My 8 year old son would like to join a swim team this summer. He has been in a swim team prep class for the past 6 months and can swim lots of laps all of the strokes. His current swim school does not offer a competitive team. I live in Oakland and do not want to spent my whole summer driving him long distances, so I am hoping for a team in this area. I am considering The Hills swim team (we are not members) or the Oakland Undercurrents. I would love some feedback on both of these teams. Or is there another team worth looking at? Thanks! Mom of a Swimmer
(Editor Note: As of August 2014, the Hills swim team no longer accepts non-member swimmers.)
We are newish to the East Bay, and had looked for a swim team for our 8yo daughter. Just joined the Oakland Undercurrents, and love it so far. Each of the coaches have been very inclusive and welcoming, as well as positive in their instruction. It seems to be a friendly group of kids. It is also diverse, which is a huge plus in my book. Laney College is easy to get to and from. We will know more in another month or two, but we are very happy so far. Please feel free to contact me. rebecca
My son joined the Hills swim team when he was 8 and will be leaving this summer as he goes to college. He got good enough to swim on a college team. THe Hills swim team, called the Hills Hurricanes, has been a major part of his life. It is a beautiful pool in which to swim and the team is small enough so that the coach can give attention to each swimmer. There aren't very many older swimmers but there are a lot of younger swimmers. The team attends about two swim meets a month although at age 8, he wouldn't have to go to all of them, unless he wanted to. I would suggest you ask if you can observe the swim team practice which is from :15 to 6. They have to be able to swim 50 yards freestyle, one length of back stroke, tread water for 30 secs and go under water from the wall for 5 yards in order to join the team. Karen
Both the Hills and Undercurrents teams are good--both provide solid age-appropriate coaching for young swimmers getting into competitive swimming, and offer a social outlet for the swimmer as well. I would suggest talking to the coaches and visiting both teams to see which one is a better match for your family and your swimmer. Also, if your son has friends who are already on one of the teams, that's a plus in keeping your son motivated and having fun. Your final decision may come down to logistics driving to either pool.
Disclosure--My son swims for the Hills team, but he also knows kids who swim for the Undercurrents. We like the Hills team. It's a small team; many of the senior swimmers have grown up on the team since joining at age 6, 7 or 8, and it feels like family. swim mom
I recommend the Montclair Swim team. The team practices at Roberts Park in the Spring and Lion's Pool in Dimond Park in the Fall. The summers can be challenging as the practice moves to the Soda Center, Campolindo High School in Moraga. But, there are carpools from this side of the Hill. Coach Bill Aden is phenomenal. He is known both, for his stroke technique and for his gentleness in teaching. The swim team families are very friendly, cohesive and loyal to the team. Tryouts are in late March and late August. If you son loves to swim and wants to compete, it is a fabulous experience. Bill's number is (510) 540-8867. Parent of two Montclair Swim team swimmers
We were considering having our kids join a swim team in Orinda or Lafayette and was wondering if anyone knew the pros/cons/culture of any of the clubs? We are specifically thinking about Miramonte Swim Club, Orinda Park Pool, Campolindo, and Moraga Valley. Fishy Mama
We have been members of OPP for 7 years, and my kids (now ages 9 and 11) have been on the team for 3. We love, love, love OPP. It is very time intensive, but it is a team that truly welcomes swimmers of all abilities. It is competitive for the minority of kids who really want to excel, but it is mostly a team for kids who like to swim and run around outside all summer. The many, many coaches are great with kids. The families are down-to-earth. Lots of families from Berkeley and Oakland. The other pools you are considering are also ''low key'' (as opposed to the country club swim teams in this area), but I can't really comment on their cultures specifically. The other thing we love about OPP is the garden-like setting. Lots of grass and trees, and a large pool that is super kid friendly (lots of shallow water for playing). We live in Berkeley but have made many close friends through the pool and I can't wait for the season to start! Liz O.
