New Parent Info


Swim Meet Information for New Parents


Welcome to the new and exciting world of USA Swimming!  Swim meets are a wonderful way for your children to showcase what they have learned, spend time with their new swim friends, and learn to demonstrate sportsmanship as they cheer on their team.  We encourage every child to attend as many meets throughout the season as they can.


When to arrive:  Age 10 and under swimmers generally swim in the mornings arriving about 7:30 and finishing about noon.  11 and older swimmers usually swim in the afternoon sessions.  Please arrive on time.  Detailed information and instructions for the meet will be emailed the week of the meet. By committing your child to swim you are also volunteering to time at the meet.


What to bring and wear:  Prepare for any sort of weather on meet day from heat to rain and wind.  The only time a meet will be cancelled is if there is lightning.  Bring at least 2 towels for your child and as the weather turns colder bring sweatshirts, sweatpants, stocking caps, gloves and Ugg type boots if you have them.  A swim parka is the best way to keep your child warm as almost all swim meets are swum outdoors year around.  Your child should wear their swimsuit to the meet and will also need to bring goggles and a swim cap.  All meets have a meet snack bar serving hot breakfast and lunch plus snacks and drinks, but we recommend that you bring water and your child’s favorite healthy snacks as well.


Where to go when you get there: The Polar Bears sit together in a team area and we have several team EZ ups, but if you own one you are more than welcome to bring it to ease crowding under the team EZ ups.   Please bring chairs for all members of your family.   Some pools have bleacher seating, but we still usually set up a team area outside the pool deck.


Meet check in:  When you arrive at the meet, look for a table that has been set up for check in by age group and gender.  Every swimmer needs to check in at each swim meet or they will be ineligible to swim.  The first thing your child should do is check in!   After checking in, look for our team area and coaches.  We will gather the kids and help them settle in, do some stretching, and then we will head over to the pool for a short warm up.  After warm up, the kids will return to the team area and await the start of the meet.


Heat and lane assignments:  Heat and lane assignments will be posted on a wall or fence at every meet. After the kids have finished warm up, look for the posting area.   Your swimmer’s heat and lane will usually be posted about 20-30 minutes before their event is swum.  A Sharpie marker is a handy thing to bring to the meet as heat and lane assignments can be written on your swimmers’ arms so that they can easily remember them.   All 25’s (one lap or 25 yards) will start at the side of the pool opposite the starting blocks.  Swimmers will be “staged” before the start of 25’s.   This means you will bring your child to a staging area where they will line up in the order of their heat and lane.  Parents drop their children off at staging but are not generally allowed in the staging area.  For all other events, you can bring your child to the blocks, but always leave the blocks area clear so that the swimmers lined up are able to get to the blocks for their heats.   It is the parents’ and swimmers’ responsibility to get to their heat and lane on time. 


Coaches at the meets:  Coaches will sit in the coaches’ area on the pool deck during the meet.  All swimmers are asked to check in with their coach before their event so that they can give us their heat and lane and get last minute instructions and reminders about their event.  Please bring them back to us after they swim each event for a post swim debriefing.  Parents and swimmers not being coached at the moment should avoid standing around the coaches’ area as to be respectful of the other coaches in the area.


Relays:  Relays are swum time permitting at a meet.  This means that after the meet director receives all the individual event entries from all the invited teams, they put together a timeline and try to keep the meet to no more than 4 hours per session.  If there is enough time they will swim relays, but relays are optional.  We put relays together the morning of the meet after our swimmers arrive and check in.  If we have enough 8 and under boys, for example, and the meet officials decide to swim relays, we will enter our kids at that time.


Below are answers to questions you may have:


What does BRW mean?  BRW stands for Blue Red White.  In addition to swimming in their age group (5-6, 7-8, 9-10, etc.), swimmers are divided into divisions based on their best time in each event.  Each of the colors represents a time standard for a division.  The Blue division swimmers have met faster time standards, Red below that, and White will include NT swimmers and swimmers who have not met the Blue or Red standards.  Swimmers will be awarded within their division.  When they make a new standard they are entered in that division in the next meet they swim.  Most meets are BRW meets so everyone may swim in these meets, but a few meets are Blue only so if your child does not have a “blue” time, they are not qualified to swim in this type of meet.  Beyond BRW meets there are also December and June Age Group Championship time standards and Junior Olympic time standards. 


What is a DQ?  DQ refers to a “disqualification’” and it occurs when a swimmer does not swim a stroke correctly or “legally”.   While no child ever enjoys getting DQ’d, it happens to almost every single swimmer at some point, especially new swimmers.  The stroke and turn judges at USA Swimming meets observe swimmers during their events and if a child swims the stroke incorrectly they will DQ that swim and will let the child know what they did incorrectly.  The swimmer’s time in that swim will not count toward their official USA Swimming time.   Your child’s coaches will never be upset with a swimmer for getting DQ’d, and we will encourage the swimmer and let them know how they can fix their stroke so that it doesn’t happen next time.


What does NT mean?  If your child has never swum a particular event they will be entered with a NT or “No Time”.  Once the swimmer legally swims that event they will be entered with their new best time at the next meet.


Where do I find results?  Results will be posted at the meet in the same place where the event’s heat and lane assignments were posted.  They will be posted shortly after every heat of the event has been swum.  Results for the entire meet will be loaded on Southern California Swimming’s website, a day or two after the meet.  Your child’s individual results will also be maintained in a database on USA Swimming’s website,  Another great resource is the free itouch/iphone/ipad app OnDeck Parent.  It works hand in hand with our team website to provide great information on meet results, your child’s best times, practice attendance and more.  Meet results can also be found on our team website.


Why do I need to time?  Like most youth sports, swimming depends on volunteers.  In order for USA Swimming to accept your child’s new time, it must be a valid recorded time.  All meets will have 3 “pickles” or buttons per lane that timers must press as the swimmer touches the wall.  These are recorded by the meet’s electronic timing system.  In addition, one of the timers also has a stopwatch and the stopwatch time is written down by another timer as a backup time.  Some swim meets may also have touch pads that your child touches as they finish, so there may be many levels of timing and backup timing.   Most meets have 8 lanes swimming with 3 timers per lane.  Every team must bring timers to the meet.  We will usually ask our parents to time in shifts of 30 minutes to an hour.


Does my child get a ribbon each time they swim an event?  Unlike the summer league meets you may be more familiar with, swimmers will not get a ribbon immediately after their event. The meet administrators give teams all of their ribbons at the end of the meet. Usually the top 8 in each division of each age group will get a ribbon.  We will present their ribbons to the kids at the first practice after the meet.  We will also award personal best ribbons to all swimmers.