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Swim Team 101

  • Summer swimming is a longstanding tradition in Hillandale. The Hillandale Hellcats Swim Team has been a part of the Montgomery County Swim League (MCSL) since it began in 1958.  The team competes with other neighborhood swim teams in MCSL.

  • The season runs from the Tuesday after Memorial Day through the last weekend in July. Before school lets out, all practices are held in the afternoons. After school ends, there will be both morning and afternoon practices. “A” meets are held on Saturday mornings, and “B” meets are held on Wednesday nights.

  • The team is open to all members of the pool ages 5- 18 who can swim the length of the pool without assistance.  Swimmers compete based on their ages as of June 1.

  • While the children are swimming, the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles help run the team. Swim team is a family experience!  

  • What are time trials? Clerk of what? Ever wonder about some of the terms you hear at the pool?  Read below to brush up on swim team lingo and learn a little more about our season. 

“A” MEET—Regular MCSL competition held on Saturday mornings (8-11:30 am) against other teams in our division. Score is kept and the results of these meets “count” toward our league standings. Each team can put 6 swimmers in all freestyle events and 3 swimmers in events for all other strokes.  The coaches decide the lineup for the meet based upon swimmer’s times and it must be submitted to the opposing team on the Friday morning prior to the meet.


ALL-STAR MEET—A two-day countywide meet held annually in Rockville for the county’s fastest 16 individual swimmers and relay teams.


AWARDS POTLUCK BANQUET—This family event is held on a Saturday night at the end of the regular season.  In addition to high point and most improved awards, the coaches give every swimmer a personalized “paper plate” award which celebrates something special and memorable about them during the season.  The night ends with a video of season highlights.


“B” MEET—Swimming “scrimmage” held on Wednesday evenings (usually 5-8:30 pm) against teams that may or may not be in our division. Swimmers swim for competitive practice and to improve their times. There is no limit to the number of swimmers the coaches can enter.


CERTIFIED OFFICIAL—Unlike other sports where leagues hire paid officials, swim teams rely on volunteers.  At each meet, teams must supply a certain number of officials who have attended MCSL certification clinics to learn league rules and procedures. The positions include: referee, starter and stroke-and-turn judges.


CLERK OF COURSE—Swimmers called for a race report first to the clerk of course parent volunteers who check them in for each event and tells them their heat and lane number. These people get to know every swimmer on the team (and have a lot of patience).


DIVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS—The final championship meet of the regular swim season. Each of the 6 teams can enter two swimmers per individual event and one relay per relay event.


DQ—To be disqualified from an event. A swimmer (or relay team) can be “DQed” for a number of things, most commonly for not doing a stroke correctly or for a false start. Swimmers may complete their races but their times will not “count” and no points are earned.


HELLCAT— What is a “Hellcat”?  It’s our team mascot and team folklore is that it was an American aircraft fighter used in World War II by the Navy.


HELLCAT CAFE—The parent run food concessions at our home meets. It is famous for items such as Belgian waffles, breakfast burritos, grilled cheese sandwiches & tator tots.  Proceeds are used to support the costs of running the team.

HELLKITTENS—This is our “pre-team” for children who cannot yet swim a length of the pool.  Swim classes are held for 5 weeks starting after schools let out for the summer. The pre-team does not compete in meets.  Pre-team classes are taught by the swim team coaches and older swimmers from the team. The hellkitten season culminates with some fun races at our annual “Intrasquad Fun Meet.”


INTRASQUAD FUN MEET—Fun, silly races and contests for swim team, pre-team, family members and any member of the pool.  Some highlights are family relay races, cannonball contest off the high dive and throwing cream pies in the faces of our coaches and officials.


McHILLANDALE’S—Another Hillandale Hellcat tradition and for $5 is one of the best bargains in all of Washington! After each home meet everyone heads over to the hill for a hotdog, hamburger or veggie burger etc... During lunch the coaches hand out ribbons from the meet.


PEP RALLY—Most Friday evenings before an A meet the team has a pep rally led by our “Spirit Captains.”  These are social events for the team and each week is usually a different theme.


RELAY CARNIVAL—Probably the most fun meet of any swim season, involving every team in a division. Only relays are swum, and some involve swimmers from various age groups. Swimmers are selected for relay team based on their best recorded times in an event—the fastest swimmers are invited to compete.


RUNNER—The person who picks up all the time cards after a race and runs them to the scorers only to return to do it again, and again, for each of the 50 events.


SPIRIT CAPTAINS—Each summer a few of the 15-18 year olds work together to plan and run our pep rallies, lead cheers at meets and demonstrate good sportsmanship to all the younger swimmers.


TEAM REPS—These parent volunteers represent the team at all MCSL meetings, hire and supervise coaches, communicate with the team, work with other team reps to schedule B meets, organize parent volunteers for every meet, organize team suits and spirit wear, handle team registrations, work with pool board, answer questions, cheer for our kids and more...  


TEAM SNAP—This is a website and app used to keep track of each swimmer’s availability for meets so coaches can make the lineups. Parents and/or swimmers need to mark the swimmer’s availability so the coaches know whether or not they can participate in the meets. Parents and swimmers also use the app to keep track of dates, times and locations of events.  Please accept the email invite when you receive it!


TIME TRIALS—Another Hillandale tradition, time trials is the opening (practice) meet of every season, swum so new and updated times can be recorded on swimmers.  We have been doing time trials with our neighbors from West Hillandale pool for years and we alternate hosting the event every year.

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