What to Expect Before, During and After a Swim Meet


1.  Swim Meets

Competitive swimming is divided into two seasons.  The Short Course Yards (SCY) runs September through March and the meets are held in 25-yard pools.  The Long Course Meters (LCM) season runs May through early August.   Meets held during the LCM season may use a 25-yard or 50-meter pool, however most national level meets use a 50-meter pool.

The schedule of meets that our club plans to attend can be found on our web site, www.cgacswim.org.  The meets fall into a couple of categories. 

  1. Center Grove Aquatic Club (CGAC) hosted meets – CGAC typically puts on 2-3 meets a year; the Jingle Bell Classic in November, the SuperBowl Splash Prelim-Finals meet in January, and the Stars and Stripes 12 & Under meet in July
  2. Local meets/Invitationals-most other meets fall within a 30-45 min drive of the Center Grove area. 
  3. Travel meets – the club will attend at least one out of state meet during the summer season
  4. Divisional and State Championship meets – there are Divisional and State meets for Short Course and Long Course each year.

1.1 CGAC Hosted Meets -All Age Group Swim Teams (White, Red and Black) should attend at least one day of the CGAC home meets.  For new competitive swimmers, these are wonderful meets to begin with.  The pool and facilities are familiar, and there will be lots of other swimmers they know at the meet, all of which helps make it less intimidating for many new competitive swimmers. 

1.2 Travel Meets- Travel meets are just what they sound like, meets that are hosted by other clubs at other pools.  Some of these meets have entry restrictions such as requiring that swimmers meet certain time standards.  For example, a meet might require all swimmers to have “A” cuts.  These refer to the USA Swimming motivational times, which can be found on their website (www.usaswimming.org).

From the www.usaswimming.org home page, look under the “Times” dropdown menu at the top of the page for the link to Time Standards.  Also take a look at the Times Search, specifically the Individual Times Search. This tool can be used to see how a swimmer has done in prior meets, and the search can be refined by event, best times only, long course or short course, etc.

If a travel meet has entry restrictions, CGAC will communicate that via email. Most of the meets will not have any restrictions, with the exception of the Divisional and State meets which will always have entry restrictions, in which swimmers must achieve qualifying time standards. You will be notified via email if your swimmer has qualified for one of these meets. 

For newer swimmers who have not attended many meets, please make sure that the swimmer’s team/coach is aware of which days the swimmer will be attending each travel meet so the coach can be sure to give them the assistance they need.

1.3 Divisional and State Meets- Divisional (SCY only) and State (both SCY and LCM) meets end each of the seasons, and are what our swimmers work towards.  In order to enter the meet, a swimmer must have posted a time that year that is at least as fast as the Indiana Championships standard for each event.  To find the time standards each year, go to the Indiana Swimming web site (www.inswimming.org) and look for Time Standards, which are most easily reached by clicking on the “Times” quick link on the left side of the Indiana Swimming home page.  The time standards for Indiana Swimming State and Divisional cuts do not directly line up with the USA Swimming national motivational time standards mentioned in section 1.2.

The time standards are broken up by male and female, as well as by age group.  In order to enter a specific event at a Divisional or State meet, the swimmer must have made the “cut” for that specific event (such as Boys 10&Under 50 yard Freestyle for short course or Girls 11-12 year old 200 meter Backstroke for long course). 

2. How to Sign a Swimmer Up For a Meet

Prior to the meets, typically several weeks in advance, CGAC will send out an email (from the Coach) letting families know that the RSVP period for that meet is open and that the meet packet is available.  The email message will also state when the RSVP period will close.  It is very important to know when the meet entry deadline will occur. Once the meet entry deadline has passed, no changes can be made to the entries. 

There are two general formats for swim meets – Timed Finals and Prelim/Finals.  Most of the meets CGAC attends are Timed Finals where the 6,8,9, or 10 fastest swimmers (based off the number of lanes in the pool) in an event/age group will swim in the last heat, the next fastest in the next-to-last heat and so forth.  The winner of an event is the swimmer with the fastest time for that event and age group regardless of the heat.  In a Prelim/Finals meet, there will be two sessions each day.  During the preliminaries, the heats are seeded differently where the fastest swimmers are in middle lanes spread out over the last three heats.  The goal is to be one of the fastest 6,8,9 or 10 swimmer (based off the number of lanes in the pool) and return for the finals that evening.  The winner of an event is the swimmer who comes in first in the finals regardless of times recorded in the preliminary session.  All championship meets run under a Prelim/Finals format.

