Swim Meet Basics


(Adapted from USA Swimming’s Sample Club Handbook)

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 a parent rep.



 Arrive at the pool at least 15 minutes before the scheduled warm-up time begins, usually at 4:45pm.

 Upon arrival, find a place to put your swimmer's towels (bring 2) and swim bags. The team usually sits in one place together, so look for some familiar faces. The area they sit in is known as the bullpen.

 Find the check-in place and pick up your child’s list of events. Check for special posted instructions in the check-in area.

 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 out.

 After warm-up, your swimmer will go back to the bullpen 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 in.  The meet will usually start about 10-15 minutes after warm-ups are over.

 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.

 Heat Sheets list 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. He/she may swim right away after warm-up or they may have to wait awhile.

 Most meets are computerized. There are generally two ways a swimmer gets to his/her lane:

 Bullpen workers are responsible for gathering the swimmers for their upcoming events and delivering them to the lane bullpen who seat the swimmers in chairs identified with their lane number.

 Generally, girls events are odd-numbered and boys events are even-numbered. You can expect at least 3-4 heats of each event.

 The swimmer swims his or her race.



 The swimmer should then go immediately to his or her coach. The coach will discuss the swim with each swimmer.

 Generally, the coach follows these guidelines when discussing swims:

 Positive comments or praise

 Suggestions for improvement

 Positive comments

 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 him back to the bullpen 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 procedure again. When a swimmer has completed all of her events she and her parents get to go home.

 Ribbons will be placed in your child’s file for pick up the following day (sometimes ribbons may be delayed and will need to be picked up later in the week)



 Each swimmer may only participate in five events per meet.

 Ribbons are awarded for each heat.

 Only the top heat receives points toward the team score

 1st place 5 points

 2nd place 3 points

 3rd place 1 point

 Relay Medley Order (it’s alphabetical)

 Back

 Breast

 Fly

 Free