The clubs you listed have some fairly significant differences from one another. Unless you live in the Campolindo area, you would need to be sponsored to join the Campolindo Cabana Club (CCC). As a sponsored member, you would only have access to the facilities during the time that you have practice - no other social activities or just hanging out at the pool.
Miramonte would be similar but no one has extra privileges there. It's a high school pool. The Miramonte practice times are very working parent friendly - as opposed to all the others that you listed.
Moraga Valley Pool (MVP) is a great pool and also offers tennis. The membership itself isn't too costly and the annual dues were just raised to $1800. Memberships are sold by the individual members to interested buyers on an open-market system rather than through a wait list. MVP is trying to accumulate funds to make repairs and eventually renovate. A vote just failed to assess the members for this work (thus, the dues increase instead) but the thought is that could happen sometime in the future. So there is a bit of uncertainty there but it is a great place. It draws most of its membership from Del Rey and Los Perales families.
Orinda Park Pool (OPP) is beautiful. Probably the most expensive of the ones you mentioned - memberships are sold based on a waiting list and are substantially more expensive than at MVP. Last I checked it was about the cost of a year of dues for the membership itself. I know several families there and they love it - a very tight knit club. Some people like to join the pool that is closest to their elementary school and others think its better to mix it up. I know I have written a novel here, but feel free to get my e-mail address from the moderator if you have more questions. Swim fast!
As you check out the swim teams you are interested in, I suggest that you ask specific questions about number of swimmers/coach, availability of individual lessons, how much pool time is available/swimmer, number of swimmers/lane during workouts, etc. I swim at one of the pools you mentioned. Our team has become very large over the past few years and there have been complaints from swim team families about ineffective coaching due to the large team size and limited pool time available. The lanes seem to be very crowded during swim team clinics and work outs. Also, pre-season clinics will start in April for some teams. not a swim team parent
My 13 year old son wants to join a swim team. I am looking for recommendations for a team in the Berkeley area and information on how these teams teach kids to swim competitively. What have your experiences been at the swim meets? Thanks in advance.
My daughter, 13, and son, 11, both swim on the Albany Armada Aquatics swim team: https://www.teamunify.com/Home.jsp?_tabid_=0=pcaaa. The team is new to the Albany swimming pool, but all three coaches are very experienced. My children have worked with these coaches for more than 2 years when they were the coaching staff at Piedmont Swim Team. Both children have been swimming competitively since they were 7 years old. Helen, Jesus, and Rick have guided them to Junior Olympic time standards, and other swimmers who worked with them have reached even more competitive time standards. At the same time, there is room on the team for less experienced swimmers and swimmers who want to swim at a fitness level. We usually go to meets twice a month. The AAA pool is accessible from downtown Berkeley by BART and bus. AAA is currently holding try outs. You can contact the head coach, Helen Garcia, at helenswim [at] gmail.com Sandra
There's a new team in Albany: Albany Armada Aquatics. Nice pool, great coaches. It's a competitive team, so the swimmers are expected to attend swim meets regularly. David
We have just moved to Berkeley and my 15-year old daughter wants to join a swim team. Any recommendations? Anita
Check out our new swim team, Albany Armada Aquatics. We swim at the newly renovated Albany Aquatic Center. Beautiful 10 lane outdoor pool! We offer 6 different ability groups and are competitively focused. For more info visit our website: www.albanyarmada.com or contact me directly I am the Head Coach. Helen Garcia
Does your daughter attend Berkeley High School? They have a swim team, water polo, etc. Local Mom
We might be moving to Lafayette-Orinda-Moraga with our 5 year old girl. I would appreciate any info anyone can send about swim clubs in the area. Are they just in the phone book and people just pick one? Thanks for any advice you can give. anon
Most people in Lamorinda choose their swim clubs by going to the one closest to their houses. We never joined one, but if we did, it would be the one a few blocks from here. You'll have the advantage of your kid being in the same club as many of her classmates. Also, it is a good way to get to know other parents in you neighborhood. The exceptions are when people belong to a local country club (MCC or OCC), then their kids will usually swim there.
