Northwest Aquatic League (NWAL)
The Northwest Aquatic League, or NWAL, is Texas' largest summer swimming organization and has become the second largest summer league program in the nation. NWAL has almost 100 teams and over 15,000 swimmers from ages 4 to 18. The core area of the league is located in northwest Harris County, from Cypress to Humble but stretches as far west as Giddings, north to Bryan, Huntsville and Livingston and east to Crosby.
The NWAL season begins in early May and runs through the end of June. Teams are divided into a division with 5 or 6 teams each making 17 divisions in total. Some teams have as many as 350 swimmers while others have 45 to 50 swimmers. Typically each team has 5 dual meets on successive weekends, followed by a Divisional meet on week 6. The season concludes with several championship invitational meets.
In 1970, Shell Oil transferred many families from California to the Houston area. These families settled in the northwest part of Houston and wanted to continue the swimming experiences they had begun in California. Five fathers, employees of Shell Oil, got together and established the NORTHWEST AQUATIC LEAGUE. The first five teams in the league that year were Forest Oaks, River Plantation, Northampton, Ponderosa Forest, and Westador. All of these teams exist today. Governing rules were based on those that had been used in California.
In the early days, the division line-ups were determined by a committee of 5 who would place teams according to what the committee believed to be the size and strength of each team. In 1985, Mr. Pete Junkins developed what was called the ‘power-ranking’ formula. Team size, meet scores and season records were taken into account mathematically. As the league became more computerized in the early 2000's, NWAL began using swimming team management software to create the "Big Meet" that utilized the previous years' divisional results, aged up the swimmers to the next season and predicted divisional meets within each region. Today NWAL uses sophisticated methodology to determine the divisional line-ups, based on the above but swimming each team in the league with every other team in dual meets. The total score is summed to produce a team ranking and this is merged with team location coordinates to produce the final line-ups.
Parent volunteers have been and continue to be the key to the success of NWAL over the past 40+ years. In most cases, the coaches are paid but there are cases in which the coaches are also volunteers. Each division elects a representative who sits on the Board of Directors. The Executive Board consists of 7 members; a President, Vice-president of Training & Certification, Vice-president of Software, Secretary, Treasurer and two At-Large Directors. The full Board meets four times a year to set the guidelines for the season. These meetings are open to any interested party, although, only the division reps and executive board members can vote. Each team is then represented at the annual meeting held in January.
Today NWAL is one of the biggest and most successful summer league organization in the nation. NWAL remains focused on our youth through developing a love for the sport of swimming, while at the same time fostering community, healthy competition and good sportsmanship.