Parent Handbook


History and General Team Information

• Founded in 1971, HWSA is a year round competitive swim club for swimmers beginning ages five through high school. HWSA has one main practice location, Stagg High School located in Palos Hills (Southwest suburbs).

• HWSA is a USA Swimming year round competitive swim team offering high quality professional coaching and technique instruction for all ages and abilities. The goal of our team is to provide every member an opportunity to improve swimming skills and achieve success at his or her level of ability, from novice to international competitor. All of our coaches, as members of the American Swim Coaches Association, have access to the most comprehensive training and certification programs for youth coaches of any sport in the United States. They provide assurances that the time children spend in swimming will be quality time.

• Hickory Willow Swim Association, a nonprofit club, is run by its elected Board of Directors, which, meet each month. All members are encouraged to be involved in team activities and fundraisers.

• Swimmers are placed in practice groups according to their ability rather than their age. These practice groups are designed for all swimmers to excel at their own ability level.




• Registration and all membership and team fees are outlined in the registration events each season. Coaching fees are rated based on group placement.

• Invoices are emailed monthly. All balances are required to be paid in full on the 1st of the month. Payments may be made by credit card only. Automatic payment method is available by credit card. Failure to pay account balances will result in your suspension of your swimmers’ participation in practice, swim meets and team activities until balances are paid in full. Contact the Team Administrator with questions about your account.  Please see the HWSA Deliquent Accounts Process detailed at the end of the Parent Handbook.

Fee Refunds

A swimmer has two weeks from their first day of participation in practice to withdraw from the swim team and receive a refund. After two weeks, all fees are final and non-refundable. USS/ISI Membership is nonrefundable at any time.  If after the initial two week period, a swimmer should require a medical leave due to illness or injury, medical documentation will be required for consideration of refund. Once a determination has been made by the HWSA Board of Directors, the swimmer and family will be notified. 


Getting Started

Once you become a HWSA swimmer there are a few basic things you will need to purchase before you can start swimming. You can purchase these items at Swimmers Edge in Woodridge. Please be sure to properly label all equipment with your swimmers’ name. HWSA will not be responsible for lost equipment.

Required gear:

• Team suit – to be worn at all meets, not practices

• Goggles

• Fins

• Swim Cap

• Swim Bag and towel


Swim Seasons

• There are two seasons……

• Fall/Winter Session which runs mid-September through late February

• Spring/Summer Session which runs mid-April through July

• Swimmers are strongly encouraged to practice a minimum of 3 days a week. 


Team Website

• The team website is

• Once a swimmer becomes a member of the team, each Family Account will receive a password to access the Member Account on the website.

• Please check this website daily during swim seasons as the website contains critical information. All information regarding practice, meets, deadlines, critical news, etc is shared through the website. If you do not use the website you will not be “in the know” to what is going on with your child’s swim team.


Swim Websites

• USA Swimming -

• Illinois Swimming Inc. -



• If you need to speak with the coaches regarding an individual issue pertaining to your swimmer, email Head Coach Tom Rieman directly.

• If your swimmer is not going to be at practice or needs to be scratched from a meet please email the coaches to keep them informed. Please note: USS Meets have applicable entry fees and commitment deadlines. HWSA will not refund meet fees for entries that are scratched after the registration deadline.


Practice Group Placement

• Upon evaluation by coaching staff, swimmers will be assigned to a practice group based upon skill rather than age.

• There are five practice groups---Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4, and HS/Elite.

• Decisions to move swimmers to the next group level are the discretion of coaching staff and are based upon swimmer skill set.



• Swimmers will practice 3-6 times per week depending upon practice group designation. Practice times for Group 1 may last for 45 minutes; Group 2 may last up to 1 hour and 15 minutes, Group 3 up to 1.5 hours and Group 4/Elite up to 2 hours.

• Practice will be at Stagg High School. Other pools outside of Stagg H.S.  are used in emergencies when a pool becomes unavailable to HWSA.

• During the winter season, practice times start early evening and typically run through 9pm.