I have a 7-yr old son who loves and is great at swimming. He is in the highest level in his swimming class. I'd like for him to continue swimming but he does not want to do competitive swimming. We live in El Cerrito and I am looking for a swim club or something similar where he can continue to develop his swimming skills but also have fun at it too. Any recommendations?
I highly recommend BEAR swimming for all kids who are interested in being on a swim team. They swim at the Contra Costa College pool, which is not nearly as out-of- the way as it might sound. The coaches are wonderful, kind, and attentive, and the team is a very nice group of kids. They are all very supportive of each other, and they all have fun swimming. The team is relatively small right now, so it is a comfortable fit for younger kids. You can even try it out for a couple of weeks for free! Their web address is bearswimming.org. Lauren
Check out the Richmond Sailfish swim team in the newly- renovated Plunge in Pt Richmond. My 8-year old son loves to swim but is not interested in competing and it's a great fit for him. Coach John works with kids at all levels and makes the workouts fun. It's also quite inexpensive and flexible. www.richmondswims.org/richmond- sailfish Susan
We live equal distance between the King Pool in Berkeley and the El Cerrito Pool. I'm looking into the swim-team at both locations for my daughters ages 6 and 8. Have you (your children) had experience with either of these teams? Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Swimming for Kids
The Barracudas swim team is a great program, especially if the focus is on the child gaining swim stroke skill, strength, and stamina. We like that my 9 y.o. daughter can attend (and pay) as, and only when, she is available. She attended Wednesdays at King during the Spring and until school ended. She started reluctantly and gathered enthusiasm as the season progressed. It is not known which coach will be present any given Wednesday for her level, (middle). Some coaches were really good, none were lousy, although one came close to it. karen gilligan
May I also suggest the Albany Pool swim team? My child is not a member, but I went by the pool a couple of months ago and spoke with the coach, who seemed like a really nice guy and answered all my questions. He indicated that the team was non-competitive, so if that is what you are looking for, it might be a good fit. Kim
My 7 year old is a strong swimmer and is interested in joining a swim team. There was a recent reommendation for the Oakland Barracudas but since we live in Albany this is not logistically feasible. I am interested in finding out more about the Albany Blue Dolphins but the most recent BPN info is 4 years old. Would appreciate any recent info on the Blue Dolphins or other options in Berkeley/Albany/EC. Albany Pool website is somewhat limited and has no Blue Dolphins contact info. mom of a swimmer
The El Cerrito Swim Center is home to the EC Gators a swim team for ages 5-18. We have practices 5 days per week year-round. Our goal is to offer a positive and fun environment where kids can increase their skill and learn to enjoy competitive swimming. There are groups for all skill levels from beginners to very advanced and one of our swimmers just qualified for Olympic Trials. Tryouts are on Mondays at 4pm. For more info check out our website http://www.el-cerrito.org/recreation/gators.html or contact Coach Jerry at jabee[at]ci.el-cerrito.ca.us Thanks! Miriam
Hello, My 7-year old daughter will be graduating from a swimming program very soon and would like to continue to swim. She eventually wants to compete, but prefers to take things very slowly, hone her craft and enjoy the sport without any pressure. Are there any swim teams out there that can serve as an introduction to competitive swimming? I found programs through the YMCA in Oakland (on Broadway) and through the City of Oakland, Parks and Rec. Has anyone had any experience with them? If you can recommend other places and/or programs, please let me know. Thank you. Cheranne
Try the Albany pool. They have a swim team (not sure if they take kids as young as yours) that is not competitive. I spoke with the coach a few months ago and he seemed really nice and stressed that it is not a hard core, competitive program. Kim
Talk to Adrienne at Aquatech swim school at Mariner Square Athletic club in Alameda. My kids take lessons at Aquatech and they are affordable and really awesome at teaching kids to swim proper strokes in a fun, safe and mostly--very professional-- manner. They have teams, too--for down the road. Call the director and ask about your daughter, and what you are looking for. She will try really hard to meet you needs. So happy to have found Aquatech mama!
