Welcome to the world of swim meets! Swim meets are an excellent opportunity to learn good sportsmanship and self-discipline while developing athleticism and competitiveness. They allow our swimmers to gauge their improvements by completing new events, dropping their times, and competing against all levels of swimmers within CMSA and from other clubs.

If this is your first experience with club swim meets, you will find that they can be fun, exciting, but sometimes a bit overwhelming at first. If you have swum in summer league meets, you will find that there are differences in summer league and USA Swimming sanctioned meets. This meet packet is designed to introduce you to swimming meets with CMSA. The information from this packet comes from CMSA and USA Swimming. If you have additional questions, please ask your coach. Experienced CMSA parents will also be happy to help you.

General Information, Rules, and Responsibilities:

  • Swimmers, coaches, parents, and guests are expected to display good sportsmanship at all times.
  • Support and encouragement for CMSA swimmers is appreciated! Please cheer on all of the CMSA swimmers, not just your swimmer.
  • CMSA’s meet schedule is posted on the team’s web site (www.swimCMSA.com) as soon as our coaches set the season schedule. Meets sponsored by CMSA (“home meets”) are typically competed at Bishop State. Meets sponsored by other clubs (“away meets” or “team travel meets”) are competed at the sponsoring club’s pool of choice. Travel information such as directions and team hotels is provided on CMSA’s website or through e-mail.
  • Generally, USA Swimming sanctioned meets are quite different from summer meets.  Some differences include: swimmers can swim 3-5 individual events each day and the events vary from meet to meet, age groups may be split into sessions, there’s no clerk of course to line up swimmers behind the blocks, certified Stroke and Turn officials will judge competitions for legal strokes, among many others.
  • In meets that are run in two sessions, swimmers who are 12 and under USUALLY BUT NOT ALWAYS swim in the morning and swimmers who are 13 and older swim in the afternoon. Check the order of events on the meet invitation (which is always posted on the web site) to find the session in which you are swimming.
  • For home meets, CMSA parents are required to volunteer to work one session for every day the family has a swimmer entered in the meet. It is each family’s responsibility to sign up for meet worker positions prior to the meet. No experience? No problem! There are many jobs, and we will happily train you. Please contact the meet director through CMSA’s web site or meet dashboard for volunteer sign up. Remember – when everyone does his/her part, our meets run smoothly, our swim club is successful, and this benefits ALL of the swimmers.
  • Flash photography is NOT allowed during the meet. Events are started with a horn and a strobe. A flash from a camera can cause swimmers to false start. Non-flash photography is allowed, provided that is in accordance with all USA Swimming Minor Athlete Protection Policies (MAPP).  Universal rule: No photographs taken behind the blocks.
  • According to USA Swimming rules, parents and guests ARE NOT allowed “on the pool deck” during the meet for insurance purposes. While some pools have clear boundaries between the stands and the pool deck, not all facilities do.  Please be aware of posted signage and physical boundaries created to provide the safest environment for all athletes.  In general, parents should stay away from the starting block area, away from the turn end of the pool, away from the meet officials, and at least three feet away from the side of the pool.  CMSA can be penalized for allowing parents on the deck. In addition, people crowded around the pool make it harder for the coaches to watch their swimmers, officials to officiate the meet, and swimmers to get to the blocks for their events.
  • Parents and swimmers, if you have a question about a time, placement, or disqualification, DO NOT approach a meet official with the question; talk to your coach. Only the coach can inquire, ask for clarification, or protest a time or referee’s decision.

Before the Meet:

  • Arrive at the meet about 15 minutes before warm-up time. Warm-up times are usually posted on the web site; you can also check with your coach. It is very important for the swimmers to warm up their bodies in preparation for racing. Please be on time.
  • Find a place to put your stuff. The team usually sits together, so look for familiar faces. At home meets, CMSA swimmers usually spread blankets and put their bags on the floor to create a team area.
  • After dropping off their stuff, swimmers in suits with their goggles and caps should find their coaches for warm up instructions.
  • While the swimmers are warming up, parents can look through heat sheets. The heat sheet lists each seeded event. The events are divided into heats. Within each heat, the heat sheet lists each swimmer by lane, and his/her seedtime.
  • The meet normally begins about 15 minutes after the completion of warm ups. It helps some swimmers to write their event, heat, and lane numbers on their hands or arms with a Sharpie.

During the Meet:

  • Swimmers are responsible for getting to their events on time. Parents of younger swimmers need to help them determine when and where they need to be. Our coaches will help with lining up our younger swimmers behind the blocks. Older swimmers are responsible for getting to the correct block at the right time.
  • After swimming the race, the swimmer should immediately report to his/her coach to discuss the swimmer’s performance and to get warm down instructions.
  • After any warm down, the swimmer returns to the seating area to await his/her next event.
  • After a swimmer has completed all of his/her individual events for the day, he/she must report to his/her coach to find out if he/she will be swimming on a relay. DO NOT LEAVE THE POOL UNTIL CHECKING WITH THE COACH ABOUT RELAYS! It is unfair to your teammates if they wait to swim on a relay that you are expected to swim on, but you do not show up to swim.
  • After swimming all individual events and relays for the day, the swimmer may leave.

What is My Time, and What Place Did I Come In?

