KING 101: What To Expect At a Swim Meet

New to swim meets? Your swimmer’s first meet can be nerve-wracking. The stands are full, the atmosphere is loud, and they have a lot to navigate! Here are a few hints to help you (and your swimmer) survive your first meet:

  1. Come prepared with the meet information. ​
    • Find your swimmer’s events on the link on the King Aquatic Club website. Identify the session they’re swimming in and determine when you need to arrive at the pool for warm-ups. When in doubt, ask the coach. 
    • Arrive early! This will calm your swimmer’s nerves, and allow them to get oriented at the pool before getting in for warm ups. ​
  2. Parents aren’t allowed on deck. This is a USA Swimming regulation to help keep your swimmer safe. Deck space is limited, and there are a lot of wet bodies and coaches to get around. Adding parents to the deck atmosphere only complicates the environment for your swimmer.
    • ​​Nervous about not helping your child on deck? You’re not alone! We’ve all been there. But rest assured, your swimmer will navigate the experience and become independent quickly. Here are some suggestions to help…​
      • Have your swimmer check in immediately upon arrival with his/her coach. The coach will orient him/her about where to sit, and when to get in for warm up. 
      • Have your swimmer find a teammate to help them. More experienced swimmers can take your swimmer by the hand and show them exactly where to sit, and what to do.
      • Write your swimmer’s events on their arm or hand with a permanent marker either before or after warm-up. You can find your child’s Event, Heat, and Lane assignment in the heat-sheet. Marking them up will make them feel more confident about tracking the meet and when they should show up behind the blocks.
      • Show your swimmer where they can see the current event/heat status. This is typically located either on the scoreboard, or on a “flip card” that is manually managed by a volunteer. You can also get a pretty good idea of when your swimmer will swim by the meet “timeline” posted on the website before each meet. 
      • Have your swimmer check in with their coach before and after each race. This helps them get focused, and also ensures they’re thinking about when they should report behind the blocks.
      • What happens if your swimmer misses an event? Don’t panic, and don’t be the parent screaming at the top of your lungs for your child to run up to the blocks! If your swimmer misses his/her heat, have them report to the nearest meet official immediately. Chances are good that the meet officials will find an empty heat/lane to reassign them. ​
  3. ​​Meets are LONG! Many meets last four hours (or more) per session. Here are some tips for surviving a long day…​
    • Come prepared with snacks, drinks, and entertainment (for you and your swimmer!). There are usually concessions available, but plan aheadand bring some healthy stuff to keep your swimmer satisfied.
    • Consider bringing a deck chair for your swimmer, and a bleacher chair for you. You’ll be glad you did after a long day in the stands. 
    • Come early to get a seat. Meets are crowded. Consider setting up a deck chair in a hallway or open area away from the spectator seating. It will give you and your swimmer a quiet place to relax. 
    • Be thoughtful to your neighbors in the stand. This is a great opportunity to get to know other families on the team!​
  4. Watch other kids swim! You can learn a lot about the sport from watching other swimmers, and especially those with more swimming experience. It’s also more fun to watch a meet when you’re invested in other swimmers as well as your own!
  5. Let the coaches do the coaching. This is a tough one, but SO necessary for your swimmer to appreciate the sport and the experience of swimming in the meet. The best advice I ever got was to always tell my swimmer “I really loved seeing you swim today”. No matter what. They will not always get a best time or win their heat, and sometimes they’ll even miss a race or get disqualified. This is all part of the sport, and part of their learning experience. Let the coaches give them the post-race advice. Your job is to smile and wave, and let them know how proud you are of the work they’re putting in. 


See you at the pool!