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Your First Swim Meet
What to do? What to Wear? What to bring?

First of all, Relax!
Swim meets are a fun learning experience. Getting nervous is normal, but don’t let it ruin the meet. You’re probably the most nervous because you don’t know what to expect. Once you go and do a meet, it gets easier and easier and you won’t be so nervous. Just have fun and go hard. Give your best effort, and you can be proud of your results.

Entering the meet

Go to our Events page and select the meet you would like to go to. RSVP and your coaches will take care of the rest! Make sure that you note whether or not you will be going both days.

Your coach will let you know what time to be at the meet for warm-ups.

I’m at the meet, now what do I do?
The first thing you do upon arriving at a meet is check in. Look for our Easy-Up and swimmers in Swim South Bay gear. You will find that most of the swimmers and parents share a common area. The coaches will be poolside under a smaller tent.

  1. Check in - Find the area where all the kids are lined up and they will help you through the process. Your swimmer should circle all the events the coaches chose for them and initial next to their name. They should NEVER EVER "x" out an event without talking to the coaches first.
  2. Talk to Coach - After you check in and put your stuff down near the team, go find your coach and let them know you are at the meet.
  3. Warm-up - Your coach will tell you where and when to warm up. They will also tell you what they want you to do. Typically you will warm up, then do push pace if you are swimming 200’s and up, then do a few sprints with a coach. Please be aware that for the most part during warm ups, push pace, and sprints, the coaches are interchangeable. Please do your sprints and push pace with the coach that is there when you are. Waiting for a specific coach except when directed will hold up the whole process.

Why do I have to check in?
When you entered the meet weeks ago, you said you were coming, but on every meet day you must let the officials know that you are planning to swim. Sometimes things come up and you may not be able to stay the whole day. Or maybe you and your coach have decided that you’re not ready to swim every event you entered, so you don’t want to check in for those events. Do not scratch or X out an event at check in without first talking to your coach.

How do I check in?
Go to the tables. The tables are divided by girls and boys, and by age group. Get in the right line. When you get to the front of the line, tell the worker your name. Once you find your name they (or you) will circle the event numbers you are going to swim. Don’t circle anything that you’re not going to swim. Make sure you watch everything get circled, then initial the paper right by your name. It’s a good idea to have the meet sheet with you when you check in so you can see what the event numbers mean. Be sure you are checking in for the correct events. Sometimes the check in people make mistakes. When you initial the paper, make sure you use big distinct initials. You may need to prove you checked in later and it is much easier if you know what your initials look like. You are your own failsafe. If you get it wrong, it rests on your shoulders.

 
Don’t scratch (when you don’t circle something, but X it out instead, you scratch it) unless you and your coach have talked about it first. Your coach will be upset if you do.

Once you check in, it’s time to talk to your coach and get in for warm-up. Usually your coach will ask, "Did you check in?" Be able to say, "Yes!"

Checking your event postings
As the meet goes on, the events are seeded with everyone checked in being assigned a heat and lane for each event. You need to check the postings to see where you are supposed to swim. Usually the events are posted on a wall or signboard in plain view. Find out from your coach, or go with other swimmers the first time. The swimmers’ names are listed in alphabetical order, so find your name and go across to your heat and lane.

Go directly to your coach and tell her/him your heat and lane.

After you swim a race
When you’ve finished racing you need to do 3 things, and the order depends on the weather:
  1. Always warm down after you swim. Usually you warm down until your heart rate returns to normal, and you’re not breathing hard. Sometimes your coach tells you exactly how much warm down to do.
  2. Talk to your coach. Your coach has things to tell you about your swim.
  3. Get dressed, with shoes and socks. If the weather is bad do #3 then #2.

STAY WARM!

Tip: Most meets have timing systems and you can check what event and heat they’re on by looking at the board after a heat has swum. After it runs through the times, it’ll say 23 7, for example (event 23 heat 7). 

What do I wear?
Dress warmly, and be prepared for everything! You can always take layers off, but if you didn’t bring enough clothes, your body is wasting energy before you race.

Wear your Team T-shirt, sweatshirt, sweat pants, parka, shoes and socks, hat, and maybe mittens. Because your stuff looks like everyone else’s, be sure to have your name on all tags.

What do I bring?
In your swim bag you should pack:
  • Towels (it’s good to pack 1 for each event, and 1 for warm-up - especially on cold wet days because they don’t get dry between swims).
  • Extra suits and goggles (you never know when you’re going to break something or lose something - be prepared!).
  • On rainy days, you might want to pack extra clothes, underwear and T-shirt, in a zip lock bag so you have something dry to change into.
  • Racing suit, cap and goggles.
  • Meets can be long, so bring things to do: homework, reading, cards, travel games, etc. Some people even bring their own tents!
  • Usually there’s a snack bar, but the food choices are iffy. Bring things from home to eat and drink. No glass containers!
Do I have to wear a Team Cap?
Team Cap - If you wear a cap - Yes. If you lost yours you can get a new one from the pool office or the coaches for $5.00.


Things to remember

The coaches are there to watch every swim, so our first priority is to the swimmers in the water. Please be patient when you come over with heat and lane information. If we can, we’ll talk to you right away, otherwise we’ll ask you to wait. For the coaches, the meet is like a 3-ring circus with people coming to give heats and lanes, people in the water, and people coming after swims to get feedback. We can’t go into long discussions about everything, so if we are short with you please understand and maybe ask another swimmer a general question. The coaches aren’t the only ones with the answers (but we are here to help in any way we can!).

Relays

Our relay policy is the fastest four swimmers that day are in the A relay. Sometimes coaches have to make decisions based on intuition. We take into account how people have been swimming, if they have been sick, and who has been coming to practice. But our goal is to put together what we believe is the best relay that day.

Free Relays are obvious, everyone swims free; but Medley Relays (the order is back, breast, fly, free) can be weird. You may not be swimming what you think is your best stroke, but the coaches have figured out the fastest relay. So trust us!

Leaving the Meet
After your last event of the day, you are welcome to leave the meet. Please make sure you tell your coach before you leave. If the meet ends in relays, make sure you are not swimming in a relay before you go. It is very disappointing to the other 3 swimmers to be ready for a relay only to find that the fourth swimmer went home already.

At some meets you will be asked to stay until the end, even after you are done. Typically at Championships Meets and qualifier-only events, you are expected to stay and cheer for your teammates. This will help their performance and when you swim they will cheer for you! It is important to show team spirit. Our spirit helps us swim fast and sets us apart from other teams!

Good luck, race well and have fun!