Osprey Aquatics FAQ

Questions About Swimming Meets

Meets are an important part of swimming on a team. Not only do you get to track your progress, but you help your team.


How many events can my child swim in at the meet?

This totally depends on the meet. Each different level meet has different restrictions. The best way to find out is to read the meet sheet.

Can I request what strokes my child will compete in at the meet?

Typically the coach has a plan for each swimmer. The choice of events is led by the coach and the swimmers goals. Parents should ask the coach if they are uncertain as to what events to sign a swimmer up for.

What if I can't make a meet?

If you canít make it, you canít make it. If it is a question of "is this a meet I can miss", speak to your individual coach. Each coach has a plan for each swimmer and not all plans include every meet. Some meets are very important in the plan and to miss a target taper would be something to be avoided if possible.

How do I get directions to an away meet?

Directions to the meet are almost always available on the meet sheet. Other places to look would be Map Quest or AAA

When do I have to be at a meet?

Your coach will let you know the time you are expected to be in the water for warm ups. Warm ups are an essential part of the meet and should always be attended. The coaches like to stagger the times so that all swimmers are not ready to sprint or do push pace at the same time. Please adhere to the timeline the coaches expect, it helps everyone in the process.

Are swimmers required to wear a team suit and swim cap?

Swimmers are required to wear a team cap and suit while racing. If a team suit for some reason is not available a navy blue suit will suffice.

How long does a meet take and do we need to stay for the entire meet?

Most meets take 7-8 hours per day including warm ups. In general swimmers are not asked to stay till the end of a meet. However, there are some team meets where it is important for everyone to stick around until the end. Zones is such a meet, and the same goes for championship meets with relays.

Do I need to go to a meet if it is raining or if rain is expected?

Meets go on rain or shine. If you are signed up to swim a meet, the weather is not a reason to stay home. You can learn how to handle the elements by talking to other swim families.

What should your child eat before and during a meet?

First it is important to stay hydrated. Swimmers should drink plenty of water before the meet. If they are not hydrated when they arrive at the meet they can never make up for it at the meet. Also, it is important to avoid sugar at the meet. Drink plenty of water and juicie. Eat fruit, bagels, english muffins, and other high carb foods. Avoid foods high in fats.

Why is the time I saw on the scoreboard different than the time shown on the report?

The primary reason for this is some type of problem with the timers or timing equipment at the meet. The issue might impact all lanes or limited numbers of lanes or some type of malfunction may necessitate the use of the backup time on the stopwatch. If there is a problem with the electronic timer, then one of the meet officials - the Head Timing Judge - has the responsibility of correcting the problem at the meet.

It is also sometimes the case that anxious parents or swimmers may make a mistake in noting their time, mistake their time for that of another swimmer, etc. In any event, the time shown on the meet reports on our site and on the Pac swim site is considered the official time for both Osprey and the Pac swim organization.

How do I enter a meet?

In order to register for a meet, it is necessary to fill out an entry form, called a SAMMS card. An example of a properly filled out form is included below. Some critical things to remember:

The entry time should be determined by using the fastest time achieved by the swimmer in a USA Swimming sanctioned event. This must take into account both the times achieved in that event (for example: 100 yard Freestyle (Short Course)) and the converted time from the equivalent events, (100 meter Freestyle (Long Course)). Formulas for converting times are included below. In a pinch, use the slowest time that qualifies the swimmer for the event, (i.e. the slowest "B" time at a "B/A+ Meet"). If the swimmer has never competed in a particular event, ask the coach to provide an "estimated time." Parents should not be deciding that their child can swim in an A+ meet or even a B/A+ meet if they have no time, without the coaches approval.

More and more meets are allowing for on-line meet entries. The web site for meet entries will be found on the meet sheet. If the team hosting the meet is using Swim Connection for meet entries, then your swimmer's times can be automatically entered. However, you should still verify that the times are correct, in particular if the fastest time for a particular event is a converted time or was swum in a previous season.

** Unless a meet accepts 'no time' entries, it is not a good idea to enter "No Time" for an event. Many meets reject this type of entry and consequently fail to register the swimmer for that event.

What must I do at a meet?

Wait... and wait... and wait... But seriously, swim meets are a great family experience! They are a place where the whole family can spend time together. Listed below are some guidelines geared to help you through your first couple of swim meets.

Before the Meet Starts

What is the "Four-Hour Rule?"

USA Swimming Rules & Regulations state:

205.3.1 F - With the exception of championship meets, the program in all other age group competition shall be planned to allow the events for swimmers 12 years and younger to be completed in four (4) hours or less for a timed finals session or in a total of eight (8) hours or less per day for a preliminaries and finals meet.

Because of the popularity of Swimming in our area, this rule makes it very difficult to host a meet. In order to comply with this rule, teams often:

  1. Impose a "Cap" on the meet, (limit the meet to a certain number of swimmers)
  2. Choose shorter events
  3. Require minimum or maximum qualification times (such as "C/B" or "AA+")
  4. Limit the number of events for each competitor
  5. Rule that swimmers may swim the first or last event, (but not both)
  6. Require a "Scratchdown"
  7. Swim from both ends
  8. Swim two courses (Odd & Even Heats or Events)
  9. Swim "Two-to-a-lane"
  10. Do "Dive-Over" starts
  11. Split the meet into two sessions by age group
  12. Split the meet into two venues

Meet hosts are required to monitor and project a meet timeline based on the entries they receive. They must reject all entries received after it becomes apparent that the 4-hour rule has been exceeded. This is the reason why our team's entries are sometimes returned.

What is a "Scratch Down?"

Sometimes meets get too large. If the Referee and the Meet Director determine that the meet will run too long, they can require that swimmers choose the three or four events that they most want to swim and scratch the rest. That is, they must "Scratch Down" to three events. Scratch Downs cause a great deal of confusion at a meet. Often, scratch downs are announced on the first morning of the meet. Just when the athletes should be checking in and warming up, they are told that they must scratch down. They must find their coach, choose the events that they want to swim and get back in line to check in. If you know that a scratch down is required, discuss this with your coach in advance.

Pacific Swimming rules require that "Scratch Downs" apply equally to both genders and all age groups. Referees rarely require that an athlete scratch to fewer than three events. You are entitled to an immediate cash refund for all mandatory scratches. Meet hosts often offer a coupon for use at the snack bar. You may accept this but they are required to give you cash if you request it.

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