Elmhurst Aquatics FAQ about signing up for Meets

Swim Meet Terminology and FAQ - MySwimPro


How do I sign up my swimmer for a meet?

Meet sign-up is completed through the Elmhurst Aquatics website.
Log in to TeamUnify and under the “Swimming” menu bar on the Home Page there is a Swim Meet/Event tab. Click it and you’ll see a listing of upcoming meets. Besides the meet name, click the pink Edit Commitment button.

Next to your swimmer(s)' names, you will see one of three indicators:

• Committed means that you have signed your athlete up to swim in this meet. • Undeclared means you have not yet indicated whether your athlete can attend.
Your athletes will not be signed up for the meet until you change the status to Committed before the deadline.

• Declined means you have indicated your athlete is not able to attend this meet. Your athlete will not be signed up for the meet unless you change the status to Committed before the deadline.

You will determine what sessions you would like your swimmer to participate at. Events at each session are listed in the meet packet.

To change the status of your athlete, click on his/her name and make one of two choices offered in the drop-down box on the next screen:

• "Yes, please sign up for this session" • "No, thanks will not attend this event."

Where do I find the meet packet and what information will it tell me?

In each Meet Event, you will find the Meet Packet. Each meet packet is different and contains everything you need to know about the meet; session details (what time your swimmer’s age group will swim) warm-up times, positive check-in times, pool location, events offered, entry limit (how many events your swimmer is allowed to swim per meet session and total in the meet) and more.

How much does it cost to participate in a swim meet?

Each meet is different. Meet fees are set by the host team and are explained in the meet packet. Once entries are submitted to the host team, no refunds are granted unless there is an injury with a doctor’s note. Meet fees are billed through your Elmhurst Aquatics account and charged to your credit card on file after the conclusion of the meet.

Can my child swim in every meet?

No, not all swim meets are designed for all levels of competition. USA/IL swimming, or other meet host clubs, may host competitions that require athletes to have a qualifying time in an event to enter the meet. Those qualifying times will be listed in the meet packet if the meet has qualifying times. Other times, EA coaches will restrict groups of athletes from participating in meets because there is another upcoming meet where they would like them to compete. Examples of these types of meets are Illinois Regional Championships and Illinois Age Group State Championships.

Can my child swim one day of a meet instead of the whole weekend?

Yes. Swimmers do not have to be committed to all sessions of a meet.
When you commit your swimmer to a meet, there is a comment box that allows you to type in notes to coaches about attendance.

Can I select my athlete's events?

We welcome and encourage athlete/coach communication about events. You are welcome to leave a comment in the notes, however, coaches have the final say when entering swimmers into events.

How do I know which events my athlete will compete in?

Login to your account. Navigate to the events tab and click on the meet you would like to see your athlete's events for. Click on “edit commitment” and you should see a list of your athlete’s events. Please note that meet entries may not be posted until 2-3 days before an event.

What is the general timeline of a meet?

Meets usually have 2-3 days of competition. You do NOT have to sign up for all days. Some meets have a Friday evening session for longer-distance events, targeted at more experienced swimmers. Morning, Mid-day, or afternoon sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Your athlete will only participate in one session per day. Each meet format is different and it is very important to read the entire meet packet for each meet.

For example: At XYZ meet, 10&U athletes swim in the morning session on both Saturday and Sunday. Sessions can last as little as 2.5 hours or run as long as 5-6 hours. Athletes are expected to stay for the duration of the session but may leave when they are done with their events. 

Registration and Meet Administration

Please insure that you have properly registered your swimmers, keep an eye on team news and watch for a pre-meet email. Registration for EA's large December meet and for other large meets will close well in advance of meets because large meets require the submittal of rosters of swimmers well in advance. The host team obtains the registration materials and develops preliminary meet entry sheets and positive check-in sheets.

Positive Check-In


Swimmers typically arrive at meets 60-75 minutes before their scheduled session. Upon arrival, swimmers must let the meet administrative team know that they have arrived by checking in at what is known as "positive check-in", a process during which the swimmer will either:

(a) highlight their name (and sometimes events) on sheets of paper typically located near the venue's entrance or

(b) check in with their coach who will then check the swimmer in.

Most of the large meets require that a swimmer directly engage in the highlighting process noted in (a), but some will allow checking in through the coach.

At our home time trial meets checking in with the coach will be the method of positive check-in. Parents and swimmers should not positively check in a swimmer unless the swimmer knows and is present at the venue.

Positive check-in will typically close at or near the start of warm-ups. If positive check-in is posted for a time after warm-ups begin, please do not wait to check-in. Better to get it done!

Warm Ups

Warm-ups before any meet session will typically open one hour prior to the start of the meet. For some meets, this period may be a very specific 20min warm-up time.

During warm-ups, teams and portions of teams are typically assigned lanes.  When your athlete arrives, be sure they check with EA coaches upon arrival at the meet. Swimmers will have the opportunity to swim and, eventually, practice their starts. Swimmers should avoid hanging on the lane lines and horseplay.

Timers Meeting

Timers scheduled to work a meet session must arrive in sufficient time to allow them to be on deck for the timers meeting not later than twenty (20) minutes prior to the announced start of the meet session. This is imperative. Timers are critical to the success of our swimmers and to our efficiency at each and every meet session. Timers will be assigned a lane (two per lane) and EA endeavors to schedule a head timer and relief timers for each meet session. Timing, like officiating, requires attention and interest. Behind coaches and officials, timers have the next best spot on deck. The timers' meeting will typically end 5-10 minutes before the start of the meet session so that timers' materials can be circulated and lane positions can be assumed before the national anthem, pledge , or start of the session.

