Practices are held for all groups at Audrey Moore Recreation Center: 8100 Braddock Rd, Annandale, VA 22003
Swim Groups Within NVN
We encourage participation in all levels of competition sanctioned by USA Artistic Swimming and the USA Artistic Swimming Foundation. At the coaches' discretion, each swimmer is assigned to a practice/competition group within NVN based upon the swimmer's age and ability:
Official Age. A swimmer's official age is based on how old they will turn during the calendar year of the spring competition season. For example, a swimmer born in 2014 will be considered 10 years old for the 2023-24 season, even if they will not actually turn 10 until later in the year.
Age Grouping Categories. The official age grouping categories are 12 & Under; 13-15; 15-17; and 18-19. A swimmer may be assigned to compete in an older age grouping if their ability justifies it, but no swimmer may compete in a younger age grouping.
Ability Levels. There are three groupings based on ability, with subdivisions within each for swimmers of different ages. All NVN swimmers are officially assigned to one of these levels with USAAS, and all NVN swimmers participate in the team routine for their level and age group: At the Novice and Intermediate level, our swimmers are recreational, officially register with USA Artistic Swimming (USAAS) as “Athletes,” and compete only in invitational and regional meets. At the Age Group level, swimmers register as “Competitive Athletes.” They practice significantly more throughout the season and travel to compete at official USAAS-hosted national competitions.
Novice. Novices are generally first- or second-year swimmers, usually age 11 and under, who are working on basic artistic swimming skills. Some swimmers may skip the Novice level, particularly if they are older and/or have relevant experience. All novice swimmers learn figures, which are basic technical elements that are designated by USA Artistic Swimming. Some novice swimmers may do the team routine in another event, as a solo, duet, or trio.
Intermediate. Intermediates continue learning basic skills and begin developing more advanced skills. Like the Novices, all Intermediate swimmers participate in team routines and may also do the same routine as a solo, duet, or trio. Their figures become more complex, compared to the Novices.
Age Group. Swimmers advance to Age Group when they have mastered basic and advanced skills and are prepared to make a more significant commitment to the team and the sport. Age Group swimmers participate in regional and even national competitions. Age Group is a big commitment for both swimmers and parents. But if you’re ready to take it on, it is AMAZING to see our athletes grow and develop, compete at national events (and even win medals!), as well as develop strong bonds among themselves and with the coaches. Here are some of the most important things to know about Age Group artistic swimming.
All Age Group swimmers participate in a team routine. Those selected to do solos, duets, or trios will typically learn separate routines for each category. Swimmers in Age Group often learn two or more routines because each routine is unique at this level, unlike at the Novice/Intermediate level, where swimmers typically learn one routine and perform it in different combinations. Age Group swimmers do solos, duets, and full team routines; there are no trios at this level.
As detailed in the NVN Handbook, coaches make decisions about which athletes will do small routines (duets and solos) based on attendance and attitude, future potential, and demonstrated artistic swimming skill.
As a general rule, every routine that qualifies for a meet should attend that meet. One missing swimmer can have a major impact on team scores, and it is demanding for our coaches to get swimmers prepared for highly competitive meets. Travel meets can be quite expensive, sometimes require time off from school, and often overlap with students’ spring and summer breaks, so this is an important expectation to understand and plan around.
Age Group swimmers in the 12&Under and 13-15 (Youth) groupings learn advanced figures, while swimmers in the 16 and over categories (Junior/Senior) learn and perform a team technical routine in lieu of figures. At every key meet and for every routine, figures count for half of the final score, with the routine score making up the other half. 12U and 13-15AG swimmers learn and compete individually in figures, with the level of difficulty increasing at each level, as at the novice/intermediate level. For a duet or team routine, every swimmer’s figure scores count toward the combined score. This can and often does make a significant difference in the ultimate placement of the routine, for better or worse.
USA Artistic Swimming has established six Level tests that Age Group swimmers must pass to qualify for certain major competitions, depending on their age. The tests involve increasingly difficult land-based strength and flexibility elements, general swim skills, and artistic swimming skill demonstrations.
Official Age Group Categories:
12 and Under (12U). We sometimes refer to this as the 11-12 Age Group, though competitors at this level can be and often are younger than age 11.
13-15 Age Group (Youth). Includes swimmers at competition ages 13-15 (which in reality means some of our swimmers are 12 throughout the competition season but count as 13-year-olds, since they’ll turn 13 later in the calendar year).
Junior/Senior Age Group. Junior AG includes athletes who are competition age 17 and younger, while any swimmer who will turn 18 during the calendar year of the spring season must compete as a Senior (18-19). In general, most high school seniors and some juniors with birthdays in the fall compete as seniors.
For more about the transition to Age Group, please see this Age Group Basics document.
Not sure which group is right for your swimmer? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and we'll be happy to help!