WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR A MEET
The following information will help parents and swimmers get the most out of the competitive swimming experience. All the information comes from BSC parents and officials who have participated in many swim meets over the years. These guidelines should answer many questions regarding swim meets.
Be Sure Register
You must register for any meet you would like to attend. Each meet will have an entry deadline, once the deadline is reached changes to meet entries are not available.
Day of the Meet
Arrival: Meet Check-ins
It is important to arrive at the swim meet at least 15 minutes before your swimmer's warm-up begins. Meet entries are generally handled in one of two ways. In pre-seeded meets, all swimmers are assigned to heats and lanes for their events prior to the beginning of the first day of competition. Heat sheets are made available to coaches, athletes and spectators that show the order of events, the number of heats and the seeding of swimmers in each heat. Checking in for each session of the meet may or may not be required, or may only be required for long distance events. For these types of meets, a “scratch and add” period is typically provided where coaches may inform the meet director of swimmers not in attendance or those deciding not to participate in the event. The coach may also attempt to add swimmers to events where open lanes are available, subject to the daily limit on individual entries.
After you have signed in, get ready to swim warm-ups. Find the camping area and place your swim bag and other gear there. Have your suit on, take a towel, goggles, a cap (if needed) and report to the coach. He or she will be ON POOL DECK. The coach’s share going to the meets so your coach may or may not be the coach at the meet. You’ll get to know all the coaches. Once the swimmer has reported to the coach the coach is responsible for the swimmer until warm-ups are over. After warm ups the swimmer will need to rest until the meet starts or the first event they swim. They may rest with family, in the camping area or anywhere they find comfortable. They usually will want to eat something healthy at this point and drink some Power Aid/Gatorade. Resting the body is a good idea to conserve energy for the meet. They should not be up running around or working at the meet. Card games, electronics, reading, etc. are good ideas to keep them busy but not tired. Balls, Frisbees and other running and throwing games are prohibited in the camping area and are not a good idea in general. Old blankets and towels are great for the camping area to keep the swimmer dry and warm. Many parents bring folding chairs. The camping area is where your swimmer can relax and wait for the events to be called. You should be able to hear the events being called in the camping area. You can also sit in the stands and watch the rest of the swims. The best place to watch your child swim is on the pool deck as a timer. Please volunteer for this fun position.
Start of the Meet
At most meets the National Anthem is played to start the meet. You will then hear the events start to be called. They will announce “First call Event #...”, they will later announce 2nd call and final call for each event. It is best if your swimmer reports to their coach when they hear 1st call for their event and get their heat and lane number.
Clerk of Course
The clerk of course is primarily used for children 10 and under and is where your swimmer will be notified what heat and lane they will swim in. When in doubt ask a coach. Once your swimmer reports to the clerk they will be asked to sit down and wait until all the swimmers are there for that event. They will call out the swimmer’s name and help them line up until they get the hang of it. They will also make sure they get to the blocks at the right time. No Parents are allowed on the Pool deck unless they are working.
During the Meet
The meet always starts with Event 1, Heat 1 and progresses from there. The first heats of an event are the slower swimmers or swimmers that have no time for an event. Now your swimmer is ready to swim his/her race. The referee will blow a whistle for 3 blasts, which is the swimmers instruction to be ready. The referee will then blow the whistle for 1 blast, which is the swimmers instruction to either step up on the block or enter the water for the backstroke. The starter will announce: “This is Event #5, Women’s 9-10 50 Freestyle. Take your mark." At this time a swimmer should be in the starting position and motionless. The swimmer will then hear a BEEP and a flash of a strobe. They should then enter the pool with their dive and swim their event.
The referee and starter may call a false start if there is a problem with the start of the race. There will be multiple beeps or an alarm will sound. The swimmer that caused the false start will be disqualified from that race. If the starter doesn’t like the way the swimmers look on the blocks he/she can ask them to stand up and prepare again for the start. If the starter and referee agree that a swimmer did not start properly they can also be disqualified without the beeps or alarm if only they are going to be disqualified. They will be notified of this upon completion of the event.
A swimmer may be DQ’d or disqualified by an official for performing the stroke incorrectly. There could be a number of reasons why a swimmer is DQ’d. The swimmer will be told why and what they did wrong by an official and the coach. Don’t let them get to upset by DQ’s. Use them as a learning experience. Every swimmer has been DQ’d a time or two.
After your swim
Once your race is over the swimmer should report to their coach so they can review their swim with them. The coach will then instruct the swimmer what to swim in the COOL DOWN pool. In our pool, it’s the diving well. This allows your swimmers muscles to relax slowly after the race. After you cool down then you are free until they call your next event. You may relax wherever you want but listen for your next event to be called. Cool down pools are for just that. They are not for playing and if your child spends too much time please let them know this. When you are done with all your events for the day, talk with your coach and let them know you are done and leaving. Sometimes there are relays to swim and the coach will let you know about these in advance, but sometimes they may need you to swim even if you haven’t been told before. All swim times will be posted as they are scored somewhere at each meet, usually on a wall visible to all. Just ask where they are posting the results. It’s a great idea to write down all the times your swimmer swam. Then you can compare times as they start to improve and you can see their improvement. In addition, the on deck and meet mobile apps are great tools to help you track your swimmer’s times.
Ribbons are given out at all meets. The number of places to receive ribbons changes with each club. Some give ribbons to the 12th place while others give to the 16th place. Some give medals for 1st, 2nd, 3rd while others don’t. Some give a high point team trophy; some give a single high point swimmer trophy for each age level. You’ll just have to ask someone at each meet about these items. At some meets your swimmer can pick up their own ribbons while at other meets they are only given to the coaches. Ask the coach or other parents how they pick up their ribbons.
What to Bring
- Swim Suit
- Water shoes or sandals to be worn on pool deck
- Towels – one per event being swam
- Sweat suit or something warm to wear between swims
- Goggles –2 pairs they tend to break at the wrong times
- Swim cap (BSC)
- Bag – to carry belongings in
- Something to occupy your swimmer between swims—coloring books, cards, iPod, cell phone, etc. You are responsible for all your own belongings! Note, it is loud at the meets, so texting is a good way to get your child’s attention since parents cannot be on the pool deck.
- Foods to Bring: Fruit, bagels, power bars, non-carbonated drinks, cut veggies, peanut butter sandwiches, cheese and crackers, etc.
REMEMBER: Safety is always a concern at swim meets and there is NEVER any running or horseplay around a pool.
If you have any questions, please contact: