First Swim Meet

When Should I Expect at a Swim Meet for the First Time?

When to arrive?

Please plan to arrive to the meet at least thirty minutes early so that there are no late or missing swimmers. It is imperative that the swimmers arrive early to check in and warm up. Swimmers must check in or they may be scratched from their events.

What to bring?

Bring extra towels, extra goggles, sunscreen, sharpie, jackets/parkas/sweats to keep warm, and chairs. Represent our team by wearing OSC gear! OSC swim caps are required for meets, as it helps our swimmers stand out from the other teams. Swimmers who compete for the first time will receive a free OSC swim cap!

What to know about warm up?

For each meet, we are assigned a designated time to warm up. Swimmers must be ready to get in at that time. Warm up usually lasts about half an hour and will include some time to practice dives. After warm up, coaches will talk to the swimmers and remind their expectations for the day.

What are the expectations for swimmers?

  • Swimmers are responsible for knowing their events, heats, and lanes which are posted on the deck and on the app MeetMobile. Writing their event/heat/lane on their arm with a sharpie is helpful for easy access.

  • Swimmers are required to warm up and cool down before and after each event. It is better for many health reasons to get the heart rate up prior to competing and get lactic acid levels down afterwards. Swim double the amount of the event (if it’s a 50…swim at least 100)

  • Swimmers are also required to check-in and check-out with their coach before and after each event. Before each event, swimmers must warm up and talk to coach before getting behind the blocks for their event. After their swim, they must talk to coach again to discuss feedback on their event. They will then be dismissed and reminded to cool down. Swimmers should begin warming up approximately 2-3 events prior to their event, as some events progress quickly. If they happen to warm up too early, then the swimmer should stay warm and stay active until their event starts (ex: stretching, jumping jacks, etc).

  • Swimmers should make sure not to eat too close to their events. Sticking to small snacks throughout the day would be safer. A hearty post-meet meal always tastes better anyway! Remember to stay hydrated though!

  • Swimmers should show good sportsmanship when competing. They should be kind and encouraging to others around them, by giving high fives or shaking hands with swimmers in lanes next to them after competing.

  • Swimmers and their families are encouraged to cheer on their fellow teammates!

What is my role as a parent?

  • Don’t expect personal bests every time. It’s a lot of pressure on a swimmer to expect dropped times on every event. Every experience competing offers some sort of reward. Whether that’s winning an event, or learning from a DQ on how to improve, there’s always something to be gained. Most importantly, remember that you are their parent, and that’s your only job! Coaches coach, swimmers swim, and parents get to love, encourage, support, and cheer on their swimmer! 

  • Also, please do NOT approach the coaches' tables. Unless your question cannot be answered by your meet sheets, your swimmer or fellow parents, there should be no reason for parents to be at the coaches' table. This area is reserved for swimmers and coaches to interact.

  • At some meets, volunteers may be required to help with timing. If this should occur, we will let parents/family members on deck know and split up volunteer time evenly.

How can I keep track of their events?

Events, heats, and lanes are announced verbally on the microphone and are also posted. The meet administrators post the info with physical copies on deck, as well as on the app MeetMobile. 

If you don't understand what events, heats, and lanes are...

Events are what the swimmers are competing in+ their age group. For example: Girls 9-10 100yd Breast = Girls ages 9 and 10 are competing in 100 yards of breaststroke.

Heats are a subdivision of events depending on the number of entries received. For example: If a meet has 80 swimmers checked in for one event and there are 8 lanes used, there will be 10 heats. The heats are seeded in order from fastest to slowest. Swimmers with no time go last.

Lanes indicate which lane the swimmer will be in. For example: If your swimmer's Event, Heat, Lane is 14, 5, 2 then they are swimming in Event 14, in the 5th heat, in lane 2.

What are disqualifications (DQs) and how to avoid them?

Click here to read the USA Swimming rulebook.


Do swimmers win awards?

At some meets, yes. If our swimmers win medals/ribbons, the coaches will collect them after the end of the meet. They will be distributed to swimmers the following week at practice.

Should my swimmer attend practice the day before a meet?

I will leave that up to your discretion and the swimmer's choice. Generally, I would advise attending practice the entire week before a meet because we focus on preparation for the meet and let competing athletes taper the days before. But if your swimmer is overly active, ie participates in multiple sports, a day of rest is not a bad idea.

There's still so much I don't understand, what do I do?

There’s a lot going on at swim meets which may seem overwhelming, but it’ll quickly becoming easier to understand. There should be plenty of experienced swimmers and parents around at this meet, so don’t hesitate to ask them questions. We will try to pair up at least one experienced family to each new family. Coaches will be accessible to the swimmers near the pool. Look for the OSC pop-up tent so that the team can sit together.

Prior to each meet, an email will be sent with information regarding the meet's location and any particular rules. The coaches will also host a parent meeting on the Wednesday prior to each meet to answer any other questions you may have.

For more information regarding meets, please check the San Diego Imperial Swimming website or read through our OSC Handbook.