• Summer practice schedules may have morning, afternoon/evening or both practices depending on practice group.

• Practice schedules are posted monthly on the website and emailed to families at the beginning of each month. Unexpected changes to practice schedules and/or cancelations will be posted to the website.


Behavior Expectations at Practice

• It is expected that each swimmer will be suited up and on deck 10 minutes before their practice group starts the practice session.

• Inappropriate behavior before, during, or after practices will not be tolerated and will be dealt with immediately. If the behavior does not cease, the swimmer will be pulled from practice and parents will be notified.


Athlete Protection and Safety 

  • HWSA is dedicated to providing a safe and positive environment for our swimmers’ physical, social, and emotional development, as well as providing an environment that is free of misconduct. In the event that any HWSA coach, club member, or volunteer observes any kind of inappropriate behavior, it is the personal responsibility of that person to immediately report their observation to any HWSA Coach or HWSA Board Member.
  • Inappropriate behavior may include but not be limited to language (swearing, derogatory comments or lying), physical (fighting or striking another athlete), bullying, stealing or destructive behavior (vandalism, mishandling other’s personal property/belongings).
  • HWSA strives to promote a culture and an environment that respects and protects the basic human rights of worth and dignity of each member. HWSA is a zero tolerance organization. The coaches and leadership staff have the authority to impose penalties for consequences of inappropriate behavior.


Swim Meets

There are 2 types of swim meets that swimmers will participate during the regular swim season:

• USS Swimming Meets

·       USS Meets are sanctioned by USA Swimming and are held on the weekend (typically Friday night through Sunday.)

·       USS Meets may have up to 600 swimmers from a broad geographic area.

·       Swimmers will swim during a “session” time (either morning or afternoon) and HWSA coaches will select events.

·       All swimmers are grouped by age as well as seed times.

·       Meet entries are due several weeks prior to the meet.

·       Event entries are posted to the website the week of the meet.

·       Meet fees are based on a per event and athlete fee. A weekend of swimming typically costs between $25 and $30 in meet fees. Once meet commitment registration is closed and entries have been submitted to the meet host, there are no refunds.

• Dual Meets

·       These meets typically take place during the week. HWSA Dolphins will swim against another opposing swim team.

·       HWSA coaches will select the events that each swimmer will swim. Swimmers will find out what events they will swim prior to the start of the meet.

·       Meet signup will be available on-line only and are usually available one week prior to the meet date.

·       Each swimmer will swim at least 2 events but not to exceed 4 events.

• Winter Splash USS Meet

·       Winter Splash is our USS fundraising meet. It is  typically scheduled  the second weekend of January. It is the team’s main fundraiser.

·       Every family is expected to work at least 2 sessions of the meet.

·       It  is a  large-scale meet with close to 600 swimmers participating.

·       Every HWSA swimmer is expected to participate in this meet.

• Conference Meets

·       At the completion of the regular swim season, HWSA will participate in conference meets.

·       HWSA coaches will select swimmers to represent the team for each conference meets.


Swim Meet Checklist

• Please feed your swimmers prior to sending them to a swim meet. Food is not allowed on deck.

• At USS Swimming meets, the 8 and Under swimmers are usually bull penned. The coaching staff prefers to have all swimmers on deck with the team during meets and not sitting in the stands with parents.

• USS and Dual Meets last from 3 to 5 hours. Please send your swimmer with some activities to keep occupied (a book, a notepad and markers, etc.)

• USS meets and Dual meets offer concession stands for swimmers and parents to get food, water, etc. However, HWSA swimmers are expected to eat healthy food and drinks. Junk food and soft drinks will not be permitted.

• Send a permanent marker with your swimmer to each meet as the coaches will write events numbers on the swimmers hands.

• To ensure that younger swimmers get to their events on time, coaches will monitor them. 

• Please do not send electronics such as GameBoys, iPods , or iPads to meets. HWSA will not be responsible for lost, stolen or broken electronics.

• Heat sheets may be available for purchase at both USS and Conference Meets.

