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Piranha Digital Handbook

Swim Team Information for New Swim Families

The West U Piranhas Swim Team swims in the Southwest Aquatic League (SWAL), which also includes Bellaire Barracudas, Briargrove Barracudas, Southwest United (JCC, Southside Place, Briar Meadow), and the Willow Wahoos.


Please check the website for event dates.

  • Tryouts (NEW 10 and under swimmers only)
  • Pre-season Meet & Greet @ Colonial Park Pavilion
  • Swim Suit Sales
  • 3 Regular Season Swim Meets (Mondays)
  • League Prelims and Finals
  • Fun Fridays @ Colonial Park Pool
  • Photo Day
  • End of Season BBQ


1. How do I let the coaches know that my child can/cannot swim in a swim meet?

You must declare in each swim meet for each of your swimmers. Declaring for a swim meet is like RSVPing. Declaring for meets is important for the coaches to be able to assign events to each swimmer as well as putting together relays.

How to declare for meets:

1. Log on to your account at www.westupiranhas.org

2. Click “Save”

3. Click either “attending” or “not attending” next to your swimmer(s) name(s)

4. Find the swim meet in the list and click on the “RSVP” button

5. Click on the “Schedule & Calendar” tab

2. How long does a swim meet last?

Swim meets are broken into three parts. Because they swim less events and because of their age, 5/6 year olds will swim first in their own meet. The 5/6 year old meet lasts approximately 1 hour. The 2nd part will be for the 7-10 year olds (25 yd swimmers). And the 3rd part will be for the 11 and up swimmers. The swim meets generally wrap up around 10 pm.

3. My kid got sick at the last moment. What should I do?

We get it, things happen! You must e-mail the head coach asap once you know your child is not swimming. It is important for him//her to know so that a) they are not expending resources looking for your swimmer and b) they can rearrange relays if needed.

4. I forgot to declare for a meet! What should I do?

If you forgot to declare for a meet before the deadline, you can let the head coach know via e-mail. Your swimmer will be added to events on a space available basis. Please note that you can declare for all meets at the very beginning of the season! We encourage all families to do do this. With over 250 swimmers, we would prefer that our coaches focus on coaching our kids and not having to deal with last minute additions, so we appreciate everyone helping out with this by declaring early!

5. How do I know what events my swimmer is participating in?

The head coach will send out the meet sheet prior to the swim meet via e-mail. They will also be posted in the Swimtopia App. Coaches will mark swimmers with their events with a sharpie at practice the morning before the swim meet.

6. Where do I sit during a swim meet?

We love our swim team parents and encourage cheering and support! However, due to lack of space around the pools, we ask that parents move in and out from the pool-side viewing areas and wait away from the pool until it is time for their swimmer to compete.

7. How do I know what event is competing at the moment?

At all of our home meets, we use the Swimtopia App to send out which event is in the pool and which event is on deck. We encourage all families to DOWNLOAD THE APP.

8. What should I bring to the swim meet?

  • Dress your swimmer in their team swim suit and team t-shirt.
  • Pack your swimmer’s cap and goggles.
  • Bring at least one towel per swimmer (often times kids like to have a second towel to sit upon).
  • Sunscreen! Especially at away meets where the pools are not covered.
  • Bug spray. It’s summertime. In Houston. Need we say more?
  • Water and healthy snacks. See below for food options. Don’t forget to pick up your trash and RECYCLE WHEN POSSIBLE!
  • Swim meets are long. Bring books, small games, cards, etc. to keep the kids entertained. Please note, the West U Piranhas and the West U Recreation Center and Department are not responsible for lost items.
  • Chairs for the parents/caregivers.

9. How do prelims and finals work?

All swimmers are eligible to swim in prelims as long as they have swam in at least one regular season meet. The top 12 times (10 and under) and top 6 times (11 and up) in each event will swim in finals. The results from prelims are posted as soon as they are available at the prelim swim meets. Note that there are 2 alternates per event/age. If your swimmer is listed as an alternate, please plan on coming to finals in case another swimmer scratches. The coaches will form the relays after the finals results are posted. In some cases, relay swimmers may not have qualified for an individual event at finals so please check the meet sheets carefully.

