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Recent Updates

Bluefish marathon

Please note: We are offering limited programming beginning July 6. Read the Flying Fish News to learn more.

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July 5 – Flying Fish News

June 26 – Covid-19 protocols

June 26 – Community Pass information

June 26 – Information about July practice groups (updated)

June 5 – Flying Fish News

May 19 – Flying Fish News

May 12 – 2019/2020 Swimmers of the Year

May 12 – 2019/2020 Outstanding Swimmers

May 12 – 2019/2020 Marathon Awards

April 25 – Flying Fish News

April 17 – Flying Fish News

March 25 – Flying Fish News

March 24Team Records

March 24Top Ten List

March 14Flying Fish News

March 11IL Senior Champs Individual Results

March 11IL Senior Champs Relay Results

February 6Spring Season Practice Schedule and Info

Spring 2020 Practice Schedule

GreenfishFriday5:00-5:45 pm
PurplefishMonday @ Baker5:30-6:15 pm
Saturday1:30-2:15 pm
YellowfishWednesday5:45-6:30 pm
Friday 5:45-6:30 pm
Whitefish Monday6:15-7:00 pm
Wednesday5:00-5:45 pm
Friday5:45-6:30 pm
Bronzefish Thursday @ Baker 5:30-6:30 pm
Saturday AM8:00-9:00 am
CopperfishMonday @ Baker6:15-7:15 pm
Thursday @ Baker6:30-7:30 pm
Saturday2:15-3:15 pm
Redfish Tuesday5:30-6:30 pm
Friday6:15-7:15 pm
Saturday AM8:30-9:30 am
Sunday AM9:30-10:45 am
BluefishTuesday4:15-5:30 pm
Wednesday5:30-6:45 pm
Friday6:45-7:45 pm
Saturday1:15-2:30 pm
IronfishMonday5:00-6:15 pm
Tuesday5:30-6:45 pm
Wednesday AM 6:00-7:15 am
Friday7:15-8:30 pm
Saturday AM7:00-8:30 am
SilverfishWednesday AM6:00-7:15 am
Thursday5:30-6:45 pm
Friday7:15-8:30 pm
Saturday12:15-1:30 pm
Sunday AM10:45 am-12:00 pm
GoldfishMonday 7:00-8:15 pm
Tuesday AM 6:00-7:15 am
Wednesday6:30-7:45 pm
Thursday6:15-7:30 pm
Saturday AM7:00-8:30 am
DiamondfishMonday6:00-7:15 pm
Tuesday, Thursday AM6:00-7:15 am
Tuesday6:30-8:00 pm
Thursday6:45-8:15 pm
Friday4:20-5:45 pm
Saturday AM10:50 am-12:15 pm
PlatinumfishTuesday, Thursday AM6:00-7:30 am
Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs7:30-9:00 pm
Saturday AM10:50 am-12:15 pm
ThunderfishMonday, Tuesday, Thurs, Fri AM6:00-7:30 am
Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri4:00-6:00 pm
Tuesday7:15-9:00 pm
Saturday AM9:15-11 am

Stuff you should know

Group Practice Guidelines


Ages 9 and under, swim once a week


8 and under, swim twice a week as often as possible


8 and under, swim twice a week as often as possible


9 and under, swim two or three times a week


9 to 11, swim twice a week as often as possible


9 to 11, swim two or three times a week


10 to 13, swim two to four times a week


9 and 10, swim three or four times a week


11 and 12, swim three or four times a week


12 to 14, swim two to four times a week


12 to 14, swim four plus times a week, BB+ times standard to qualify initially


12 to 14, swim five plus times a week, must have multiple qualifying times for regionals, or one time for our championship meet in Charlotte, NC with intention to attend the meet. The expectation is for you to also swim all year, all 3 seasons. Swimmers swimming a minimum of 160 swim marathon lengths may be considered as well has performance in early fall meets. We reserve the right to change qualifications based on numbers.

High School Age Levels


14 and up, swim four plus times a week, can swim seasonably and have the flexibility to do other activities and not swim year round.


14 and up, swim seven plus times a week, intent to swim full-time year round, must have more than 1 qualifying time for championship meet in Charlotte, NC with intention to attend the meet. Although exceptions may be made, swimmers transitioning to Thunder will do so after their first high school season, in order to have a better understanding of what is expected the rest of the year in Thunder. We may also introduce test sets to qualify for and/or remain in Thunder.

