Policies and Guidelines

The purpose of this document is to bring to the athletes’ and parents’/guardians’ attention the policies and procedures that govern the club. If you have a question, there’s a good chance the answer is in this document!

Mission Statement

The mission of Atlantis is to provide an accepting, confidence-building, fun, disciplined environment in which athletes acquire physical, social, and mental skills that will benefit them for life.

Governance and Funding Structure

Atlantis is an independent synchronized swimming club that swims out of several facilities. Atlantis is administered by an elected volunteer executive and several volunteer committees. Our revenue is generated by club fees, fundraising, donations, sponsorship, and grants. Volunteers are crucial to the success of our club. It is required that parents/guardians assist in the running of the club.

Team-First Philosophy and Fair Play

Atlantis is guided by the principle of Fair Play in all club activities, whether formal or informal, or in team, club, or individual interactions. Fair Play embodies, in part, respect, friendship, team spirit, equality, tolerance, care, excellence, and joy.

Atlantis applies a “team-first” philosophy to all our programming. In creating teams and designating alternates, our coaches consider the best combination of swimmers for the success of the team as a whole. The club will only entertain allowing an athlete to swim a duet or solo only — that is, without swimming team — in cases where there is no possible option for that athlete to swim team, after exploring the sanctioned options for swimming up or down an age grouping. 

Team Formation

All competitive teams require a minimum of five athletes to proceed. In the absence of a viable team, all efforts will be made to accommodate swimmers, following the Atlantis principle of “team-first” philosophy, as outlined above. Where at all possible, teams will be made stronger with the use of alternates.

Teams will be set based on quarterly club testing results and coach discretion. Team formation will be finalized no later than one month after the first practice of the season. 

Extra Routine Formation

Extra routine placement is at the discretion of the head coach, based on coach and pool resources, swimmer skill, and athlete drive. An extra routine expression of interest call will go out to all registered athletes before the competitive season begins. Failure to meet the deadline for expressions of interest may result in the lack of an extra routine. 

Extra routines are above and beyond the commitments of a team routine. Practice time is outside of regular team practices. Should a swimmer fail to meet his or her full regular team commitments, extra routine placement will be revoked, following team-first philosophy. In this circumstance, the club will pro-rate (to the month) the extra routine fees based on the time between the start-of-season and the date the extra routine was revoked.

Extra routine placement will be confirmed at the same time as regular team formation — no later than one month after the first practice of the season.

Private Practices

Athletes may arrange private coaching during Atlantis pool time. This can only be arranged through the Atlantis head coach. Athletes will be invoiced for private coaching hours at the end of each month. There is a per-hour set rate for private coaching regardless of the coach and including pool time.

Athletes may also arrange private coaching outside of Atlantis pool time. In this case, athletes and coaches are required to find and pay for pool space and the per-hour coaching rate and payment form are negotiated between the athlete and coach.

Inter-Club teams 

- Athletes swimming on inter-club teams must adhere to Atlantis club policies and travel guidelines and swim a similar number of training hours as their teammates, as determined by the Atlantis head coach. Athletes must spend a minimum of 65 per cent of their training hours together. In the case of combo, duet or highlight routines, minimum percentages will be set by the Atlantis head coach. Athletes joining an inter-club team must participate in mandatory Atlantis testing to determine placement. In cases where athletes of similar ability/scoring are competing for the same inter-club spot, Atlantis athletes will be given preference. Fees for inter-club team spots will be set on a case-by-case basis, depending on hours trained.

Fundraising Policy

The Club has two types of fundraising: club fundraising and individual swimmer fundraising.

Club fundraising activities are mandatory for competitive swimmers. These funds offset the cost of one-off events, such as athlete workshops; specific maintenance, such as sound system improvement; or capital costs, such as the purchase of training equipment, which benefit all club athletes. These fundraisers are kept to a maximum of two per year.

Individual swimmer fundraising activities are coordinated by the club and optional for competitive swimmers. One hundred per cent of these funds are directed to swimmers’ individual accounts. Positive balances in the individual swimmer fundraising accounts of non-returning swimmers who have been out of the club for a minimum of two consecutive seasons will be moved into the general club fundraising account or may be transferred to a sibling swimming with Atlantis. 

Club Clothing 

Recreational athletes are required to have a one-piece swimsuit. Athletes that are new to the recreational program will be provided with a swim cap. Goggles and a noseclip are highly recommended. 

Competitive athletes are required to have the following club attire, to be worn when representing the club, at home and away, at the coach’s direction:

Atlantis t-shirt, Atlantis jacket, Atlantis practice swimsuit, two Atlantis swim caps, Atlantis Speedo backpack, and ankle-length black leggings. Competitive athletes competing in the figures event will also need a plain black swimsuit, and a plain white swim cap. 