10. Is there food available for sale at the swim meets?

At our home swim meets, we usually offer 3 food trucks (2 with entrée options, 1 with dessert options). Please note that some trucks are cash only so please plan accordingly. There are also vending machines within the West U Rec Center. At the away meets, food may or may not be available for sale. Please plan accordingly. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water for you and your family! It can get hot and humid.

Other information:

  • Please be on time to warm ups for swim meets. With so many swimmers, our warm up time is limited and we want every swimmer to have a chance to warm up.
  • Practice good sportsmanship. Be friendly to the other teams, cheer for your teammates and shake hands or congratulate other racers after your event.


Each swim meet takes an incredible number of volunteer man-power to run smoothly. Each family is required to fill one volunteer shift per swimmer each season, but if you enjoy it as much as we do, YOU CAN VOLUNTEER MORE! The volunteer jobs are available for signup during registration. Please sign up early in order to ensure the job/shift you are interested in. Please note, working at the 5/6 year old portion of the meet is limited to families with 5/6 year old swimmers ONLY. Families who sign up for the 5/6 year old meet that ineligible to do so will be automatically reassigned to a different job.

  • If you are unable to fulfill your shift, you MUST find your own replacement and also inform the Volunteer Coordinator prior to the start of the meet.
  • Volunteers who are no-shows or who are late to their shift will be automatically assigned any other open shifts. Those who do not fulfill their volunteer duty during the current swim season will not be eligible to re-enroll for the swim team the following year and/or be assessed a fine.
  • There are a few non-meet volunteer jobs that are also available during registration.

Starter – The Starter runs the swim meet, starts the heats, announces the stroke and age group information and communicates with the timers. Starters keep the meet running quickly and efficiently. This person calls everyone to attention to begin each heat. Attending a Stroke and Turn clinic is required before attempting this job. There is one starter at each meet. The Starter must be approved by the Board prior to the beginning of the season. (Home meets only.)

Stroke Judges – Stroke Judges observe and provide feedback to the coaches as to stroke violations during regular season meets. Stroke Judges also disqualify swimmers with stroke and turn violations during prelims and finals. Attending a Stroke and Turn clinic is required before being assigned to this job. Previous swimming experience is preferred. (All meets.)

Timers – Starts stopwatches with the Starter’s signal and stops stopwatches just as the swimmer touches the wall in the pool. The stopwatch times are then given to the Scribe for that lane. Timers must pay close attention at the start and finish of each race. There are two timers per lane (3 for prelims and finals). (All meets.)

Scribe – Scribes record the swimmer numbers and the times from the timers on timer cards. They give the timer cards to the runners behind their lane. This is a fast paced, integral job. Neat handwriting and accurate recording and the ability to work under pressure are a must! (All meets.)

Runners – Pick-up the timer cards from the Scribes after each event and deliver them to the desk. (All meets.)

Sign Flipper/Event Updater – The Sign Flipper ensures that the correct event number is displayed on the deck. They also update the Swimtopia App in order to update the team parents as to which event number is in the pool. Sign Flippers must have their own device (phone or network enabled tablet (wifi is not available) with Swimtopia pre-installed before arriving for your shift. A quick tutorial will be provided for this job. (Home meets.)

Age Group Parents – The Age Group Parents help to round up and make sure that all swimmers are ready for their races. Age Group parents are used for 8 and under swimmers only. (All meets.)

Set-Up – Sets-up the meet (bring out chairs, tables, put up tent, put up signage, and tasks as assigned. Must be able to lift heavy items. Breaks-down and puts away after meets. (Home meets.)

Break Down – Clean up pool deck and surrounding areas, take out trash, put items away in the swim team closet, and tasks as assigned. Must be able to lift heavy items. (Home meets.)

Subs – Fill in where needed, as requested by the Meet Directors. If not directed by Meet Director to do something else, distribute drinks to the meet workers and relieve meet workers as needed. (All meets.)

While most meet jobs are available on a volunteer basis at sign-ups, some require previous experience and are pre-assigned. If you are interested in learning a pre-assigned job or performing a pre-assigned job in the future, talk to a board member.

Swim meets are hectic and so much fun. Please contact a board member if you have any questions!



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