The Oakland Barracuas Swim Team sounds like a good fit for your daughter. My son began swimming with the Cudas when he turned 7 (he's currently in his third year with the team) and it has been a very positive experience for him, and for me as a parent too. The team swims at Live Oak Pool next to Oakland High on MacArthur Blvd. To visit a practice or for more information, check out the Cuda website, www.oaklandbarracudas.com. Ask Coach John about the Junior Swim League, which is a great way for your daughter to swim with the team for an eight-week period and allows her to decide if she likes it without the pressure of having to make a huge commitment up front. And even if she decides to continue, the time commitment is very manageable for young swimmers, just one-hour practices, twice a week, participation in monthly meets encouraged but not required. Clarisse
Try checking out AquaTech Swim School in Alameda. They are an indoor, year round program with a non-competitive team. I like it because of the positive coaching staff and fun, low pressure environment. You can join anytime and stop anytime, no set schedule. Check 'em out! www.aquatechswimschool.com Swim Mom
My son is nearly 4 years old, and a good little swimmer. As he is a true water lover, we are starting to think about swim teams. What area swim teams (we prefer Oakland, but are willing to travel for the right fit) take younger kids? When browsing the website, it seemed that the Oakland Barracudas start at age 7, but I know a lot of swim teams take kids starting at 5 or younger (we're thinking about for age 5, but if the right team took 4 year olds, we'd be interested, too). We're really hoping for an easy-intro kind of group, with practices 2-3 days a week for the young kids, and a focus on learning skills and being a part of a team. Thanks! Heather
Not sure of what you might find in Berkeley or Oakland, but I do know that you could join one of the many swim clubs in the Lamorinda area for summer swim team. I live in Orinda and we belong to the Moraga Valley Pool (MVP) which has a great swim team (The Marlins). I do know of families in Berkeley who belong to pools on this side of the tunnel b/c it's warmer and sunnier. The pools here take kids at 4 years old and usually divide the groups by skill and age. The younger kids who cannot swim the full length of the pool are the ''mini-marlins'' at MVP. The downside is that you would have to buy into a membership (ranges between $1800-2800 depending upon the pool club) and pay the season fee (ranges from $400-700). Maya
My 6 year daughter joined the Miramonte swim team this summer as we were very anxious that she become water safe as we have a pool at home. I spent a good part of my summer with this team, so I feel I can give a fairly accurate picture of this team. It is in Orinda, and the only public swim club(PSC) in the Lamorinda area. As it is a public PSC, the members are very nice and unassuming, and have none of the country club attitute you see at the meets with the more elite, powerhouse swim clubs. Even though it is a swim club,they emphasise enjoyment of water over competition with the younger set.
The first time my kid competed she ended up winning her heat.She was so ecstatic that we were concerned that she might expect this to happen everytime.Therefore we were relieved to see her coaches congratulating her on finishing her race and never mentioned the winning aspect.
This summer they had a 3 year old kid competing. She got a bit nervous with the big crowd and noise and lanes etc so her coach got into the water and swam backward creating a sort of vacuum for her to swim. There are many young kids who swim all summer and never actully compete and there is no pressure to do so until they are ready. I am sure it is more competitive for the older swimmers as the head Coach is an Olympian who won gold about 20 years ago.
It is a lovely club, all the junior coaches joined there as toddlers themselves. The only danger is once you try them one summer you may not want to leave. I live 20 minutes away, and driving 40 minutes a day several times a week was a serious pain, however I liked it so much I know I will return next summer even though my kid is water safe and I dont feel the pressure to teach her swimming any more. It has been a fabulous confidence building activity and has resulted in my daughter being open to try many things she previously might have not. Good luck! They do have a web site, do check it out. PS: Cost is very nominal, about $400 for 3 months of swimming daily M-F. At the younger level, the commitment is not intense, so they have no problem if you go on vacation in the middle of the summer. anon
Does anyone know of a good after-school indoor swim program or team for 5th grade girls? We're looking in the Oakland/Piedmont/Berkeley area. Thanks!
