Meet Survival Guide



1.  Bring suit, warm-ups, two pairs of goggles and two caps & towels!
2.  Arrive on time and report to coach immediately
3.  Complete the warm-up as directed by coach
4.  Participate in the Team Cheer
5.  Know and be ready for your events and relays
6.  Meet with the coach before and after each event
7.  Be supportive all your teammates – cheer them on
8.  Demonstrate good sportsmanship behavior at all times
9.  Clean up your area before leaving the facility
10. Have Fun!!!

More details… 

What to Take to the Meet

Most important: Swim suit, team cap and goggles (preferably one & a spare in case one breaks).

Towels:  2-3 dry towels per swimmer each day are recommended for a weekend meet.

Something to sit on:  Sleeping bag, old blanket, folding chair.  Swimmers and spectators spend a lot of time sitting!!

Also bring:   A parka, sweat shirt/pant or other warm clothing for your swimmer. Parents are encouraged to wear SAS T-shirts to show team spirit!

Games:  Travel games, books, cards, homework or anything to pass the time.

Food: Although there is usually a snack bar at every meet, it is economical and frequently more nutritious to bring a small cooler with snacks.  Suggestions for items to bring: Drinks: Water (very important), Gatorade, chocolate milk, juice.  Snacks: Cereal, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, bagels, cream cheese, peanut butter, fruit, carrots, snack bars, sandwiches, pasta, pretzels.  Avoid heavy foods, carbonated drinks & those with high sugar content.

Money to buy a Heat Sheet (cost varies $5-7).  Bring a Highlighter Pen to mark your swimmer’s events & a sharpie if your swimmer wants to write their event information on their arm or leg.

Parents and spectators:

  • Seating and space at USA Swim meets are usually at a premium, so show up very early to reserve a place for you and if possible for the team. Please try to sit together as a team—it is great if we all show our club spirit and support every swimmer. Please note parents are usually not allowed on the pool deck unless they are serving in an official capacity, such as timing or officiating.
  • The pool is usually very warm.  When you are timing (which we hope you will volunteer to do) you will probably get at least your feet wet.  Therefore, make sure you dress appropriately. It works well to bring water sandals and shorts and change in the pool locker room.
  • Note: NO flash photography is allowed & photography from behind the blocks (when the swimmers are on the blocks) is also not allowed.


At the Meet:

If a swimmer will be late, inform the coach before the meet. If a swimmer is sick and must be ’scratched’ from the meet, the coach must be notified as soon as possible. In prelims and finals, if an eligible swimmer is unable to attend, he or she must notify the coach as soon as possible. Be cognizant, your child’s absence may affect relay entries!!!

Before the Meet Starts:

Arrive at the pool at least 15 minutes before the scheduled warm-up time begins. This will be listed in the meet information which is emailed &/or posted on the web site prior to the meet.  When you arrive, find a place to put your swimmer’s blankets, swim bags and/or sleeping bag.  Most teams usually sit together in one place so look for some familiar faces.  Swimmers should dress for warm-up and report to the coach with goggles & cap.   Purchase a Heat Sheet; it lists all swimmers in each event and their heat & lane assignments.  Swimmers are placed in order of “seed time.”  When the team entry is submitted, each swimmer’s previous best time in the event is included. If the swimmer is swimming an event for the first time, he/she will be entered as a “no time” or “NT.”  A “No time” swimmer will most likely swim in one of the first heats of the event. Highlight your swimmer’s events.

Many swimmers write their event numbers, heat and lane assignments on their bodies so they can easily reference their races.

After warm-up ends, swimmers should use the restroom, get a drink and keep warm.

During the Meet:

***Swimmers must pay attention to event numbers when they are announced & BE AWARE AT ALL TIMES of which event and which heat is currently going on. Many meets will announce 1st, 2nd, and final calls for an event heat, but not always. It is the swimmer’s responsibility to be at the starting blocks well before their heat. This will minimize the chance of missing their race. If the timer knows they are there, this will also minimize the chance of missing a race. Even when at your starting block, swimmers must BE AWARE of which event and which heat is currently going on. Sometimes heats move very quickly, and swimmers have missed races even after arriving at the starting block well on time. The timer will not always alert swimmers that it's their turn to step behind the block.***

The coaches sit at long tables lining the side of the pool.  Swimmers should report to the coach (with cap & goggles) well before each of their races; the coach may instruct them to warm up or have other instructions for them.  Then, several heats before their race they should go to their starting block & check in with the timer in their lane. Those swimmers 8 and under are usually asked to report to the “clerk of the course” for 25 yard events so they can be organized into appropriate lanes.  

