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Team Handbook



In 2012 Pine Mill Ranch joined the West Houston Aquatic League (WHALe). WHALe policies and procedures are available on their website, www.swimwhale.com.


Our website is www.pmrrays.com. Check the website frequently throughout the season for important information about registration, meet schedules, practice schedules, volunteer sign-up and other announcements. We also put updates on the Pine Mill Ranch Swim Team Facebook Page.


If you or your business would be interested in sponsoring the Pine Mill Ranch Swim Team, please contact the PMRST board for sponsorship information at [email protected].


A head coach and four or more assistant and junior coaches, coach PMRST. Our head coach, assistant and junior coaches are all lifeguard, CPR and First Aid certified. Our staff is also supported by our senior swimmer volunteers (age 13-18) who have been with the team for many years. Senior swimmers set up equipment, assist the coaches as requested, and act as another set of eyes on the water to help keep our youngest swimmers safe.

Junior coaches must meet the following requirements:

  • Age 15 by May 1 of the current year
  • Currently swimming for a high school and/or club swim team getting swim coaching and instruction 
  • Swim at meets as a member of PMRST
  • Been a swimmer for PMRST of at least 2 or more years (any applicants not meeting this criteria will be subject to PMRST board and head coach approval)

Coaching staff is confirmed in January of the current swim year and any new hires or interviews will take place before tryouts begin. 




Our website will provide registration information once the PMRST board has met in January. Registration includes approximately 8 weeks of M-F coaching instruction, team t-shirt, team swim cap, and insurance. Registration is only on-line. If you are a new swimmer to the team, you must attend tryouts first before you will be able to register. 

Please note that all fees and paperwork MUST be completed before your child will be allowed to participate in any practice or team activity. New swimmers to the team including siblings of the team must pass tryouts to be allowed to register.

High School, Katy Aquatics Competitive, Texas Elite, Power and members of other swim teams may contact the team at pmrswim[email protected] as your child may not have to go through tryouts.


Every child new to the team including siblings of prior team members must attend tryouts and swim unassisted the length of the pool (25 yards) before being allowed to register for the team. 

“Unassisted” means the swimmer may not touch the side or bottom of the pool and may not be assisted by another swimmer or adult. It is permissible for the youngest children to rest briefly on the lane ropes.

Swim Team is not a Learn to Swim Program. A swimmer must be comfortable remaining in the water independently. While coaches will teach strokes, dives and turns, each age group should have a certain amount of swim knowledge before trying out for the swim team. If in doubt, it is highly recommended that swim lessons be taken before tryouts.


Age 4-6: Freestyle swim any which way but must get across the length of the pool without any assistance, panic or turning over to float on the back.

Age 7-8: Freestyle swim but must get across the length of the pool without any assistance, panic or turning over to float on the back. Should also know backstroke.

Age 9-10: Confident Freestyle and Backstroke swim across the length of the pool. Preferred to also know at least Butterfly or Breaststroke.

Age 11-18: Confident Freestyle and Backstroke swim across the length of the pool. Should know at least Butterfly or Breaststroke.


90% refund for registration cancellations prior to the first day of swim practice. 50% refund during the first week of practice. No refunds will be given after the first week of swim team practice. Any unforeseen circumstances (loss of job, relocation, or swimmer injury) will be reviewed by the PMRST board.


MANDATORY Parent Meetings for new and returning families will be conducted at the Pine Mill Ranch pool prior to start of season. At least one parent must attend. The meeting will also include an overview of team policies and procedures. 



Our swim team is a family affair and requires a volunteer commitment to the team. We need everyone to help run the meets and time trials which include setup, take down, timers, ready bench, concessions, scoring, ribbons, etc. Every family is required to volunteer for their swimmers age 4-18.

Each family must volunteer 3 shifts for one child and 2 additional shifts for each additional child.  If you are unable to complete your volunteer obligation, your family will be suspended from the team for a year and must wait until open registration to join the following year in which there will be no guarantees for a place on the team.

Family must sign up for all their required volunteer shifts as outlined in the registration email and website before the time trials meet. 

Weather Delays/Cancellations while Volunteering during a Dual Meet:  If you were working a volunteer job, you will be required to resume that responsibility on the day of the make-up meet. If you cannot fulfill your volunteer requirement, it is your responsibility to find your own replacement.