2.1 Read the Meet Packet- The first thing to do is go read the meet packet which can be linked to from the CGAC web site.  These packets will state exactly where the meet is being held, what time warm-ups are, what the entry fees will be (for swimmers) as well as the spectator admission fee for family, guests or other spectators, when the various age groups are swimming, if the meet will have finals, if there are any entry restrictions, and more.  Not all meets are structured the same, so ALWAYS read the meet packet. There will be lots of useful information in it.

2.2 RSVP for the Meet- Once you know what days the meet is being held and if your swimmer would compete in the morning or afternoon, you’ll need to RSVP your swimmer for the meet.  This is done from the CGAC website.  Log-in to your TeamUnify (website) account. Click on the "What's happening over at CGAC" tab. Scroll down to the meet you would like to RVP your swimmer. Click on the meet title to get meet information, including a link to the meet packet. Select "edit commitment." In the notes section, please indicate what day(s) your swimmer will attend the meet if they will not compete all days of the meet. If you have more than one swimmer on the team, this will need to be completed for each swimmer individually.

The coaches will get an RSVP list and a list of which days each swimmer is available to swim at a meet and will use that information, along with which events they think each swimmer is ready for or needs, to select the events and submit the entry form for the team to the hosting club.  Families DO NOT need to submit entries directly to the hosting club, nor should they.  In the meet packets there are entry forms, which can be ignored.  All that is required to get a swimmer signed up is to submit the RSVP via the CGAC website.

**CGAC pays for our team entries before the meet with a single check, and then will bill each family individually via a monthly statement after the meet has occurred.  Please note that if you have RSVPed for the meet, then the club has paid your swimmer’s entry fee to the hosting club and you’ll be responsible for reimbursing CGAC (via the above noted mailed bill) even if your swimmer ends up not making to the meet.

As mentioned earlier, the closing date for the RSVP period is important.  Here’s why; CGAC has to submit our club’s entries well in advance of the actual meet so that we’ll have a good chance of being able to get in.  Indiana meets are penalized if they run longer than four hours of competition in any session, so that means that there will be a maximum number of entries that they can accept without having the meet run over that time limit.  More importantly, if you submit your swimmer’s RSVP late there is a very real chance that we won’t be able to get them entered in the meet.  If the coaches are able to still get them in, then you will be billed DOUBLE the regular entry fee (On-Deck Fee).  Please note that late entries are very inconvenient for both our club as well as the hosting club. There is a lot that has to happen behind the scenes and before the meet dates to make them actually happen and run relatively smoothly.

3.  How to Know Which Events a Swimmer Will Be Competing In

After we get all the RSVPs and create our entry list, a copy will be posted at the pool so you and your swimmer can see the events they’ll be swimming.  You can compare this information with the meet packet (also posted) to see roughly when in the day they’ll actually be competing in the pool, in case you have guests coming to watch.  Your swimmer will have to be at the meet and signed in 15 minutes prior to time warm-ups for their session is slated to start (more on that shortly), but they are not required to stay all the way until their session ends. If you’d like, they can leave right after their last event.

4.  What Each Swimmer Should Have For a Meet

Recommendations to help swimmers pack for each meet;

