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   faq

Interested in Swimming With Us?

Please read the frequently asked questions below to learn more about our team, practice schedule, payments, and more. Download our Welcome Letter to new swimmers.
If you have additional questions, feel free to email us at facts@alexandriamasters.com

Team FAQ | Practice FAQ |  Payment FAQ   |  Helpful Links



TEAM FAQ

Where Do You Swim?
We rent lanes at a variety of pools in the Alexandria/Southern Fairfax County area—but are not affiliated with Fairfax County rec center or county programs. In the Fall and Spring Seasons, we swim indoors at three Fairfax County rec centers, and in the summer we move outdoors and swim at local neighborhood pools. There is parking at all locations.
Who Are My Teammates?
Swimming abilities range from beginning lap swimmers to competitive racers—and we all have different goals, including fitness, conditioning and competitions. We want to help you meet your own personal goals with the support of a fun community of swimmers who enjoy spending time in the pool.

Who Leads Practices?
Practices are led by our amazing coaching staff, who are ASCA certified with years of competitions under their belt. Our coaches are not only there to lead workouts, but to help us improve techniques and train for personal milestones or competitions. Learn more about our coaches on our Schedule/Fees page.

How Fast Do I Need To Be?
Our practice lanes are divided by speed and ability, so there will be a place for you, no matter your speed. Even if you haven't swum in a few years (or decades) there will be a place for you at our workouts. If you know how fast you can swim a 100 freestyle, that will give the coach on deck an idea of what lane you should start in.

What If I Haven't Swam Since I Was A Kid?
We'd love to help you get back into swimming—however, we are not a learn-to-swim organization and swimmers are required to swim unassisted for 60 minutes and know how to count yardage (1 lap = 25 yards). Knowing how to use a pace clock for timed intervals is a plus, but we can help you figure it out.

I Only Know How to Swim Freestyle, Is That Okay?
Freestyle is the main stroke most practices focus on, so if you aren't comfortable with other strokes—or even doing flip turns— don't let that stop you from coming to practice. The coach on deck can make adjustments to your workout as you get more comfortable and confident in your swimming.

Do You Offer Private Lessons?
No, we focus on group training. However, the team does offer several Saturday workshops a year which focus on specific strokes, starts, or turns. These are great opportunities to improve your technique and get more in-depth feedback from our coaches.

I'm Visiting From Another Location, Can I Swim With Your Team?
Yes, any Registered US Masters Swimmer visiting from out of town can swim with our team. Just email us and let us know when you'll be in town.

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PRACTICE FAQ

What Is Included In A Typical Practice?
Every practice has a structured workout—starting with warm up and drills before a main set and cool down. Practices focus on a combination of all four strokes—freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. Certain days and/or practices might focus on specific strokes, have a long-course or sprint focus, or include special training to prepare for an upcoming meet.

How Many Practices Do You Offer?
We offer one-hour practices throughout the week—including morning, evening, and weekends. If you pay the standard season fees, you can attend as many practices as you'd like. We have three seasons: Fall and Spring (Sept. - May) we swim indoors, and in the Summer we move outside. View our current season schedule here.

How Do I Get Into The rec center? Do I Need to Pay To Enter?
Your team dues cover the cost of renting lanes, so you should not pay the Fairfax rec center to join a practice. Coaches provide key tags that are scanned at the front desk before entering.

I Don't Have A Key Tag, Can I Still Get In?
If you don't have a tag, or are just here for a trial, go to the front desk, and tell them you are there for Masters Swimming. They may ask you to show Picture ID, and will let you in without charging you a fee. If it's your first time at practice, arrive early to speak with the coach and explain you are here for a trial swim.

Do I Need Any Special Equipment?
This is a team workout, so leave your personal music player at home! In addition to goggles, swim caps, and a bathing suit (definitely mandatory!)—many swimmers find it helpful to bring additional equipment such as a kickboard, pull buoy, paddles, fins, and a water bottle. Ask your coach and fellow swimmers for recommendations on what to buy.

Will I Be Able to Shower And Change After Practice?
Showers and a locker room are available at all of our practices, so remember your towel and toiletries.

