Short-Course Swim Venue Guide
A compilation of the collective wisdom and experience of our swim team families.
This guide has been designed for both new and not so new swim team families who are trekking across the state to various swim meets. Our goal is to make the swim meet experience as enjoyable as possible. Please consider this guide a work in progress. We look forward to regularly updating the information with your help.
General Tips: Spectators and swimmers should dress in layers as it is hard to know how comfortable the temperature will be. Remember to bring healthy snacks for your children as well as water and a folding chair. Spectators might want to bring a chair cushion. Meet entry sheets are available for sale at the concession stand. These sheets list the swimmers for each event. The list goes from fastest to slowest but, except for distance races, the heats are swum from slowest to fastest. Usually there is a swim supply shop that has set up a booth in the lobby so you can purchase any additional equipment that you may need. If you are timing, make sure to sign in on the pool deck wherever the timing assignments are being taken and listen for the announcement for the timers briefing meetings. Periodically, the results of the races are posted on the walls to keep an eye out. Remember that your children will be acutely aware of your presence. Please remind your swimmer to focus on the coach and the races they will be swimming.
A parent favorite venue for a swim meet for a variety of reasons. Chelsea Piers has a couple of nice food options - one of which is quite healthy - comfortable seating outside of the pool stands, and a bar area. Chelsea Piers, or CPAC, has the ability to run both short course (25yd) and long course (50m) events.
The Wilton meet is the first swim meet of the short-course season and is typically attended by many Weston swimmers Its close proximity to Weston makes it an easy choice for most parents. As an early season meet, there can be a large number of swimmers, particularly in the younger age groups, so the meet can feel especially long. However, the large number of Weston swimmers makes it a fun experience that can be filed with lots of team spirit. Wilton has a 50-meter pool that is divided into two short-course pools with a bulkhead. Two separate age groups (e.g., 10 and under at one end and 13-14 at the other end) swim at the same time.
Pros: Bleachers are provided (but see Cons below). Wilton has recently been catering their food and they provide a large range of snack options as well as a small seating area near the concession stand and a small viewing window out to the bubble. If you are a Wilton YMCA member (and sometimes even if you are not), you can sneak in a workout during warm-up. Non-members can also pay a daily use fee if they want to use the fitness center. The door to the gym also is often open if you want to shoot baskets. The pool has an electronic timing system so you can track your swimmerâ€™s time.
Cons: The short-course pool is covered with a bubble which can affect the air quality and can make it very loud. The bubble has leaked in rainy weather, making the top row of bleachers wet. It is also very hot and crowded, especially for the 10 and under swimmers. Although bleachers are provided, they are not sufficient to accommodate all the parents, particularly at a crowded swim meet. There is a little space for portable chairs but very few will have a front row view of the pool.
Survival Tips: Arrive early in order to park, avoid the crowds and secure a seat in the bubble. If you cannot find a parking spot in the Y parking lot, then you will need to exit the Y and park in the Wilton High School lots across Route 7. Walk your younger children to the locker rooms so they do not get lost. The locker rooms are down to the right past the concession stand. When you walk into the locker room you will notice that there is a separate adult locker room. We recommend that you use that locker room for the bathroom. The locker rooms have their own access to the bubble. Ask someone wearing a red Wahoos shirt or a white swimming official's shirt which age groups are swimming on which ends of the pool so you can determine where to sit.
Off Site Dining: Wilton Center is near by and offers a variety of dining choices. In addition, there is a deli close to the Y on route 7 where you can pick up sandwiches.
Like Wilton, Westport is close by and, therefore, has a high number of Weston swimmers attending. The new Westport YMCA is located off of the Merritt at exit 41. Westport has a 25-yard pool t
Pros: You can check in on the races from the hallway. T The Westport meets are usually well organized and move relatively quickly. There is a small food service option at the Westport YMCA, but they often run out of food. Be sure to plan on bringing your own snacks
Cons: The biggest difficulty with the Westport YMCA is the parking. They usually provide a shuttle for their bigger meets like the Pentathalon. Aside from the small deli in the Y, there are no food service options within walking or close driving distance.
Survival Tips: Bring your own food and a chair. Space is tight.
The Darien YMCA is a beautiful pool but can get very crowded for the 8 and under meets. You need to plan to get there early in order to park and to secure a seat in the bleachers. While it is always advisable to pack a chair for your swimmer, he/she may not need the chair for this meet.
Cons: Bleacher seating is limited and access to and from the bleachers is very difficult. When crowded, the venue can be extremely hot especially in the winter.
Survival Tips: Arrive early to get your parking spot and seat, and bring your own food, drinks and reading or other time passing material to avoid having to get up from the bleachers during the meet.
**** MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS VENUE IS NEEDED
Shelton Community Center:
The Shelton Community Center is a large community center with plenty of parking in the rear. The pool has a large deck and there are bleacher seats a few steps off of the pool deck. The pool uses an electronic timing system that makes it easy to keep track of your swimmerâ€™s progress. This venue usually hosts the distance meets [or the dual meets â€“ relevant anymore?].
Pros: There is usually plenty of room at the distance meets and it is easy to get to the pool. There is a circle drive that makes the drop off for warm-up easy. Parking in the back is usually available. There is typically plenty of room on the deck for the swimmers and their chairs.
Cons: When crowded, the venue can be extremely hot especially in the winter. In the past, the ceiling has dripped making the bleacher seats wet.
Survival Tips: There is a wonderful Italian restaurant called Portabello in the town center that offers a nice meal after a long meet.
