Meet Logistics

Swim Meet Guidelines

1.      MEET ENTRY:

2.      TIME STANDARDS:  Some meets have time standards faster than or slower than a certain time.  Please pay attention to these time standards.  If you are unsure of your swimmer(s)’ eligibility, please ask any of the FAST coaches.

3.      DUE DATES:  Each meet has a listed due date set by Southern California Swimming. A host team will close its meet earlier to entries if the meet reaches capacity. We ask for entries well in advance of the due dates to ensure our entries are accepted. Please pay attention to our posted due dates. Late entries cannot be accepted.

Attending a Swim Meet


·      Team suit, team cap, goggles

·      Extra suit, cap & goggles (just in case!)

·      Towels (at least 2-3 … you will be there a while, so pack extras)

·      ZAP t-shirt

·      Warm-ups or something to keep them warm in between races

·      Games or something constructive to pass the time in between swims

·      Healthy food.  Although there is a snack bar available at most meets, please bring your own snacks.       Suggestions:  water, Gatorade, granola bars, sandwich, fruit, raisins, veggies. 

·      Dry clothes for after the meet.

·      A positive attitude!

·      Cash for parking and purchase of psych sheets.

•     Chair to sit in


1.      Ensure that your swimmer eats a good breakfast.  Do not show up to the meet on an empty stomach.

2.      Arrive at the pool at least 15 minutes before the scheduled warm-up begins. Warm-up times will be listed in the Meet Guide email you will receive the week before the meet.

3.  Upon arrival at the pool, locate the ZAP team area to place your belongings.  A Z-Force leader should be at the pool for assistance.

4.      Find the swimmer check-in area and check-in. Forgetting to check-in could cause a swimmer to be scratched from that event (Some duel and tri meets are pre-seeded and do not require check-in).  Please check with the Parent Liaison or ZAP coach as soon as you arrive for exact procedures.

5.      Swimmers, once checked-in, write each event number on your hand. This will help you remember what events you are swimming so you will know when to be ready.

6.      Swimmers report to the pool deck with cap and goggles on, ready for warm-up. It is important for all swimmers to be at the warm-up. Entry into the pool during the warm-up is feet first only, except during sprint lane swimming.

7.      After warm-up is finished, the swimmer(s) go back to the team area for any last important information from the coaches and to wait for their event heat and lane to be posted.

8.      The ZAP coaches will let the swimmers know how the meet will run and where all important information will be posted. The Z-Force leaders will also know this.

9.      PLEASE NOTE:  According to USA Swimming rules, parents are not allowed on the pool deck unless they are serving in an official capacity.  All questions concerning meet results, disqualifications, etc. should be directed to the ZAP coaches. They, in turn, will handle the situation in the proper manner.


1.      The meet admin will post heat and lane assignments on the pool deck.  The swimmers need to know where these are posted. It is up to the swimmers to listen to the announcer to know when their event(s) are called to the blocks.

2.      After each event, the swimmer should thank their timer and then ask for their time, They then proceed immediately to their coach to discuss the swim; then they go cool down.

3.      When a swimmer has completed all of his/her events, he/she should check with a ZAP coach before leaving to make sure he/she is not included in a relay at the end of the meet.  If you are unable to stay for relays, please let a ZAP coach know prior to the start of the meet or better yet, at the time of meet entry.

Types or Levels of Swim Meets

1.      Dual/Tri Meets

      Occasionally, ZAP will compete with one or two other teams in a dual or tri meet. These meets help promote team unity but usually limit the number of events a swimmer may enter.

2.      Developmental (“BRW” or “RW”) Meets

      These meets generally do not have any qualification time standards. Most of the time, these meets offer each of the competitive strokes in two distances for each age group. Swimmers are usually allowed to enter 3-4 events per day.

3.      Qualification Meets

      These meets have some type of qualification time standard that a swimmer must meet in order to enter the meet.

4.      Pacific Committee Championships

      At the end of each short course and long course season, the Pacific Committee sanctions a Committee championship meet.  A swimmer may only swim events they have swum legally before and cannot be faster than the maximum time standard listed.

5.      JO Championships

      At the end of each short course or long course season, Southern California Swimming (SCS) sanctions an LSC championship meet.  Southern California Swimming sets the qualifying time standards for these meets.

6.      Sectional Championships

      One of the highest levels of achievement ZAP swimmers strive for is the participation in the Sectional Championships. ZAP swimmers meeting qualifying time standards for this meet travel to different locations throughout the western half of the United States to compete against the best swimmers in that section.

7.      USA National Championships

      Other than the Olympic Trials and the World Championship Trials, each of which is held every four years, the highest level of competition for our senior swimmers is the USA National and Jr. National Championships.  ZAP swimmers meeting the national qualifying time standards travel to various cities throughout the United States to compete against America’s best swimmers. Swimmers can qualify for national teams that represent the United States in international competition by their performance at the National or Jr. National meets.

Championship Meets

One of our team goals is to qualify as many swimmers as possible for the Championship Meet(s).  The Championship Meets are special experiences and extremely important in the athletes development. As an age group swimmer, our swimmers learn they swim faster at the Championship Meets than at any other time during the season. They are prepared for this; they are taught this…and we practice this!  If a young swimmer goes to a Championship Meet and is not properly prepared, the experience could be negative and could affect other “big” meets in the future. As coaches, we believe that the honor of competing at any Championship Meet is EARNED through consistent practice habits and competing at USA Swimming Meets. There is a big difference between “wanting” to go to the Championships and “deserving” to be at the meet. Talent plays a supporting role to commitment. To insure that all of our swimmers are properly prepared for their Championships:

· Meet attendance and participation through the entire season is important. USA Swimming Meets offer the experience necessary.

· Practice habits must be within our recommendations for the swimmer’s particular group.  CONSISTENCY is the key word.

Making the cut is not the ultimate goal.  It is a seasonal goal that should lead to JOs, Sectionals and National Meets.  Making the “cut-off time” is simply a requirement to attend the meet. The goal is to be as prepared as possible and perform to the best of one’s ability at the meet.

Prelim/Final Meet Format

In a preliminaries and finals meet format, the object of the preliminary swim is to qualify for the evening finals session.  If a swimmer places among the top 8 (in an 8-lane pool) after swimming his/her morning swim, they advance to swim in the finals in the evening session.  Some meets also swim a consolation final.  If a swimmer places 9-16 in the preliminaries, h/she qualifies to participate in the evening consolation finals.  A swimmer should never leave the meet without making sure if they are a finalist or an alternate.  USA swimming rules dictate that if a swimmer makes a finals event and fails to show up, he/she is banned from participating in the remainder of the meet.


Swim Meet Volunteer Opportunities

Several volunteer positions need to be filled for each session of each swim meet that ZAP hosts. A sign-up sheet will be available for some time prior to the meet which will give you an opportunity to sign up for your favorite position. Don't be shy -- this is your huge opportunity to help the team!

Meet Director - must be trained and SCS registered

Volunteer Coordinator - organize/ recruit volunteers and then send reminder e-mails

Concessions - purchase/solicit donations of food, drinks, snacks etc. to sell at our home meets and then organize volunteers to set-up and sell these items

Hospitality - purchase/solicit or prepare food, snacks, etc. provided to coaches and officials during meets. This includes making sure volunteers at meets have beverages available to them.

Computer Operator – Must be SCS trained and certified and USA Swimming registered. Also, must be computer savvy as this person runs the computer during meets, as well as input entry data prior to meets.

Awards - ordering and sorting ribbons and medals is done prior to the meets. Distribution of individual awards is handled during the meet.

Swimmer Check-In - oversee swimmer's event sign-in sheets

Runner - Post event heats and lanes, and results, and distribute to officials, and post at set locations.

Head Timer - keep back-up stopwatch and coordinate timers during session

Timers - need 2-3 per lane

Staging - organize 8/Under swimmers by heat and lane assignments for each event.  A minimum of 2 people are needed for each session.

Hospitality and Concession Workers - help in concession stand or hospitality suite

Deck Marshal - Ensures the deck is kept clear so swimmers can get to their blocks in time.

Officials and Their Duties By Fred Cruciger, Longtime Florida USS Official and Swim Parent

When you as a parent go to a swimming meet you may not be totally familiar with the officials and their duties.  In order to gain a better understanding of the functions of the officials, it might be a good idea to discuss the duties of each position and then to explain just how a person becomes an official.

The Meet Referee is the key official and is in complete charge of the competition. The referee makes decisions based upon the technical rules of swimming and assigns and supervises the other officials working the meet.  The referee is the person who stands at the starting end of the pool and signals the starter when the race is ready to begin.  No disqualification is final until the referee has signed the disqualification slip. The referee is the final authority.

The starter is responsible for ensuring a fair start to each race. He or she gives commands that are designed to inform the swimmer of the stroke and distance, to bring the swimmers to the proper starting position, and once all swimmers are motionless, he or she signals the race to begin with either the beeper or gun start.

There will also be stroke and turn judges stationed around the pool. They are charged with the specific responsibility of ensuring that the swimmers conform to the established rules of competition for that specific event. Each stroke has specific rules and it is up to these officials to enforce them.

Officials are well trained. The first level is stroke and turn official. They can then progress to starter and finally to referee. Each level requires a clinic, which is conducted by a certified clinic instructor. After the clinic there is a test and also a requirement for an apprenticeship period. During this time the apprentice works with a certified official to learn under actual competitive conditions. Once all of these phases are completed, the official is certified.

Once certified, each official must be re-certified every year. This is to ensure that each and every official is fully current on the rules. Rules change, and it is absolutely necessary for each official to be up to date.

Rules can vary from very basic to highly complex. The key to the rules is contained in the first paragraph of the United States Swimming Rules and Regulations.  It states " that no swimmer shall obtain unfair advantage over another." That is the reason for rules.  Also, officials are instructed to make sure that every benefit goes to the swimmer. In other words, if an official is unsure about a possible rule infraction, the benefit goes to the swimmer.

Officials signal a disqualification by raising a hand for about 20 seconds, or until the referee sees it.  The purpose of the raised hand is not to signal any specific swimmer, but to call attention to the fact that a disqualification has taken place. The official calling the infraction will then write it up on paper, sign it and forward it to the referee for signature. Once signed by the referee the disqualification is official.

The referee is the only official who can be approached by a coach. The referee must know all of the details so that if approached by the coach, all of the necessary information will be at hand.

Officials and coaches must work together. The coach wants his swimmer to be disqualified if there is an infraction. This becomes a teaching aid for the coach. If you, as a parent, have a question about a DQ, contact your coach.  Do not go to the referee. If the coach needs more information to answer your question, the coach will go to the referee.

Officials have a large responsibility. They do this for the benefit of the sport. Chances are great that their own child(ren) is in that meet. Nearly 100% of all officials started out as “swim parents” just like you.

All of the officials do their best to be as fair and reasonable as possible. However, if they observe a rule violation, they will call a disqualification. That is why they are there.

Every meet must have a full staff of officials and this may be something that you might wish to try. One thing for certain, it sure makes the meet go more quickly! Contact ZAP Lead official, Judy Shim, or any of the ZAP officials and ask them the procedure to become a certified official. It is a good way to learn some of the rules of the sport, contribute to the meet, and to show your children that you are supporting them.

Which Events Should Your Child Swim?

Concern:  My child will be aging up before the end of the season and she needs every opportunity to make JO times in each event before then. The coach, however, does not want her to attend all the offered meets and does not allow the swimmers to swim all the events offered at each meet. I do not like the way the coach selects my child's meet and event schedule.

Response:  Rule number one for any concern regarding decisions made by the coach is to communicate directly with the coach at your earliest opportunity. The coach may mention one or more of the following considerations:

1. Age group swimmers should have an opportunity to experience all the official events for their age group. In fact, many coaches would make a case for having intermediate to advanced age group swimmers also swim 200's of back, breast, and fly, as well as the 400 IM and distance freestyles. (Some countries offer these events in meets and tabulate national rankings!) BUT, there needs to be a balance found between the time and expense of driving to too many meets versus the long range goals of a good age group program - steady, well planned, unrushed, and enjoyable progress. Progressive coaches make opportunities in practices, time trials, and short at-home mini-meets for age group swimmers to experience all events.

2. A major push at end of an age group implies that a let down can occur when the child ages up. This discourages the steady and consistent progress that most coaches encourage in age group swimming.

3. Achievement must be viewed as career long and not dependent on the vagaries of an end of age group meet schedule. Coaches plan careers around seasonal planning, not around age group planning.  The primary focus should be on end of season meet.

4. A combined and unified team effort for end of the season meets is more important than allowing individual swimmers to "peak" for mid-season meets in order to achieve time standards or rankings.

5. For all the above reasons, the coach is the person who should select each swimmer's meet and event schedule early in the season and review it with each swimmer and parent.

When Your Child is Disqualified

Concern:  I've noticed that when some of our team's swimmers are disqualified the coach does not approach the official to question the call while at other times he confronts the official immediately. There appears to be favoritism.

Response: If this is a case of favoritism we certainly do not condone this type of coach behavior. We recommend a direct, but polite discussion with the coach at a time when everyone has had some time and distance from the situation.

 If not favoritism, then the following may explain your coaches’ behavior:

The coach observed the infraction, was not surprised by it, noted it, and talked with the swimmer about it. Coaches work with their swimmers every day and know each individual's difficulties with technique and tendency for mistakes.

Coaches continually work with their athletes helping them to improve technique and correct mistakes but the results are rarely instantaneous. Swimmers take time to improve technique and eliminate mistakes. Coaches will enter a swimmer in an event even though the swimmer is only marginally capable of performing legal strokes and turns so that the swimmer gains experience. If the swimmer is disqualified, the coach uses it as a learning situation for the athlete.

