Am I fast enough for USA Swimming team/meet?
Yes!! Most of the meets we go to feature swimmers of all abilities and skill levels. There will be some swimmers (some from USC!) that elicit ooohs and aaah. For every one of those swimmers there are ten more swimming an event for the first time, swimming at their first meet, persevering with a new skill, getting DQed, belly flopping off the blocks, forgetting their backstroke stroke count, etc. And everything in between!
What is USA Swimming anyway?
USA Swimming is essentially the league we swim in. It's just a really big, nation-wide league, very much like YMCA swimming. USA Swimming is broken down into smaller, regional districts. The district we swim in is Lake Erie Swimming, which covers most of northern Ohio. All of our meets are hosted by various Lake Erie Swimming clubs. Our championships are the Lake Erie Championships. Lake Erie Swimming, a subdivision of USA Swimming, is functionally our "league". (If you haven't yet, check out LakeErieSwimming.com)
The only difference between USA Swimming and your local leagues, is that for the really fast swimmers there are opportunities to race at regional and national level meets (up through the Olympic Trials!). USC regularly sends some of our swimmers to Mid-West regional championships. We've sent kids to Jr. National and Olympic Trials competitions.
While the opportunity is there to ascend the ranks to a national level, this is NOT what most people get out of USC or USA Swimming. USA Swimming's mission is to grow the sport of swimming in the USA at ALL levels. USC's mission is to develop the character and values that come from striving for your best (passion, dedication, motivation), whether that is a personal best time at a local championship (most of USC), or a national meet.
What are USA Swimming and Lake Erie meets like?
Most of our meets are like your summer league or YMCA league championship meets (except most of them don't last all day). They are Invitationals open to all member clubs of Lake Erie Swimming, not dual meets. While the format may very slightly, the meet sessions always consist of a warm up period followed by 2-4 hours of multiple events, swum in heats. The other big difference is there are more events at USA Swimming meets (multiple distances for the stroke events, distance freestyle events, longer IM events).
A "standard" meet is two days with multiple sessions. Each day, the 11-12 and10 & unders will swim in the morning. There is a 45 minute warm up session for all teams. After warm ups, there are 4-6 different individual events to choose from, along with relay events. There will be multiple heats of each event (normally around 3-8 heats). Morning sessions typically end around 11:30. In the afternoons, the 13-14 and 15 & Over swimmers will have there session, with 4-6 individual events to choose from, along with relays. The meet is scored like an invitational. You show up, swim your events at the scheduled time, do your best, and cheer on the rest of USC!
There are variations to this standard format. Many meets are only one day and don't include the full slate of events. Some faster meets require you achieve a time standard in order to qualify (these meets often have preliminary heats in the morning, with an evening finals session for the top qualifiers). Some meets are developmental meets, and require that you have a personal best that is slower than a listed time standard in order to enter (these are great for new swimmers, developing swimmers, nervous swimmers, or those who want to swim some "off-events"). Some events have "Odd Age Groups" (for example: 7 & under, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13, etc).
How do I sign up for meets?
You can log into your Team Unify account and see the upcoming events. You select "edit commitment", click "yes I will attend", and hit the check box next to the events you'd like to swim! Just know that most meets limit you to 3 or 4 events per session. And the meet entries are typically due a few weeks before the meet, so sign up in advanced! The coaches sometimes alter your event entries, sometimes to eliminate an event you might be ready for, or sometimes to put our more experienced swimmers in challenging events once they are ready for them.
Can I sign up for only one day of a multi-day meet?
YES! There are no league rules against it, and we are totally fine with it as a club. The only meet we ask that you try to plan for is your end of year championship meet.
What do I do when I get to a meet?
Plan to be on-deck at least 15 min before the scheduled warm up time. We sit together as a team, so look for the coaches in their USC gear. Most meets have sign in sheets for each athlete, the coaches will direct you to those. After that you sign in it's time to go change and get ready to warm up! The heat and lane assignments are published by the end of warm up. After warm up the coaches will tell everyone where they need to be and when.
If you are new to USC and a little overwhelmed, that is OK! If you can get to the pool at least 15 min before the warm up begins, the coaches will take care of the rest. We will make sure you are signed in, and behind the blocks when you need to be.
What should I bring to a meet?
- Your USC Cap - This is our uniform. These will be passed out at practice.
- Racing Suit - Any suit you'd like that fits well. You do not need a fancy suit. Some of our swimmers have expensive suits for big meets, but they are absolutely not needed (most do not where them). And for those that have expensive suits, we strongly encourage that you do not where them for most meets.
- Goggles - Bring two pair, you never know when your favorite pair will finally break
- Towels - It's probably a good idea to bring two
- USC Apparel - Show your team spirit! If you don't have any yet that is ok. Conveniently, we share a color scheme with the Cavs, so any Cavs gear make a nice substitute :)
- Snacks - Fruit, yogurt, granola bars, pasta, light sandwiches. Just don't bring candy or junk! Save that for your post meet celebration!
- Water - Everyone should have a re-fillable water bottle for practice and meets!
Should I go to every meet?
NO! We don't want to burn out any swimmers or parents. While there are a few gung-ho swimmers on the team who go to most meets, that is not necessary. We recommend that the beginners try a couple of meets throughout the year (the developmental meet in Solon is a great first meet!), and the Intermediate and Advance swimmers go to at least 4 meets throughout the season. We would, however, like to see everyone attend championships at the end of the year.
What meets should I sign up for?
Despite the various formats, most meets are appropriate for the whole team and include swimmers of all skill levels. Pick the meets that fit your family's schedule!
There are a couple of exceptions. The Mark Braun (Nov), Shaker Invite (Dec), and Jim Scullion (Jan) meets are "faster-than" meets; you must have achieved a listed qualifying time to compete. The Fall Breakout (Nov) and New Year's Stretch (Jan) meets are developmental meets; you're best time must be slower than the listed qualifying time in order to attend.
If you have any questions about a meet don't hesitate to talk to the coaches.
I'm nervous. Should I wait to sign-up for my first meet until I'm more confident?
If you are not quite ready for a meet that is OK; we'll continue to build your confidence in practice. But please note, EVERYONE is nervous before there first meet. That is OK. When you're ready, your teammates and coaches will make sure your first meet is a positive experience. And we would not recommend a meet for you if we did not think you were ready.
Why are meets important?
- Our goal as a club to develop great PEOPLE (not just athletes) full of Passion, Dedication, and Motivation, in and out of the pool. Part of that character building comes from stepping up to a challenge and going after some goals!
- It gives the coaches a chance to assess your technique and skills in a race setting (practice technique and race execution sometimes differ, especially for younger swimmers).
- Mental race skills and prep need to be developed just like proper technique or physical conditioning.
- The sense of community within USC is best forged best at meets. Kids support and cheer each other on, and get to celebrate their accomplishments and special moments with their peers. The parents make a point to sit with each other in the stands, cheer loudly, socialize, and make meets a community event.
- They are FUN!