***If your swimmer qualifies for Meet of Champs and/or All Stars, you will be required to volunteer at those events. Volunteering at these events is in addition to the team volunteer requirements. ***


  • New meet officials must attend an in-person training to become certified for these positions. Anyone is welcome to attend the training to learn more about stroke disqualifications and other meet standards.
  • Prior year meet officials who have taken the in-person training, must take the online training annually to renew their certification.


Console Operators (computer operators) must take an online training annually to renew their certification to run the Meet Maestro and Dolphin programs.  




PMRST requires that a swimmer must be 5 years old by May 1st in order to register for the 6 and Under Age Group. Exceptions to this rule (Age 4 by May 1st) will be on a case-by-case basis and will take into consideration a child's swimming ability and willingness to listen to and obey coaching directions.

The PMRST coaches and board have the final authority in determining swimmer competency. Decisions made regarding swimmer safety are not negotiable.


PMRST will allow assisted swimmer(s) provided that the child has been diagnosed with a special need that prohibits him/her from swimming unassisted across the pool. In order to receive these accommodations, the child must have a qualifying diagnosis of “special needs” through the Texas Department of Education and are significantly more dependent on other people to complete activities than children of their age. Qualifying dependence on other people for age appropriate activities would be the inability of the child to participate in or complete those activities without either verbal prompts or physical assistance despite having sufficient instruction to complete those activities.

The swimmer will swim the freestyle stroke assisted by a PMRST swim coach prior to the start of the meet and will receive a “blue ribbon” for their effort.

If a special needs child is able to swim across the pool unassisted, the individual will be placed in his or her appropriate heat for their age group.

If your child needs additional assistance, it is not possible for PMRST to provide someone to be with the child at all times while they are at swim team practices. Therefore, it will be the responsibility of the child’s family to provide someone to be in the water and at practices at all times when the child is present.


The welfare and safety of any swimmer on the team is of paramount importance and the following guidance and conditions need to be followed:

All swimmers joining the team are asked to put their medical conditions and/or allergies in the system during registration. Similarly, any swimmers who may have developed a medical condition since joining the team and may need medication e.g., asthma inhalers, must inform the team’s Website and Membership Administrator and PMRST coaching team so that they are made aware of the condition.

All children reporting to swim are assumed fit, unless written notification of an injury or other condition is provided to the Website and Membership Administrator.

All medical conditions will be kept in strict confidentiality by the PMRST board and senior coaching staff.  If there are concerns, please speak to a member of the PMRST board.


A medical release stating that the swimmer is fit to rejoin the team from a doctor or health care professional is required following any injury/ illness that has prevented a swimmer from swimming for more than 1 week. The release may be provided to any PMRST board member or senior coaching staff.  The PMRST senior coaching team with assistance from the PMRST board will meet with the parents and swimmer to implement a schedule and swim sets for that individual swimmer to ensure their safety and welfare. All such information will be treated confidentially.

The PMRST head coach in agreement with PMRST senior coaching staff has the right to request a swimmer does not participate in practice or meets if in their opinion the swimmer cannot be safely accommodated. In all instances, the PMRST head coach will raise their concerns with the PMRST board.


Each swimmer needs to purchase the current PMRST swim suit. We will post in our registration email and website information about our swimsuit vendor. New suits can be purchased from them directly or at our team fitting. All swimmers must wear their suit for all dual meets and team pictures.  

If a swimmer qualifies to attend Meet of Champs and/or All-Stars, they may wear either their PMRST swimsuit OR any FINA approved swimsuit set forth by the WHALe guidelines.

For practices girls must wear a one piece swim suit with a swim cap and goggles. Boys must wear a jammer style swimsuit and goggles but the swim cap is optional for boys, unless they have longer hair.




Daily practice is held after school during late April and May and mornings after school is out. All practices will be held at the Pine Mill Ranch pool. Attendance at practice is very important for the success of the individual swimmer and the team.

Swimmers who do not regularly attend practice may lose their place on a relay team or forfeit the opportunity to swim for points. Please email [email protected] if your child will miss more than 3 practices in a given week.

Weather Delays/Cancellations during Practice: We swim rain or shine, so come to practice. Should practice be cancelled due to electrical storms in the area, a notice will be posted on the website and on our swim team Facebook page. We will also utilize the Swimtopia App to send e-mails and text messages about practice cancellations. We will not be make phone calls about practice cancellations. Do not assume that all practices will be cancelled as the weather may clear sufficiently for practices to continue after the mandatory 20 minute waiting period after lightning is sighted.