Athletes will be measured in the fall to size team routine and extra routine custom swimsuits. Custom swimsuit delivery typically takes place before the December break. Samples of Atlantis-branded clothing, including the club attire items, will be made available for sizing early in the season, prior to the club clothing order. Atlantis-branded clothing and team or extra routine custom swimsuits should not be worn outside of club events during the regular season. 

Attendance Policy

Artistic swimming is a team sport unlike other team sports — full-team attendance is essential for practices to be useful for training routines. Athlete absences during the competition season are rare and require coach approval, as below:

Absences for illness or injury:

Athletes who are ill or injured should inform the coach with as much notice as possible if they will or may miss practice, so the coach can re-work practice plans. If the athlete is unable to participate in practice due to illness or injury, the athlete is to stay home. Ill or injured athletes can be a distraction on deck and better serve the team and themselves by focusing on their recovery.

In the case of extended (but not season-ending) illness or injury, coaches may set up a home practice plan or may ask athletes to attend partial practices as they are able.

If an athlete is unable to participate in a competition due to illness or injury, Nova Scotia Artistic Swimming requires a medical note be filed with the competition referee in order for the athlete to avoid penalty.  

Coaches also assess the fitness to practice of athletes under their care, from a physical and mental perspective. When an athlete is determined to be un-fit to practice, which is a joint decision between the athlete's coach and head coach, the following steps are taken:

1. Specific concerns with the athlete's health are documented and shared with the board chair

2. A meeting is called between parents/guardians and the coach and head coach, where concerns are expressed and a joint plan is made for return to full participation/competition. This may include the written approval of medical professionals. As needed, progress is shared at follow-up meetings.

3. Athletes may not return to full participation/competition until their fitness to practice is assessed as adequate by their coach and the head coach. In some cases, athletes may be asked to leave the team for the remainder of the season. 

Absences for school events:

Atlantis prioritizes school success and understands the need for athletes to occasionally miss practice for significant or mandatory school events. At the same time, the club stands behind the idea that artistic swimming — and particularly high-performance artistic swimming — requires athletes to learn and practice excellent time management and to sacrifice social activities to meet team commitments. To that end:

Athletes are expected to arrange their schedules to achieve their best at school and attend all practices. Committing to a team means committing to the practice and competition schedule for the entire season.

In the event that an athlete must miss practice for a significant or mandatory school-related event, the athlete must speak to the team coach well in advance to request an absence. Coaches will do their best to accommodate athletes and allow limited, reasonable absences, but the club expects athletes in return to do their best to meet their commitment to their team and limit requests for time off.

Absences for multi-sport athletes:

Atlantis understands that some athletes choose to strengthen their mental and physical wellness by participating in more than one sport and that many sport seasons overlap. At the same time, the club stipulates that full-team attendance is essential for successful practices and competitions and committing to a team means committing to the practice and competition schedule for the entire season. To that end: Athletes with multi-sport or other commitments may appeal, in writing, to the head coach for limited exceptions to the rule of mandatory attendance.

Athletes who are granted exceptions must agree to make up missed time, in a manner set forth jointly by the head coach, routine coach, and parent(s)/guardian(s). In most cases, this will entail extra costs for coaching and pool time, to be covered by the athlete granted the exception. Athletes who request time off for more easily made up practices (for example, figures practice, versus team routine practice) will be more likely to be granted an exception to miss practice. Athletes who are granted exceptions to the rule of mandatory attendance will be automatically less likely to be granted time off for significant or mandatory school events.

While the timing of requests for exception to the rule of mandatory attendance must be submitted with as much notice as possible, in some situations, it will not be possible for athletes to know when conflicts will arise until late in the season. In these cases, granting time off may be more difficult because of proximity to competition days or because other athletes on the team have been granted time off, already limiting the number of full-team practices.

Following the Atlantis team-first philosophy, as outlined above, athletes who cannot meet full practice, competition and regular team commitments will not be eligible for extra routine placement, and may be asked to swim out of pattern. 

Other absences and family vacations:

Other one-off absences are allowed on a case-by-case basis for major life occurrences, such as the death of a close friend or relative, or religious holidays. Such absence requests must be submitted to the team coach with as much notice as possible. Family vacations should be planned to fall, or almost exclusively fall, during swimmer break periods, laid out by coaches at the beginning of the season. Please note: major competitions often take place during school break times and those are times swimmers must be with their teams. 

*Athletes should not miss practice for any reason within one week of a competition.

Non-adherence to the ASSC Attendance Policy is a breach of the Athlete Code of Conduct and may result in sanction or dismissal from the team.


Prompt arrival at practice, with all gear and in “ready mode” benefits all team members. Athletes should arrive at the pool/facility early enough to change, stretch, snack, and generally be mentally and physically prepared for practice at practice start time. Repeated lateness or lack of preparedness is a breach of the Athlete Code of Conduct and may result in sanction or dismissal from the team.