Preparation of Heat Sheets

While all of the foregoing is happening, the meet administrative team is busy determining what swimmers are present to compete. Shortly before the start of the meet, the team prints heat sheets for coaches and officials and lane sheets for timers. Soon thereafter, heat sheets may be made available to coaches, and athletes and published in Meet Mobile. 

A heat sheet will break the meet session down into events and each event down into heats typically with the fastest registered swimmers appearing in later heats. PLEASE note that there are many times when events may be combined in order to allow efficiency during a meet. Combinations of events may occur at any time during a meeting.

How to Read a Heat Sheet

Who Can Be On Deck During a Meet? Where's My Swimmer?!

USA Swimming and MAAPP prohibits anyone but registered and insured swimmers, coaches, officials and authorized deck volunteers on the pool deck at all times. Volunteers will be stationed to ensure no unauthorized persons are able to get on deck.  

At many meets, including the large ones, swimmers will be on deck and parents will be in the stands. Typically, EA swimmers occupy an area on the deck (or near the deck for outdoor meets). During some large meets, teams will use a ready room or a staging area when swimmers remain in a gym or other room nearby the pool and line of heats before proceeding to the pool deck. 

Finally... Let's Swim

At some point, the referee and announcer will close the pool to warm-ups. Swimmers should exit the water immediately and safely upon learning that the pool is closed for warm-ups, and they should not enter the pool for any purpose other than competition unless told to do so by a coach or an official.

The announcer will typically announce the opening of the meet before or after the national anthem or pledge (if one is planned). At the time of this announcement, the swimmers in the first few heats will likely have been behind the starting blocks for a few minutes. The referee and start share a position on one side of the pool near the start and end for each heat. At no time should any swimmer or volunteer cross in front of the referee and starter.

The referee will blow his or her whistle in 4-6 short bursts and this indicates to the swimmers that they should be preparing to swim. During forward starts, the referee will blow one long whistle that indicates that swimmers should get up on the starting blocks or in another position to start (some swimmers will not use blocks until coaches agree that they are comfortable and confident to dive from the block). The referee will extend an arm toward the starter and the starter will say "Take Your Mark" at which time the swimmers should attain their start position. The starter then starts the heat.

Silence is Golden

QUIET FOR THE START is the rule. Swimmers and anyone else near the blocks needs to be silent during the whistle protocol. Occasionally, noise from the stands will also lead to an announcement that there needs to be quiet for the start from the fans. A quiet start is the best start for all swimmers.

What is a FLYOVER Start?

A fly-over start occurs when a heat has ended and the next heat starts before the swimmers in the last heat exit the water. All swimmers need to pay attention to coaches, announcers and officials. If a meet involves fly-over starts, it will be announced. Please do not exit the water until after the start of the next heat! Also, swimmers in the water should not do anything to distract the next swimmer--no holding the block, bobbing, cheering or celebrating. Let's get the next heat off before any of that happens.

What Should a Swimmer Do After the Heat?

Simple. FIND YOUR COACH. The world's best feedback is available to you when you find your coach immediately after your heat. If you forget, fine, but try once you remember. First instinct after a heat is to get your time then you go find your coach!


Coaches and the progress of a meet session determine whether there will be relays. If a swimmer is on a relay team, the swimmer needs to be at the session for its duration or else that swimmer may be letting down three other swimmers. Additionally, swimmers having completed their leg of the relay should exit the water as soon as the next swimmer departs. Only the next swimmer should be on or near the blocks or start position. Swimmers, please note that a relay is a team thing. Of course, you can cheer during the heat! Each swimmer on a relay team should remain near the start position until the relay has concluded. Don't leave until your relay team has finished.

Long Events

Swimmers swimming long events should plan to have their own timers and lap counters. EA coaches can occasionally help in this process, but please plan to have your own timers and lap counters for every long event heat.

Disqualified? Seriously?

If a swimmer breaks the rules of competition, there will be a disqualification. DQ's can happen for many, many reasons and they occur even with the best swimmers at the highest levels. No swimmer should be ashamed of a DQ. Parents, your children may cry at first--they may feel as though they failed. There is not one swimmer on EA that has never suffered a DQ. DQ's occur when coaches push swimmer's to the next level. They occur when swimmers advance to longer events. They occur simply because a meet might happen to be the day of a birthday party or a full day of camp. A few things about DQ's: (1) only the coaches and swimmers talk about them; (2) we don't talk to the officials; and (3) a DQ is part of learning.


Meet Mobile is an app that each host team can quickly update and push results to.  Meet Mobile is highly encouraged to be utilized by parents and older swimmers as well. 

EA is lucky to have a scoreboard with the detail it has. Most meets will have a scoreboard that provides at least the lane and time. Others will add the place. Still others, like EA will have a name. Fans should watch the scoreboard for heat times. The name will disappear as the next heat is set up, and the time will disappear at the start of the next heat. Swimmers, you can ask timers for your times, but please ONLY do so after the next heat has started and when the timers are not communicating with each other. Event results may be announced during a meet session and they may be posted in a public area near the pool. EA will typically not post results during its smaller meet sessions such as the Friday meets during the Fall/Winter Season or the Wednesday meets during the Summer season.

Every EA swimmer has a home within USA Swimming's database. All times are posted to USA Swimming's website and swimmers and parents alike are encouraged to visit this site frequently to review times and motivational standards.