The full team practices every afternoon from the first day of practice to the last day of school. Daily morning practice for the full team begins the day after school lets out for the summer. Please refer to this website, under Practices, for dates and details.

On the first day of practice, please come to your age group practice time. During the first week, the coaches will evaluate the swimmers and group them into each lanes by their ability to swim in each age group. Club and high school swimmers will have a designated lane(s) with assigned swim sets.  

If there are issues making it to the designated practice time for afternoon or morning practice, please work with the coaches and PMRST board to help find a time that works for everyone without compromising the swimmers ability.  

All swimmers must attend one practice per week to be able to swim at a meet.  High school and club swimmers may be exempt from this requirement provided they are going to their other practice on a regular basis. 


ONLY registered swimmers are allowed in the pool during swim team practices. Swimmers are only allowed in the pool during their designated age group time. NO ONE is allowed in the baby pool. Our coaches are responsible for coaching. The coaches cannot babysit or chase swimmers who wander and goof off. 

Parents of swimmers age 10 and under MUST ATTEND practice or have a designated person older than 13 watching their swimmer.  You will be required to sign in and sign out your 10 and under swimmer so that in case of an emergency, the coaches and/or PMRST board can find the responsible adult for that swimmer. 

PMRST coaches, board members, or their agents or representatives are NOT responsible for your children before or after the end of their scheduled practice time.

No child under the age of 12 will be allowed to attend a meet without a parent or guardian present. It is your responsibility to find a friend or neighbor to look after your child. Unaccompanied children WILL NOT be allowed to compete.




Parents are required to sign-up swimmers as outlined in the registration email and website. Failure to sign up your swimmer for a meet will result in your child not being able to swim at that meet.  You must mark "attending" or "not attending" for every swim meet. 

Children must swim at a minimum of two meets during the regular season. Any child who swims less than two meets will be suspended from the team for a year and must wait until open registration to join the following year in which there will be no guarantees for a place on the team. Any circumstances that may have prevented a swimmer from participating in a meet will be subject to PMRST board review. 

Any child who swims less than two meets WILL NOT be able to qualify for Meet of Champs or All Star Meets; there is no exception.

If your child is a "no show" at a meet without any prior communication, they will only be allowed to swim freestyle and backstroke at the next meet. It is important for a swimmer to be reliable that the team can count on to be there.   

In the event of an illness, please email [email protected] as soon as possible if your child will not be swimming in a meet.  As long as communication is provided, it will not be held against the child for a future meet. 


Swimmers will be timed in Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly and IM (Individual Medley). Age 6 and Under will only be timed in Freestyle and Backstroke and only age 9-18 will be timed in the IM. Times are necessary for seeding swimmers into heats and relays for the first meet.

The Time Trials is also good practice for new families to the team to understand how a meet is run and to learn the volunteer positions. 


All swimmers MUST be at the pool in their ready bench areas no later than 30 minutes prior to the start of the meet or they will NOT be able to swim their first scheduled race. For both home and away meets, swimmers must proceed to their age group tent area for check in with the tent volunteers.

COME TO THE MEETS RAIN OR SHINE. We swim in the rain. In the event of lightning in the area, swimmers will leave the pool and wait 20 minutes as per Texas regulations. The lifeguards in consultation with the League Reps will determine whether it is safe to continue. Unless there is continued lightning in the area the meet will go forward.

Swimmers are allowed to bring snack foods to meets. Healthy snack choices include fruit drinks/Gatorade, fruit, health bars. The PMRST coaches recommend that children not consume sugary carbonated drinks and/or heavy, greasy foods prior to competing. Please do not bring nuts as many children have severe allergies.  Children age 13-18 will be allowed to bring peanut butter sandwiches as long as they are disposed of properly when they are done. 

SWIMMERS MUST STAY IN THEIR AGE GROUP TENT AREA DURING THE MEET. Children age 9-12 must inform their designated ready bench or tent parent before leaving the tent area to use the rest room, so they do not miss their race. Children age 4-8 shall only leave tent area with a tent or ready bench volunteer. Children age 4-12 should not leave the tent area to make purchases from concessions; they should bring enough snacks with them or their parent may purchase the snack for their child and give it to a ready bench or tent parent to give to them. Children may not visit or sit with their parents until all their heats have been completed AND they have been checked out with a tent or ready bench parent. Parents, if you wish to sit with your child during swim meets, you must volunteer as a ready bench or tent parent.

