Arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the warm-up time that is posted for the meet. Young swimmers should come ready to swim by being in their suits. Look for a RAYS' coach and tell your child to check in with the coach. Not all coaches go to every meet so learn the names of coaches other than your own. Swimmers will need their swim bag, cap, goggles, and towel
Parents are not usually allowed on deck at meets. The swimmers are usually kept on deck with a coach. If you feel that you really must be on deck become trained as an official or volunteer to time. If you think that your child is not old enough to be without you, maybe you should reconsider entering them in meets.
Timing assignments are sent out by e-mail a couple of days before the meet. If you are asked to time, be sure that you show up on time. If you cannot time in your allotted slot, you are responsible for finding your replacement. You will be timing anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. That may seem like a long time but officials usually work 4-5 hours a session. You should wear shoes that will not be ruined if they get wet. Be sure that you attend the timer's briefing at the beginning of the session. They will introduce you to the head timer and tell you what to do if your watch does not start. Timers are extremely important to swimmers. Most pools we go to have electronic timing systems. Watch times are for back up and have been used many times when we have system failures.
Swim meets can be very long and very boring if you do not have something to do. If you are bringing siblings be sure to bring entertainment for them also. Talk to other RAYS' parents at practice and become their friend. Ask for help if you do not understand anything. Get phone numbers of other swimmers and their families in case of emergencies to help with meets.
Most indoor pools and surrounding decks are notoriously warm. Bring clothes to change into that would be appropriate for summer. Some are cool, be prepared either way.
Often there is an area where you can set up chairs or blankets outside of the pool area. You must bring your own. Do not bring items that you would be upset about if they go missing or if someone else walks on them.
Bring food. If you buy all of your food from the concessions stands, you will quickly go broke. Pack lunch boxes with nutritious snacks and lots of drinks. Limit the amount of money they get each day to spend at the concession stand. Not every pool has a concession stand. Bring water or drinks for yourself also. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed by USA Swimming rules.
Pack a permanent marker and a highlighter pen. Buy or borrow a heat sheet and write you child's event, heats, and lanes on their hand with a permanent marker. The host team usually has them for sale for about $5-10.
Some of the meets will have Clerk of Courses set up for younger children (12 and younger). At these meets, the younger swimmers must report to the Clerk of Course before heading to the blocks for their events. Check with the coach about whether the meet you are attending will have a Clerk of Course.
Meets are opportunities to measure how your swimmer is doing in their training at that moment. Almost everyone occasionally has a bad swim or meet. If your child is DQ'd (disqualified), it is not the end of the world. Almost every swimmer has been disqualified at least once. As a parent you must ensure that your child has a positive experience even if they do not swim well. Remember that our children learn values and sportsmanship from us. Coaches go to meets to coach and parents should go to meets to cheer, offer love and encouragement.
Swim Bags and Packing for Meets:
• Each swimmer should have a swim bag.
• Label everything your child brings with them with their name and the team's name.
• If your child has asthma, make sure they have their inhaler. Make sure the coach knows they have asthma and where they keep their inhaler.
• They should carry an extra pair of goggles, strap, cap and swim suit in their bag. It is more expensive to replace these at the meets if they should break and you need one fast. (Not all meets have vendors at them where you can make an emergency purchase.) Bring at least 2 large towels. Most swimmers like one for after warm-ups and then another one for after their events.
• Bring water and drink it.
• Bring healthy snacks and eat them.
• Bring a sweat suit or warm-up suit for when you are not swimming. Cold muscles do not perform as well. Cotton, when it gets wet, stays wet forever.
• Bring flip-flops for the pool deck and showers. Swimmers need to protect their feet.
• Pack alcohol ear drops and use them after each and every practice and your events at meets. (Do not leave your swim cap on all day. Your ears will not dry out and you will end up with swimmer's ear.)
• Pack dry clothes for wearing home or going out to eat in large plastic bags so they stay dry.
• A few dollars so you don't have to find a parent if you want something from the snack bar or concessions.
• Something to keep them entertained. Make sure it is not something they will be too upset about if they lose it. If they bring electronics, remind them to put it away when they leave so someone will not walk on it or away with it.
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