My daughter loves to swim. She was on a swim team for a while and then the schedule became such that she could not go to the practices. She has not swam for a year and would like to join a swim team in the Fall. She would also like to use the Spring and Summer months to get back in shape and work on her strokes. Please let us know where your child swims, practices and of swimming and strokes instructors. Thank you. Nathalie
I have a 14 year old son who will be starting high school in the Fall at Arrowsmith Academy in Berkeley. He is a swimmer and very interested in participating on a swim team or even water polo. Unfortunately, Arrowsmith is a very small school and does not have a pool nor any water teams. Are there resources in the Berkeley area that I can help fill this gap? I am very interested in hearing if there are solutions out there. Thank you. Dave
Afterschool swim team for 5th grade girls? (Jan 2004)
Albany Blue Dolphins is a recreational swim team that meets every weekday 4.30-5.30pm at Albany's indoor 30 yard pool on Portland and Key Route, just behind Albany High School. My son, a 4th grader, really enjoys swimming with them, and I've seen a huge improvement in his stroke techniques as a result of the individual attention given by the friendly coaches. Ariella
Hi, I have a 5 1/2 year old who loves to swim and was thinking about the Berkeley Baracuda's swim team. I'm not sure if its new, but there is nothing about it on BPN. Has anyone had any experiences with this swim team? Especially for a kid on the younger side? If so, I would love to hear whether your child liked it. What is the quality of the coaching. I was thinking about the 4-5:30 classes at the West Campus Pool. thanks
I don't have personal experience with the Baracuda's swim team (my 5-year old can't make it across the pool quite yet), but I have swum under the head coach, Blythe, with the Berkeley Aquatic Master's team for several years. Yes, it is a new program. Blythe worked very hard with the city to get everything in order and is really excited about having a swim team available to kids. Practices just started up in the late spring, with more frequent workouts scheduled for summer. The hope is that kids have a fun time improving their stroke and working out together as a team, without a lot of focus on competition. Blythe is great with kids and a great coach. I don't think she will be running all the workouts this summer, but she will at least be overseeing all of them. Give it a try! See you in the water!
Coach Blythe is awesome. I swam with her Master's team for a bit and was so impressed with the variety of her workouts, her insight into swimming technique, and her love for coaching. I have swum all my life, competitively for parts of it, and wish that I had had Blythe as a coach when I was younger. She can teach anyone to swim. I can only imagine that her kids team would be the perfect place for a 4 1/2 year old to swim. Bethany
Winter swim lessons for 5-year-old (Oct 2004)
Winter swim lessons and more can be found at Berkeleybears.com, the web page of the Berkeley Bears swim team. In addition to the team they offer the best swim lessons in town and our family of three girls, then 5, 7 and 11 learned more in a few short weeks than we did anywhere else and loved every minute of it. I have watched them teach all ages from toddler to adult and they are magnificent. The good part is if your child takes to swimming they can then join a team and continue swimming year round with in a kind encouraging environment. I can't recommend the Berkeley Bears enough. Jolie jolie
Re: Swim team for 14-yer-old son (July 2001)
My 16-year-old BHS son swims with the Berkeley Bears and enjoys it a lot. They swim mostly at West Campus pool in Berkeley - workouts five days a week. You can get serious and competitive or just get to be a better swimmer. Good coach, lots of fun. My son also swims on the team at Berkeley High, but this team is year round and good for sustained improvement. Sara
Re: Swim team for 14-yer-old son (July 2001)
I highly recommend Berkeley Bears Swimming. They are a local USA Swimming club with age group work outs at King Pool and at West Campus Pool. Daryn Glasgow is the head coach and can be reached at (925) 299-9411 or call the team's administrative manager Janice Price at (510) 527-9233.