Ready Bench Runner volunteers (two per age group per gender) will escort swimmers to the Ready Bench Area a few minutes prior to a race. POOL DECK ACCESS IS RESTRICTED TO READY BENCH VOLUNTEERS WEARING OFFICIAL BADGES.

Family members and guests who come to watch the meets should bring their own folding (lawn) chairs for both home and away meets. Please remember to throw away your trash. Parents please help clean the ready bench, tent and pool areas when you collect your children at the end of the swim meet.

INDIVIDUAL EVENTS (Freestyle, Backstroke, Individual Medley (IM), Breaststroke and Butterfly):  All age groups will swim the freestyle and backstroke. Only a certain number of swimmers will be allowed to swim the breaststroke and butterfly (age 7-18) and the Individual Medley or IM (age 9-18).  The swimmers with the top times in each age/gender group will be guaranteed a spot in the first heat at the meet for breaststroke, butterfly and IM (top 3 for a 6 lane pool and top 4 for an 8 lane pool).  There will be two heats of IM for each eligible age group and three heats of butterfly and breaststroke. Swimmers will be selected for these events based on time trial times and meet times, but the PMRST head coach will make the final determination regarding seeding for Heat 2 and Heat 3.  The PMRST head coach will rotate who swims in heats 2 and 3 to give every child a chance to swim that event at a meet.  

Swimmers do have the ability to “swim up” to a higher age group based on ability and need. They can only swim up two age groups.  The PMRST head coach will make the final determination. If you prefer that your child not be asked to swim up, please notify the PMRST head coach.

Swim Up Example:  There are a lot of 11/12 girls but few 15-18 girls. There is only one heat of 15-18 girls, so the coach allows several 11/12 girls to swim the second heat of 15-18 girls.  This allows the team to possibly score points that they wouldn't otherwise due to the numbers but also allows 11/12 girls who wouldn't be swimming breaststroke, butterfly or IM the chance to swim these events.

RELAY EVENTS (Freestyle and Medley Relays):  There are four swimmers in each relay, each swimming 25 yards for a total of 100 yards.  PMRST will swim as many relays as allowed for both freestyle and medley to give as many swimmers as possible a chance to swim these events.  

Age 6 and Under ONLY swims the freestyle relay and can be a mixed relay team of boys and girls. Age 6 and under who are not able to swim freestyle in under one minute will not be on a relay team.  Age 7-18 will have freestyle and medley relay teams. Age 7-12 will only be swim by age group/gender for each relay with no mixed relays. Age 13-18 may swim 3 different relay teams, girls, boys and mixed.    

It is the policy of Pine Mill Ranch Swim Team to assign swimmers to events as follows:

1) Swimmers must be able to LEGALLY swim the stroke in order to be entered into an event including relay.

2) For limited heat events, the first heat will comprise the fastest swimmers as determined by time trials and/or meet times (Top 3 for a 6 lane pool and top 4 for an 8 lane pool). The second and third heats will be rotated at the coaches’ discretion.

3) Swimmers who have poor attendance at practice will swim at the coaches’ discretion in the limited heat events. 

4) Relay teams are determined by the coaches. Every attempt will be made to enter a swimmer in as many events as he or she is capable of swimming LEGALLY.


100 yd Freestyle Relay (all)

Freestyle (all) {25 yards (10 & under),50 yards(11 & up)}

Backstroke (all) {25 yards (10 & under),50 yards (11 & up)}

100 yd IM (2 heats) {9/10, 11/12, 13/14, 15-18}

Breaststroke (3 heats) {25 yards (7-10),50 yards (11 & up)}

Butterfly (3 heats) {25 yards (7-10),50 yards (11 & up)}

100 yd Medley Relay (7 & up)

Medley Relay is the last event of the night. Please be sure your child is cleared by the Ready Bench or Tent parent before leaving the pool for the night. If your child is scheduled for a relay, please remember there are 3 other children counting on them to swim.


If the Lifeguards hear thunder or see lightning, they, along with the League Representatives, will suspend the meet for 20 minutes. Everyone must leave the pool deck and go outside the pool deck gates, immediately.

