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Swim Team Basics

From schedules to spirit wear, from picture day to packing for an away meet, you'll find answers to your swim team questions here! 

What is the practice schedule?

All practices take place at Gardner Pool according to the following schedule:

  • 8:00-8:45 a.m. - 9 & 10 year olds
  • 8:45-9:30 a.m. - ages 6 -8
  • 9:30-10:15 a.m. - 11 & 12 year olds
  • 10:15-11:00 a.m. - 13 and up

A swimmer's practice group and official age for the duration of the season are determined by her or his age as of June 1.

What are the expectations for swimmers?

Please review these expectations with your swimmer(s):

  • Stay safe in the water at all times.
  • Listen to all coaches and lifeguards and follow directions for swim practice.
  • Be on time for practice and be ready to get in the pool and swim.
  • Be courteous and respectful to coaches, volunteers, teammates, and swimmers from the other teams.
  • Treat all pool facilities, home and away, with respect.
  • Display the traits of good sportsmanship: know your events, go to Clerk of Course when called, treat all fellow swimmers respect and kindness.


What are the expectations for parents?

Here’s what’s expected of parents:

  • Read your email! This is our primary communication tool. These FAQs also cover the details you need to know for a great season.
  • Encourage your child and cheer them on especially as they are learning new swim skills.
  • Bring any questions or concerns to the Parent Reps, who will relay concerns as needed to the coaches or appropriate person.
  • Keep in mind that summer swim is a fun, recreational league for all levels.
  • Provide one volunteer per family for each home meet in which you have a swimmer participating.
    • A select number of volunteers are also needed for away meets, please step up and volunteer as much as you are able.
  • Let Parent Reps know as soon as possible if you will be unexpectedly late, need to leave practice or a meet early, or have other last-minute changes in plans.

Does my child need to know all the strokes?

No, it is not necessary for swimmers to know how to swim the four strokes (i.e., freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly). Coaches will work with swimmers through the season to improve skills and techniques and to progress toward swimming strokes legally. That said, swim team should not be viewed as a substitute for swimming lessons.

All swimmers need to understand how to stay safe in the water. For this reason, all six (6) year olds (and all seven (7) year olds who are new to the team this year) must pass a simple safety evaluation with a lifeguard prior to the first day of practice. This evaluation can take place any time the pool is open by speaking with the pool manager on duty. No appointment is necessary.

Please note that this is not a stroke evaluation or try-out for the team. It is to ensure our youngest swimmers are safe at all times.


What are the practice requirements?

Attendance is not required at practices; however, the more practices your swimmer attends, the more he or she will progress in their competitive swimming skills.

If you know your swimmer will miss practice for a period of time (e.g., vacation, camp), please let the Parent Reps know so we can keep the coaches informed.

My swimmer is new to the team - may I sit poolside during practice?

Parents are welcome to stay during practice to observe; however, the coaches ask that you refrain from sitting too close to the pool during practice. Please try to stay back by the tables.

This helps swimmers build a trusting relationship with their coaches and stay focused on getting the most out of practice.

The forecast calls for rain - is practice canceled? What about when it’s cold out?

All weather decisions are made by the coaches and lifeguards. In the event of inclement weather affecting practices, we will do our best to notify the team via email and Facebook by 7:15 a.m.

Please note that practice cancellation does not automatically apply to all sessions. For example, the first two sessions may be canceled due to rain but if the rain clears out we will still hold the later two.

Air temperature at the pool is a major factor in the decision for swimmers to get in the water. Please pay attention to updates, as coaches do sometimes hold “dryland” practice if the temp is too cold.

Practices (and meets) will be held in light rain if the lifeguards feel it is safe and they can see the bottom of the pool. Lightning or thunder closes the pool down for 30 minutes, with the clock resetting to another 30 minutes with each new instance of thunder or lightning.

We will also email and post about any updates to practices. We appreciate your patience in bad weather.


How will I receive communications and team information?

We use email as our primary communication tool, along with Facebook posts (please follow the Oakwood Dolphins Swim Team Facebook page). Our goal is always to keep email communication streamlined.

We plan to send one big email per week with a summary of the past week and all of the reminders and info that you will need for the coming week. Please make note of all of these reminders. If any urgent surprises pop up, we will need to send additional emails.

We’re all busy with summer activities, work, and life beyond swim team, so please trust that when we have taken time to send an email, it’s worth your time to read it.

Where are my swimmer’s ribbons? Where can we find our family folder?

Ribbons will be filed in family folders a few days after each meet. Family folders are located at the pool check-in desk, organized alphabetically by last name (one folder per family). Picture day order forms will also be available in your family folder closer to picture day, and we’ll put completed photo orders in the folders when we get them from the photographer as well.

Please talk to your swimmers about being very careful to leave all folders in the file box and to only remove things from their own folder.


Which other teams do the Dolphins compete with?

The Oakwood Dolphins belong to the Miami Valley Swim Association (MVSA). There are five teams in our league:

  • Clinton County Barracudas – Wilmington
  • Forest Ridge Fighting Fish - Riverside/Fairborn area
  • Greene Valley Gators - Beavercreek
  • Yellow Springs Sea Dogs - Yellow Springs
  • Oakwood Dolphins – Oakwood

Is my swimmer required to participate in meets?

There is no meet requirement - swimmers may choose to participate in all, some, or none of the meets. However, in order to participate in the championship meet at the end of the season, a swimmer must have participated in two (2) regular season meets (home or away).

Does my swimmer need qualifying times for championships?