What If Practice Is Cancelled?
Always check on our team calendar ahead of time for scheduled cancellations due to swim meets or pool maintenance. For last minute or weather-related cancellations, the team will send out an email and post alerts on Facebook and Twitter—so consider following one of the two pages for the most up-to-date information.

What If Fairfax County Public Schools Or Classes Are Cancelled Due To Weather?
During the Fall/Spring, if the Fairfax rec centers are open, practice is most likely on—even if Fairfax County Schools are closed. Sometimes rec centers cancel "classes" without actually closing. We are not one of their "classes", so as long as the rec center is open and a coach is on deck, expect to swim.

Can I Use Other Amenities At The rec center Like Cardio Equipment Or Classes?
No. Your key tag only allows you access to the REC center for team workouts. If you are interested in additional activities at those facilities, you would need to pay the rec center general admission fee.

What If I Want to Swim On A Day the Team Isn't Practicing?
During holidays, or other times when the team is not holding practice but the rec centers are open, you are welcome to swim on your own at the rec centers, but you will need to pay the rec center general admission fee since your team dues do not cover individual practices.

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PAYMENT FAQ

How Do I Join The Team?
You will need to make TWO payments to start swimming with us:
  1. Register for US Masters Swimming. This is a once-a-year fee to participate nationally in US Masters Swimming. When you sign up, select Potomac Valley as your Local Masters Swimming Program (LMSC) AND the Alexandria Masters Swimming Club (ALEX) as your club. You can register here.

  2. Sign Up For the Current ALEX Swim Season. This fee goes directly to our team, and pays for the lane rentals, coaching salaries, and other expenses each season. You will need to pay this at the start of each new season (Fall, Spring, and Summer).
How Much Are ALEX Fees?
Your fees will change depending on how often you swim—swimmers can choose between swimming multiple practices per week or just once a week. Fees are also prorated, so if you start a season late you will not need to pay the full amount. See the Current Season rates on our Schedule/Fees page.

Can I Try A Workout For Free Before I Join?
Yes! Interested swimmers can try out any practice for free—just drop by before a scheduled practice and ask to speak to the coach on deck. You do not have to register nationally for USMS for this practice, however trial swimmers need to fill out the USMS Guest Membership Form (no fee required) and give it to the coach at your first practice.

What Practice Should I Come To As A Trial?
You are welcome to attend any of our practices to try it out before committing to joining the team. We recommend attending a practice that would normally fit into your schedule—whether it's before or after work, or our weekend practices.

What If I'm Not Sure I Can Commit to An Entire Season?
We offer a one-month trial membership for $70. Try us out for a few weeks, and see if our schedule and practices are what you're looking for. You'll be amazed how much you can improve with a regular workout and encouraging teammates. You do not have to register nationally for USMS for this practice, however trial swimmers need to fill out the USMS 30-day trial form (no fee required) and give it to the coach at your first practice."

Do I Need To Sign Up For Fairfax rec centers Or Neighborhood Pools To Swim With Your Team?
NO. Your fees for our team cover the cost of swimming at the pools—do not pay additional money to the rec centers. The only fees you need to pay are the once-a-year national USMS and once-a-season team fee.

I'm A Member Of One Of The Summer Season Neighborhood Pools, Is There A Discount To Join?
YNo, not at this year.

What Is The Long Course Summer Pass?
For the Summer 2015 season, we are offering an additional Sunday night practice indoors using the 50-meter pool at Lee District rec center. Because of lane rental minimums and the additional expense, only swimmers who sign up for the Long Distance Pass will be able to attend this practice. The cost of the 11-week pass is $75 for standard attendance. Once-a-week swimmers must decide between this practice and the regular schedule, but do not need to pay an additional fee beyond their $125 dues.

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HELPFUL LINKS
  • Welcome Letter - More information about joining our team.
  • Code of Conduct - Guidelines for our swimmers on required behavior for the team.
  • USMS FAQ page - Look here for more information general information about Masters Swimming.
  • Dictionary - Common terms for swimming.
  • Article Library - Several articles on training, technique, and general interest.
  • Swimming Drills - Descriptions of common swim drills you can use during practice.
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