• Each swimmer should have the following items in their gear bag at every meet

o   2 – 3 pairs of goggles

o   team swim cap

o   team swim suit

o   back up swim suit, just in case

o   towel

o   water bottle

o   snacks

o   dry clothes

o   extra clothes or a parka to wear to keep body warm on deck and in the bull pen

o   blanket or extra towel to sit on

o   sunscreen for outdoor practices and meets


Team Fitting Night

Team Fitting Night — held at the beginning Fall and Spring season. Swimmers will be fitted for a team suit and have the opportunity to purchase team related apparel and swim gear from our team Vendor.

Volunteer Requirements

• Parents are required to volunteer at swim meets. Jobs include but are not limited to: timing, work concessions, provide support on deck, do clean up after dual meets, etc.

• Away USS Meets: Host teams sometimes require we time at their meets. This is not an option. If you are attending the meet, please be prepared to time. Timing is on deck, which, may be slippery and wet.  

• Families will be required to work a minimum of 2 sessions at the HWSA Winter Splash and any other USS Championship meets hosted by HWSA.​ Families might have other obligations required, depending on the specific season that the swimmer is registered for. Please see the "Volunteer Hours" section listed on the "Information" tab. Additional family obligations will be detailed directly on that registration page, available for review at the time of registration.

• HWSA is always looking for family members to get involved on deck. If you are interested in becoming a Referee, Stroke & Turn Judge or Administrative Judge, contact a board member.​

• Please also refer to the "Volunteer Hours" section listed on the "Information" tab. If you would like to contribute to the Team in another way contact a board member to discuss your ideas.


Social Events

Throughout the year, HWSA will host various social events.

• Halloween Party---is held days preceding Halloween and the coaches provide a fun filled evening for the kids in the pool. The swimmers will have pumpkin races, raffles, relay races, etc.

• Holiday Party---usually held days preceding Christmas.

• Awards Banquet Winter Season —usually takes place in the spring. Each and every swimmer is recognized for their season’s accomplishments. Special recognition is given to conference swimmers, most improved swimmers, best times swimmers, etc.

• Summer  Party---held at the end of the summer season.

• Various Age Group parties—the Coaches host age group parties during each season


HWSA Delinquent Accounts Process

Early and often communication is recommended when a family gets behind in paying team fees.  The following process will be implemented in an effort to mitigate past due payments and collect as much past due money as possible.  Each month the team administrator will run a report of past due accounts and send an email to each involved family. If your account is more than 30 days overdue, you will receive an email message that will communicate the following:

Email Script: Your Hickory Willow Swim Association account is past due.  Please submit payment of $xx as soon as possibleor contact the Team Administrator, Maria Figueroa at [email protected] to discuss.  Thank you for your cooperation.

If your account is more than 60 days overdue, you will receive the following communication:

Email Script: Your Hickory Willow Swim Association account is significantly overdue and requires immediate attention.  Please submit payment of $xxx immediately or contact the Team Administrator, Maria Figueroa at [email protected]  to discuss.   to set up a personalized payment plan outside of standard club registration payment plans .  The team depends on each family to pay their fees on a timely basis to keep the team running smoothly.  We are more than willing to work with you to set up a payment plan if needed.  Your swimmer will not be allowed to participate in any team activity until this is resolved.  If you are unwilling to work with the team your account is subject to be sent to a collection agency to recover the money owed the team.  Thank you for your cooperation.

Once a team account is more than 90 days overdue, the account will be turned over to an outside agency to assist with the matter. HWSA depends on each family to pay their fees on a timely basis to keep the team running smoothly. We depend on each family to responsibly manage their financial obligation. Once an account is received by the agency, they will be contacting involved families to further assist with the overdue account.

The HWSA Board works hard to ensure the best team experience for all of our members. We can only do this when the financial obligations are met by each member. If a family has a payment plan need, please contact contact the Team Administrator, Maria Figueroa at [email protected]    for assistance. 

Thank you,

HWSA Board


Each Board Member’s contact information is listed on the website. Please feel free to contact a Board Member if you have any questions.