Depending on the time of year and other activities, there is some flexibility with expectations in practice time for most groups. We understand that you may be juggling a few activities. However if you are in Bluefish, Goldfish, Diamondfish or Thunderfish, these expectations are the minimum and it is expected that you swim all year – Fall/Winter, Spring and Summer seasons. If you are going to be realistic in terms of your own goals and development and want to keep up with the development of the group and your peers, we need to see you all year round! Otherwise a different group may be more appropriate for your needs.

Team Store

Visit our team store to find the gear you need on deck — suits, goggles, shorts, and bags!

Screen shot of A3 website

Time Standards

There are both national and state time standards. The purpose of time standards is to motivate swimmers to improve. Click on the levels below to access current time standards at each level of competition.

State Standards

Illinois state standards are used to set qualifying times for state meets. There are two levels of state meets: a Regional meet and an Age Group Championship meet.

Illinois Regionals

The Regional meet is typically held in late February in a short course (25-yard) pool and in July in a long-course (50-meter) pool. To qualify for the regional meet, the swimmer must have a time equal to or better than the regional (REG) time but less than the Age Group Championship (CHAMP) time.

Age Group championship  meet:

One Age Group championship meet is held in the winter (typically March) and is conducted in a short course (25-yard) pool. The other Age Group championship meet is held in the summer and is conducted in a long-course (50-meter) pool.

Senior Champs meet:

Like regionals and age group championships, senior championships take place twice a year, in March and in July. Senior Championships are not divided into age groups, so there are only male and female qualifying times.

Sunkissed Championship Standards

Time standards for the Sunkissed Championships in Charlotte change from year to year. For 2018 qualifying times, click here or go to the Team Charlotte website. Team Charlotte hosts the Sunkissed Championships each year in late March/early April in Charlotte, North Carolina. Flying Fish qualifiers who are eleven and up attend as a team.

USA Swimming National Time Standards

The national standards are used to set qualifying times for national and international meets and for admission to the national team. These times can be found on the USA Swimming website at www.usaswimming.org.

First timers information for meets

In the week preceding a meet, we will put details about the meet and the events in which you have been entered in your folder at the YWCA. Please make sure you bring this information with you to the meet so that you know what you are swimming. It is helpful to write (with a permanent marker) the events and event numbers on the back of your hand or on your wrist so you remember.

Swim meets (outside of the YWCA) often have “positive check-in” requirements. This means that swimmers entered need to check in or confirm their attendance and events before warming up for a meet, usually on your way into the building. You should plan to arrive at the meet 15 minutes before your warm-up begins so that you have time to check-in, change and stow your gear. If you don’t check in on time, you won’t be able to swim.

Swim teams usually sit as groups at meets. When you get to a meet, check in, change, then look for your coaches and teammates on the pool deck for warm-up.

Heat and lane assignments are not usually available until 15 minutes (or less) before the meet begins. As soon as they are posted, swimmers should write their heat and lane number for each event on their hand.

Flying Fish coaches are present at every meet in which Flying Fish swimmers are entered. One of your practice group coaches will greet you on deck, help you figure out where to put your swim gear, warm you up and talk to you after all your races.

Parents are generally not allowed on the pool deck unless they are officiating or timing. We need to supply volunteer officials and timers for every meet we enter. Sign up sheets for timing at meets are posted at the YWCA the week before a meet. If your child is swimming in a meet, please volunteer to time during a shift. Officials receive training, which is available on a weekend several times a year. Let us know if you’re interested!

Coaches will help make sure that swimmers are ready for their events, but part of what the swimmers learn is the responsibility of being ready, in the right place at the right time for their events.

Swimmers should always speak to their coach directly after a race. Coaches watch all of their swimmers’ races and talk to them afterwards about how they’re feeling, what they did well, what they could improve upon, etc. If your child comes to you immediately after their race, feel free to give them a quick (wet!) hug, but please redirect them to their coach. Thanks!

