How many meets are there in a season and where are they held?

There are a total of 10-11 meets per season, as follows:

  • There is a Time Trials meet generally the last Saturday of April.  The purpose of this meet, which is against only our own team, is to record times for the kids in each event they can swim legally, for our volunteers to test out all the equipment for the season, learn their new jobs and understand the flow of the meet before ‘diving’ into a dual meet.

  • There are 7-8 dual meets held between May and early July, depending on when the July 4th holiday falls.  Generally half of these meets will be ‘home’ meets and will be held at Redwood.  The other half of these meets will be ‘away’ meets and will be held at other league pools around Marin.

  • There is one All-Star meet held towards the end of June.  This meet is for the kids in the league who swim under the All Star qualifying times set by the league each year.  (The All Star Qualifying Times for the current season can be found on the website) The All Star qualifying times provide a goal for all kids to work toward during the season. The All Star meet is to honor all the kids who meet the qualifying times goal with the opportunity to compete against all of the All Star swimmers from each team at the same time, in one place. 

  • There is one Championship meet held the final weekend of the season in mid-July.  This is where the true test of a team’s depth and spirit is tested.  Points are awarded for the first 16 finishes in each individual event and for all 10 places in the relays.  This is where a team can showcase its spirit through participation.  Trophies are awarded to the teams that finish in the top 3 spots.


Who are the other teams that Tidalwaves competes against and where are they located?

Marin Swim League Team


Pool Address

Scott Valley Sea Serpents

Mill Valley

50 Underhill Road

Strawberry Seals

Mill Valley

118 E. Strawberry Drive

Sleepy Hollow Sea Lions

San Anselmo

1370 Butterfield Road

Terra Linda Orcas

Terra Linda

670 Del Ganado Road

Marinwood Waterdevils

San Rafael

775 Miller Creek Road

Lucas Valley Lightening

San Rafael

1201 Idylberry Road

Swim Marin

San Rafael

185 Mission Ave.

Novato Riptides


1800 Ignacio Blvd.

Rolling Hills Stingrays


351 San Andreas


What should I expect at the meets?  What should I bring?

Expect a lot of fun for everyone!  A supportive environment, warm to hot weather (most of the time), lots of swimmers and lots of spectators are all key characteristics of a Marin Swim League meet.  We all cheer good effort and we’re all there for the kids.

For some swimmers (and families) the meet can be quite long, especially those that swim in the first and last relays of the day.  Bring:

  • Chairs

  • Sun shade

  • Sunscreen

  • Money for the snack bar and gear table!!

  • Towels (one per event is a good rule of thumb)

  • Goggles

  • Caps (always good to have a back-up in case one tears)

  • Warm clothes or a parka for the cooler mornings/days

  • T-shirts to keep the sun off for the warmer days

  • Games or books for between event entertainment

Please remember that for our home meets at Redwood High School, no food or drink is allowed on the pool deck.


What is the format of the meet?

There are five age divisions and 60 events at each dual meet in our swim league.  Girls’ events precede boys’ events in each age divisions in the following order: 8 & Under, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, and 15-18.  Unless noted otherwise, swimmers aged 8 & under swim one length (25 yards) of the pool and all other age groups swim two lengths (50 yards).

Event #’s

Event Name


1 – 5 

Medley Relay

Each age group in turn.  Four swimmers form a team.  2 girls and 2 boys.  Each swimmer swims one of the four strokes in this order:  Back, Breast, Fly, and Free

6 – 15


Each age group in turn: 

  • 8 & Under swim 25 yards

  •  9 – 14 swim 50 yards

  • 15-18 swim 100 yards

16 – 25


Each age group in turn:

  • 8 & Under swim 25 yards

  • 9 – 18 swim 50 yards

26 - 35


Each age group in turn:

  • 8 & Under swim 25 yards

  • 9 – 18 swim 50 yards

36 – 45


Each age group in turn:

  • 8 & Under swim 25 yards

  • 9 – 18 swim 50 yards

46 – 55

Individual Medley

Each age group in turn.  ALL AGES swim 25 yards of each stroke in this order:  Butterfly, Back, Breast, and Free

56 – 60

Free Relay

Each age group in turn.  Four swimmers form a team.  2 girls and 2 boys.  Each swimmer swims freestyle.

  • 8 & Under swim 25 yards

  • 9 – 18 swim 50 yards


What are the age groupings for competition?

  • 8 & under

  •  9-10

  • 11-12

  • 13-14

  • 15-18


What if my son or daughter’s birthday falls in the middle of the season?  Which age group will he or she race in?

