Meet FAQ's

Meet Day FAQ's

Meet Day Illness/Cancelation
It’s the day before the meet and my swimmer is sick. Should I pull him from the meet today or wait until tomorrow in case he gets better?
You know your child best, if it appears he/she is pretty sick, (fever, throwing up) please contact the Coordinator immediately and have him/her pulled or taken out of the meet.  It is always easier to add a swimmer to a meet versus taking a swimmer out of a meet.

Will my child get a ribbon?


Every child that swims in an event at the meet will receive a ribbon to record their event and swim time.  Ribbons are awarded for first through eighth place and then after that they receive a Place Winner ribbon.  Your child will swim within their age group which are 6 and under, 8 and under (7-8), 10 and under (9-10) , 12 and under (11-12), 14 and under (13-14), 16 and under.  So every other year, your child will have an “up” year when they are the oldest in their age group and a “down” year when they are the youngest in their age group. If it is a down year for your child, be sure to talk to them if they are discouraged about not placing in meets and let them know that next year they will be the among the older swimmers in their group.  The Place Winner ribbons are awarded so the swimmers know their times right away and helps to remind them it is more important to improve their time in a race instead of what place they came in.


How many events will my child swim?


Your child will swim 2 to 4 events.  In our league, a swimmer can swim no more than 4 events.


What can I do to prepare my child for a meet?


On meet day, coaches prefer that swimmers do not spend the day out in the sun or swimming at the pool. Also, it is important to eat well on meet day, especially prior to coming to the meet. Hydration is critical on meet day, as the late afternoon sun can catch up with swimmers during a meet and they can become suddenly dehydrated.

Before arriving at the meet, be sure to talk to your child about where you will be during the meet.  Let your child know where to find you at your volunteer job and clarify if your child will have money to get concessions or if you will be bringing food and drinks from home. If it is your child’s first meet, talk to them about the bullpen and let them know you will be there to cheer them on.


What is a swimmer number?


Each swimmer is assigned a swimmer number. We use this number to properly identify your child in the water, in the bullpen and to swim each race.  The number is written by you in permanent marker (Sharpie) prior to the meet. The number should be written on both upper arms as well as on the child’s back on the right shoulder blade. Some sunscreens will remove the number so do not apply sunscreen directly on the number. Also, the marker can transfer from warm skin on to leather car seats so have your swimmer sit on a towel in your car if needed.


When do we arrive?


Thursday afternoon meets at the Thornwood pool follow this schedule:

4:15 Positive Check-in

4:30-5:00 Warm-ups

5:00-5:20 Coaches talk

5:20 Begin lining up swimmers for relays

5:30 Meet begins


Away meet schedules are posted in the weekly newsletter.


What do we do when we get there?

Positive check in is the first step at the meet. This is a swim meet term meaning the swimmer has to check in prior to the start of the meet so the team knows that all swimmers have arrived. If a swimmer does not check in, that swimmer is scratched from the meet and in the event the swimmer is in a relay, the relay team is scratched if a replacement swimmer cannot be found. It is critical that swimmers arrive on time and check in.


Positive check in for your swimmer consists of pulling the list of events from your family’s pocket.  You will find this hanging on the fence to the left once you step out into the pool area from the locker rooms.  You will also find a lanyard for the parent volunteer, with a tag stating the volunteer position.


Swimmers must then write their event, heat, lane, and relay leg on their hand in permanent marker. If you receive your events prior to the meet then this can be done at home.  The swimmer then goes to the bullpen and finds a seat near the sign with their swimmer number.  Your swimmer should arrive with their swimmer number on their upper arm and shoulder blade.


What should we bring?


Bring goggles, swim cap, towels. The most important thing to remember about a meet is that it is wet! Swimmers can get cold between events, so most families bring several towels for each swimmer.  Sweatshirt, sweatpants, and a blanket are recommended for cooler evenings. Sunscreen is important for early on in the meet. A waterproof bag helps to keep everything dry.  A pair of back up goggles are nice to have too. Concessions are sold during the meet, but you can also bring food and drinks for your child to keep in the bullpen. Please do not bring any electronics. Phones/ipods/handheld games can get wet and lost.


Can anyone come to watch the meet?


Yes, there is no entry fee for the meets and all are welcome.  If family/friends are coming to watch, please let them know your child will be in the bullpen between events.


How long is the meet?


Meets usually run two to three hours from the start of the first event, but this can vary based on the size of visiting team and number of heats for each event.


When can we leave the meet?


You can leave the meet after your child swims their last event, parents have completed their volunteer requirement and you have cleaned up your area on the pool deck, this is especially important if you child was in the bullpen. There is no check out, but parents please ensure your lanyards are turned in.


When does my child get his/her ribbons?


Ribbons are placed in your family folder and are available a few hours after the meet. They are in the family folder bins and will be on Team Coordinator's front door step.  Although ribbons are created during the meet, visiting team ribbons are completed first so their swimmers can take them home at the end of the meet, then Thornwood ribbons are finalized.


My young child is nervous about swimming the length of the pool but wants to participate in a meet. Can someone get in the pool with him/her?


Yes, it is not unusual for a younger swimmer to be nervous at a meet. We have many older swimmers who get in the water with our younger team members. The older swimmer usually just swims alongside and talks to the younger swimmer.  Let your child’s coach know if this is something your swimmer will need and a buddy will be found.






What strokes do swimmers use in competition?


Freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly


What is a heat?


The Thornwood pool is split into eight lanes, four for each team. If there are more than eight swimmers for an event, the event is repeated with the next one to eight swimmers. There can be up to three or four heats for an event.  Places for the event are determined by the fastest times for all heats combined, so even though your child may be first in the heat that he/she swims in they may not be first place overall.


What is the order of events?


Meets begin and end with relay races. The meet begins with a medley relay where each member of a relay team does a different stroke. The order is backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.  Then there are individual events in all strokes. The meet ends with the Individual Medley (IM) which is only for swimmers in the older age groups, and finally the freestyle relays. Each age group swims each type of event starting with the youngest age group and finishing with the oldest swimmers.


Explain how an event happens?


For ages 10 and under, all individual events start at the shallow end of the Thornwood Pool (the end with the slide) and finish down in the deep end where the timers sit. Individual events for these ages are one length of the pool.  Swimmers ages 10 and under are brought out of the bullpen and lined up on deck at their lane where they wait for their race. A bullpen volunteer is at the lane to wait with them and put them in the water for their event. The event is announced and started. The swimmer finishes the event, exits the water, talks to their coach and then should return to the bullpen on their own. 


Swimmers in older age groups (11 and older) swim two lengths of the pool. They line themselves up on deck by the timers at the deep end of the pool and wait for their event to begin.


How does a relay work?


A relay consists of four swimmers and they each swim 1-2 lengths of the pool depending upon their age.  Swimmers age 10 and under each swim one length, which is one leg of the relay. The relay is four legs and is the only race for this age group that starts in the deep end by the timers. Swimmers who will swim legs 1 and 3 of the race start by the timers, and swimmers who swim legs 2 and 4 of the race start in the shallow end.


In the Medley Relay, the order of the strokes is backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle.

In the Freestyle Relay, all swimmers do freestyle.

What is an IM?


An IM is an Individual Medley where one swimmer swims all four strokes. The order is butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle.  This is not an event for ages ten and under, but on occasion a swimmer is asked to “swim up” for this event. Swimmers in this event begin in the deep end by the timers and swim four laps.


Can my child be disqualified from an event, or DQ’d?


Thornwood Thunder swims in a recreational league that promotes learning and love of the sport of swimming. No swimmer will be disqualified for stroke violation, touching the bottom of the pool, or illegal turns. Swimmers do have to touch the wall to end the clock.


What does it mean if my child is “swimming up”?

On occasion a coach will move a swimmer up an age level for an event. This is called “swimming up”. 


How will I know what events my child is swimming?

At positive check in, your swimmer’s events will be listed on a slip of paper in your family pocket.  An Events by Swimmer report is usually also sent out by email early on meet day. You can use this report to write your swimmer’s events on their hand or arms before arriving at the meet.


My child does not want to swim a race because he/she is not confident in his/her ability to do the stroke. Can we drop the event?

Coaches put a great deal of time deciding the line up of events for each swimmer. If your child’s coach has placed your child in an event, then the coach believes your child is ready to swim that stroke or event.  There are no disqualifications for stroke violations, so encourage your child to do their best and support their effort.  Swimming the event will provide a time for their speeding ticket and a chance to continually improve on that time.


Dropping an event during a meet creates a difficult challenge for coaches to replace the swimmer in the event. With a limit of only four events per swimmer and the restrictions by age group, it’s a challenge to find a replacement swimmer. Solving this puzzle during an ongoing meet takes the coaches away from on deck coaching and their ability to provide immediate feedback to swimmers who have just completed a race. 




What is the bullpen?


The bullpen is the designated area at a swim meet where all swimmers from a team wait for their events. The Thornwood bullpen is for swimmers age 10 and under, although older swimmers are welcome to wait there too.  Bullpen volunteers find swimmers and bring them to their lane several events prior to their race.


While waiting in the bullpen, swimmers sit near the sign for their swimmer number so bullpen volunteers can easily find them. Food and drinks are allowed in the bullpen. Parents are encouraged to visit their swimmer frequently in the bullpen to see if they need snacks/drinks and parents of our youngest swimmers often sit with their swimmer or just on the other side of the pool fence.


Why can’t my child wait with me during the meet and I will bring my child to the lane for each event?


Bullpen volunteers will begin to find and organize swimmers up to ten events in advance. Our bullpen volunteers line up over 100 swimmers for over fifty events with multiple heats. It is not possible to keep track of which swimmer is with their parents and which swimmer is in the bullpen.  If a parent brings a swimmer to the lane, this leaves the bullpen volunteer back in the bullpen searching for that swimmer and possibly delaying the entire line up for that event.


My child came to find me. Who let them out of the bullpen?


Your child can leave the bullpen at any time. It is up to each parent to speak with their child regarding the expectation to stay in the bullpen between events.   Swimmers leave to go to the bathroom, get food from concessions, and get money from parents for concessions. It is not possible to manage the coming and going of over 100 swimmers to the concession stand and bathroom. Children get hungry and tired during the meet and need an occasional visit from a parent.


Can I wait in the bullpen with my child?


Yes, parents are always welcome in the bullpen.


Can my toddler swim in the kiddie pool during the meet?

Only Thornwood Thunder team members are allowed in the kiddie pool during the meet. Our swimmers use the kiddie pool to either stay warm or cool down during a meet. The team insurance policy for meet day does not cover any other swimmers but team members.