What a swimmer should bring to a meet

  • Team suit, goggles, deck shoes, and a Flying Fish swim cap. You may want to bring two sets of goggles to play it on the safe side – they have a way of getting lost or breaking!
  • A couple of towels.
  • A blanket or sleeping bag to sit or lie down on. Some bull pens are in gymnasiums.
  • Jacket, parka, flannels or sweats.
  • Diversions – books, games, cards, electronic game, iPod, etc. There is down time between swims.
  • Sports drinks, water, juice.
  • Healthy snacks – fruit, bagels, crackers, granola bars, etc.

What a parent might bring

  • A Sharpie marker with which to write, on the back of your child’s hand, their events, heats and lanes. This simplifies things for everyone, and makes for a quick check at the blocks.
  • Money for admittance and for heat sheet. Kids and swimmers are free, adult admittance is usually $2 to $3, and heat sheets are about the same. Usually ends up around $5.00.
  • A highlighter to quickly reference your swimmer in the heat sheet.
  • A pen to jot down their times.
  • A bleacher chair or pad to sit on if you’ll get uncomfortable sitting on a hard bleacher for hours.
  • Diversions – newspaper, book, etc. Meets can run for 3-4 hours.

Aquatic centers get hot and humid with a few hundred of your closest friends and a large body of water. Dress accordingly!

Meets often (but not always) have booths set up where suits, caps, googles, t-shirts, warm-ups, etc. are sold. If your child is having goggle problems or wants a meet t-shirt or bag tag, they’d be more than happy to accommodate you – most take cash, checks and credit cards.

There are usually food and drinks available at meets, but you never know what it will be. You may want to play it on the safe side and bring your own.

Please remember that all of the critiquing of your child’s swim needs to come from a coach, not a parent. You are there for support!

Swimming vocabulary

Bull Pen – An area for organizing swimmers into lanes and heats before their event so that they can be lead out onto deck in the right order. Bull pens are primarily used for younger swimmers and are not used at every meet.

Drag Suit – The second (or more) swim suit worn to increase drag in the water. This is like using weights when walking, or weighting a bat in warm up. It makes the swimmer work harder in practice, and feel “lighter and faster” in the meets, when only one, skin-tight, suit is worn.

DQ – Disqualification (swimmer’s time isn’t official). Coaches are generally aware of what a swimmer has done to cause a disqualification, and will discuss the disqualification and why it happened with the swimmer after their race. Disqualifications are made by meet officials because a swimmer has done something on the start, finish, turn, or stroke that does not fall within the guidelines for what is acceptable when competing in that stroke. We view disqualifications as opportunities to learn!

Heat Sheet – A list of swimmers competing in each event, ordered by heats. Heats usually get progressively faster (i.e., the last heat to swim each event usually has the fastest swimmers based on seed time).

Long Course Season – Generally, the summer swim season, usually in 50 meter pools, though occasionally there will be a 25 yard pool. Very often outdoor pools are used. Shortest event is a 50 meter distance.

Meters versus Yards – Pools are constructed in two measurement dimensions. Meters, as in the metric system, and yards. Meters are used for all international meets, and many other meets. Long course is often held in meter pools. Yards are found in short course, and local pools. 25 meters and 50 meters are longer than 25 and 50 yards.

N.T. – NT (no time) after a swimmer’s name on heat sheets or psych sheets indicates that the swimmer does not yet have an officially recorded time in the event.

Psych Sheet – At all positive-check-in meets, you can pick up (for ~$3) a listing that tells you all the events and all swimmers in each event: the swimmer with the fastest seed time is listed first and the swimmer with the slowest seed time is listed last. While the psych sheet does tell you all the events your child will swim in, it does not tell you precisely which heat your child is in. (Some meets are not positive-check-in, at those meets you can buy a heat sheet … see the definition of heat sheet). Heat sheets and Psych sheets are very helpful for following a meet.

Seed Time – The best time a swimmer has in an event. That time is submitted by the coach when entering swimmers for a meet. It will determine where a swimmer is “seeded” in that particular race. However, because entry forms are often due weeks before a meet, a swimmer’s seed time might not necessarily be their best time any more by the time a meet takes place.

Short Course Season – Generally, the fall through spring swim season. Meets are held indoors, in 25 yard pools. Shortest event is a 25 yard distance.

The Flying Fish program helps our kids find community, support, self-esteem, and connection with wonderful peer groups and role models, and gives meaningful purpose to their endeavors. As parents, we couldn’t articulate that we necessarily wanted all of this in one spot when we started, but we can’t imagine not having it now.