Squad Structure and Criteria

Squad Criteria

The squad criteria and movement through the squads is set by the Director of Swimming. Head Coach and Lead Coaches. It is continually reviewed, and as the club progresses will be subject to change. The performance standards set are merely targets to be achieved before being considered for squad movement. Other factors will be used by the coaching staff to assess whether a swimmer is ready to move squads. These will include; perceived potential (as recognised by the Director of Swimming, Head Coach and Lead Coaches), training ability, technical ability, positive attitude, behaviour in training, attendance record and attendance at recommended competitions. The club reserves the right to move swimmers between squads on the recommendation of the Director of Swimming. 

Those swimmers who currently train below the recommended number of sessions for the squad they are in will be expected to gradually increase the number of sessions to fulfil the training requirements of that squad. 

Please note: land training is an essential component of a swimmer’s development, and so swimmers are expected to attend these sessions where indicated. This will be monitored by the group coaches. 

At the start of the season some swimmers assessed by the Lead Coach to have near term potential and or having longer term potential may be admitted or retained within a squad on a probationary period of 3 months. The swimmer will meet with the group coach at the start of the season and agree the terms for continuing in the squad. The swimmer must be able to show commitment and demonstrable progress towards the overall squad criteria during this period. This is totally at the discretion of the Director of swimming and Lead Coach. 

Any Swimmer may lose their place in the squad if these criteria are not met and maintained. In the event of the squad being full, swimmers who are not meeting the training requirements or criteria may be moved. Swimmers and/or parents will be involved in discussion with their group coach before such measures are utilised. The Director of swimming's decision on whether swimmers are displaying sufficient commitment to the programme will be final. 

The protocols and criteria are continually being reviewed by the Director of Swimming in consultation with the coaching team. It is expected that the criteria will evolve as the club develops. The director of swimming, in conjunction with the club, reserves the right to alter the criteria for this programme at any time, if deemed necessary. 

At the start of the season group coaches will advise swimmers on what sessions they should attend each week to enable coaches to plan weekly programmes and balance squad training sessions. 

It is important for swimmers & parents to understand that there will be key priority sessions each week that the group coach will recommend swimmers attend. In addition, the group coach may direct swimmers to specific sessions in order to optimise an individual’s swimming development. For example, some swimmers may require an additional skillbased session whilst others may need more endurance development. Swimmers may be advised by the Lead coach to attend more or less sessions dependent on individual needs, age & development; this will be discussed and agreed with the swimmer in advance. 

Progressions in the academy squads

For swimmers to fulfil their potential it is important that they acquire good skills before progressing through the academy. Swimmers’ skill level, session attendance, behaviour and competition attendance will be continually monitored and assessed by their group coach. There may be a few moves during the season between squads but these will only be for those swimmers whom the academy development coach considers ready to move, based on skill level, behaviour, performance and attendance in training and competitions. 

Exams (GCSE and A Levels) 

Swimmers entering an important period of public examinations or similar circumstances and who feel that their training commitments cannot be met should negotiate such arrangements with the group coach in advance of the required period. 


Swimmers should enter the meets recommended by their group coach for their level. There are three training cycles per year: the first cycle runs from September to Christmas; the second training cycle runs from January to April; and the third cycle from April to end of July/August. As a minimum by accepting your place in a squad you are agreeing to commit to each of the mid cycle and end of training cycle competitions. These meets will be highlighted on the competition plan and discussed in the squad meeting at the start of the season with all swimmers Swimmers should not enter any meets outside of the competition plan unless authorised to do so by the Director of swimming or Lead Coach. This will prevent over-competition and interference with training and the swimmer’s long-term development. Swimmers should consult with their group coach regarding entries for all meets before submitting their form to PNSC for entry. All swimmers are expected, if selected, to be available to represent PNSC in the following events: County relay competitions (All ages from 11 years to Open); Regional relay competitions (14-16 years and 17/over); National relay competitions (14-16 years and 17/over and British and English Summer Championships);National Arena League rounds 1, 2, 3 (from 10 years to Open); National Arena Junior League ( 9-12 years). The competitions will be on the competition calendar. 


Within the Junior pathway, a number of swimmers (ages 9 to 11) will be selected by the Director of Swimming and Lead Coaches to access an additional session per week. These sessions can only be accessed by invitation. Swimmers will be selected based on their current swimming level, commitment level and potential to join the Performance programme in the future. 

Holiday Swimmers 

Any swimmers who wish to join our Performance programme during the holiday periods must commit to swim for PNSC in the Arena League or team relays (County/ Regional/National) if selected by the Director of Swimming. Swimmers who are unable to commit to swim for PNSC can access training in our Competitive or Master squads during the holiday periods. Please note: All squad positions allocated in August  are based on results from the following September to August  season. After January, new places will be considered in relation to achieving  county, regional or national qualifying times (or ranking in the September 2022 to August 2023 season). Training ability for non-academy swimmers will be monitored and assessed in training and the results monitored by the Director of swimming . Annual percentage improvement in competition will be monitored throughout the year. 

All ages in this document are based on ages as end of December  unless otherwise stated.