Yellow Group Handbook


Hello Yellow Groupers! I am excited for another year of training and fun! Welcome to our newest Yellow Group swimmers; and welcome back to our returning members, we’re excited to have you all here. The goal of this handbook is to help you all understand what Yellow Group is, what Yellow Group is aimed to do, and provide both swimmers and parents with important information for the year. If you have any questions, please direct them to Coach Dan


Contact Information:

Email:,  Swimmers writing by email must cc a parent, as per USA Swimming’s MAAPPS policy.


*Please note that current MAAPPs hours for swimmer-coach contact are from 5:00am to 9:00pm.


Description: Yellow group is designed for upper elementary school ages and middle school aged athletes who can demonstrate an intermediate knowledge of stroke technique and racing skills. The primary emphasis of this group is to give the swimmers detailed stroke technique improvements, begin moderate volume endurance training, and develop an understanding for splits, race plans, and race analysis. Swimmers will learn that training and competing with teammates is fun and rewarding. 


Group objectives:

  • Learn correct stroke biomechanics and mechanical habits in a more detailed manner

  • Build the foundation of an aerobic base

  • Analyze splits and race strategy at an intermediate level

  • Understand and begin to apply the mental aspect of training and race preparation, including visualization

  • Develop greater body awareness and begin basic strength training in out-of-water settings; learn the applications of those exercises to in-water swimming 

  • Develop and embody the ideals and values that shape Albany Armada Aquatics

Age range: 9-13

Times per week: Swim: 5x per week, Dryland: 1x per week

Yardage: approximately 2000-3000 yards per 1.25 hr practice



Attendance: Yellow Group swimmers are expected to attend 60% or 3 out the 5 available practice sessions, including goal-setting and drylands. Though swimmers are only expected to attend 60%, swimmers with the desire to transition to Junior Group are expected to attend 100% of the available practices. A swimmer-parent-coach meeting will be initiated should a swimmer begin to accumulate high amounts of excused or unexcused absences across swimming, dryland, and goal-setting. 

  • Unavoidable one-time conflicts: If there is an unavoidable conflict with practice time, such as a school meeting or doctor’s appointment, please communicate your absence and the reason why to Coach Dan in writing the day before. If you will be missing a goal-setting meeting, please check in with Coach Dan about what was covered. 

  • Illness: If you are actively ill, have a fever or stomach problems, or some other infectious disease, please stay at home and send a message about your absence to Coach  Dan.

  •  Injury: If you have any injury that you feel might hinder your dryland or swimming performance, such as a twisted ankle, please communicate with Coach Dan; it’s likely we’ll be able to find a substitute exercise so that you can still participate. 

  • Long-term regular conflicts: If you anticipate having a long-term regular conflict for any duration of time, please have a parent contact Coach Dan. 


Meet Participation: Yellow Group swimmers are required to attend all of the practice meets and time trials we offer. When signing up for events, please check in with Coach Dan about focus events. Note that 11-14 swimmers in Yellow are expected to sign up for 100s and 200s, not only 50s and the 100 IM. All swimmers in attendance must fill out a pre-race worksheet and a post-race worksheet. The pre- and post-race worksheets can be found in Swimmers Corner.


Compliance forms: All swimmers and parents must comply with the AAA Code of Conduct at all times (swimmers linked here, parents linked here). Code of Conduct breaches can result in suspension or immediate dismissal from the team. 


Equipment List:

Swimmers are required to be prepared with all equipment everyday of practice. There is limited on-deck storage so Yellow group swimmers are required to take equipment to and from practice everyday. 

  • Fins--recommended pair linked here

  • Kickboard--recommended one linked here

  • Snorkel--recommended one linked here

  • Pull buoy--recommended one linked here

  • Mesh bag (optional)-- recommended one linked here 

  • Water Bottle 

  • Swim Folder or Binder (for goal-setting documents) 

If you do not have the required gear, please order any missing items as soon as possible. If that is not feasible for your family, please communicate with the coaches and we will figure out a way to get you the missing gear. If a swimmer is consistently coming to practice without the required gear, a swimmer-parent-coach meeting will be called to understand the issue. 


Yellow Group Glossary


Catch: The pull; the part of the pull that happens against the water. 

Championship finish: Four-step finish. 1) No breath from the flags into the wall. 2) Finish deep, don’t gutter grab. 3) Extend into the wall. 4) Kick hard. 

Down / crossover kick: The kick in freestyle and backstroke that occurs at the same time the hand is pulling. In freestyle, the left arm is pulling while the right leg is kicking, and vice versa, which creates a crossbody connection. In backstroke, the left arm is pulling while the left leg is kicking, and vice versa. 

Decompression: Opening up the ribcage--moving the ribs away from the pelvis--to take a breath that allows you to engage more of your core. 

Engage/activate/turn on: Synonyms for flexing muscles, i.e., engage your core, activate your lets, etc. 

Early vertical forearm (EVF):  The initial catch phase of every stroke where the shoulder, lat, and bicep muscles are activated and the elbow pops up, allowing the forearm and the hand to get into a 90 degree position to push water behind you.

Foot touch: Finishing with a turn instead of with your hands. All race pace work is done to a foot touch.

Gear-shifting: Changing speeds at different points in a set, distance, or race. You gear-shift by rotating faster in freestyle in backstroke, initiating your roll sooner in fly, and lifting your heels quicker in breaststroke. You can also accelerate into the wall to use the turn to gear-shift.