My daughter's (ages 11 and 14) have been swimming with this team for several years and my husband, Rick Arnason, is also a volunteer coach for the younger kids. The team is open to all abilities - really! The high school group is a great bunch. They come from Berkeley High, St. Mary's, etc. and some of the kids are home schooled. The head coach, Daryn, is a remarkable young women. She is very serious about swimming and also about encouraging healthy habits.
My kids swim up to six days a week and sometimes twice a day. They attend a lot of swim meets. However, many kids on the team only workout a few days a week and only compete periodically. Either way works. The kids really encourage each other no matter what their level. The focus is on improving your skills and not on beating each other. The team is offering swim clinics (one or two week programs I think) this summer, which might be a good way for your son to try it out. Swimmers are a pretty wholesome lot. The high school kids seem to do very well in school because they have learned to organize and balance their time. Nancy
Re: Swim team for daughter in Berkeley/El Cerrito (July 1999)
The Bear Swim Team works out at King Pool and has different levels from grade school to high school. There are no try outs. It's set up for kids who like to swim and compete if they like. It's every weekday, but swimmers can go as often as they want. Participating in competitions is optional. The team is a private group that works out at King. I don't have the phone number for them but if you inquire at King Pool, they should be able to give you a contact number. My daughter was in it for several years and it was great as an afterschool activity as well as for exercise. Lisa
Re: Swim team for daughter in Berkeley/El Cerrito (July 1999)
Re: a Berkeley swim team. Both my kids were on the Berkeley Bears swim team and loved it. I think it's a wonderful activity---in addition to all its other benefits, swimming builds a comfort with your body that is lacking is other less revealing sports. For more info., call Brian Nabeta, h. 243-1625 He usually returns calls about the Bears swim team between 7 and 9PM at night so be sure to leave a number where he can reach you then. Sally
the Berkeley Bears have several levels--it sounds as though your daughter would be at the Gold level which practices every afternoon at the pool at West Campus (off University Ave). YOu can get the Bears coaches' number from King Pool 644-8518 -- Albany also has some kind of swim team. So does El Cerrito. Kathy
I highly recommend the Berkeley Bears USS swim team. My 15 yr, daughter, Sallie Oto has been with them for 5 years. I think they are the only USS team on this side of the hill. Albany Blue Dolphins has just joined the Bears. There are several USS teams in Contra Costa. Mary
The Berkeley Bears Swimming is a USS swim team. The workout at King is for the younger kids. The high-school kids swim at West Campus every day after school (from 4 to 6:45 pm) - as well as some early morning workouts. We think the team is great. You can get more info from the head coach, Daryn Glasgow, 925-299-9411, or the office manager Janice Price, 510-724-0529. There is a website (which is partially under construction) http://www.isbest.com/bears
Racially mixed swim club around Oakland (Sept 2004)
Both the Baracudas and Undercurrents swim teams are a lot more racially diverse and more affordable than the private clubs. I would recommend checking out both and deciding which is more convenient and feels more welcoming. We ended up with Undercurrents because my daughter has friends from the summer swim teams that operate at the Oakland public pools. (They're the best deal in town: $20 for daily practice all summer long!) Undercurrents practice during the school year at Laney College's pool and can be reached at 594-4309 or undercurrentswimming AT yahoo.com.
The richmond swim center has a swim team for kids- the Richmond Silver Dolphins. The contact # is 510-525-1221 I've been taking our 10 month old for swim lessons and am very impressed with the facility and staff. Joe
Interested in being on a competitive swim team? The Richmond Silver Dolphins, a USA swimming team, practices Monday through Saturday in a new, Olympic-sized indoor pool at the Richmond Swim Center at 45th and Cutting Blvd. in Richmond. Training for beginning to advanced, ages 5-18; learn stroke technique, build endurance and speed; USA swim meets, splash days, water polo & more. Monthly dues from $65 to $83. For information call 510-528-8227, 503-830-1667, or 503-703-2400, or visit the Richmond Swim Center, 4:00-7:00 Mon. thru Fri. Beginning swimmers must be able to swim one lap of freestyle with side breathing.