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Swim Meet FAQ's

Which meets should I sign my swimmer up for?

Take a look at the Events/Meet Sign Up page on the HPAC website. You’ll see several meets listed and each one will tell you in the description if your child can participate or not. For example, if a meet description says, “Open to all HPAC swimmers” then any swimmer whether in Little Giants or Seniors can participate. If a meet says, “Open to HPAC swimmers with at least ONE Regional qualifying time” and your swimmer has no Regional qualifying times, then this is not the right meet for them. If you’re ever questioning whether or not to sign your child up for a meet, don’t hesitate to contact Coach Alex or Coach Jory with questions.


What are sessions?

A swim meet is divided into multiple different sessions held over multiple days. The majority of meets have one session on Friday night and two sessions on each Saturday and Sunday. Sessions are divided by age groups. For example, the morning session of a swim meet may be for the 8 & under, 9-10, and 11-12 age groups while the afternoon session would be for the 13-14 and Open age groups.


What are age groups?

During a meet, swimmers compete by age group: 8 & under, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, and Open (generally for swimmers 15 & over, but younger swimmers may participate as well).


How do I sign my swimmer up for a meet?

Click on the Events/Meet Sign Up tab on the HPAC website. Choose the meet you’d like to sign up for by clicking on the name of the meet. Look at the descriptions of the sessions and decide which sessions you would like your swimmer to attend. Then, in the upper, right hand corner, click on Attend/Decline. Next, choose a session. Once you’ve chosen the correct session(s) click on Submit and you’re all done! Coaches will choose what races the swimmers participate in.


Types of meets

Dual Meets – A dual meet is a low key, semi-competitive meet between two club teams for all ages. This is a one-day meet with one session, meaning all of our swimmers compete in the same session.

Developmental Meet – a competitive meet for all ages. Usually a two or three day meet with several sessions broken up by age groups. These are good meets for any swimmer who has been coming to practice regularly.

Prelims/Finals Meet – a very competitive meet where time standards are generally required in order to compete. Generally, these meets are for Giant, Giant Elite, Senior, and Senior Elite Swimmers.

Conference Meet – an end of season meet for all swimmers who have not qualified for Regionals or above. This meet is perfect to end the season for HPAC swimmers in the Little Giant, Mighty Giant, and Giant groups.

Championship Meets – a competitive qualifying meet where time standards are required in order to participate. Swimmers can qualify for these meets at any sanctioned meet (dual, developmental, etc.). For qualifying times for Regionals, Age Group State, or Senior Champs, visit the Illinois Swimming website, ilswim.org. For all other time standards, visit USA Swimming, usaswimming.org.

Regionals – the first level of championship meet. Illinois is divided into 6 separate regions, all with identical qualifying times. Limited to swimmers who have achieved Regional qualifying times but have not qualified for higher level meets in that event.

Age Group State/Senior Champs – the second level of championship meet. Age Group State is for any swimmer 14 and under, whereas Senior Champs is for swimmers 15 and over.

Speedo Sectionals, Futures, NCSA, Junior Nationals, Nationals – highly competitive qualifying meets above the state level.


Is there a cost to swim in a meet?

Yes. Generally, the host team will charge approximately $4-5 for each race a swimmer signs up for, a $2 Illinois Swimming surcharge per meet, and a nominal per meet facility surcharge. An average meet would be $20/day. Once you sign your child up for a meet, and HPAC submits the meet entries, you will be charged regardless of if your child swims the meet or not because the club has to prepay the entry fees for the meet; so please only sign up for meets your child intends to swim in. There is also an admission charge for spectators, around $5 for an adult and no charge for children. In addition, most clubs sell heat sheets.


Will someone send me info about the meet?

Yes, you will receive an email the week of the meet with details about the meet including location, arrival time, warm up time, and the meet start time for each session. In that email we will provide a pdf document with a list of swimmers’ events by athlete name.


What should my swimmer bring to a meet?

  • Team Suit
  • Goggles (2 pairs)
  • Team Caps (2)
  • Towels
  • Deck Shoes or Sandals
  • Water Bottle
  • Warm Clothing (to remain warm between races, for example, shirts, pants, parkas, etc.)
  • Nutritious nut free snacks or money for concessions
  • Entertainment
  • Sharpies (optional to write heats and lanes on his/her arm)


Where can I get team apparel like the team suit?

You can purchase HPAC team apparel through our website store. Go to the home page and click on Team Store on the right hand side of the screen. If your swimmer needs to try on suit sizes or purchase other equipment, they can visit The Swim Team Store in Wheeling. Team caps are handed out when a swimmer joins the team.


Where does my swimmer go when he/she arrives at a meet?

After completing Positive Check-in (see below) swimmers should proceed straight to the pool deck when they arrive at a meet. Sometimes swimmers have to enter through a locker room to get on deck; sometimes there is an open door to the pool deck. In almost all swim meet circumstances there are signs or volunteers to direct swimmers to the pool deck and parents to the seating area. Parents are NOT allowed on any pool deck or locker rooms. If your swimmer is scared or confused about coming in alone, partner them up with a teammate who is walking in or call a coach for assistance.


What does my swimmer do during a meet?

All swimmers will warm up with the team and once the meet starts, will swim their races. Swimmers should talk to their coach both before and after each race. Sometimes swimmers have a while to wait in between races and this is when kids can hang out with their teammates, play a game, or simply rest. We encourage our swimmers to stay on deck with their team. Swimmers are permitted to go up into the stands to visit with family, but coaches prefer swimmers on deck.


What is Positive Check-in?

Positive Check-in is very important as any swimmer whose name is not highlighted is assumed to be absent and will be scratched from their events and unable to swim them. Positive Check-in can appear in two forms. The first is a table with every swimmer’s name. Your swimmer should find their name and highlight it and the X’s next to it to indicate they are present. Meets can also have Positive Check-in with the coach. If this is the case, your swimmer just needs to let a HPAC coach know they are present, and the coach will take care of the rest. Positive Check-in closes around 20 minutes after warm ups begin. If you are running late, please call your coach or a teammate to check your swimmer in. If your swimmer is unable to locate a table for Positive Check-in, have them go on deck and ask a coach.


What are Psych Sheets and Heat Sheets?

A psych sheet lists all events for an entire meet and the swimmers, listed in order of entry time, entered in each event. There are no heat and lane assignments on the psych sheet.

A heat sheet is generated after Positive Check-in (see below) closes. It includes every event being swum in that session and the swimmers present. The heat sheet lists what heat and what lane each swimmer will compete in based of seed (entry) times. Normally girls swim in odd numbered events and boys swim in even numbered events.


Where/when do swimmers get heat and lane assignments?

All participating athletes will receive an email with the events they will swim at the meet a day or two before the meet begins. However, they will not receive their heat and lane assignments until the heat sheet comes out, after warm up. Prior to coming to the meet. parents are encouraged to help kids write their events on their arm with a Sharpie. After warm up, the coaches will have heat sheets, and swimmers can view their heat and lane assignments then. These heat sheets are also posted on the pool deck for swimmers to look at. If your swimmer would like to write their heat and lane on their arm during the meet, please have them bring a Sharpie.


What are relays?

Relays are a group of four swimmers who compete together in a race.  There are free relays with each swimmer swimming freestyle and there are medley relays with one swimmer swimming each of the four strokes—back, breast, butterfly, and free, in that order.


How long is a meet?

Each meet session is usually about 5 hours long, 1 hour of warm up time and 4 hours of racing.


What do parents do during a meet?

Cheer! Parents often sit with other HPAC parents and cheer on the swimmers. They also read, bring work to do, or socialize. Larger meets have concession, swim equipment, or t-shirt vendors you can browse.


I am a timer, what do I do?

First, attend the timers meeting which is about 30 minutes before the start of a session where an Official with explain how to time. The exact timing and location will be announced at the meet. Swim meets have timing systems that record the times for each swimmer. You will see a touchpad in the water at the end of each lane. However, occasionally the timing system fails and that’s where you come in—the manual backup. For each lane, there are generally two timers with a stopwatch and a plunger (a hand held device with a button connected with the timing system). For each race, a beep and a flashing light will signal the beginning of the race. Timers start a stopwatch at that time. When a swimmer touches the wall the timers stop their stopwatch and press the button on the plunger. Then the timers record the times from the stopwatch on a sheet.


My child was DQed (disqualified), what is that?

A DQ simply means that when your child swam the race they did something in violation of USA Swimming rules, such as having an illegal breastroke kick or swimming backstroke on one’s stomach.  An Official will raise their hand when they see a stroke infraction and the write up a DQ slip to let the coach know what the swimmer did that violated the rules. The coach will explain to the swimmer why they were DQed and how to do the stroke properly. If your child receives a DQ, please reassure them that it is common and a way to help them learn.


What is Meet Mobile?

Meet Mobile is an app for your smart phone that is available for a nominal annual charge.  Meet Mobile posts the results from a swim meet and often, for a fee, you can view heat sheets.


When is the swim season?

There are two swim seasons a year.  From August to March is Short Course season and swim meets are swum in a 25 yard pool. From April to July is Long Course Season and the majority of meets are swum in a 50 meter pool.