Are the meets really 3 days? Do we have to attend all 3 days?
Most meets are 3 days, but there are a few that are 1 or 2 days. Your swimmer can attend as many days as your family chooses. Some swimmers go all 3 days, some just go 1. In general, the Friday session is in the evening and features distance freestyle and IM events. The Saturday and Sunday sessions usually have 5-6 event choices per age group. There is a maximum number of events that each athlete may swim at each session, but no minimum.
What events should my child swim?
The answer depends on your swimmer. Hesitant young kids swimming in their first meet might want to start with the 25's in their favorite strokes. Older athletes or those with a few meets under their belt are probably ready to try some longer events and different strokes. It's important to remember to involve your child in the process. Review the event schedule together and let them make the initial choices. You can certainly give feedback and make suggestions, especially if they're nervous. Encourage them to try a longer race. Challenge them to swim a stroke they don't particularly like.
And if your athlete suggests something that you're not sure they can handle, remember this quote from Drew:
"It's amazing what kids can accomplish when adults stop telling them they can't."
My child can't dive from the block or do a flip-turn. Can they still swim in a meet?
Absolutely! Swimmers can legally start the race in three ways:
- Dive from the block;
- Dive from the pool deck (the term dive is used pretty liberally with the younger kids);
- Start from the wall.
Swimmers are not required to do flip-turns, so don't let them scare your child away from those 50's and 100's. Many young swimmers simply touch the wall, turn around, and push off with their feet.
Can I go in the locker room or on-deck with my child?
No. USA Swimming rules do not allow parents in the locker room or on-deck. It can be difficult to send your young child into a strange locker room alone, but there a few things you can do to make the experience a little less painful.
- Express your confidence in your child's ability. Explain simply what they need to do, and remind them that you'll be in the viewing area so you can watch them.
- Arrange to meet a teammate or two in the hallway outside the locker room so they can go in together.
- Have your swimmer wear their suit to the pool so that they don't have to change in the locker room. They can just walk through to the deck and find the team.
- Tell them to ask an older swimmer for help if they can't find their way out to the pool deck. Most of them will remember their first time wandering through a strange locker room and be glad to help.
- Remind them that their coaches and teammates will be waiting for them on the pool deck.
- Make sure they know where to meet you at the end of the meet, generally just outside the locker room.
As for your nerves, try to remind yourself that you're raising a responsible, independent person who's capable of walking through a locker room. And then race up the stairs to the viewing area as fast as you can and perch over the railing until you see that sweet little face pop out of the locker room door.
Another frequent concern is how young swimmers will know when to go to the blocks for their events. Meets are self-marshaled, which means the kids are responsible for getting themselves to the starting blocks in time for their event. But it's not as awful as it sounds. Our coaching staff will help them keep track of the time. The older swimmers help them out, and there are often a few older siblings around to help as well.
Do I have to buy a team suit for the meet?
No. Drew doesn't require swimmers to wear a team suit, but they may not wear a suit with another team's logo. Many young swimmers wear their practice suit to meets. If you need to order a team suit, you can do so through our Swim Outlet team store.
Team members are not required to wear a cap at meets, but if they do, it must be a team cap, which will be given to them before the first meet.
What do we need to bring to a meet?
Sure, it seems like all a swimmer needs is a suit, a towel and a pair of goggles. But somehow they manage to fill those huge backpacks until they're bursting. Here's an idea of what should be in them:
- Team suit, goggles and a cap.
- Extra suit, goggles and caps. Because seams split, straps break, and caps rip.
- Towels. More than one.
- Clothes to wear on deck. Warm-ups, shorts and a t-shirt, sweats, swim parka, whatever your swimmer will be comfortable in. Be prepared for varied temperatures on deck.
- Dry clothes to wear home.
- Sharpie fine point permanent marker. For creating the swimmer tattoo, otherwise known as heat and lane assignments, on their arms.
- Water bottles and healthy snacks. Check out the nutrition section of the Resource tab for specific suggestions.
- Swimmers should NOT bring electronics onto the pool deck.
And of course, while your swimmer is swimming and hanging out on the pool deck with their teammates, you'll be sitting in the stands with all the other parents. It's a long day, so consider bringing something to pass the time and some money for the concession stand. Some facilities accommodate seat cushions and chair backs, but not all.