Meet Tips

Here are a few tips to make your first swim meet a success

Don't just take our word for it.  Click here for a related article

  • Sit with other SPA Families:  More experienced families are often glad to help new swimmers through their first meet.  Don't be afraid to sit with a group of more experienced families and ask LOTS of questions.  If you have a mentor family assigned to you, ask if you can sit with them at your first meet.
  • Buy a Heat Sheet!  Having a heat sheet is the only way you will know what heat and lane your swimmer will be in.  Since you don't sign up for relays, it's also the only way to know if your swimmer is in any relays.   Not having a heat sheet is kind of like driving across the country without a map!
  • Watch the scoreboard.  Most scoreboards at swim meets will display the event and heat they are currently swimming.  By watching the scoreboard closely, you will know when it's time to get your swimmer ready to get down to the deck.
  • Be there for Warm-Ups:  Warm-ups are very important, and it's not worth skipping warm-ups to get a few more minutes of sleep.  Without a proper warm-up, swimmers will not perform at their best and may injure themselves.  Warm-ups are also a time the coaches can verify that all swimmers in relays are at the meet and ready to go.  Don't just take our word for it.  Click here for a related article.
  • For your first 500 - Get a Counter:  When swimmers compete in a 500 yard race or longer, they will need to provide their own lap counter.   This person, usually another swimmer on your team, sits at the far end of your lane and uses a counter to let the swimmer know where they are in the race.  Some counters also "shake" the counter more to tell the swimmer they need to make up time, and less to tell them they are on pace.  Swimmers should practice counting a 500 before being a counter at a swim meet.  If you are a counter for another swimmer, GET DOWN TO THE DECK WELL BEFORE THE RACE!  Swimmers get very worried if their counter isn't down on the deck until right before the race starts.  This added stress can have a negative impact on the swimmer's performance in the race.  If you are counting, be early and make sure the swimmer knows you are there and ready to go.
  • Stay hydrated and eat something.  Swim meets can last several hours.  most larger meets have a morning and afternoon session, but you should make sure to have enough food and water to keep up your energy during the meet.  For more information on nutrition, see the Coaches Corner articles on this website.
  • Swimmers need to talk to their coach:  Both before and after each race, swimmers should go talk to their coach.  Before the race, the coach will give your swimmer things to focus on during the race.  After the race, the coach will visit with the swimmer about how they did.  This feedback is very important.
  • Don't Coach from the Bleachers:  Let's face it - your swimmer can't hear you anyway!   Most swimmers don't hear their parents yelling from the bleachers, and don't pay attention to the "coaching" some parents give from the bleachers.  SPA has excellent coaches, and they will work with your swimmer on race strategy.  Instead, CHEER!
  • Encourage your swimmer:  Every swimmer will have good and bad races, sometimes in the same day!  After a race, ask the  swimmer how they think they did.  Remember, your swimmer will participate in MANY races over their swimming career, and some races will be better than others.  Celebrate the great races, and be supportive during the hard ones.
  • Being Disqualified is part of swimming:  Most swimmers will get disqualified from a race once and a while.  Swimmers can be disqualified for a variety of reasons.  If your swimmer is disqualified, the stroke judge should give her a disqualification sheet.  Have your swimmer bring that slip to her coach so they can discuss what went wrong.  Some swimmers get very upset when they get disqualified.  As a parent, be supportive and remind them that being disqualified are just a normal part of swimming.  As swimmers move up in the practice groups, disqualifications occur less frequently.