The short course pool is in Yaleâ€™s large athletic center on York Street. The gigantic building houses the long course pool, at least five crew tanks, many other athletic facilities and a 25 yard pool that is in a large Gothic style amphitheatre. There are plenty of seats and no bad views. [I donâ€™t recall ever being in the amphitheatre. All of the events we attended last year were in the practice pool, which was a horrible facility. Maybe those were all long course or distance events]
Pros: The 25 yard pool in the amphitheatre is not your typical pool setting. The seating feels more like being in a stadium than on bleachers and creates an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation. There is not much deck space for the swimmers so they often end up sitting in the stadium as well.
Cons: Parking at Yale is always a challenge. If you are lucky, you can find parking on the street or you can look for a parking lot on the right just past the athletic center. There is limited parking behind the athletic facility, but finding the entrance to the lot is difficult â€“ it is just past the main entrance on the right, under a narrow Gothic archway.
Survival Tips: Use the opportunity to enjoy New Haven. The Yale co-op is right by the athletic center if you need something to read and there are many places to eat. In addition, there are plenty opportunities to enjoy music, museums and theatre before or after the meet. Although there are travel directions from route 95 and the Merritt Parkway, it is much easier and faster to find the athletic center if you come from route 95.
Hamden High School:
Hamden High School is easy to get to off of the Merritt Parkway. It is a light and open arena that provides an inviting atmosphere for a swim meet.
Pros: There is a lot of close parking, and the pool is beautiful and bright. There is large pool deck that offers plenty of room for the swimmers. The venue is easy to get to off of the Meritt parkway and plenty of food options nearby.
Cheshire Community Center:
The Cheshire Community Center is in the quaint town of Cheshire. The community center has a 50 meter pool that is separated into two pools for the short course season. The pool is covered by a bubble for the winter.
Pros: This is a fast swimming pool with good edges and no slow lanes. The 8 lane pool offers an electronic timing system so you can track your swimmerâ€™s time. There is plenty of parking in the Community Center complex.
Cons: The noise tends to echo inside of the bubble so it is loud. Does any one know anything about the deck space or seating with the bubble?
Survival Tips: Cheshire is a quiet town that prefers the Dunkin Donuts to the more trendy Starbucks. If you are looking for entertainment before or after the meet you can bring your bicycles and ride on the bike path, hike or picnic in Sleeping Giant State Park, check out the Eli Whitney Museum or enjoy the sights of New Haven.
More information is needed about this venue.
The High Plains Community Center in Orange is easily accessible from both the Merritt Pkwy and route 95. The 25 yard pool has eight lanes and an electronic timing system.
Pros: The High Plains Community Center is close to route 1 and there are many different restaurants and entertainment options especially if you need to pass the time between preliminaries and finals. Any other pros?
Cons: Parking can be a challenge especially if you try to park in front. The entrance into the building is often crowded as is the lobby and the seating. The bleachers are dark and hot. The pool also tends to be hotter than what the swimmers are accustomed.
Survival Tips: Arrive early in order to find good parking. Sometimes there are spots around the side of the building. There is also a side entrance so that you do not have to walk around if you park on the side.
Hopkins is a lovely 8 lane pool on the beautiful campus of Hopkins. The host team is not part of the prep school but shares it name and makes use of the pool space.
Pros: The Hopkins pool provides ample deck space and bleacher seating for the swimmers and spectators. There is ample parking although it is a bit of a walk to the pool.
Cons: The parking allocated for visitors is at the bottom of many many stairs (it seems like 200)..
Survival Tips: If you are lucky they will not have roped off the driveway in the back and you can drive you children up the hill and avoid the steps.
Wesleyan University houses a beautiful pool at the edge of the campus in a large gymnasium. They have a 50-meter pool that is divided into three pools, two for warm down and warm up and one for competition. When you enter the building, the swimmers need to go down the steps from the lobby. The balcony viewing area is to the left of the reception desk on the same floor as the lobby.
Pros: There is an electronic timing system that makes it easy to check your swimmerâ€™s times. The balcony provides ample seating with access to the pool deck if there is an emergency. The deck has plenty of room for the swimmers and offers side bench seating as well as room for chairs. There are a lot of great places to eat in Middletown from the Greek diner to many other choices for ethnic cuisine.
Cons: The deck is hot, hot, hotâ€¦and extraordinarily crowded if you are there for Age Groups. For other meets, there is typically plenty of room. Parking can be difficult. The lot behind the athletic facility and the lot across the street from the athletic facility often are full, unless you arrive very early. You might want to check the back roads past the pool for a spot. It takes about 60 to 75 minutes to get there and then you need to find parking so plan accordingly.
Survival Tips: The fastest way to cool off is to take a left after you exit the balcony and walk past the concession stand to the ice hockey rink. Once you open the doors to the rink, you will be hit by a burst of cool air and receive some much needed respite from the heat and chaos. Middletown can be a fun place to visit and there is entertainment from movies to laser tag. It is also a college town so there may be other entertainment events that are worth exploring. If you want to leave the facility to get food, take a right outside the front door and walk down a very long hill to the main street in Middletown (you should allot 30 minutes to walk there and longer to walk back because of the hill). There are some nice hotels to stay in if you are swimming more than one day and plan to spend the night. Arrive early to the meet in order to find parking and a desirable seat. Be careful about where you park, the police are quick to give out tickets. Drop your swimmer off in the circle in front of the pool in order to save time. If you are prone to back problems, you might want to sit in the last row of the balcony in order to get some back support.
Southern CT State University:
The Southern pool is in New Haven and is housed in an old building with a large parking lot. The pool offers an electronic timing system and ample seating on deck and in the balcony.
Pros: The balcony runs across the length of the pool affording all of the spectators a good view. There is plenty of parking. There is a drive through Starbucks at the Meritt Exit.
Cons: The pool is old and the stands are dark. Occasionally there have been some concerns about the air quality. Sonoco often organizes meets at this venue. At times they are disorganized and start late.