  • Swimmers’ times are collected in three ways: 1) on stopwatches by the volunteer timers, 2) electronically by a push button that is pressed by the timer, and 3) by the swimmer hitting the underwater touch pad at the end of the race. The touch pad time is what is displayed digitally on the Electronic Board. None of these times are official until posted.
  • Why are so many times taken? It’s the fairest way to place the meet. The touch pad time will be the most accurate way to determine time, and thereby place. However, sometimes (although rarely) the electronics will fail or, more likely, a swimmer will not hit the touch pad hard enough for the pad to register the completion of the race (this happens often, especially with younger swimmers). If all three times are not within a certain range, the swimmer’s official time will be determined by the predetermined method, throwing out the time that is “out of family”.
  • The thing to keep in mind is that the official time is the posted time. CMSA posts event results in the hallway behind the bathroom. A swimmer may ask the timer what his/her time was, but remember that it is not the official time, although it should be close. You may be certain that your swimmer won his/her event, but the Electronic Board says fifth. Your swimmer may not have hit the touch pad hard enough. If that’s the case, the touch pad time will be “out of family” with the other two times, and the official time will not include the touch pad time. Check the posted results. If you disagree with the time/placement that is posted, talk with your coach. 

What if My Swimmer Has a Disappointing Event or is Disqualified?

  • One of the wonderful things about swimming is that there are many ways to succeed. Swimmers need to have different types of goals. Everyone always has the goal of winning; however, placement goals are the hardest to achieve because they depend on the performance of other swimmers, which you cannot control. All swimmers should a few have personal “performance” goals, such as making a goal time, swimming a personal best time, or even completing a new event. Even with different goals, a swimmer can have a disappointing race. Parents, try to keep your race analysis to a minimum. Your child’s coach will discuss with your child what needs to be improved. Help your child understand that he/she will not always swim his/her best race every race. Help your child focus on the next event. If your child is disqualified, please let your child know that it happens to every swimmer, even the most experienced, at some time or another. Swimmers are disqualified in the Olympics, yes you read that right. Please do not blame the officials. The officials must judge the events according to USA Swimming rules, regardless of the age or experience of the swimmer.


What to Bring to a Meet:

  • Team Suit - Always pack a spare suit (they do fall apart sometimes!).  For championship meets, remember to pack your performance suit and warm-up suits.
  • Team Swim Cap - If you wear a swim cap, it must be an CMSA cap. If you do not have an CMSA cap, you may get one at the meet from your coach. You will be billed $5 for the cap.Pack two, they tear easily!
  • Team T-Shirt - Always wear a CMSA shirt to meets... ALWAYS! 
  • Goggles - At least two pair (straps break!).  You can also pack extra straps, so favorite goggles can be saved (but, replacement takes time - thus the need for an extra pair).  Always alternate two pair during practice.  NEVER wear untested, new goggles at a meet.
  • Water - Swimmers need to stay hydrated. Although it is hard to tell that they are sweating, they are losing water. Bring a water bottle filled with water, and drink water throughout the meet.
  • Food - Swimmers will be at the meet for several hours. They will expend a lot of energy. There is no magic list as to what to eat. Carbohydrates for energy are suggested for fast swimming; heavy, fatty, or rich foods are not. Examples of good snacks are pretzels, crackers, dry cereal, fruit, granola bars, trail mix, and sports drinks like Gatorade. Snacks must fit inside of a swim bag. Coolers ARE NOT allowed at most indoor facilities. There is always a concession stand at each meet where you may buy food and beverages.
  • Clothing - They should put on over swim suit between events. Swimmers can easily become chilled. Good choices (depending on the season) include warm-up suits, flannel pants, sweat shirts, shorts, T-shirts, and jackets. 
    • Shoes - There’s plenty of ways to pick up infection and get injured around the pool.  MAKE them wear shoes on EVERY pool deck - inside or outside!
    • Gloves/ Socks - meets during cold weather require you to keep your hands & feet warm for better performances.
    • Dry Change of Clothes - For after the meet (to remain dry in a swim bag they must be in a separate compartment or Ziploc bag!). 
    • NOTE: Parents, although swimmers can get cold, you will probably get hot. It is typically warm and humid in the pool area no matter where the meet is or what season it is. If it is cool or cold outside, dress in layers.
  • Towels - Pack at least two (big ones).  Everything around the pool gets wet!
  • Ear Drops – (for those prone to ear infections) Usually, a vinegar/alcohol solution in a glycerin base - you don’t want to deal with swimmer’s ear.  Use after practice and meets.
  • Baby Powder - To lightly dust inside of swim caps after drying them; keeps them from sticking together and makes them easier to put on! (A sample size will last a long time.). 
  • Toiletries - Swim shampoo, conditioner, hairbrush, comb, contact solution, girls-only stuff, deodorant, and other bathroom stuff. 
  • Inhalers - If your child is asthmatic, this is the most important thing they own.  Different environments have different triggers that can set off an attack.  Tell the coach if your child has asthma and where they can find their inhalers!  Pack their inhalers!  Same for other medications. 
  • Entertainment Items - Books (for reading and school work), MP3/CD player (with earphones), CDs, Gameboys, playing cards, etc.  There’s lots of time between events!
  • Extra Plastic Bags - For keeping things dry (various sizes)
  • Sunscreen - Get a waterproof type and put it on before you get to the meet (it needs time to soak in).  Put it on again after a couple of hours. It’s a good idea to have Sunglasses and a Hat.
  • Seating - Blanket or sleeping bag for swimmers to sit on. Chairs, if allowable, for parents not wishing to sit in the bleachers.