  1. A team competition suit and a backup suit (older suits can tear at inconvenient times!) A CGAC black suit is the team suit. 
  2. Swim caps (a team cap and a backup). These MUST be CGAC caps during the regular season. Coaches will have additional caps for sale at the pool during practice and at the meets.
  3. Towels (at least two, swimmers will want to towel off more than once during the meet to stay warm).
  4. A change of clothes so to have something dry and warm to wear home. 
  5. Something to wear during the meet and on deck – t-shirt, shorts, sweats, etc. MUST be a CGAC or plain Center Grove apparel-no other sports or activities. This is our team uniform. You will recieve an email prior to the meet as to the team colors for each day (red, white, black or gray).   Remind your swimmer that warm muscles perform better and many facilities may be cool on the pool deck or in the area the swimmers stay or camp.
  6. Goggles and a backup pair (pre-fitted so they’ll be ready to go quickly if the primary pair breaks).
  7. Water bottle– keeping hydrated is key and all swimmers should arrive with a full water bottle and refill it as needed.  If swimmers aren’t refilling the water bottle, they aren’t drinking enough.  None of the pools will allow glass on deck, so make sure these are plastic water bottles and containers.
  8. Healthy snacks – swimmers will want something to keep their energy up during the meet, but that doesn’t mean candy.  Some options would include dried fruit, a banana, peanut butter sandwiches, apples, etc.  Pack these snacks individually in ziplock bags, which seem to work best for kids, since the food will be on deck with them (and around lots of water!).
  9. A sharpie so swimmers can write their event numbers, heats and lanes on their arm – this really helps both the coaches and swimmers for the younger kids. Use the heat sheet and entry postings to write your their event numbers, heat/lane assignments.
  10. If a swimmer wears glasses, they may want to pack a hard case for them to put the glasses in to keep the glasses safe while they’re actually swimming.

5.  What to Think Twice About Bringing

  1. Glass containers –Glass won’t be allowed on deck for safety reasons
  2. Electronics – many swimmers like to bring iPods and games, which is fine but they should keep in mind that there will likely be hundreds of kids and spectators around so each swimmer is responsible for not losing their own property and keeping it dry. Phones are not allowed on deck without coaches permission. Teammates are encouraged to cheer for one another and to get to know their teammates that are not in their specific training group. 
  3. Candy and soda – this is up to each family, but keep in mind that while an occasional treat is fine and sugar provides a short energy spike, candy and sugared or caffeinated drinks aren’t the best basis for good performances (this would include “energy” drinks such as Monster or Red Bull)

6.  Arriving at and Leaving Meets

Most meets operate under a Positive Check-in process requiring the swimmers to declare their attendance each day.  The meets will require swimmers to check in prior to the start of the meet, or they will be scratched from the entry list.  Therefore, swimmers need to be at the pool 10-15 minutes before the start of warm-ups for whichever sessions they are swimming in so they can get signed in and then out on deck with the team before the start of warm-ups.  If you don’t see the sign in sheets, ask a meet worker where to find them.

For departure time, a swimmer can leave after they’ve swum their last event of the session if they’d like to.  Staying to root on other team members is okay too, of course.  Either way, please be sure that your swimmer tells their coach that they’re leaving.

7.  Other Rules for Meets

Only swimmers, coaches, officials and meet workers will be allowed on deck.  Parents and spectators are not allowed on deck for safety reasons.

If a swimmer isn’t standing at the starting block or platform in the lane they are assigned to at the start of their heat, they won’t get to swim that event.  As a parent, you can help avoid problems by making sure your swimmer knows what events they’re swimming in (including the event number) and which heat and lane for each event.  See the note about packing a Sharpie above in section 4.  It is also best that the swimmers stay on deck during their session, or if they need to leave the team area for some reason (to go to the rest room, or to see family in the stands) then they should check with a coach to be sure they have time before their next event.

8.  Being Disqualified In an Event

It happens to everyone, and it will happen more than once.  It is recommend that parents not make a big deal about it, as disqualifications are part of the learning process. Some of the strokes have many rules, and any wobble on the starting block will probably get a disqualification (DQ) too.  A commonly heard phrase is “Got a DQ so going to DQ (Dairy Queen)”.  It’s up to each parent to decide how to go about doing it, but it is best to help a new swimmer find a way to get over any disappointment in getting a DQ and focus instead on the next event or what they need to work on in practice to avoid continuing to get DQ’s.  A meet official will inform either the swimmer or the coach of a DQ, and the reason for it, so the swimmer should understand what happened.

9.  Where to Find Swimmer’s Times After a Meet

The times search discussed in section 1.2 will include results from a meet within a week of the end of that meet.  Results may also be posted on the hosting club’s web site.  Meet results can also be found on the CGAC web site (www.cgacswim.org) by clicking on the “Results and Entries” tab near the top of the home page.

10.  What to Do If You Have a Question about Anything

Find one of the coaches, club board members or one of the Parent Mentor Council reps, before, during or after practice.  Also look for other CGAC parents and family members in the stands during a meet.  Most parents and family members wear CGAC spiritwear to support the team and for unity.