Swim Meet FAQs


What is positive check-in?  Positive check-in is the process of formally registering your swimmer’s presence at a given session. Positive check-in entails highlighting the swimmer’s name on a sheet of paper and usually closes 30 minutes prior to the conclusion of warm-ups for a given session. Even if your swimmers are registered in advance of the meet, swimmers that have not completed positive check-in will not be allowed to swim unless they complete this process.


What is a “heat sheet”?  The host team for every meet will print a heat sheet for every session of the meet.  A heat sheet organizes the swimmers into numbered heats and numbered lanes.  The heats are organized by time with the fastest swimmers typically competing in the last heats.  The heat sheets help the spectators follow the meet to watch their swimmers as well as guide the swimmers as to when and where they need to be to swim their events.  Some meets include the price of a heat sheet with the cost of admissions and others charge an additional fee.  When entering the meet, ask about the heat sheets should you want one.


What is Meet Mobile?  In addition to heat sheets, Meet Mobile is a great mobile app you can also use to track your swimmers’ events and times at or after a meet. Meet Mobile can be purchased from the App Store or Google Play and costs ~$6.00/year.


What is a relay and how do they work?  A relay is one of the most exciting aspects of being part of a team.  It is an honor to be selected for a relay and is based upon a swimmer’s fastest time.  Relays are composed of four swimmers and are either on a medley relay or a freestyle relay.  A medley relay has one swimmer doing each of the four strokes in the order of backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.  A freestyle relay has the swimmers all doing freestyle.  Typically, the fastest four swimmers will be placed on the “A” relay, the next four fastest on the “B” relay, etc.  The coaches set the relays based upon the swimmers entered in the meet.  Most relays occur at the end of each day’s session. It is very important for swimmers to check in with their coaches before leaving the meet, even if they have completed their individual events, to ensure they are not needed for a relay.  Swimmers in the Gold & Up levels have a mandatory requirement to participate in the state championship relays if asked to compete.


What do the letter designations mean for swimming times?  A swimmer’s times can be categorized according to standards set by USA Swimming.  The times are national standards and apply to all swimmers across the country.  Times are set by gender and age and are given a letter designation, BB, B, A, AA, AAA, AAAA.  Some swim meets will have qualifying times based upon these standards with swimmers only being eligible to compete if they have achieved the cut-off time.  A list of USA swimming age group time standards can be found here:  https://www.usaswimming.org/_Rainbow/Documents/19cf506c-9519-45c1-af94-f835a1e45b29/2020MotivationalTimes-Top16.pdf


Are there other time standards to follow?  The state of Illinois also has time standards, which qualify a swimmer for the championship meets at the end of each season.  A swimmer may achieve a Regional Time Standard (REG) or a Championship Time Standard (CHMP).  The Championship Standards are also referred to as JOs (Junior Olympics).  The JOs are the state championship meet held at the end of each season.  These time standards are also divided by gender and age.  The list of time standards can be found here:  https://www.teamunify.com/iljyjst/__eventform__/769193_TimeStandards_IllinoisSwimming_2017SC.pdf


What is the difference between short course and long course?  A swimming year is broken into two season, short course and long course.  The short course season begins in September and ends in March.  The long course season starts in April and runs through July.  The short course season is measured in yards and competes in a 25-yard pool.  Most local pools are 25-yard pools.  The long course season is measured in meters and competes in a 50-meter pool.  This is the type of pool you see featured in the Olympics where the pool looks much longer.  The time standards mentioned previously are divided into short course yards (SCY) and long course meters (LCM) to reflect the two seasons of the swimming year.  There is also a designation of short course meters (SCM) on the time standards pages, but these types of pools are rare and very few meets are contested this way.


How do parents know which meets and events are appropriate for their swimmers?  The best source of information regarding your child is the coach.  All of the coaches have contact information posted on our website, https://www.teamunify.com/Home.jsp?_tabid_=0&team=isnasa .  If you are unsure about a meet or events within a meet, contact the coach for feedback.  For beginning swimmers, our NASA Wildcat Aquatics hosted meets are always good for all swimmers.  As the host team, our swimmers do not have to meet time standards so it is a great opportunity to “test the waters” in a competition format.  It is wise to check with the coaches to see which strokes are legal for your swimmer and which distances match their current ability.


What is a prelim/final meet and who qualifies for finals?   This type of meet is one in which all swimmers compete in their entered events in the morning or early afternoon.  A pre-selected number of the fastest posted times will come back in the evening for finals.  The most frequent finals format is for the top eight or sixteen swimmers to qualify for finals.


What does “scratch” mean?  If a swimmer does not intend to swim an entered event or events, the swimmer should “scratch”.  This lets the host club know the swimmer will not be there or does not intend to swim in an event.  For some meets, there are penalties for failing to scratch and at others it is just a courtesy to make the meet more efficient by avoiding empty lanes with no swimmers.  Questions about scratching can be directed to the coaches.


Why do swimmers get disqualified in a race?  Each competitive stroke has rules

surrounding technique.  These include starts and turns as well as the form of each stroke.  If a swimmer is seen by an official to violate one or more of these rules during a race, the swimmer will be disqualified or DQ’d in that race.  The coach will be given a slip of paper describing the violation so the swimmer will know what happened to cause the disqualification.   If DQ’d, a swimmer’s time and place in the event do not count.  It is very common for new swimmers to be DQ’d so a swimmer should be reassured that it is ok.  Please reach out to the coaches if a swimmer does not understand why they were disqualified.  NOTE:  Parents should never approach officials on the deck with questions about disqualifications.  This is all part of the process and a great tool for learning.  The current USA Swimming Rules can be found here: http://www.usaswimming.org/_Rainbow/Documents/41f998b6-194c-4dbc-bc93-d0a5cb45062f/2017 Rulebook.pdf


Which volunteer jobs are best for parents new to the team?  Volunteer jobs are truly rooted in personal preference.  The only jobs not appropriate for new families would be any designated as requiring special certification, such as meet officials.  Timing, concessions, gear sales, heat winner distribution, admissions and safety marshal are all terrific volunteer opportunities to get involved and learn the workings of a swim meet.  All families are required to work one session at each of our hosted meets.


What should my child bring to a meet?  All swimmers should be in our team suit and cap for every meet.  These can be purchased through the team store located on our website.  All swimmers will receive a team cap and team shirt with their registration.  Most swimmers wear goggles and will bring them to the meet.  Other items to consider bringing include an extra towel, clothes to wear between events to stay warm, deck shoes, water bottle and snacks to refuel between races.


Should swimmers talk to their coach before and after a race?  Yes. Before a race, coaches will talk to each swimmer about race strategy and target goals.  After the race, coaches will evaluate the race and help identify future objectives.  Younger swimmers are particularly encouraged to talk to coaches after their races to obtain feedback and encouragement.


Can swimmers leave the meet as soon as their individual events are complete? Generally, yes, but it is recommended that they always check in with their coach before leaving in case they are needed for a relay, even if they weren’t originally included on a relay. Whenever possible, it is also nice for the kids to stay and cheer on their teammates but completely understandable if your swimmer needs to leave for other activities or family plans.


Can swimmers bring electronic devices to the meet?  Coaches will often ask swimmers to put away electronic devices to have a device-free meet.  This helps foster camaraderie and team building.


What is the swim-a-thon?  The swim-a-thon is a team building event in which the swimmers solicit sponsors to make a monetary donation to support their efforts during the event.  The swimmers swim straight through the allotted practice time in an effort to swim as many laps as possible.  The funds are used to support our team and help fund our scholarships.