New Swimmer Information & Registration


Chalfont Otters Swimming Club are always on the lookout for swimmers who are interested in joining our friendly club from age 3 up to adults

We are a local, competitive amateur swimming club attracting swimmers from across South Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and the outer London Boroughs. We are supported via subscription fees, a highly qualified coaching team and volunteer committee members.

Established in 1978, we continue to go from strength to strength. In the past few years, we are very proud to have had several national swimmers and national champions. Our junior squads also comprise some of the top swimmers in the country and many have leading regional and county times.

We believe that as a community club, it's important for us to develop all levels of swimming from absolute beginners to national champions. We have had a number of swimmers progress through the club via this pathway and move on to swim at all competitive levels. 

Assessment Times

We hold assessments on a regular basis at Chalfont Leisure Centre, Nicol Road, Chalfont St Peter, SL9 9LR. each with limited places filled on a first-come, first-served basis. You will be able to select an appropriate level and a convenient date when you complete the registration process. In an assessment, your child will be assessed by the coaches, after which we will be in touch to discuss which squad or teaching group your child should join. 

Assessment ability level

If your child is a complete beginner, they do not need to attend an assessment, just select "Complete Beginner - No Assessment Needed" at the end of the registration process and they will be offered an available place in our beginners classes or placed on the waiting list.

The assessments are split into three levels:

  • Level 1: beginners who may have had a few lessons but still need shallow water.

  • Level 2: more advanced swimmers who can swim 25m in each of the four strokes without assistance (it's ok if they are still learning butterfly!) 

  • Level 3: experienced club swimmers who may have an idea of which squad they swim in already

Please do not sign your swimmer up for Level 3 unless they are an existing club swimmer.  These sessions are not set up to accommodate swimmers who are new to club swimming and we want your swimmers to have a great first experience. If you are at all unsure about your child's current ability, please select the level below where you think they might be. If it is too difficult, this will knock their confidence. The assessment level they attend does not restrict which squad they will be allocated.  We will always promote our swimmers when they are ready and we want them to love swimming.

For more information on the teaching groups and squad levels please check the squad description pages.

What happens at an assessment?

Please make sure swimmers bring a hat and goggles with them and also some drinking water. Arrive in good time as we need to "check in" all swimmers and this can take a few minutes. 

The assessments are informal; for those that are able to, we'll ask them to swim one length of each stroke, or just see what they can do in order to place them in the right group. If needed, a coach will be in the water with the very young swimmers. Parents are allowed on poolside for our younger or more nervous swimmers.

If you are interested but are nervous about the idea of an assessment, you are welcome to take an opportunity to watch and get an idea of what is involved.

After the assessment, our coach will advise the membership administrator which group/squad they would like your child to join and we will email you a week or so later. At this point, we will ask you to sign up for a Direct Debit mandate to secure the place, though no money will be collected until their first week of swimming. Once this is in place, we can complete the rest of the sign up process (or confirm their place on the waiting list), ensure you have a chance to ask questions and buy any equipment required before they start swimming. We start new members on the first session (of their class) of the month to reduce disruption and repetition, so please expect to wait until then. Our admin support is only a few hours per week so this process can spread out over a couple of weeks.

Timetable & Attendance

The latest timetable is on our website. If we get any late notice changes, we will let you know via email or via OnDeck and try to give as much warning as possible. 

For our teaching groups - Otters Beginners and Stroke Development squads - you will be allocated one session per week. It may be possible to change slots if there is availability but if this is not convenient you would need to join a waiting list until a space becomes available.

Some children can find the transition from swimming lessons to squad swimming a little daunting. Our coaches are experienced in settling nerves, and will endeavour to give new swimmers some extra guidance in their first few sessions. However, it is important that swimmers ask if they are unsure about anything, and say if they can't hear the instructions. If you have any concerns, please speak to the coach before or after a session.

In our non-competitive Club squads and Masters, swimmers are joining for fun and fitness, rather than speed. Decide whether you'd like to swim 3 or 4 hours per week from the Club timetable (1.5 or 3 for Masters) - there is no need to book ahead or attend the same slot each week. Swimmers need to be at a level equivalent to JD5 or higher to transfer to Club. Masters will be invited to try a session to see if it suits their aims.

