(Excerpt from USA Swimming’s Sample Club Handbook) Please be
sure to check with your swimmer’s coach for specifics that
may be different from the
Swim meets are a great family experience! They’re a place
where the whole family can spend time together. Listed below are
some very in-depth guidelines geared to help you through your first
couple of swim meets. It may seem a little overwhelming, but we
tried to be as specific and as detailed as we possibly could. If
you have any questions, please ask your coach.
Before the Meet Starts
Arrive at the pool at least 15 minutes before the scheduled warm-up
time begins. This time will be listed in the meet information
handed out to all swimmers and also in the team
Upon arrival, find a place to put your swimmer’s blankets,
swim bags and/or sleeping bags. The team usually sits in one place
together, so look for some familiar faces.
Find the check-in place. Usually, parents are not allowed on
deck so this may be a responsibility of your swimmer or your
swimmer’s coach. Make sure your swimmer checks in with his or
Check for special posted instructions in the check-in area. Usually
one will need to circle the swimmer’s name or "#" before each
swimmer’s name, in each event he or she
is swimming, that day. If this is not done, the swimmer will
not be allowed to swim that event. Check-in is
required so that the people running the meet know who is
actually at the meet. After check-in, the meet administrators
"seed" the swimmers into heats. Heat and lane assignments will be
posted, so be sure your swimmer knows where to look!
Sometimes the meet is "pre-seeded" and no check-in is required. You
and your swimmer can find heat and lane assignments by purchasing a
Once "checked in", write or have the swimmers write each
event-number on his or her hand in ink. This helps him/her remember
what events he/she is swimming and what event number to listen or
Your swimmer now gets his/her cap and goggles and reports to the
pool and/or coach for warm-up instructions. It is very important
for all swimmers to warm-up with the team. A swimmer’s
body is just like a car on a cold day-he/she needs
to get the engine going and warmed-up before he/she can go all
After warm-up, your swimmer will go back to the area where his/her
team is sitting and wait there until his first event is
called. This is a good time to make sure he/she goes to the
bathroom if necessary, gets a drink, or just gets settled
The meet will usually start about 10-15 minutes after warm-ups are
According to USA Swimming rules (because of insurance purposes),
parents are not allowed on deck unless they are serving in an
official capacity. Similarly, all questions concerning meet
results, an officiating call, or the conduct of a meet, should be
referred to a coach. He or she in turn, will pursue
the matter through the proper channels.
Psyche Sheet or Heat Sheets. A psyche sheet is usually available
for sale in the lobby or concession area of the pool. It lists all
swimmers in each event in order of "seed time". When the team entry
is sent in, each swimmer and his/her previous best time (up to the
date that the entry was submitted) in that event is listed. 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. A Heat sheet
may be available close to the start of the meet that lists the
actual heat and lane a swimmer will be competing in.
It is important for any swimmer to know what event numbers he/she
is swimming (again, why they should have the numbers on their
hand). He/she may swim right away after warm-up or they may have to
Generally, girls events are odd-numbered and boys events are
even-numbered. Example: "Event #26, 10-Under Boys, 50
Most meets are computerized. There are generally two ways a swimmer
gets to his/her lane:
A swimmer usually reports directly to his/her lane for competition
a number of heats before he/she actually swims. Check with your
swimmer’s coach for specific instructions.
In some novice meets, a swimmer’s event number will be
called, usually over the loudspeaker, and he/she will be asked to
report to the "clerk of course" or “bullpen”. Swimmers
should report with his/her cap and goggle. Generally, girls events
are odd-numbered and boys events are even-numbered. Example:
"Event #26, 10-Under Boys, 50 freestyle, report to Clerk of
Course." The "Clerk of Course" or “bullpen” area is
usually where all swimmers checked in before the warm-up.
The clerk will usually line up all the swimmers and take them down
to the pool in correct order.
You can expect at least 4-8 heats of each event.
The swimmer swims his or her race.
After each swim:
He/she is to ask the timers (people behind the blocks at each
lane) his/her time.
Depending on the coaches instructions, the swimmer may be asked to
do some recovery swimming if a "warm down" pool or lanes are
The swimmer should then go immediately to his or
her coach. The coach will discuss the swim with each swimmer.
Some coaches may wish to talk with the swimmer before
her recovery swim.
Generally, the coach follows these guidelines when discussing
Positive comments or praise
Suggestions for improvement
Things you, as a parent, can do after each swim:
Tell him how great he did! The coaching staff will be
sure to discuss stroke technique with him. You need to tell
him how proud you are and what a great job he did.
Take himback to the team area and relax.
This is another good time to check out the bathrooms, get a drink
or something light to eat.
The swimmer now waits until his next event is called and starts the
When a swimmer has completed all of her events she and her
parents get to go home. Make sure, however, you, as a parent, check
with the coach before leaving to make sure your swimmer is not
included on a relay. It is not fair to other swimmers who may have
stayed to swim on a relay where your swimmer is expected to be
a member and she is not there.
Results are usually posted somewhere in the facility. Awards are
often gathered for a team and given to the coach at the end of the
meet. The coach will give the awards to the swimmers at a
What Happens If Your Child has a Disappointing
If your child has a poor race and comes out of it feeling badly,
talk about the good things. The first thing you say is, "Hey, that
is not like you. I know you are disappointed, but it’s not
the end of the world!" Then you can go on and talk about the
good things the child did. Don’t talk about the negative
things and don’t keep talking about the race. Drop it
and get your child to focus on the next race or something enjoyable
coming up after the meet! Limit the "post mortems!"
If your child comes up to you and says, "That was a bad race,
don’t tell me it wasn’t," there is nothing wrong with a
swimmer negatively evaluating a race. The important thing is for
the child not to dwell on it. You should move the swimmer on to
something good. "All right, you have had a bad race. How do you
think you can do better next time?" Immediately start talking about
the positive things.
What To Take To The Meet
Most important: Swim Suit, Team Cap--and goggles (if your swimmer
Baby or talcum powder--To "dust" the inside of swim cap. This helps
preserve the cap and makes it easier to put on.
Towels-Realize your swimmer will be there awhile, so pack at least
Something to sit on. Oftentimes the swimmer area may be located in
a gym or cafeteria. Example: sleeping bag, old blanket, or anything
that will be comfortable to sit on. The swimmers will be spending a
lot of time on it.
Sweat suits: bring one. Each swimmer may want to bring two because
they can get wet and soggy.
Team T-shirts: Two or three. Same reason as above.
Games: travel games, coloring books, books, anything to pass the
Food: Each swimmer is usually allowed to bring a small cooler. It
is better to bring snacks. They usually have snack bars at the
meet, but the lines are long and most of the time they only sell
junk food. Suggestions for items to bring:
Drinks: Hi-C, Fruit juice, Gatorade
Snacks: Granola bars, Fun fruits, yogurt, cereal, jello cubes,
Once you have attended one or two meets this will all become very
routine. Please do not hesitate to ask any other parent for help or
These meets are a lot of fun for the swimmers! He/she gets to visit
with his/her friends, play games, and meet kids from other teams.
He/she also gets to "race" and see how much he/she has improved
from all the hard work he/she has put in at practice.
Special Parent’s Note
The pool area is usually very warm. Therefore, you need to make
sure you dress appropriately. Nothing is worse than being hot at a
swim meet. It makes the time pass very slowly! At some of the
meets, the parents are allowed to sit with the swimmers at the
blanket area. If you don’t think that a gym floor is
comfortable, feel free to bring folding chairs to sit on. Better
yet, become an official and get involved! You get to be close to
the action and take the focus off of your own child!