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How Do Meets Run?

Registration and Meet Administration

Please insure that you have properly registered your swimmers (see Meets Made Easy), keep an eye on team news and watch the team calendar. EST closes registration in time to allow administration of the meet to begin. Registration for EST's large December meet and for other large meets will close much sooner than our single-day home meets because large meets require the submittal of rosters of swimmers well in advance. The host team obtains the registration materials and develops preliminary meet entry sheets and positive check-in sheets.

Positive Check-In

IF SWIMMERS AND FAMILIES DO NOT KNOW POSITIVE CHECK-IN RULES AND A SWIMMER IS NOT PROPERLY CHECKED IN FOR A MEET, THE SWIMMER MAY NOT BE ABLE TO SWIM. Swimmers typically arrive at meets 60-75 minutes before their scheduled session. Upon arrival, swimmers must let the meet administrative team know that they have arrived by engaging in what is known as "positive check-in", a process during which the swimmer will either (a) highlight their name (and sometimes events) on sheets of paper typically located near the venue's entrance or (b) check in with their coach who will then check the swimmer in. Most of the large meets require that a swimmer directly engage in the highlighting process noted in (a), but some will allow checking in through the coach. At our home meets, with the exception of the large December meet, checking in with the coach will be the method of positive check-in. Parents and swimmers should not positively check in a swimmer unless the swimmer knows and is present at the venue. Positive check-in will typically close at or near the start of warm-ups. If positive check-in is posted for a time after warm-ups begin, please do not wait to check in. Better to get it done!

Warm Ups

Warm ups before any meet session will typically open one hour prior to the start of the meet. For our smaller meets, this period may be shortened. During warm ups, teams and portions of teams are typically assigned lanes so be sure to check with your coaches upon arrival at the meet. Swimmers will have the opportunity to swim and, eventually, practice their starts. Swimmers should avoid hanging on the lane lines and horseplay.

Timers Meeting

Timers scheduled to work a meet session must arrive in sufficient time to allow them to be on deck for the timers meeting not later than twenty (20) minutes prior to the announced start of the meet session. This is imperative. Timers are critical to the success of our swimmers and to our efficiency at each and every meet session. Timers will be assigned a lane (two per lane) and EST endeavors to schedule a head timer and relief timers for each meet session. Timing, like officiating, requires attention and interest. Behind coaches and officials, timers have the next best spot on deck. The timers meeting will typically end 5-10 minutes before the start of the meet session so that timers' materials can be circulated and lane positions can be assumed before the national anthem, pledge or start of the session.

Preparation of Heat Sheets

While all of the foregoing is happening, the meet administrative team is busy determining what swimmers are present to compete. Shortly before the start of the meet, the team prints heat sheets for coaches and officials and lane sheets for timers. Soon thereafter, heat sheets may be made available to fans. Please note that some teams do not give heat sheets to timers. EST will occasionally allow sharing of heat sheets by timers, but we encourage our timers establish a method of learning the heats and lanes assigned to their swimmer(s) without having a heat sheet. In order to understand where your swimmer(s) stand in a particular meet, you might consider looking at the event page on this website in order to locate the psyche sheet--a pre-scratch list of swimmers by event.

A heat sheet will break the meet session down to events and each event down into heats typically with the fastest registered swimmers appearing in later heats. PLEASE note that there are many times when events may be combined in order to allow efficiency during a meet. Combinations of events may occur any time during a meet.

Who Can Be On Deck During a Meet? Where's My Swimmer?!

Only swimmers, coaches, officials and authorized deck volunteers may be on the pool deck during that period between the start of warm-ups and the end of the meet session. At many meets, including the large ones, swimmers will be on deck and parents will be in the stands. Typically, EST swimmers occupy an area on deck (or near the deck for outdoor meets). During some large meets, teams will use a ready-room or a staging area when swimmers remain in a gym or other room nearby the pool and line of heats before proceeding to the pool deck. Regardless, the handling of matters of handling swimmers during meets is planned by coaches and parents before and during meet sessions.

Finally... Let's Swim

At some point, the referee and announcer will close the pool to warm ups. Swimmers should exit the water immediately and safely upon learning that the pool is closed for warm ups, and they should not enter the pool for any purpose other than competition unless told to do so by a coach or an official.

