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Practice Schedules

Team practices take place at the Bradley Farm Pool and are held in the afternoon while Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) are in session, and in the morning during the FCPS summer break.

Afternoon practices are 60 minutes in length and are held 2 or 3 times per week. These practices tend to be more flexible in their routines, in order to give swimmers time to get back in the water. Afternoon practice sessions are usually scheduled between 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm. Session times and swimmer assignments will be communicated to parents via SwimTopia.

Morning practices are 45-60 minutes long for Bradley Farm Wave and 30 minutes long for Junior Wave. Morning practice sessions are usually scheduled between 7:15 am and 11:00 am. Sessions are scheduled by age group, with earlier sessions also available to swimmers who have summer camp or other obligations later in the morning regardless of age.

2024 Practice Schedule

Afternoon Practice Schedule (May 28-June 11)

Morning Practice Schedule (June 13-July 19)

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Practice Routines

To run our practices as efficiently as possible, we organize our swimmers into groups, called Practice Squads, based on their current Program Level. You can learn more about the goals for each Program Level on our Instructional Program page.

At each practice, your swimmer's squad will be assigned to a swim lane in the pool with a Squad Leader who will lead warm-ups, lessons, and drills. This way of organizing our swimmers lets us instruct all of our program levels at every practice, instead of scheduling a specific practice time for each program level.

2024 Season Practice Squads and Program Levels:
  • White: Freestyle Fundamentals
  • Yellow: Backstroke Fundamentals
  • Green: Breaststroke Fundamentals
  • Blue: Butterfly Fundamentals
  • Red: Stroke Development
  • Black: Conditioning

Practice Squad Placement

Each program level has its own objective for completing that level, by swimming a given stroke or event in compliance with the USA Swimming rules (rather than reaching a specific cut-off time or ranking in an event. After all, we are a developmental league!).

To assign swimmers to the appropriate Practice Squad, we use recorded times from swim meet events to validate that they have demonstrated the objective for their program level. Using swim meet times for practice squad assignments also encourages our swimmers to participate in swim meets, which is a goal of the Herndon Swim League. During the season, we use the results from each swim meet to identify the swimmers who are ready to move up to the next program level.

New Season Squad Assignments

Each year we assign swimmers to Practice Squads using their previous season event records as a starting point. This allows each swimmer to begin the new season where they left off in the previous season. However, some of our swimmers swim year-round, and other swimmers may need some refreshing after months on dry land, so we use afternoon practices at the beginning of the season to calibrate our initial practice squad assignments. 

We will observe each swimmer during Squad Week, which is the week before time trials. During Squad Week, the coaching staff will observe your swimmer to calibrate their previous season records with their actual performance in the water. 

For example:

  • If your swimmer needs to brush up on their last stroke from the previous season, the coaches may recommend swimming it again during Time Trials. 
  • If your swimmer competed on a winter swim team, the coaches may encourage them to swim an event that they didn't swim the previous summer season during Time Trials.
  • If your swimmer has previous experience, but they are new to our team, we'll use Squad Week to figure out what level they should start with during this season, and recommend using Time Trials to get a recorded time in that stroke.

A lot depends on your swimmer and how they are starting out each season. The recommendations for which events your swimmers should compete in during Time Trials helps us get fresh recorded times for them so we can make an appropriate squad assignment following Time Trials each year.

Milestones and Celebrations

Practices are also a time when we can celebrate our swimmers' accomplishments, and during the first practice following each swim meet, the swimmers who reached the following milestones will be recognized with a trip to the prize bin!

  • First time competing in a new event at a swim meet
  • First recorded time in a new event at a swim meet
  • New personal best time in an event at a swim meet

Additionally, when your swimmer earns a recorded time in the core stroke for their level, we will celebrate as they get promoted to the Practice Squad for the next program level!

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Practice Guidelines

Practice is an important part of your swimmer’s success. In order to get the most out of each session, we ask that swimmers arrive on time and prepared to swim.

Swim Gear for Practices

Swimmers should bring the following items to every practice:

  • Sunscreen
  • Goggles
  • Fins (Not needed for Junior Wave)
  • Swim cap, if needed

We do not require swimmers to purchase specific goggles, fins, or caps, but you are welcome to purchase gear from our Team Store.

Practice Code of Conduct

While at practice, swimmers are expected to behave with respect, courtesy, and self-control. Expectations for appropriate behavior during practice include:

  • Listen to coaching staff and volunteers. No side conversations during lessons.
  • Follow directions from coaching staff and volunteers.
  • Respect everyone's personal space. Horseplay is not permitted.
  • Care for swim gear and pool equipment. Misuse of personal gear, such as kickboards, or shared equipment, such as lane lines, is prohibited.
  • Bring concerns or problems to the coaching staff, and ask for help.

Special Note About Younger Swimmers

Parents/Caregivers of swimmers 10 and under, or those swimmers who have not passed the lifeguard swim test, must remain at the pool area while their child is attending their practice session.

The coaching staff also requests that parents/caregivers remain in the seating area during the duration of the session. We understand that new swimmers may feel anxious in the pool; however, parents/caregivers that linger near the swim lanes can become a distraction to coaches and swimmers. In order to allow our coaches to focus on your young swimmer's safety and instruction, please do not distract coaches during lessons. If you have any questions for the coaches, please consult with them before or after practice.

Schedule Changes and Cancelations

Practice schedules may change if conditions are not suitable for our swimmers. The following situations may result in practice being postponed, rescheduled, or cancelled.

  • Inclement Weather: The pool is required to close for a minimum of 30 minutes if thunderstorms with lightning are present in the area. Storms with heavy rain that limits visibility of the pool floor will also result in pool closure.
  • Water Quality: Pool water must meet requirements for water chemistry and temperature. Practices may move to dry land if the pool water is too cold, unbalanced, or unsanitary.
  • Staffing and Facilities: Practice schedules may be changed due to staffing challenges (e.g., coach to swimmer ratios) or facility issues (e.g., broken pool!).

If practice schedules change, parents will be notified via SwimTopia. We recommend downloading the SwimTopia mobile app to receive push alerts from the team.

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