No, a swimmer does not need a qualifying time to swim in the championship meet. Championships are optional, but swimmers must swim in two (2) regular season meets (home or away, excluding the Fun Meet) to be eligible for championships.

Championship registration will open later in the season. Note that there is a $25 per swimmer fee for championships, which is collected later in the season (watch your email for more information). Please also note that there is a charge for heat sheets for championships only - this is to help offset costs for putting on this massive meet. Championship meet heat sheet sales are cash only.

The Friday prior to championship week will be the last day of practice for all swimmers not participating in championships.


Is there a required team suit? What about caps and goggles?

There is no required team suit. Our team colors are navy and gold, so you may wish to purchase a suit with those colors, but this is optional.

There also are no requirements for the style of suits swimmers wear. That said, one-piece suits are a common choice for girls during practice and meets, and jammers (similar to bike shorts) are a common choice for boys (trunks may not stay on securely during lap swimming).

Caps are required for swimmers with long hair to keep it out of their faces while swimming (loose hair, pony tails, and braids are all easily tucked into a cap). Caps are encouraged for all swimmers.

Goggles are required.

Where can I purchase suits, caps, and goggles?

We recommend shopping at Swim Outlet, our affiliate site, for great pricing. Every purchase generates cash back to support our team. Check out our team shop for some ideas:



Will there be team pictures?

Yes! Picture Day will be held at Gardner Pool on Wednesday, June 14 at 8:00 a.m. Order forms will be available in family folders early in the season.

Some tips for picture day:

  • Orders are cash only.
  • Swimmers should bring their completed order forms and payment to picture day and may start lining up at 8:00 a.m.
  • There will be no practice on picture day but swimmers should wear their swim suits and smiles!
  • We’ll start with individual pictures first, then once most of the team has arrived we’ll take a team photo.
  • We will resume with individual pictures after the team photo. Don’t worry - everyone will have the opportunity to have their picture taken before or after the team picture!

Pictures will be placed in family folders when we receive them from the photographer.

Will spirit wear be available?

Yes! We offer a selection of youth and adult size tshirts, sweatshirts, shorts, pants, and other items with the Dolphins logo each season. Watch your email for ordering information as there is a deadline.


How can I find my swimmer’s best times from meets?

You can check your swimmers' times on the backs of their ribbons or on our Swimtopia website:

  • Hover over your name in the upper right hand corner
  • Click "My Account"
  • Then click your swimmer's name

Their best times for each event they have swum in a meet will appear at the bottom of the page. Please allow a few days for times to appear in the system on Swimtopia after each meet. Your swimmer can also ask their lane's Timer when they complete their event.

Where can we see team records?

All of the pools in our league, including Oakwood’s Gardner Pool**, are 25 meters long. This means that Oakwood Dolphins swimmers can set team records at any meet they attend, not just home meets. Records are tracked on our Swimtopia site and on the board at Gardner Pool. We do our best to keep the board up to date; however, if you think your swimmer has set a new record, please let us know and allow a day or two for the board to be updated. Note that records may not be set at the Fun Meet because it is not a regular-season meet.

**Long-time Dolphins families may have heard that Gardner Pool is a slightly different length than the other pools in our league, and therefore swimmers could only set records at home meets. In 2021 the Gardner Pool was measured and the 25 meter length was officially verified.


Are there other events or activities during the season besides meets?

For swimmers who will participate in championships we will hold a mini ice cream social after each practice on the Monday of championship week. Treats are kept simple, usually ice cream sandwiches and popsicles for swimmers to enjoy after practice.

For all swimmers and their families at the close of the season we hold a picnic and awards presentation. Your swimmer does not need to participate in championships in order to attend. This is a fun way to celebrate as a group and congratulate each other on the season.

The picnic is held at Shafor Park. Fried chicken is provided by the team and families are asked to bring a dish to share. Watch your email for more information as we get closer.

After eating, we’ll gather in the grassy area by the shelter for some words from the Parent Reps and coaches, along with the presentation of awards (i.e., the shirt or trophy you selected at registration, along with a few additional awards).

What are the various registration fees for?

Our team is funded by the $28 family fee you pay when you register on the Swimtopia site (this is separate from the $65 per swimmer registration fee paid to the OCC). The Dolphins family fee offsets costs for ribbons, awards, pool and training equipment, team events, and meet supplies.

If your swimmer participates in the championship meet, there is an additional $28 per swimmer fee collected prior to that meet. This offsets costs specific to championships including balloons, awards, and league-wide meet fees for use of an electronic timing system and other supplies.


Is there a convenience fee for online payments?

No. Our SwimTopia site uses an online payment service called Stripe to collect the family fee and championship meet fee.

What if my child attends South Connection?

South Connection does transport back and forth to all swim team practices, in the blue Oakwood vehicles. You will need to communicate with them before the start of the season if you require the use of this transportation. Please note they do not transport one-way (for example you can not personally take your swimmer to practice and have them transport back to SC).

South Connection requires swimmers to be present 30 minutes before their practice time if they need transportation. Your swimmer(s) should be dressed in their suit and ready for practice.

We are in close contact with SC in the event of weather delays or cancellations. You do not need to notify them of the changes we post in regards to practices as they will be made aware.

South Connection does not transport to any meets, home or away. We do suggest you speak with them about activities on meet days. They will often have field trips or visits to the pool. Depending on the age, experience, and stamina of your swimmer(s), you may want to ask that they not attend these activities on days they are participating in meets. SC does not receive a list of swimmers attending meets, or any communications about meets, so please speak with them directly in regards to these matters.


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