For all other squads, there is no expectation to attend 100% of sessions offered but in general the more members get to swim, the faster they progress (and the better value for money!). If your child is aiming for Senior Performance squad, attendance and other expectations will be explained.

Subscription Fees

Fees are charged monthly in advance (usually on or around the 1st of the month) by direct debit. This enables us to collect subscription fees along with other payments such as gala entry fees, as advised in advance. 

Fees for all squads are split over 12 months of the year and all except OB squads will be offered sessions throughout the holidays to maintain progress and fitness. We do not offer discounts or refunds for absence due to short illness, long holidays or lower attendance. If you are in financial difficulty or have extenuating circumstances, please get in touch with our treasurer at [email protected], in confidence, to discuss options.

A registration fee of £60 applies upon registering for the OB and SD teaching groups. Upon promotion to JD1 or for direct entry into JD1 and above, a one-off joining fee of £60 is payable. In both cases, this fee is payable if you leave the club and return at a later date. Unlike some clubs, we do not charge an annual membership fee on top of our subscription fees, but we are required to pay an annual fee to Swim England for all members. This provides your swimmer with membership of Swim England as the governing body for the sport, and ensures that your swimmer is covered by the club's insurance while participating in club activities. The fees (2024 prices) are either a Club Train membership of £15.35 annually for swimmers up to/including JD2, or a Club Compete membership of £38.70 for swimmers in JD3 and upwards, or for any swimmers in JD1 & JD2 participating in external competition.

The Club is a non-profit organisation, not a business. All of our subs and gala fees go toward the running of the club - paying our professional coaching staff and a small number of admin hours and renting the pool time. Our committee is entirely voluntary and welcomes new help at any time.

Your data

The club uses a software system called TeamUnify to manage our website, store our swimmers' details, share key information about events and so on. As part of your registration process, you will create an account for your family and a profile for each swimmer on TU. Make sure the details are correct, as we will use this information to contact you and to register your swimmer for insurance and Swim England membership (both compulsory).

When your swimmer has been assessed and allocated a group/squad, you will receive login details for your TU account so that you can access all the functions, including messages to and from the club, registering for galas and updating your details if necessary. If you need help using the system, email us at [email protected].

If you do not receive the login details, check your junk folder and email us if you can't see them.  

In accordance with GDPR we will only make your information available to club staff and volunteers that need it and only use it for purposes in connection with the swimming club.

On Deck App

We also use an App linked to TeamUnify called "OnDeck". Downloading this will allow you to track your child's performance, attendance, and receive notifications directly to your mobile phone or tablet. More details and link to On Deck App.

Swimming Kit 

In order to prepare your child for the swimming sessions, it is important that they have some basic essentials. These can be purchased from our online club shop page, or from Mailsports, with a special discount available to club members. See our club shop page for details. 

Coaches 

We have a fantastic team of experienced coaches, led by Head Coach Alex Bowsher, who support our squads and are responsible for the development of your child in their swimming journey. As SwimMark Affiliated Club, we are committed to help your learn to swim, enjoy their training, and to achieve their potential. The coaches and teachers are here to help them and have been trained to do so in a safe and proper manner. Parents are encouraged to come onto poolside at the first session and introduce themselves and their swimmer to the coach, as they can't leave the other swimmers to come out and say hello. You should soon get to know your coach and if you have a question or concern about any aspect of the training, speak to them in the first instance. Read more about our coaches.

Leaving the club

Why talk about leaving before you've even joined? We know how many activities children are involved in and the logistics of getting everyone where they need to be and some children just don't take to swimming as heartily as others, so you might need some reassurance that if it's just not working out, there's no hard feelings!

In order to make best use of our excellent coach:swimmer ratio, however long you have been with the club, we ask that you give us a month's notice to leave so that we can close your account and invite someone else to take up the space. It enables us to have a quick discussion to see if there is anything we can adjust to help, whether it is being able to make enough sessions, teenage tiredness, getting on with the other swimmers or anything else. Please email [email protected].

 

 

Other Useful Information

There is a lot of useful information throughout the website, but in particular, new members and parents may be interested in the following pages:

A to Z - What does it all mean?

Guide to competitions