Swimmers swim in the age group that represents their current age as of each meet date.  This is a Marin Swim League rule.  It is possible for a child to swim most of the season in one age group and then compete in the next age group up the remainder of the season.  The only exception to this rule is if the child’s birthday falls the week before the All Stars meet (assuming the child qualified for All Stars at the younger age group) or the week before Champs. 


What are heats?

A heat is basically a single race.  A swim meet has 2 relays (Medley and Free) and 5 individual strokes (Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly and Individual Medley).  However with the exception of relays which are Mixed Gender (2 boys, 2 girls per team), each of the strokes are swum by each age group and each gender.  So there are a total of 60 events in a swim meet. 

Within each event, there can be an unlimited number of heats.  For example, there may be as many as 25 heats of Girls 8 & Under Freestyle or 10 heats of Boys 9-10 Backstroke.  The idea is to provide competitive opportunity for all swimmers.  Each heat represents a race of swimmers for that event.  Swimmers are assigned to heats in the Marin Swim League based on their fastest time for the season and all heat assignments are made by the computer.  The fastest swimmers swim in the first heat.  Heat assignment has no bearing on point scoring.


How long do meets last?

This depends primarily on the size of the teams participating, the number of lanes being used at the pool where the meet is being held as well as the efficiency of the starters.  Typically meets will last anywhere from 4-6 hours on average. However, for younger swimmers, many will complete their swimming within the first half of the meet…so within 1-2 hours.


Does my child have to participate in meets?

No, Tidalwaves does not require meet participation.  However, the meets are fun and even the most reticent first timer often decides the meets are the best part of the season.  Coach Marie strongly encourages all swimmers to try the meets and 98% of the team swims in at least 3 meets per season.


If my child does participate in the meets, does that mean we are committed for the whole day?

Not necessarily.  If your family has obligations on the day of a meet, please note your child’s event or time restrictions within the Meet Declaration page of the corresponding "Touchpad" meet event. Please do your best to choose the events that your child will be able to swim based on any restrictions.

Please consider your volunteer obligations when you can’t commit to a full meet.  It is the volunteer’s responsibility to find replacements if you have signed up to work part of a meet and cannot make it.


How many events can a child participate in at each meet?

Up to three individual events and up to two relay events.  The coaches have final authority for assigning swimmers to their events, however if your child would like to request a stroke for a given meet, please make that suggestion on the Athlete Event Sign Up page of the "Touchpad" meet. The one exception to this rule is Time Trials.  Coach Marie encourages all swimmers who are swimming the strokes legally to swim everything they can at Time Trials, just so they have a base time to compare to throughout the season.  There are no relays at Time Trials.    


How do I indicate my child's preferences for meet events?

When you are logged into your Team Unify account you can click on the "Edit Commitment" button next to each meet.  Once you click on your child's name, you will be taken to the "Athlete Event Sign Up" page.  There you will be able to see all of the individual events that your child is eligible to swim based on his or her gender and age as of that meet date.  You may indicate your child's preferences for the meet by clicking the box next to the events he or she would like to may also indicate, in the notes field above, if a child would like to swim 'exhibition' (meaning, not eligible to score points, but still eligible to pursue a best time).  Please ignore the 'bonus' does not apply to our swim league.


Coach Marie will review all entered event preferences and in consultation with the assistant coaches will decide if the swimmer is swimming the strokes consistently legal.  If so, she will confirm the events for the child, if not she will deny the stroke choice until she feels the child is ready.  Swimmers are placed in relays based on their times and Coach Marie always runs as many relays as lanes permit to provide as many relay opportunities for the swimmers as possible.


On what basis does the coach assign kids to relays?

Coach Marie and her assistants look first at which kids can swim their strokes legally and then look at their ‘seed times’ (fastest time of the season) to determine which swimmers will be in relays.


How will I know which event/heat/lanes my child will be in?

Heat Sheets for the upcoming meet will be posted on the Tidalwaves website usually Thursday or Friday night before the meet.  Additionally, your child’s Age Group Coordinator will be given a report of all swimmers and their Event/Heat/Lane assignments for the meet at the same time.  He or she will pass this information on to all parents on either the Thursday or Friday before the meet. 

Our Age Group Coordinators strongly encourage parents to invest in a Sharpie pen and write this information on the back of your child’s hand the morning of the swim meet.  It helps everybody remember where they need to be, when!


Whose responsibility is it to get my child to his or her races?