Negative split: Last half of your race is faster than the first. Even split means both halves of your race were the same time. 

Race pace: Your goal splits for any distance, usually expressed as a 50 or 100 time. 

Recovery: The activities of self-care that you perform outside the water. 

Sculling: the action of applying pressure to the water in a tight sweeping motion. Works on finding powerful catch positions in each stroke. 

Splits: The pace it takes to go your goal time in any given race. Splits can be any distance--25s, 50s, 100s, 500s. 

Drill Index




Body position kick: Hands in 11 position. Kick in the roll-snap rhythm. 

Underwater recovery: Start with hands in 11 position. Chest press, then catch with the hands and snap the feet. Hands slide under the water back into 11 position. 

Flutterbutter: Flutter kick with butterfly arms. Work soft landing with hands and X-shaped pull pattern.

1-arm: One arm at side, one arm straight out in front. Chest press, then pull with front arm, snap legs, and recover. Use your arm at the side to get the chest deep during the press; having both arms in front makes the chest press more shallowly. 

2-2-2: Two right arm strokes, two left arm strokes, two full strokes. Notice if the connection point of the pull & snap breaks down during the arm-switching. 




Rotation kick: Hands at side. Five kicks on side and then a crossover kick. Use the crossover kick to initiate the turn of hips and shoulders. Shoulder should finish underneath chin. Don’t forget to engage core. 

2-beat/4-beat kick/6-beat kick: 2-beat kick is one kick per arm stroke. 4-beat kick is two kicks per arm stroke, with kicks 1 & 2 coming from one leg and kicks 3 & 4 coming from the other leg. 6-beat kick is three kicks per arm stroke, alternating one kick from each leg. If you’re doing 2-beat, both kicks will be crossover kicks; in 4-beat, kicks #2 and #4 are the crossover kicks; in 6-beat, kicks #3 & #6 are the crossover kicks. 

1-arm: Start in side position. Lift and pull with one arm, making sure to connect the finish of the catch and the crossover kick. One shoulder should come out of the water as you begin the catch, and then the other shoulder should come out of the water as you finish the catch.

Backstroke w/ a dolphin kick: Works on connecting the hand and the foot and establishing tempo. 

Teacup drill: Recover with your fingers making the “ok” sign, as though you’re holding a cup of tea with three fingers out. Land with pinky in the water first, rotate shoulder up to chin. 




Separation breaststroke: Arms pull while the legs stay straight and together, then legs kick while the arms and head remain in a “shoot position.” 

Breaststroke w/ a dolphin kick: Works on getting chest to press after shoot, and hips to come in towards the hands during stocks position and then out of the water after shoot. 

2-kick breaststroke: Done with two breaststroke kicks or one dolphin + one breaststroke. First variation works on a streamlined shoot position, second works on establishing hip movement.

Breaststroke pull on a kickboard: Works stocks position and EVF. 

Breaststroke w/ a flutter kick: Six kicks in the shoot position, six kicks through the outsweep position, and six total kicks through the catch and shoot. Works the fast shoot.




2-beat/4-beat/6-beat kick: see same entry for backstroke. 

Kickboard drill: Kickboard between legs. As one hand enters the water, the other finishes the stroke and then taps the part of the kickboard that’s above the water.  

Fingertip drag: Drag fingertips along the surface of the water during the recovery, keeping elbow pointed to the sky. 

10-count freestyle: Start on side position. Two counts with elbow slightly lifted out of water; move elbow between side and head and hold for two counts; move elbow directly over head and hold for two counts; move elbow in front of head and hold for two counts; then allow hand to enter the water and pull with the opposite arm. 

6-kick switch: Start in side position and kick six times. Seventh kick is a crossover kick and a stroke.

Pendulum drill: Move elbow directly above head, then bring the hand back towards side without moving the elbow. Then move the hand back out in front of the elbow and enter the water.

Sharkfin: Pause with elbow slightly in front of head. 


Links & Literature

Important links: The team website. Use the AAA Schedule tab to see the practice schedule; use the Events & Calendar to find out more information about meets or team events, including meet sheets and job sign ups.  

Swimmer’s Corner. Shared Google Drive where the pre-race, post-race, and goal-setting worksheets live. Meet and practice results are also be there, as are meet and time qualifying standards. Swimmer’s Corner is organized by year (i.e., 2021-2022) and then by season (Fall 2021). Ask Coach Miriam to be added to the GDrive.   

USA Swimming Individual Times Search: Search engine that pulls up all the times you’ve ever swum at sanctioned meets. Click “Show only fastest by event” in search tool to show only your best times ever. Great resource for seeing news from the LSC, as well as top times and time standards.


Recommended reading, if you’re interested:

Four Champions, One Gold Medal by Chuck Warner: The best book about distance swimming ever. 

Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox: One of the most accomplished female open water swimmers of all time. If you think the Albany pool is cold, read this. 

Young Woman and the Sea by Glenn Stout: Inspiring story about the first woman to swim the English Channel while setting both women’s and men’s records in the process. 

Why We Swim by Armada parent Bonnie Tsui: A bigger picture look at what the water can be for us beyond goals and times. 

The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothey Gallwey: How-to guide to being nonjudgmental about your performance, which unlocks your brain’s ability to learn and grow. 

Mindset by Carol Dweck: Growth mindset bible.