Coach and athlete time is valuable and practices/training should not be interrupted by inattentiveness. Athletes, with appropriate regard to their age and development, are expected to participate keenly and cooperatively. Also disruptive is the use of communication devices, such as phones, during practice. Athletes must silence devices and keep them stored during practice, unless directed otherwise by the coach. Athletes who disrupt practice may be asked to sit out of practice or be sent home early. Repeated inattentiveness or disruption will be considered a breach of the Athlete Code of Conduct and may result in sanction or dismissal from the team.

Practice Drop-Off/Pick-Up Policy

Athletes who are in the 11-12 age group or younger must be dropped for practice/competitions directly into the care of an Atlantis coach, at the agreed-upon location at the pool/facility. Those athletes must be picked up from the coach at the end of practice from the pool deck, or another agreed-upon location. Please note: coaches are not paid beyond the end time of practice. Please be mindful of promptness. Athletes are not the responsibility of Atlantis Artistic Swimming Club or Atlantis coaches before direct drop-off or after pick-up.

Athletes in the 13-15 or older age groups are responsible to meet their teams on their own and will be released from practice directly from the pool deck/facility.

Inclement weather policy

In the event that a pool/facility closes before practice begins, coaches will send alternate home practice plans or schedule online training (if possible) for athletes as soon as they are notified.

If a pool/facility closes mid-practice, athletes will pack up and go home. Coaches will remain with athletes in the 11-12 age group or younger until pick-up.

If a pool/facility is open during inclement weather, practice is automatically on.

However, even if a pool/facility remains open during inclement weather, the board may, in extraordinary circumstances, choose to cancel practice. Cancellation will also be considered if a pool/facility has a planned early closure due to inclement weather. This decision will be made by 2pm in the case of evening practices, by noon in the case of afternoon practices, and the evening prior in the case of morning practices.

Lines of Communication

At the first parent/guardian meeting of the year, each coach, along with team parents/guardians, will appoint a volunteer coordinator for their team. The coordinator helps ease the coach’s administrative load, making the teams more efficient and improving overall organization and communication. The work is light, almost exclusively email-based, and under the direction of the coach. Duties include:

- Arranging team parent/guardian volunteers for short shifts or canteen contributions at events such as competitions, water shows and other events.

- Collecting outstanding paperwork, tickets and fundraising money from parents/guardians, as needed.

- Facilitating communication between parents/guardians and board members or the head coach, as needed.

- Setting dates and times for in-season parent/guardian-coach meetings.

- Helping to arrange carpooling to meets or airport pick-up/drop-offs, in the case of competitive teams.

- Arranging coach gifts, if the team wishes.

Conflict Resolution

In the event that a conflict between or among athletes, parents/guardians, and/or coaches cannot be resolved by the parties involved, a resolution will be determined by a committee of the board including the President, Vice-President, Registrar and Treasurer. If the conflict involves one or more of the committee members or their athletes, those members will recuse themselves from the decision-making process. The findings of the committee will consider the expectations outlined in Atlantis Athlete and Parent/Guardian Codes of Conduct and will prioritize the best interests of the club. Decisions will be considered final. 

Competition Information

Atlantis coaches will determine which local, regional, and national competitions teams will attend. Finalized plans will be presented at the year-start parent/guardian meeting or may be informally discussed for parent/guardian planing purposes, before this meeting. Attendance at assigned competitions is mandatory for all athletes. A typical competition year, by age category and Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) stage is as follows: 

 10U (LTAD stage — FUNdamentals)

Local competitions — 3-4

11-12 (LTAD stage — Learn to Train)

Local competitions — 3-4 

Regional (within Atlantic Canada) — 1-2

13-15 provincial stream, 13-15 national stream prep and 16&O (LTAD stage — Train to Train)

Local competitions — 3-4 

Regional (within Atlantic Canada) — 1-2 

National (within Canada) — 0-1

 13-15 national stream (LTAD stage — Train to Train)

Local competitions — 3-4 

Regional (within Atlantic Canada) — 1

National (within Canada) — 1-2

 Junior (LTAD stage — Train to Compete)

Local competitions — 3-4 

Regional (within Atlantic Canada) — 1 

National (within Canada) —1-2

 All Atlantis athletes — competitive and recreational — participate in the club’s two yearly water shows. One takes place before the December break; the second at or near the end of the competitive season in April. Spectators are encouraged to attend all competitions and water shows.

 Coaches will provide a detailed itinerary to athletes and parents/guardians prior to each competition. Itineraries are set based on competition packages from host clubs and sometimes arrive late. Coaches do their best to create schedules and turn around information as soon as possible. Athletes are required to follow the coach’s itinerary closely and may not deviate from the set schedule, change preparation plans, or leave early or late, without coach consent. For more information about competitions, and the complexities of travelling to competitions, please see the ASSC Travel Guidelines.