• Background: PROJECT| Week 4
PROJECT| Week 4 is a Girl Scout Gold Award project created by Isabella Cantone in 2020. Passionate about swimming, Isabella was upset when she saw girls quit swimming because of questions about their periods. The purpose of PROJECT| Week 4 is to educate and instill confidence in girls on how to manage swimming and not have their period hold them back.
The website contains questions asked by girls about their periods. The responses are organized by the person providing the feedback.
  • PROJECT| Week 4 Explanation
WEEK 4 stands for one week out of four weeks that women get their period. Based on a survey taken by female swimmers, 85% of participants were uncomfortable letting their coach know they were on their period. WEEK 4 provides a signal for swimmers to non-verbally (and descretely) tell their coach that they require a break to manage their period. The goal is to have female swimmers more comfortable communicating to their coach without making a scene or causing embarassment.

WEEK 4 is a simple hand signal where you raise 4 fingers to symbolize it is your 'week 4' and you need to be excused to hand your period.
  • How to set this up for your team
  1. If a female swimmer is comfortable presenting have her lead, otherwise identify a female leader (e.g. coach or parent) to present the training.
  2. Modify invitation (see "Links" section below) to send invitation (est. time 15 min)
  3. Modify brochure (see "Links" section below) to your team's preference (est. time 15 min per brochure)
  4. Modify PowerPoint presentation (see "Links" section below) to your team's preference (est. time 30 min.)
  5. Present training to female swimmer (est. time 60 min - video example is available under Materials and Videos below)
  6. Post this website under your Team Website for future swimmers to reference, instructions provided HERE (est. time 15 min.)

    *Recommendation: At the beginning of the season, hand out the brochures to female swimmers ages 11+ so the girls and parents are prepared in advance. There have been many examples of girls not being prepared for their first period and it arrives during a finals event.
  • Who contributed to this project?
The following professionals donated their time and expertise to help girls now and in the future better manage their cycles while staying competitive swimmers. Thank you for volunteering your time and your knowledge. - Isabella Cantone, 2021

Pediatrician Feedback

  • What can help with cramps?
Any exercise is going to decrease cramping. Other things that can help are hydration, heating pad, warm water, and a decrease in stress (which exercise helps with.)
  • Is it normal to have an irregular cycle?
In the first couple years of having your cycle irregular cycles are normal. Sometimes you'll get it one month and then not again for a few more months. Stress, exercise and weight levels affects when girls get their period. As long as you don't have multiple months without a period or it occurs too frequently then you should be OK.
  • Does it just stop when I'm in water?
Your period actually doesn't stop in water. It does often significantly lighten and a lot of that is because of water pressure and the lack of gravity. For health reasons, you still want to be hygenic and have protection when swimming.
  • What age should you start discussing with your daughter? (Parent Question)
Most girls start their period between the age 11-14 so the intermediate age is 12.5 but puberty starts 2 years prior. You either want to start talking to them around that time or when early breast budding has started. That is a good time to start letting your daughter know what to expect.
  • What do you feel is the "right" age to start using/wearing a tampon for swim?
There is no right age. Anyone who has started their period can use tampons. There is no milestone you need to meet. A lot of it is based on comfort that a girl has while using tampons. We recommend girls use the plastic applicators rather than the cardboard ones and unscented for more comfort.
  • "Sensitive" question
Question: Do tampons make you lose your virginity?

Nutritionist Feedback

  • Do vitamins help/work?
Vitamins do not necessarily help your period but they help with your overall health. When you are on your cycle, you lose a lot of iron so a daily pill supplement with iron included may help with tiredness.
  • Should I change what I eat while on my period?
Sometimes you will crave heavy and greasy foods when on your period. It's important to stay with good carbs because they will fuel you and you won't feel weighted down. It's also important to stay hydrated.
  • Are there certain foods that help while on your period?
Try as hard as you can by sticking with your swim diet. Changing your diet to feed your craving (greasy, salty, sugary) may satisify you temporarily but will impact you long term.
  • Are there good snacks for my cravings that won't ruin my food plan?
There are good snack options when you have craving. Popcorn is a good option for crunch (did you know that you can pop popcorn in a microwave with a paper bag to keep it healthy - you can add a little low sodium seasoned salt for flavor.) Adding fruit and berries to a tennis ball size of ice cream (or yogurt!) will help satisfy your sweet tooth.

Swimmer Feedback

  • Do the period swimsuits really work?
In short, yes. The suits are an option if you are uncomfortable using a tampon. Currently, these are not a perfect solution. The only brand in my research that was applicable to use in a competitive swim environment was the RubyLove suit. The suit is primarily for fashion and not for competitive swimming, it is not compressive like a standard training suit. (You could double up suits and have a second training suit over the period friendly suit.) The pad is reuseable, but when resting you will not want to get in and out of the pool frequently. If you are doing dry land you will want to use a seperate pad for each activity.

IMPORTANT: You CANNOT use a store-bought pad in the pool. The RubyLove pad is only useable with their suits, and cannot be used with training (NOR TECH) suits.
  • How do we make this a normal conversation?
Starting early is a great start. What you radiate (confidence or embarrassment) will set the tone for others around you. Having your female swimmer's back and having the confidence that they are watching out for you is crucial (You don't have to be best friends to emphathize in an awkward situation so help your teammates if needed.) Planning early on being discrete in the event of an issue is also helpful (e.g. handing a girl a towel and suggesting she goes to the bathroom.)