In some sports it is expected that there be a confrontation between coach and official with every call but that has not been our way in swimming.

When there is a confrontation it is generally over a judgment call made by the official for an infraction that the athlete does not have a history of making, and, in the eyes of the coach, was not a good call. In this case the coach will usually ask the official for a clarification of the call and the specific rule broken. The coach will also ask the official if he was in a proper position to make such a call.

What is Short-Course vs. Long-Course?

“One of our pools is 25 yards wide by 50 meters long. Why isn't the pool 25 meters by 50 meters or 25 yards by 50 yards?”

For years the "American Standard Short Course" pool has been a 25-yard pool. Almost all high school pools and most college pools are 25 yards and all high school and college meets are run as short course meets.  Club teams generally swim short course meets from September through March.  

The international standard is meters. The Olympics, Pan-American Games, and World Championships are held in 50-meter pools.  In this country, most 50-meter pools are outdoors due to the cost of building an indoor 50-meter pool.  For that reason our long course season is generally from March through August.  As more and more indoor 50 meter pools are being built and as the United States focuses more on international swimming the distinction between the "short course season" and the "long course season" becomes less distinct and more and more meets are going to the long course standard throughout the year -- with the exception of high school and college swimming which will remain short course yards.

At this time we are swimming short course. Eventually we will swim meets that are long course. This will cause some confusion about times. The times will be slower because a 50-meter swim is approximately 5 yards longer than a 50-yard swim. Another factor are turns. There are fewer turns in long course swimming. Generally, turns are faster than swimming -- we can push off the wall faster than we can swim. (Although for some of our swimmers who have not yet mastered a turn, the turning process is slower than swimming!)

Some people attempt to "convert" a short course time to a long course time or visa versa. We ask that you do not. The conversions factors are not precise due to differences in turns, strokes, and individual's ability to swim the extra distance at speed.  Conversions can lead to unrealistic expectations and disappointments, or to a false sense of achievement. For those reasons we do not convert times. We simply say that each swimmer has two sets of best times, one for long course and one for short course.

What is Taper?

”When A Championship Meet Approaches, My Child’s Workouts Get Easier And Shorter. Shouldn’t He Be Working Harder Right Before A Meet? What Is Taper?”

Answered by: Marc Williams, Head Coach of the City of Richardson Swim Team, Richardson, Texas.

It shouldn’t be surprising to see a team reducing the amount of work leading up to an important competition. Swimming is extremely demanding physically, and in order to produce top performances, the body needs rest.

Before an important meet, a swimmer will go through a training phase known as “Championship Preparation”, “Refinement Phase”, or “taper”. This means a reduction of workload and but an increase in intensity and the amount of rest. The length of a taper will vary according to the workload a swimmer has put in that season and/year and their age and body type. A short taper will consist of one to three days of reduced work and a full taper can last up to six weeks. In general, a young body can recuperate rapidly and does not require as much rest as a senior swimmer. In fact, sometimes the younger swimmer does not respond well to more than a few days rest. The age group swimmer is less developed physically and has undergone less intense training than the senior swimmers. Usually, the age group swimmer will need to reduce the workout lad a few days before the meet or maybe take a day or two off.

During the course of the taper, all types of stress should be gradually reduced. As the taper progresses, the amount of high stress work is decreased and the quality of performance is gradually improved.

For optimum performance, it is suggested that the swimmers curtail their outside activities as much as possible. Most swim coaches realize it is not always possible to skip a little league baseball, softball or soccer game during a taper. However, the neighborhood football games, ski trips, overnight slumber parties, ice skating outings and fun on the trampoline, should be saved for another time. Ideally, you would like the swimmers to store up as much energy as possible for the swimming meet.

When the workload is reduced. There is a noticeable increase in the swimmer’s energy level. Resting is an important part of the taper, and expending the energy will only defeat the purpose of the taper.

There are many factors a coach considers when planning a taper: age, gender, body type, and the swimmer’s primary event.

Age: Older swimmers require more rest than younger swimmers.

Gender: Men usually require more rest than women.

Body Type: Muscular swimmers need more rest.

Primary event: Peak performance in longer events requires more rest than peak performances in shorter events.

During the season, a coach will be very selective in deciding which meets to taper for. Normally, a coach will not rest or taper a swimmer more than two or three times during the short course season. Often times, a swimmer will only taper for the season-ending championship meet.

An effective taper varies greatly from swimmer to swimmer. Consequently, it is essential that there is close communication between the swimmer and coach.