Going to First Meet

Your First Meet

That first meet can be a little intimidating to swimmers—and their parents. Where do you go? How do you even find out where to go? What do you do? This guide is meant to allay those fears.

Tip: To help your swimmer have a good experience at that first swim meet, ask the coach to match you with a parent who is experienced with meets and whose swimmer can guide yours.

What to bring

Unless the weather is very warm each swimmer will need:

  •        A towel for each event plus one for warm-up
  •        Team suit (recommended), team cap (mandatory)
  •        Sunscreen
  •        Team parka (recommended, and extremely cozy for outdoor meets)
  •        Warm clothes to wear between events
  •        Plenty to eat and drink; although, there will be a snack bar at many meets
  •        Lots to do while waiting for the next event.
  •        Folding chairs

When to arrive

Your coach will tell your swimmer when warm-up starts. The information will also be sent by email for the Piranhas and Tiger Shark group, and can also be found on the meet sheet. (Meet sheets are documents containing comprehensive information about the meet. They are posted on the Pacific Swimming website). This is a good time to arrive and familiarize yourself with the layout.


This is ALWAYS the FIRST thing you do at a meet. Even though your swimmer has a meet entry, he or she will be removed from that event if not signed in at least 30 minutes before the event starts. Swimmers, not the parents, check in by circling their events and initialing next to their names. Most swimmers (and parents!) write the event numbers on their hands, so they do not forget.  If circumstances do not allow you to attend all the events you are entered in, you may scratch at check-in up to 30 minutes before the event is to begin without penalty. Always get permission from the coach before scratching.

Warming up

After checking in, swimmers should report to their coach and be prepared to get in the pool for warm-up. The warm-up process is very important. It allows swimmers to prepare their muscles for swimming and to review things they need to remember for their races.

Heat and Lane Assignments

About 20 minutes before an event starts, the heat and lane assignments will be posted. When you arrive at the meet, find out where these postings will be. Swimmers will be listed in alphabetical order. Swimmers often write this information on their hands. The swimmer then goes to the coach for a pre-race briefing and must give the coach the heat and lane information. Heats are usually ordered from slowest (including swimmers without a recorded competition time for that event) to fastest, with the last heat having the top-seeded swimmers.


Keep track of which event is in progress. Swimmers who miss a race are automatically scratched from the next event, even if the event is the next day. If for some reason your swimmer wants to skip an event, and it is too late to scratch officially, the swimmer simply goes to the block when the heat is called–but does not swim. There is no penalty for doing this.

The race

The swimmer should be ready, cap and goggles on, behind the appropriate lane, with plenty of time. Parents should watch from the observation areas, as it can become very crowded behind the blocks. At some meets, parents will be asked to stay away from this area.

After the race

Check with the coach before racing. Find out such information as whether the swimmer should warm down after racing or go straight to the coach. Regardless, swimmers must see the coach after each race for a debriefing. LAMVAC and USA Swimming ask that parents not attempt to criticize the swimmer’s effort. A parent’s job is to support the swimmer and keep a record of the swimmer's official times.


It happens to everyone at every level. The coach will review errors with the swimmer after the race. This is all part of the learning process.

Results and Awards

Results will be posted at the event.  The coach will collect the awards (ribbons and medals) for the event and distribute them at the next practice session.

Helpful Video

Here is a helpful video to watch before going to your first meet.