The more swimmers and coaches who adopt PROJECT| WEEK 4 will help normalize this topic.
  • I am embarrased to talk about this with my Coach, how do I let my coach know I have period?
First, it's ok to be embarrassed. Know it is something ALL girls go through. There is a very high chance that your coach (female and male) has dealt with this concern before (from other swimmers, to wives, daughter, or even sisters.) You do not have to directly speak with your coach about your cycle if you do not feel comfortable, but you do need to speak up when you need to manage you period. The best steps to work with your coach is to share the Coach's brochure (listed below) to help educate him/her on PROJECT| Week 4 and let them know what it means when you show four fingers to signal that you need to be excused without question.
  • Is it just me or am I the only one who is constantly worried about leaking even though I am using a pad or tampon?
Absolutely not! Even certain strokes (e.g. breaststroke) can make you nervous. First, know that if you are leaking it not going to be immediately noticable to other swimmers. Tampons (at the correct size for your flow) are built to seal from leaks. Also, having your trust group of female swimmers is helpful as they can watch for you when you let them know it's your "Week 4."
  • Do tampons hurt while swimming?
As mentioned by the Pediatrician, cardboard applicators are not the best (but usable if no other options are available.) It is important to pay attention to your flow, tampons will not hurt if you have the correct size (e.g. don't use something bigger than what you need) and correct placement (placed past the pubic muscle; if you cough or sneeze you should not feel the tampon - if you do it needs to be pushed up higher.)
  • How do I change a tampon with a tech suit on, without taking forever?
If you are using a tech, there is not a shortcut for changing your tampon. However, there are best practices when you are using a tech and you have your period. Warm up in your practice suit with a slightly smaller tampon. Change your tampon to a large size right before putting on your tech. Always keep a spare tech available after your meets, and bring an old spare tech in the event you do need to change your tampon mid-meet.
  • How should I plan for swim meets?
Make sure you have tampons of different sizes, even if you have not started. Place them in a water-resistent bag (e.g. ziploc baggie) otherwise the will get wet and won't be useable. Also, a friend may need one so have a few spares. Water is very important so stay hydrated to keep from cramping. A spare training suit (or at a meet a 'dead' tech suit) for backup to be prepared for the unexpected. Darker towels are nice in case you leak because they won't show any red. Mydol is very helpful (anti-inflamatory medicine like ibuprofen.)
  • Does your period affect your swimming?
If you have your period, you may feel a little bloated, emotionally 'off', or simply tired. The important part is to listen to your body and stick with your nutrition plan. Getting extra sleep, or sometimes letting a cry out can make you feel better.
  • I don't want to swim the 200 fly - what's the big deal with me just telling my coach I have my period?

Excuses like this become habits. When you really need to go you may lose your coach's trust (they can count to 4 too.) It also lowers your trustworthiness with your peers because they will know when you are making excuses. If you don't want to swim the event or get out early be truthful and don't blame your period.

Materials and Videos

  • PROJECT| Week 4 Video Presentation


Please note: regarding the period friendly swimwear, the suit WILL work for a full practice but you will experience drag. It is built for fashion and not performance.


  • VIDEO: Pediatrican Responds to Survey Questions




  • SWIMMERS: How to apply Week 4 Technique
It's ok if you are not comfortable talking about your period with your coach! It can be difficult to discussing your personal needs in front of your coach, let alone the entire swim group. This technique is very EASY to use, simply follow these steps:
  1. Share the Coaches' Brochure (see "Links" section below) with your coach. This will give them details of Project 4 (and understand what you are doing!)
  2. If you need to take care of your period and don't want to announce to the whole team why getting out of the pool is necessary, simply hold up four fingers in front of you so the coach knows that you need to handle your personal buisness.
  • COACHES: How to apply Week 4 Technique

Dear Coaches, this may not be a new subject for you but for every girl going though this and for the first time it is confusing and embarrasing. To make this a successful program in your team, consider having an older female swimmer host a girl-to-girl training session to help share that they are not alone in this journey. Share the brochures provided below with your team at the beginning of the season to start the discussion. Finally, be on the watch for four fingers - be sensitive to your swimmer's wish to be discrete about letting you know it is not an option that she needs a break.


  • Brochure Links - Free to Customize and Use
Feel free to modify the brochures as you see fit for your team. HOWEVER, please keep the following information in the brochure:
  1. Girl Scout Logo
  2. Gold Award Logo
  3. United Way Logo
  4. My Name (Isabella Cantone)
  • PowerPoint Training - Free to Customize and Use
Feel free to modify the PowerPoint as you see fit for your team. HOWEVER, please keep the following information in the document:
  1. Girl Scout Logo
  2. Gold Award Logo
  3. United Way Logo
  4. My Name as creator(Isabella Cantone)
  • Training Poster - Free to Customize and Use
The following link has the poster template, with PDF, PNG and AI formats.
PROJECT| Week 4 Poster