What is a swim meet, and how many are there?
A swim meet is an organized and regulated competition between swim teams. The swimming season starts in September each year. There are numerous meets throughout the year, and the local meets (held in Fairbanks and North Pole) tend to be more frequent in the winter months. For upcoming meet schedules please see our web site for details. The Head Coach will also send several emails to parents reminding them of upcoming swim meets.
How do I sign up for Meets?
If you are unsure of which events to sign up for, please contact our Head coach. Below is a procedure for signing up for meet events for your swimmer:
- Login to the website
- Locate the 'Events' tab (roughly half way down the MSST Hompage on the right hand side)
- Click on the 'Edit Commitment' button next to the event you want to attend
- Click on your swimmer’s name
- Click the box(es) on the left for the events you want your swimmer to participate in, and
- Click the 'Save' button (bottom right).
What can I do to help prepare my child for a meet?
Have your swimmer eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, bring a water bottle and a variety of snacks to the meet, and get them to the meet on time. Also, bring an extra towel. As a general rule, swimmers must be on deck 15 minutes before warm-ups begin, which is usually at 7:45 am if the meet starts at 9:00 am. Also, advise them to listen to the coach and to have fun! Cheer them on, too!
How much does it cost to enter a meet?
There are additional costs, besides monthly dues, for swimmers to attend a swim meet. The fee structure comprises a swimmer fee, facility fee, and individual event fees. Costs vary from meet to meet. These costs are directly related to how large/long the meets are. A “meet invite”, which is prepared by the Swim Meet Director and specifies all the details about a swim meet, will be posted on our bulletin board before a meet. You should find the meet fees in the meet invite. Note that fees associated with relay events are paid by the team and are not charged to the swimmer. Usually, a swimmer will see an additional $12-15 added to his or her monthly billing statement for attending a one-day meet, while a three day meet may come closer to $30-40. You may obtain specific information for each meet via our team website. Once logged in, you can click on a meet invite listed (one for each meet) and it will give you information ranging from the location, date, a listing of events, and cost of the meet. Alternatively you may check on the team bulletin board for the posted team invite. The meet fees are added in the monthly billing statement.
If my swimmer misses the meet can we get reimbursed the entrance fee?
If the deadline for registering is not past you may withdraw from the meet without paying the meet fee. However, if the Head Coach has submitted all entries to the meet host team it will not be possible to refund any entry fees. The Coach has a deadline to turn entries in to the hosting team. At this point our team pays for all entries as listed on the meet invite. Therefore, if a swimmer is entered in a meet they will be charged for the events they signed up for, whether they swim or not.
When should we be there on the day of a swim meet?
The Head Coach will inform swimmers when they are expected on deck (usually 15 minutes before warm ups begin). Shortly thereafter, the teams will swim warm up laps, and the meet will begin approximately an hour later. It is appreciated if parents come 15 minutes earlier to those meets that MSST is hosting. This gives us extra hands in setting up all the equipment necessary to run the meet.
How long are we expected to stay at a swim meet?
You are not required to stay past any of the races that your swimmer is committed to. However, sticking around helps build team spirit and friendships, as you cheer on your teammates. Additionally, everything that was set up in the morning, must be taken down and stored in their appropriate places at the end of the meet. It is greatly appreciated when parents stick around (or return) to lighten the load of clean-up (this also counts as volunteering for the meet!).
I see that there are different age groups for the swimmers. How does that work?
The age groups vary depending on the different meets. Examples include 8 & under, 10 & under, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15 and over, and open (where there are no age restrictions). Even if the event is listed 12 & under, awards are still given out within the previous age groups listed (i.e. 8 & under, 9-10, 11-12). Swimmers are “aged” on the first day of the meet and put in their appropriate age group.
What events will my child swim in?
Events for all age groups have two relays and five individual races (free, back, breast, butterfly, and individual medley or IM). Typically, children may swim in 3 or 4 of the individual races in a day and the Head Coach may sign a swimmer up to 2 relays. Your child will swim in races with other children of the same gender, in the same age group. It is a good idea to only enter in 2 events in your first swim meet. This allows the swimmer to get a feel for how a meet is run and not worry too much about being in the right place at the right time. If you are unsure what events your swimmer should enter, contact the Head Coach.
Why are they writing on my child with a permanent marker?
