What to Expect at Your First Swim Meet
A Guide for Parents and Swimmers


What to Bring To a Swim Meet

  • Swimsuit, cap, goggles, and flip flops. Packing an extra suit, cap, and pair of goggles is always a good idea. These items seem to rip and break at the most inopportune times!
  • Towels – wet bodies everywhere, or bring a sweatshirt or deck coat.
  • Something comfy for your swimmer to sit on such as a camping chair.
  • Something comfy for you to sit on, meets are long and you want to be comfortable. Most parents bring lawn or camping chairs or stadium seats.
  • Entertainment for your swimmer and their team mates, such as travel games, cards, coloring books, books, iPods, Gameboys, etc. - especially important if you are bringing youngsters who are not swimming! Parents often bring newspapers, books, laptops, and sewing, anything to pass the time! Larger meets can be very long. There is usually a 4 hour time limit on the meet but that doesn’t include the hour before the meet for warm ups.
  • Small bag of healthy snacks and drinks. Suggestions for items to bring: water, fruit juice, Gatorade/Body Armor, fruit/veggies, yogurt, granola bars, sports bars, crackers, cereal, trail mix, peanut butter or meat & cheese sandwiches, bagels, and a lunch for your swimmer. Keep the food like and don’t let them eat burgers or pizza and soda until the meet is over. These foods are too heavy and interfere with their swimming. There will be a concession stand selling all sorts of things, not necessarily “good” for your swimming during the meet, but maybe after they are done swimming. The concession stand is a fundraiser for the sponsoring club, your support is always appreciated. The will also sell a meet program at the concession stand.
  • Sharpie marker. Most swimmers (sometimes coaches will do this) like to write their events on their arms or legs. Swimmers will write E H L and then corresponding numbers underneath. This is Event (the stroke, distance, age group, and male/female), Heat (you can only have 6-8 swimmers swimming at one time so there are multiple races in each event), Lane (this is the lane in which they will swim for that event.)


Before the Meet Starts

  • All swimmers must confirm their participation in a swim meet before the deadline date. This is posted under the event page for each meet. DUE TO MEET ADMINISTRATION REQUIREMENTS, SIGNUPS AFTER THE DEADLINE WILL NOT BE HONORED.
  • All Meets require the help of parent volunteers. The more swimmers we enter into meets the more often we will have to time or help on the deck. Timing is easy and it’s actually the best seat in the house.
  • Arrive at the pool at the designated time, typically 1-1 ½ hour (s) before the meet begins. This will allow time for coaches to take attendance, have a team meeting and swim warm ups. Warm up times are pre-determined by the hosting team and will be listed in the meet info, posted on the website and at the team bulletin board at the pool. Regardless of what time you are warming up you should arrive at the beginning of the warm up time. PLEASE ARRIVE AT THE POOL AT THE REQUESTED TIME. There is a lot to do before a meet begins. Having all swimmers there and ready will cut down on any pre-meet stress.
  • Help your swimmer find their coach(s). Look for coaches on the deck area to let them know you are at the meet. Help your swimmer find their coach and send them on their way. If they are very young you can walk them to their coach but you cannot stay on the deck. Find a place to put your swimmer’s “stuff” or ask the coach where they should place their gear. The team usually sits together so look for familiar faces. Usually after checking in with the coach, your swimmer will go to the locker room to get changed into their swimsuit for warm-ups. Lock your belongings in a locker and bring swim cap, goggles, water bottle, and towel out to the pool deck. There is no need to wear your swim cap and goggles all day, it will only give you a headache. Swimmers should just wear their cap when about to race. You can also have your younger swimmer bring their pack to you. Lots of swimmers in the locker room means lots of water everywhere. There’s nothing worse than going home in wet clothes on a cold day or having shoes kicked into the showers.
  • There will be a parent or coach who will have event info for your swimmer. Most often the coach will mark each swimmer’s arm with a sharpie a list of each event, heat and lane they are assigned too. These are also posted for parents on a door or wall near the spectators area. Note your swimmers, event, heat and time. Meet Mobile App is also a great resource. Most meets are posted on there. Its $6.99 for a whole year. Totally worth the money so you aren’t fighting to look at the heat sheets with 100 other parents.
  • Write on your swimmer, if the coach did not have time to, or ask a veteran parent to help you out. Use the heat sheet your swimmer was given to write each event number, heat, and lane on your swimmer’s arm in “permanent” (i.e. waterproof) marker, like a Sharpie. This helps your swimmer remember what events he or she is swimming, what event number to listen for, and what lane to get lined up behind. Swimmers forget where they need to go and when. Plus timers, officials, and other adults/swimmers can help get your child to the right place at the right time. This step is sometimes saved until after the swimmers are done with warm-ups. This also allows you to keep the heat sheet with you, therefore being able to keep track of what your swimmer is doing next. You can remove it by using rubbing alcohol after the meet.
  • Swimmers report to the pool and/or coach for warm-ups. It is very important for all swimmers to warm-up with the team. Swimmers’ bodies are just like cars on a cold day; they need to get the engine going and warmed-up before being able to go all out. Warm-ups also help relieve the jitters, swimmers get used to the water and the commotion, and parents get better seats. Warm-ups ends with ½ hour of practice starts – complete with buzzer, loud speaker, and strobe light.
  • Swimmers return to team area after warm-ups. Time to dry off, put on warm clothes, go to the bathroom, and write events on the arm if this wasn’t done earlier.
  • The meet will usually start about 10-15 minutes after warm-ups are over.


The Meet Starts

  • Know what events your swimmer is competing in. It is important for swimmers to know what event numbers they are swimming. Again, a heat sheet, highlighter, ink pen, and sharpie are a swim parent’s best friends! Keep several in their swim bag. There will also be an event board that will have what event # is swimming or “in the water” and what event is “on deck” or next to swim. That board is updated in real time during the meet. Show your swimmer where that board is so they may keep track of what event # is swimming at all times.
  • Listen for event announcements. Upcoming events are usually announced over the loud speaker, asking swimmers to report to the starting blocks or to the “bullpen”, a staging area used at some meets. Swimmers should report with cap and goggles. Example: “Next event #26, 10&Under Boys, 50 freestyle”.
  • Coaches will let swimmers know when they need to be waiting behind the blocks. Usually 2 heats before the one they are going to swim. The timers behind the starting blocks often check to make sure that swimmers are lined up in the right order. However, it is always a good idea to have your swimmer check in with the lane timers to make sure they are in the right lane and heat.
  • Parents, find a seat. According to USA Swimming rules, parents are not allowed on deck unless they are serving in an official capacity, such as timers or stroke and turn official. Parents must sit in the spectator area, usually bleachers on the side of the pool.
  • Swimmers, swim your race. Check in with the coaches...again!
  • Check in with parents. Take your swimmer back to the team area and relax, find something to eat, and wait for next event to be called. Be sure your swimmer is well hydrated and has a few small snacks throughout the meet.
  • When a swimmer has completed all of his events for the day, he/she is able to go home. Be sure however, to check with the coach before leaving to make sure your swimmer is not included on a relay. Sometimes a last-minute change will be made on who will swim a relay. Coaches will do their best to inform the swimmer as soon as they know if a last- minute fill in is needed.
  • Ask for help!! If during any of this you feel lost or confused, be sure to ask other parents or swimmers for help! We have all had our “first meets” and know it can be overwhelming. Once you have attended one or two meets, it will all become very routine and enjoyable.
  • HAVE FUN!!! While we do compete at meets and strive to do our best, having fun, cheering our teammates on and being proud KSC - KINGS swimmers is the goal!!