone or USA Swimming that a swimmer must achieve in a specific event for qualification or recognition. These times, for all events (stroke & distances) by swim course, gender and age (for age-group competitions) when bundled together in one or more tables are also called a “Time Standard”.

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