Swimmers are responsible for getting to their own races. While coaches and volunteer parents may be able to assist them, it is ultimately the swimmers responsibility. They need to be aware of how the meets work and what events they are swimming. Before the meet, coaches, swimmers and/or volunteer parents will write “E”, “H” and “L” with numbers on their arm, oriented to the swimmer so that they can read it themselves and know what they are swimming. These letters stand for Event, Heat and Lane. Sometimes the kids write things on themselves with the markers although it is not encouraged. Don’t worry; the ink will wear off in a day or so. We have had good luck taking off excessive writing with soap, baby oil, and/or fingernail polish remover. The ink usually wears off within 1-3 days.
What is a "heat"? And what is a heat sheet?
An event may be divided into multiple "heats" or separate races. As an example a certain event may have 14 swimmers signed up, but the pool only has six lanes. As a result, there will be 3 heats to accommodate all the swimmers and all heat times will be used to determine the outcome of the event. A heat sheet is a schedule of all the events and their heats for a given day of the swim meet. Heat sheets can be obtained at the concessions stand for a few dollars shortly before the meet begins.
Where do my swimmer’s seed times come from that are on the meet entry sheets?
The team keeps a database of all times swum by each swimmer. When the events you’re going to swim for a meet are entered into the computer, it selects your best time for that stroke and distance to use as your seed time.
What is a relay? And what stroke(s) do the swimmers use?
Relays consist of four "legs" with a different child swimming each leg. The distance varies with the age group from 100 yards (four lengths/legs of the pool) for the younger age groups to 200, 400, and 800 yards for the older age groups. You can review a heat sheet to get a feel for where the relays occur in the meet. There are two types of relays: medley and freestyle. In the medley relay four swimmers each swim a different stroke: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle. In the freestyle relays, the four swimmers each swim the freestyle.
Why isn’t my child swimming in a relay?
This is probably best explained by an example. Take the freestyle relay, for instance, in which four swimmers participate. If there are only three swimmers in your child’s age/gender group, then there are not enough to make a relay team. If there are more than four swimmers, but less than eight, then there are only enough swimmers to make one relay team. In the latter case, the swimmers with the top four individual freestyle times are chosen for the relay team. It is the Head Coach's prerogative to form relay teams based on a variety of reasons, which may include such reasons as: best heat times, to encourage team harmony, or encourage a swimmer on their first relay entry. The coach does not need to justify his decision and has the final word in the matter. Sometimes we are able to have two relay teams for a given event. Relays are only offered at certain swim meets and it is the coaching staff's prerogative to select the swimmers and the order/stroke.
If I notice that my child is in the wrong lane, what do I do?
Often there are changes at the last minute that may affect heat and lane for a child’s race. We like to combine heats whenever possible to make the meets run faster, and there may be substitutions because of absent swimmers. If you think your child is in the wrong heat or lane for his/her race, chances are they are not. The timers (volunteer parents) have a list of names that need to be in their lane for each event and heat. Swimmers are encouraged to double check with the timer to see if they are in the correct lane. Remember that what we write on their arm in the morning is not the final word on a child’s heat or lane. The Clerk of Course, timers and coaches have the most current list of where the swimmer should be.
My child has missed practice all week. Doesn’t the coach know that we won’t be at the meet?
No. While the coaches do keep a roster to record attendance, the coach also knows that you committed to be at the meet. Often swimmers are involved in outside activities that make them miss practices off and on, but they still make it back to the meets. If you signed up for the meet, please let the coach know as soon as possible in writing in the case that your child cannot swim (use the coach’s cell phone number on the day of the meet: email may be too slow.) Your child may be on a relay that might not swim if your child is not at the meet. This is particularly disappointing to the other relay swimmers if they are planning to swim and are told at the last minute that they do not have enough swimmers to make a relay team. Also, if you have signed up for a volunteer position, try to find a substitute, or at the very least, contact the volunteer coordinators as soon as possible to let them know that the position needs to be filled.
What does DQ mean?
Disqualification - this can happen for a variety of reasons including starting early (false start), leaving the diving block early in a relay, performing an illegal stroke, performing an illegal turn, not touching the wall with two hands during a breaststroke turn, etc.
Are these DQs necessary? Can't we just have the swim meets be about having fun?