After each swim:

The swimmer asks the timers his/her time. Then, the swimmer should go immediately to their coach to discuss his/her time and discuss the swim. Generally, the coach will offer positive comments or praise along with suggestions for improvement.

How to Support Your Swimmer:

After each swim, remind your swimmer how proud you are and what a great job they did (& let the coach handle the coaching).  Take you swimmer back to the towel area and relax.  Encourage the use of the restrooms, suggest a drink or light snack.

At the end of the Day:

Swimmers are asked to stay until the end of the meet, especially during team meets. If you must leave early, let your coach know – it’s especially important to make sure your swimmer isn’t part of a relay team that has yet to swim!  Clean up the team area before leaving; represent your team with pride. Remind your swimmer to hang up their suit, cap and towels so they will dry and be ready for the next day! 


There’s much more to competitive swimming than getting that first-place ribbon.  Swimmers who demonstrate a winner’s characteristics are champions, no matter where they place: showing others what they’re learning or have learned about focus, sportsmanship, listening skills and working toward goals.  Swimmers quickly forget the medals, records, and other material benefits.  They will, however, remember the development of interpersonal skills, discipline, listening skills, time management, goal setting, friendships and enhanced self-image.  These experiences will help the swimmer become a more successful person as they grow.  

Levels of Achievement

There are seven different age group classifications recognized by USA Swimming (the governing body of the sport): 8-Under, 10-Under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18, and Senior.

The Senior classification includes any age registered swimmer who has achieved the prescribed qualifying time for the event.  Not all age group classifications are offered at every swim meet. A swimmer’s age on the first day of a meet will govern the swimmer’s age for the entire meet.

Within each age-group there are different recognized levels of achievement based on times.   The times required for each ability level are published each year by USA Swimming and Inland Empire Swimming.  This permits fair, yet challenging, competition on all levels.  In some cases, a swimmer may be in a different class in each stroke.  An example: a "C" breaststroke time, a "B" freestyle time, and an "AA" backstroke time.  Some swim meets set certain qualification standards.  In order to swim in a certain classification, a swimmer must have achieved the qualifying time for that particular classification.  There are also some meets (like the IES 14 & under Junior Champs meet in February) which have de-qualifying times, so swimmers who have achieved a specific time in an event may not enter that event or the corresponding leg of a relay event.

Types/Levels of Swim Meets

Meet Season/Course types:

Short Course: swum mostly during the school year in 25 yard indoor pools

Long Course: swum mostly during the summer in 50 meter outdoor pools

Developmental Meets: These meets generally do not have any qualification time standards. Most of the time these meets offer each one of the competitive strokes (free style, breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke) in the various distances offered for each group.

Invitational/Open Meets: Invitational meets are similar to developmental meets as there are typically no time standards, almost any swimmer can compete.  We try to take a large team to at least one of these meets per month. Our home/hosted meet (Summer Solstice), is an example of an invitational style meet, but the difference is that when we host an invitational all of our swimmers are expected to attend.  Invitational meets are a good way to develop team spirit because team scores are kept at many of them.

Qualification Meet: These meets have some type of qualification time standard(s) that a swimmer must meet in order to enter the meet.

Sectionals: Sectional Championships will be held short course in March & long course in August. These meets are designed for swimmers who have a specific qualifying time.

Zone Championships:  held at the end of summer, a swimmer may qualify to participate in the Western Zone Championships. Swimmers may compete as a member of the Inland Empire Zone team competing against 16 other LSCs (Local Swimming Committees) from 12 western states.

Summer USA Swimming Junior Championships: A National Championship meet for 18 and under swimmers. This meet is a stepping-stone to the USA Swimming National Championships.

USA Swimming National Championships (Senior Nationals): Other than the Olympic Trials and the World Championship Trials, each of which is held every four years, the highest level of competition for our senior swimmers is the USA Swimming National Championships.  Swimmers meeting the national qualifying time standards travel to various cities throughout the U.S. to compete against America's best swimmers.  Swimmers can qualify for national teams that represent the U.S. in international competition by their performances at Senior Nationals.

Meet Formats: Single Session (all ages swim events all day), Split meets (usually 12 and under swim at a different time of the day than the older swimmers), Prelim Final (all ages swim events in the morning and the top swimmers return for finals in the evening)