The announcer will typically announce the opening of the meet before or after the national anthem or pledge (if one is planned). At the time of this announcement, the swimmers in the first few heats will likely have been behind the starting blocks for a few minutes. The referee and start share a position on one side of the pool near the start end for each heat. At no time should any swimmer or volunteer cross in front the referee and starter.

The referee will blow his or her whistle in 4-6 short bursts and this indicates to the swimmers that they should be preparing to swim. During forward starts, the referee will blow one long whistle that indicates that swimmers should get up on the starting blocks or in another position to start (some swimmers will not use blocks until coaches agree that they are able to dive from the block). The referee will extend an arm toward the starter and the starter will say "Take Your Mark" at which time the swimmers should attain their start position. The starter then starts the heat.

During the backstroke and the medley relays, the start is in the water facing the blocks. The 4-6 short bursts indicate that swimmers should get ready. The FIRST long whistle tells swimmers to get in the water. A SECOND long whistle then tells the swimmers to "get on the blocks" for the start. At the second whistle, the swimmer should have his or her feet on the wall and hands where comfortable. The referee's arm extends to the starter who then says "Take Your Mark" at which time the swimmers should take their backwards, in-water start position. The starter then starts the heat.

Silence is Golden

QUIET FOR THE START is the rule. Swimmers and anyone else near the blocks needs to be silent during the whistle protocol. Occasionally, noise from the stands will also lead to an announcement that there needs to be quiet for the start from the fans. A quiet start is the best start for all swimmers.

What is a FLYOVER Start?

A fly-over start occurs when a heat has ended and the next heat starts before the swimmers in the last heat exit the water. All swimmers need to pay attention to coaches, announcers and officials. If a meet involves fly-over starts, it will be announced. Please do not exit the water until after the start of the next heat! Also, swimmers in the water should not do anything to distract the next swimmer--no holding the block, bobbing, cheering or celebrating. Let's get the next heat off before any of that happens.

What Should a Swimmer Do After the Heat?

Simple. FIND YOUR COACH. The world's best feedback is available to you when you find your coach immediately after your heat. If you forget, fine, but try once you remember. First instinct after a heat is to get your time then you go find your coach!

Relays

Coaches and the progress of a meet session determine whether there will be relays. If a swimmer is on a relay team, the swimmer needs to be at the session for its duration or else that swimmer may be letting down three other swimmers. Additionally, swimmers having completed their leg of the relay should exit the water as soon as the next swimmer departs. Only the next swimmer should be on or near the blocks or start position. Swimmers, please note that a relay is a team thing. Of course, you can cheer during the heat! Each swimmer on a relay team should remain near the start position until the relay has concluded. Don't leave until your relay team has finished.

Long Events

Swimmers swimming long events should plan to have their own timers and lap counters. EST coaches can occasionally help in this process, but please plan to have your own timers and lap counters for every long event heat.

Disqualified? Seriously?

If a swimmer breaks the rules of competition, there will be a disqualification. DQ's can happen for many, many reasons and they occur even with the best swimmers at the highest levels. No swimmer should be ashamed of a DQ. Parents, your children may cry at first--they may feel as though they failed. There is not one swimmer on EST that has never suffered a DQ. DQ's occur when coaches push swimmer's to the next level. They occur when swimmers advance to longer events. They occur simply because a meet might happen to be the day of a birthday party or a full day of camp. A few things about DQ's: (1) only the coaches and swimmers talk about them; (2) we don't talk to the officials; and (3) a DQ is part of learning.

Results

EST is lucky to have a scoreboard with the detail it has. Most meets will have a scoreboard that provides at least the lane and time. Others will add the place. Still others, like EST will have a name. Fans should watch the scoreboard for heat times. The name will disappear as the next heat is set up, and the time will disappear at the start of the next heat. Swimmers, you can ask timers for your times, but please ONLY do so after the next heat has started and when the timers are not communicating with each other. Event results may be announced during a meet session and they may be posted in a public area near the pool. EST will typically not post results during its smaller meet sessions such as the Friday meets during the Fall/Winter Season or the Wednesday meets during the Summer season.

Every EST swimmer has a home within USA Swimming's database. All times are posted to USA Swimming's website and swimmers and parents alike are encouraged to visit this site frequently to review times and motivational standards.