The DQs and the Meet Officials are a very important aspect of swim meets. US Swimming has standards that must be met for our swimmers to be nationally recognized. These standards are up held by the Meet Officials and allow your swimmer to qualify for Junior Olympics, Nationals and, even, Olympic Trials. These standards are also important for swimmers to show their competitiveness when applying for college swimming scholarships.
Are kids DQed a lot?
No. The younger swimmers, especially the 8 & under age group tend to have more problems early in the season, but you'll see a DQ from time to time in every age group. When a swimmer is disqualified, the official will discuss their decision with your child in hopes of teaching them what error was made. If your child is disqualified, try not to get upset about it. Your swimmer will be unhappy enough about it without having your emotions adding to the situation. If you think there was an error made, then discuss it calmly with the coach. An appeal is possible through the Head Coach; however, do NOT discuss it with the officials. Let the coach do that if it is appropriate.
Why do younger swimmers have to go to the other end of the pool for some events?
The 8 & under and 9-10 groups have some 25 meter events. They start from the wall and swim one length of the pool. The timers have to see them touch the wall so they are located at the opposite end of the pool from the starting positions. By the way, it is legal to start from the side of the pool instead of a starting block. You may see this with some of the younger swimmers who are not comfortable diving yet. The 11-12 year- olds and older have all 50 or 100 meter events. They start and end on the same edge of the pool by the starting blocks.
Will my child swim with others his/her own age? What will they do during the season?
MSST is a team of almost 100 swimmers, ages 5-18. Your child will swim against his/her own aged swimmers. At practice sessions, swimmers will be coached to improve their swimming skills and endurance. Your child will practice with other swimmers of similar ability. At meets, there is the opportunity to compete against swimmers from local and other area swim teams. The emphasis is on each swimmer's improvement. In meets, girls swim against girls and boys swim against boys.
Does it matter what order the medley relay or the IM go in?
Yes. For the medley relay the order is backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly then free style. For individual medley it is fly, back, breast then free
How can I tell what event we are on?
Each pool should have a sign with the event number on it somewhere in plain sight. Also, the official (usually the person with a bullhorn that starts each race) will announce the event and heat before each race. There is also a scoreboard that will indicate the current event and heat.
Lots of parents have clipboards and papers. What exactly are they doing and how does this help their swimmer?
Many parents record their swimmer’s times directly on their heat sheet. They may use this to monitor their child’s progress. Some parents will also make note of other swimmer’s times to give their child a basis for comparison and/or motivation.
My 6 year old is swimming against kids that have already turned 8. Why?
On the first day of a meet, the swimmers are placed into their age groups by how old they are on that day. Every age group has at least 2 years of kids, so the younger kids in each age group are at a disadvantage. Help them understand that swim team has “off years” for the children. When they are 7 it is much harder to win against 8 year olds than when they are at the top of their age bracket. Reinforce to them that they should work on their personal best times and not worry about their place in the race.
What about good sportsmanship?
This is a great place for parents to help. Talk with your children about this issue. I am always so proud of our kids not only when I see great races where we win, but also when I see us lose and shake hands with the other team’s swimmer, telling the winner, “good race.” Please help make this important to our kids.Also, during the meets, be friendly to the other team’s parents and complimentary whenever possible. It creates a positive environment for everyone. Our most fun meets have been with teams that have this same attitude.
What about food? When should I feed my child at the meet?
That is a little tricky. There is always junk food around the meet no matter how much we try to avoid it.I usually feed my children a healthy protein snack (bananas and yogurt or something like that) right before the meet and bring or buy them something to eat during the meet. If you are taking your child off the deck to buy them food, please make sure they will not miss their events by checking the meet schedule. Also, use common sense here. Please do not feed your child right before they swim an event, especially an IM.
What if I have an important message to tell the coach during a swim meet?
Wait until the coaching staff is not busy and then briefly tell them your message. The coaching staff is focused on supporting the swimmers during the meet so please leave them free to do that as much as possible.
The time on my child’s ribbon is not right. What do I do?
During the process of timing, transcribing, and inputting data into the computer, there are many places where mistakes can be made. All precautions are taken to try and get accurate times on the ribbons, but sometimes there are errors. Sometimes we can go back to the original timer sheets and find the mistakes. Sometimes, however, these are timer errors that we cannot figure out later. If you think there is an error, write down your child’s name, meet, event number and the approximate time you think should have been and give this to the coach or ribbons person. We will look up the race and correct the time if at all possible.