Ultimately it is the child’s and child’s parents’ responsibility to ensure the child is lined up for his or her race.  Tidalwaves has volunteer Age Group Coordinators (AGC’s) that will line the swimmers up on the pool deck by checking lane assignments and heat assignments, so delivering your child to the AGC is a great way to ensure your child is in the right place at the right time as well as to ensure lanes are not overcrowded with spectators.


How are points awarded?

The swimmers with the fastest times, regardless of heat, are the swimmers who score points for their team.  The dual meet scoring is as follows: 

Individual Events - 1st= 5 pts, 2nd = 3 pts, 3rd = 1 pt.

Relay Teams - 1st= 7 pts, 2nd= 3 pts, 3rd– 1 pt.

Team sweeps of a specific event are not allowed.  For example if the 3rd place swimmer is on the same team as the 1st & 2nd place swimmers, the 3rd place point will go to the fastest swimmer on the opposing team.


How is my child’s time recorded?

All teams in the Marin Swim League use an electronic timing system.  The electronic timing system ensures that when the starter starts the race, the clock starts at the same time for all swimmers.  To record the finish time for each swimmer, the timing system takes input from 3 separate timers who press a button as they see the swimmer touch the wall.  A manual stop watch is also used as back-up.  The timing system will then use an algorithm to average the 3 inputs and come up with each swimmer’s time. 

NOTE:  This text is old.  Tidalwaves did not use touchpads in 2016 and will not going forward.  Tidalwaves is the only team in the league currently that uses touchpads to record the finish of the races.  While more accurate than button times for most swimmers, the younger swimmers often don’t hit the pad hard enough to stop the clock.  Therefore, our timing system compares the touchpad time to those of the buttons and will often throw out the touchpad time if it is outside an acceptable range of the button times.  This can be confusing to spectators who are not aware of this as they see their child win a race and the score board shows the slowest time.  All corrections are made at the computer desk during the meet and corrected times are represented in the posted results of the event.  If when meet results are posted you feel a correction was missed, please bring it to the attention of the computer desk. 


Who gets ribbons?

Every swimmer gets a ribbon for each event they swim no matter what place they finish (unless they are disqualified).   Ribbons are given per heat.  That is, there will be a first, second, third, fourth, etc. place ribbon for each heat in an event, from the fastest heat to the slowest.


What does it mean to be disqualified?

The stroke & turn judge must disqualify (DQ) a swimmer for illegal strokes and/or turns.  A DQ is an official disqualification of a swimmer’s race which means no points can be awarded for the swim, the time the swimmer achieves is not recorded and no ribbon is awarded.  Only stroke & turn judges can DQ swimmers. That said, in the 8 & Under age group it is the policy of the league to provide a ‘coach’s DQ’ to non-scoring swimmers.  This means the infraction is written up and given to the coach, however the child still receives his or her ribbon.  The reason for this is of course that these little ones are still learning.  To earn points for the team, however, the swimmer must swim the stroke correctly regardless of age. 


Swimming is an individual sport, why does the league bother to keep track of points for the team?

Swimming is indeed an individual sport, but it is also very much a team sport.  Swimmers train together to build camaraderie, make it fun, and to help each other through the “hard stuff” like the cold, windy practice days or that set of butterfly that makes their stomach muscles hurt.  The younger swimmers naturally look up to the older swimmers and the older swimmers are reminded of where they started from when they watch the younger ones.  It is these bonds that create the team and the desire to cheer each other on, regardless of ability. 

The points give the teams a group goal to strive toward—a pride that all swimmers on the team can share.  To win a race or set a new personal best bring a sense of pride, but to win a race that contributes to the larger team’s win brings a different sense of pride…a feeling of giving back to the team.  While not all swimmers will score points for their team, participation in the meets is also a sense of pride for the team—especially at the Champs meet at the end of the season.  Tidalwaves strongly encourages all swimmers to ‘give back to the team’ by participating in Champs in mid-July.   


What if my child is going to be out of town for a meet (or has a conflict with another sport)?  Is it o.k. to miss one?  How do I let the coach know?

Of course it is o.k. to miss a swim meet (we just hope it isn’t Champs in mid-July...)!  By logging into your account and clicking the "Edit Commitment" button next to the event that your swimmer will miss, you have the ability to "Decline" the meet.  You can also use the notes field to indicate partial meet restrictions.  However, there is a deadline of Tuesday night before each meet to decline the meet or note partial meet restrictions.  This is because the meet is seeded on Wednesday night, as per league policy.  If you cannot record your child’s No-Swim, then you should send an e-mail to your child’s Age Group Coordinator as well as to: