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Tips for Swim Meets


I thought I’d share some tips on how to navigate swimming competitions. Hopefully this can help reduce the chaos and lead to even faster swimming!


For Parents:

Help! My child has a competition! Where do I go? When do I need to be there? How long will this take? When will my child actually race?

All of the logistical information can be accessed at

  1. Go to Meets

  1. Click the Timeline & Warmups link under the calendar section for the specific meet


This will give you all the information on

  • Pool location (and parking instructions)

  • Warm up times and lane assignments (look for OAK or OFSC)

  • Schedule of events with estimated start times


We highly recommend reviewing this as some meets will be done by noon and others will take all weekend.


Who will make sure my child doesn't miss their race?

Heat sheets will be posted on deck and around the facility. IT IS THE SWIMMER’S JOB TO KNOW WHEN AND WHERE THEY HAVE TO BE FOR THEIR RACES, NOT THE COACH’S OR THE PARENT’S. It isn’t practical for us coaches to marshal the swimmers to their next events when we need to watch the races, also we think that this is a good skill for the swimmers to build.


Tips for Swimmers

Pack the Night Before

Obviously you know to bring your suit, goggles, and towel; however there are other things that in my experience can really help. Bring deck clothes to slip on and off between you events (over your swim suit). Things like athletic shorts, t-shirts, hoodies, and flip flops work really well. If you’re competing at an outdoor pool you may even want to bring a sleeping bag. In addition to keeping warm staying properly hydrated and fuelled is paramount as well. Bring at least one water bottle and a snack such as a granola bar to help maintain your energy level.

Be Flexible during Warmup (both physically and mentally)

Warm-up takes place the hour before the competition starts. The lanes will all be very crowded so you probably won’t be able to do exactly what you’re used to in practice. Don’t let that throw you off. Get in, loosen up, start adding speed, do some sprints, then finish with some easy laps. Don’t make the mistake of cutting your warmup short because it’s annoying to swim in a crowded lane. During warm-up pay attention to the walls as pools have different depths and you might struggle knowing when to flip at first. Get comfortable with the starting blocks as well. Although some meets will have an auxiliary pool you can use for warmup, for the reasons above I highly recommend warming up in the actual competition pool even if it’s more crowded.

Learn your Assignment before the Start

On the day of the meet the heat sheet will be made available to the swimmers and parents. Check and double check your event, heat, and lane numbers so you know when and where you need to be. Be ready at least a couple heats before your race to give yourself time to adjust your cap and goggles. Don’t expect the officials to pause the meet to wait for you to arrive to your lane, they will just simply start the race and you will be disqualified.


Cool Down After All Races

If possible, it’s always a good idea to cool down right after your race. Doing some easy laps helps clear the lactic acid that accumulates in the muscles during sprinting. When there’s too much lactic acid a swimmer will feel an ache in their muscles and their stroke will tend to shorten.


Stay Warm and Hydrated

Between races, be sure to dry off and slip on some deck clothes over your suit. Keeping your body warm will ensure that you are loose and ready to go for the next race. Going full speed on cold muscles, in any sport, is a recipe for an injury. Also, staying hydrated can prevent muscle cramps.


Pre-Meet Checklist:


___ Team Suit & Cap

___ Goggles

___ Towel

___ Deck Clothes (athletic shorts, sweatpants, t-shirt, sweatshirt, hat, flip-flops)

___ Sleeping Bag/Blanket (if outdoors)

___ Water Bottle

___ Snack

___ Heat Sheet (if available)