How Swimmers Keep Track of Their Events at Meets:

USA Swimming sanctioned meets fall into two major categories: 

  • short course events - swim races in 25 meter or 25 yard pools
  • long course - swim races in 50 meter pools. 

Swim meets are managed by events (what to swim), heats (when to swim the event), and lane (where to swim).  Most swimmers record their meet information on their forearm or upper thigh using a Sharpie Permanent Marker (we recommend purchasing several)

Below is an example of how the following events should be recorded on the swimmer’s arm or upper thigh:

     Sample Events:    

     Event 2, Heat 1, Lane 4, 50 Freestyle

     Event 6, Heat 5, Lane 8, 100 IM

     Event 16, Heat 6, Lane 1, 100 Butterfly

     Event 40, Heat 2, Lane 5, 100 Breaststroke

Write on arm or thigh:
E H L  
2 1 4 50 Free
6 5 8 100 IM
16 6 1 100 Fly
40 2 5 100 Breast


Explain how to read the  diagram to your swimmer and how many laps they will swim for each event so that they will be comfortable on event day. 

USA Swimming sanctioned events are usually scheduled over three day weekends. 

  • Swimmers will usually swim in either the morning session or afternoon session.  Each session is usually about 5 hours.    
  • ​For meets that have preliminary and finals, swimmers must check the meet results posted on deck.  If the swimmer is included in the qualified section, they will swim again in the finals later that day. The swimmer will have a designated time (usually 30 minutes) to notify the judges of their 'intent' to participate in the finals.    If the swimmer cannot swim in the final, the swimmer must notify their coach and 'scratch' or remove his or her name from the qualified list at the judges table (usually within 30 minutes).  Swimmers that did not initially qualify should recheck the meet results on deck at the judges table to determine if they qualified for the finals after all 'scratches' have been made.  
  • The coach will let swimmers know what time they should arrive for warm-ups.
  • Arrive early.  Swim meets are usually packed with swimmers and space is a premium
  • Find our USAC team members.  If you are the first to arrive, stake out some of the area for the team.
  • Purchase or locate a heat sheet and record your swimmer’s info using the diagram above. 
  • Assist other team parents and swimmers record swimmer info.
  • Make sure that swimmers pay attention to the board for their event.  Swim officials will not hold a race if your swimmer is not ready!
  • Encourage swimmer to relax and enjoy each event!

What to Bring to Meet:

  • Swimmers backpack should include an extra swimsuit, goggles, swim cap, tee shirt. 
  • 2-3 towels
  • Warm jacket to wear in between events
  • Jacket, sweatpants, tee shirt (dry clothing to wear home)
  • Healthy snacks and beverages (water, fruit juice, granola bars, fruit, trail mix).
  • Blanket or chair to sit on