All gates, at each pool, will be open for easy access. It is each family's responsibility, after exiting the pool gates, to determine what course of action your family will take for your family's safety. Once the all clear sign is given, an announcement will be made and everyone will be allowed back inside the pool gates and onto the pool deck. This will be done one age group at a time, starting with the youngest swimmers first. Parents and/or spectators will be allowed in, only after all swimmers have made their way back to their tents. 

All events through the 15-18 year old Breaststroke must be completed, for a meet to be official. If it is determined, by both teams’ League Reps, that the meet cannot be continued that day, an announcement will be made of that decision. An additional announcement will be made when a make-up day, location and time has been determined (not necessarily at the meet). 

It is very important to remember, if you were working a volunteer job, you will be required to resume that responsibility on the day of the make-up meet. If you cannot fulfill your volunteer requirement, it is your responsibility to find your own replacement, not the Volunteer Coordinators.


According to WHALe regulations, no child holding a certified USA Swimming Sectional time may swim that stroke at a WHALe dual meet. A child holding a Texas Age Group Swimming (TAGS) time certified by the Texas Swimming Association must swim that stroke up one age group. PMRST must be notified of all swimmers holding such certified times, earned either from a USA Swimming Meet, a TAGS meet, or a high school meet. Violations of this rule will result in financial sanctions and the swimmer/team being subject to disqualification by WHALe.

Any financial sanctions imposed by WHALe are the responsibility of the offending swimmer. Moreover, PMRST will permanently disqualify the swimmer from the team if they knowingly did not submit this information. See the WHALe website for complete details.


The WHALe Division Meet of Champions will be held at a date to be determined by WHALe. The top swimmers in each stroke of each age/gender group on the Pine Mill Ranch Swim Team who have competed in at least 2 dual meets, will be requested to go to Meet of Champions. 

  • Top 8 in Freestyle
  • Top 4 in Backstroke, Breaststroke and Butterfly
  • Top 3 in IM

Please plan your summer vacations accordingly so that your child does not miss out on this amazing opportunity to compete. The top swimmers/relays from each division Meet of Champions will swim in the WHALe All-Star Meet on a date to be determined by WHALe. Information will be shared on our website as information is provided by WHALe during the season.  

Children whose families who have not met their volunteer requirement will not be allowed to participate in Meet of Champions. 




Swimmers are expected to wear the team swimsuit, team shirt and team swim cap at meets. This displays team pride and also makes it easier to identify swimmers at the ready bench and in the water. Parents, support your swimmer by wearing a team shirt or purple to the meets both home and away. Have fun and remember, SHOW GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP AT ALL TIMES!! No “trash talking” the competing team, no body markings, and no jumping in the pool after the winner is announced. Be a gracious winner and a good loser.


Please refer to website for Swimmer’s and Parent’s Code of Conduct pages.

Failure to abide by the Pine Mill Ranch Swim Team Code of Conduct by either the swimmer or the parent/guardian may result in immediate disciplinary action as determined by the PMRST coaching staff or board to include but not be limited to:

  • Suspension from practice.
  • Suspension from an event.
  • Suspension from a meet.
  • Suspension from the swim team program.
  • Forfeiture of all payments and/or credits for participation in an event and/or program.
  • Dismissal from the swim team program.
  • Any combination of the above.


Each year our families will have the option to have individual and/or team pictures taken. We ask that all swimmers participate in the team picture even if you don't wish to purchase any photos.  These pictures are not only for our team but for our sponsors.  All swimmers are to wear their team swimsuits for the team photo. 


At the end of the season, we have a family party and awards ceremony for the entire team. This is a time to play in the pool, eat and receive awards. Participation medals are awarded for all swimmers who participated in 2 or more dual meets. Trophies are awarded to the MVP and Most Improved swimmers in each age/gender group. Meet of Champs and All Star Medals will also be awarded at this time, if those meets have occurred prior to our post-season party. 


PMRST wants to encourage swimmers to stay on the team throughout junior high and high school by recognizing our recent high school graduates. PMRST graduating Seniors will receive $50 for every year they have been with the PMR swim team and will be recognized at that year's post-season party and awards ceremony. High school seniors on the team must have swum a minimum of two seasons for the team in order to qualify.

Team Handbook updated 07/09/2022

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Pine Mill Ranch Swim Team is a division of West Houston Aquatic League (WHALe - www.swimwhale.com)

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