Swim Meet Basics - A Parent's Guide   

Canadian swim meets are often divided by age and gender: They vary depending on the meet but often follow this format:

  • 10 & under.
  • 11-12.
  • 12 & under.
  • 13-14.
  • 15 & over

The swim season typically runs from September until June and there are two parts to a regular season.

Short Course (SC) season starts in September and runs until the end of February and is held in a 25m pool.

Long Course (LC) season starts in April and runs until the end of the season, (August), and is held in a 50m pool.

Time Standards

Time standards can be found on our MUSAC STANDARDS page and Swim Ontario website. Time Standards are also posted on deck. When a swimmer makes a time standard they can progress through the different levels of competitions. The step are to achieve Regionals Standards then Provincials, Eastern Nationals, Age Group Nationals and Senior Nationals.

Before the Meet Starts

Your swimmer needs to be on the pool deck (with swimsuit, cap, and goggles on ) 15 minutes prior to the start of warm-up.

  • Some parking lots are far from the actual pool. In order to be on time, allow extra time to walk from the parking area.
  • Bear in mind that coaches need to hand in a “scratch sheet” prior to the start of the meet session. If you’re going to be late, be sure to notify the coach or your swimmer will be scratched from the session. Scratches will be processed 15 mins before the start of the meet. If you arrive after this period your swimmer can no longer compete in this session.

NOTE:   Parents are not permitted on the pool deck, so your child should be able to carry
               his/her belongings by him/herself.

  • Make sure your child checks in with the Coach when they arrive
  • Warm-up times are assigned to each team. Coach will tell the team where to go and when. They will give your swimmer warm-up instructions. It is very important for all swimmers to warm-up with the team. During warm-ups, timers will meet with Officials and learn their lane assignments.
  • After warm-up, swimmers go back to the area where the team is sitting and wait until his/her first event is called. Cheering on teammates is great, but it’s also a good time for bathroom breaks, getting a drink, etc
  • The meet usually starts about 10 minutes after warm-ups are over.

Psych Sheet or Heat Sheets

  • A heat sheet is usually available for sale in the lobby or concession area of the pool. It lists all swimmers in each event in order of "seedtime".
  • When the team entry is sent in, each swimmer and his/her previous best time (up to the date that the entry was submitted) in that event is listed.
  • If the swimmer is swimming an event for the first time, he/she will be entered as a "no-time" or "NT". A "no-time" swimmer will most likely swim in one of the first heats of the event.
  • A Heat sheet may be available close to the start of the meet that lists the actual heat and lane a swimmer will be competing in. (Also see “How to Read a Heat Sheet.”)

During the Meet

  • Swimmers need to pay attention to the Event numbers so that they don’t miss their events! (Parents need to pay attention, too, or you’ll miss your child’s race!)
  • Most meets are computerized, so you can see event and heat numbers on the board.
  • Generally, girls events are odd-numbered and boys events are even-numbered.
  • You can expect at least 4-8 heats of each event. (Divide number of swimmers by number of lanes in the pool for approximate number of heats; number will change if a lot of swimmers scratch.)
  • The swimmer swims his or her race.

After each swim:

  • Swimmers are to ask the timers (people behind the blocks at each lane) his/her time.
  • The swimmer should then go immediately to his/her coach who will discuss the swim with them.

Coaching feedback varies greatly depending on the swim and the swimmer. Often coaches will discuss some of the following at that moment:

  • Positive comments or praise
  • Suggestions for improvement
  • Evaluation of the next step/goal

Things you, as a parent, can do after each swim:

  • Tell them how great they did! The coaching staff will be sure to discuss stroke technique with swimmers. You need to tell them how proud you are and what a great job they did.
  • Send them back to the team area and relax.
  • This is another good time to hit the bathrooms, get a drink or something light to eat.
  • The swimmer now waits until their next event is called and starts the procedure again. When a swimmer has completed all of there events and the coach dismisses them, the swimmer and  parents get to go home.

Make sure, however, that your swimmer checks with the coach before leaving in case he/she is included on a relay (usually the last events of a meet). It is not fair to other swimmers who have stayed to swim a relay that includes your swimmer and they are not there.




Per the team protocol, your swimmer needs to bring:

  • MUSAC Team Suit
  • Team clothing/colors
  • Team cap
  • 2 pairs of goggles
  • Full water bottles
  • 2 towels
  • A light, healthy snack (Fruit, peanut free granola bar, cheese, crackers, etc)
  • Dry clothes to wear home

For time spent in between races, it is also suggested that swimmers bring something to do or read, flip-flops/shower shoes. Team areas are not under direct supervision, so we advise against bringing anything valuable (iPods, video games, etc.).

Remember that parents are not allowed on the pool deck during a meet (unless timing or working in another official capacity), so be sure your swimmer can carry his/her belongings by him/herself!


Bring chair(s) to sit on. Some venues do have bleachers, but they can fill up quickly (and they aren’t always comfortable!). We often leave our chairs in the car if we’re parked nearby, so that we can easily get them if needed.

Wear layers – it is usually warm, if not hot, inside. Dress for it!

Water & snacks – There is always food to be found during meets.

Purchasing snacks at a meet helps support the team that is hosting. That said, you should always feel free to bring your own snacks and drinks.

Bring something to do - book/magazine/knitting/Sudoku/etc. Even short meets will have downtime.

Something for young siblings to do – Some venues offer very little room for little ones to be active. Bring something to keep them occupied. And remember to dress little ones in layers, too.

Money and pen/highlighter – Heat sheets are available for purchase (anywhere from $3-10) and it’s helpful to highlight your swimmer’s events.  

NO visiting spectator stands, bathroom or Snack Bar without PERMISSION from their Coach.

  • It is very important that the Coaches know where their swimmers are at all times. We do not want any swimmers missing their events simply because they left the deck without their coach knowing.

Parents are not allowed on the pool deck during a meet (unless volunteering to work)