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What to Expect at a Meet

What to Expect at a Meet


Click here for detailed instructions on how to RSVP for a meet.



What to bring (LABEL EVERYTHING!):

  • Team cap and suit

  • Goggles 

  • Two or more towels

  • Folding camp chairs or blanket and Easy-Up

  • Food:  fruit, fiber bars, bagels, oranges, melon pieces, healthy snacks

  • Drinks:  water, juice, Gatorade, Powerade.

  • Camera


Upon Arrival:

  • Be on time!  Warm-ups begin well before the meet start time.

  • Have your swimmer(s) go to the sign in table to check in and have sign-in volunteers mark your swimmer with a Sharpie! (see below)

  • Swimmers report to coaches.

  • Coaches will give instructions regarding warm-ups.

  • Team will warm-up together. 

Writing on your swimmer? ...and Why?

Two reasons...

  1. To assist ready bench volunteers to get the younger kids to their race/heats during the meet.

  2.  Swimmers don’t have Heat Sheets.  So how do they keep track of what events they are swimming in?  ... By writing on themselves, of course.

Each swimmer needs a grid/chart on their arm (or leg for tiny arms) showing the event number, the heat number, the lane number, and the stroke...for every race they are going to swim.

Explanation of the numbers on your swimmer's arm

There are about 68 events numbered 1 through 68.  Each swimmer will have marked on their arms: event, heat, lane and stroke. To keep track of when your swimmer is swimming, it is a good idea to write it down somewhere.  Events and heats will be announced so it is a good idea to periodically check what event the meet is up to so that your swimmer does not miss his/her event.


The Dreaded “DQ”:  

Be prepared to hear that your swimmer has “DQ’ed” or “disqualified.”  The people you see walking around the pool with wearing headset, white shirts and blue shorts are swim officials.  One of their jobs is to make sure the swimmers follow the rules; such as swimmers only are to use dolphin kicks during butterfly events, that the swimmers actually use the correct stroke (e.g. no freestyle during a breast stroke event); that the swimmers swim the entire length of the pool and the turn correctly, etc.  Swimmers who violate any rule for their stroke are disqualified. This means the swimmer is not eligible for an award in that event, and their time is not recorded. Hearing that they have DQ’ed can be really tough news, especially for a new swimmer.  It is appropriate for swimmers to ask their coach why they were DQ’ed, but it is important for parents and teammates to support a swimmer and let them know they will do better next time. Developing swimmers DQ often. It is part of learning competitive swimming. Remember that ALL swimmers DQ at some time. Year-round, high school and even collegiate swimmers DQ. Make it a learning experience, not a season-ender!

What's the difference between an EVENT and a HEAT?

The Event:  

An event is the name of the “race” that a swimmer is entered in.  
Events are identified by a number.  
The event number is followed by the stroke/category and age group.  
In the ISL Swim League there are six stroke/categories of events: Freestyle Relay, Medley Relay, Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly, and Individual Medley.
There are six age groups: 5&6, 7&8, 9&10, 11&12, 13&14, 15-18.
Event 25 Girls 9-10 50 Yard Breaststroke
Event 36 Boys 7-8 25 Yard Backstroke

There are currently 68 events in an ISL Swim League dual meet.

The Heat:  

Many swimmers are entered into each event.  In some cases there may be as many as 30 or more swimmers competing in the same event.  In a six-lane pool, there is no way to swim all the entries in any event head-to-head at the same time.  Instead the event is broken up into heats. The number of heats is determined by the number of swimmers and the number of lanes in the pool.  In a six-lane pool, a 30-swimmer event would be divided into five heats – six swimmers in each heat. 
It is important to remember that all swimmers in a single event are competing against each other.  Times for all heats in an event are tallied together.  The fastest time out of all of the heats wins the event.

Order of Events

  1. Medley Relays - Each leg of the relay swims one of the four strokes.  The first swimmer swims backstroke, the second breaststroke, the third butterfly, and the final swimmer, freestyle

  2. Butterfly events - Some consider this to be the most beautiful of the strokes.  It features a simultaneous overhand stroke of the arms combined with an undulating dolphin kick.  In the kick, the swimmer must keep both legs together and may not flutter, scissor or use the breaststroke kick.  On turns and at the finish, the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously.

  3.  Backstroke events - Swimmer must remain on the back with an alternating motion of the arms with a flutter kick.  The swimmer must touch the wall while on the back. A backstroke flip turn is not allowed in ISL swimming.

  4. Individual Medley (IM) events - Features all four strokes. In the IM, the swimmer begins with the butterfly, then changes to backstroke, then breaststroke and finally freestyle.

  5.  Breaststroke events - Consists of simultaneous movements of the arms on the same horizontal plane. The hands are pulled from the breast in a heart shaped pattern and recovered under or on the surface of the water. The elbows remain under the surface of the water except at the finish.  The hands cannot be brought beyond the hipline except the first stroke after the start or turn. The kick is a simultaneous somewhat circular motion similar to the action of a frog.  On turns and at the finish, the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously, with shoulders in line with the surface of the water.

  6. Freestyle events - Swimmers may swim any stroke, but the stroke most commonly used is the crawl, which is characterized by alternate overhand motion of the arms and an alternating (up and down) flutter, or scissor kick.

  7. Freestyle Relays - Each swimmer swims one quarter of the total distance of the event.  Swimmers may swim any stroke they like, although the freestyle (crawl) is preferred.

 Swim distances

ISL Swim League is a “short course” competition, meaning we swim in 25 Yard or 25 Meter pools.  The swim distances are divided by age group:

  • 25 meters/yards for 8 & Under age group

  • 50 meters/yards for 9 & older age groups


Scoring for Individual (max of 2)

1st place

2nd place

3rd place

4th place






Scoring for Relays (1 per team)

1st place

2nd place

3rd place




  • Individual events are scored 5-3-2-1 (1st = 5 points, 2nd = 3 points, 3rd = 2 points, etc). 

  • Relays are scored 7-4-3 (1st = 7 points, 2nd = 4 points, 3rd = 3 points)

Meet Entries
The maximum number of events an individual swimmer may swim per meet is 3 individual and 1 relay or 2 individual and 2 relays.  For more details, see the ISL rules and by-laws at  These documents are reviewed by the league committee every year.


Whether you are a Break-Down or Clean-Up volunteer, or not, please do your part to keep the pool area clean and safe. This includes picking up trash around the pool area. Do your part to keep your kids out of the Commons pool gym room. Help is always welcome after the meet to help clean up and prepare the pool area of the community to use after our meet. Our goal is to maintain a positive relationship with our community and the HOA. Let's all do our part.

Ribbons are presented to 1st through 6th place finishes for dual meets and 1st through 9th for tri-meets.  At ISL swim meets, each swimmer receives a Participant ribbon or a place ribbon.  Heat winner ribbons are also awarded to the fastest swimmer in each heat.  Additional ribbons that might be earned include Time Improvement Ribbons and Team Record Ribbons.

Champs participation

Eligibility: To be able to swim in a championship meet, a swimmer must be a league member in good 
standing and have participated in at least two dual or tri-meets AND four events cumulatively during 
the current season (excluding any “pentathlon” or other non-regular season meets). The 
Championship Meet is a time qualifying meet with the added provision that any swimmer who did not 
otherwise qualify may be entered in up to one individual event and up to 2 relays by his or her coach. 
Any swimmer in the 5/6 or 7/8 age groups who has qualified for a single individual event may elect to 
not swim in that qualified event and instead be entered into another individual event of their choosing 
and up to 2 relays by his or her coach. It is the job of the Championship Meet Manager to structure 
the number of heats.