Meet & Competition Basics

Welcome to Otters!!! There is a lot to know about the world of swimming, and about Otters. To help answer questions for both new families to our sport and team, and returning Otters families, we have some information below that will be helpful meets.


What is a Meet?

A meet is what we call a swimming competition. Basketball has games, tennis has matches, and track has races, swimming has meets! Swimmers sign up to race by choosing from the 4 competitive strokes: Freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. They choose distances ranging from 25 yards - 1650 yards, and are grouped with other swimmers from our team and other teams by age and skill. Example: 8 & Unders race together, and 11-12 race together.

Are Meets Required?

Swim meets are a required part of participation for all Otters above the Novice level, though we highly encourage Novices to do meets. In a typical season, swimmers should do their first meet before the end of November, with a follow-up in January or February, and the appropriate postseason meet (C Finals, MRC, or states) for their level. Swimmers who do not meet their requirement will waive their roster spot in their practice group if there is a waitlist.


Why do we have this requirement?

We believe in the concept of Arete, an idea dating back to ancient Greek mythology. Competition serves not as a method of bringing others down, but of helping the individual realize their greatest potential. It is a celebration of skill and effort, which has been trained and rewarded through practices and learning from coaches and other swimmers. Swimmers who add a balanced schedule of competition continue in the sport longer, care more about what is going on in practice, and support the efforts of their teammates better.


Otters competition is optional for Novice Otters (though we encourage Novices to do meets) and required for all practice groups above Novice. Competition offers kids a chance to assess progress by practicing race skills and monitoring improvement. Competition is organized by speed and age.


What Meet Should My Swimmer Do?

We have many swim meets throughout the season for different levels of experience, and many meets have time standard requirements. Below are some of the different kinds of meets that we have throughout the year, the breakdown of what they mean is shown:


  • Intrasquad - for all Otters swimmers only
  • Pre-Bronze/Bronze Novice - for swimmers with either no times in events, or C times and slower. Usually only for 14 & under. These meets are perfect for beginners to meets
  • Bronze/Silver Open - for swimmers with B times and C times or slower
  • Silver/Gold - for swimmers with B times, A times and faster
  • Gold Meets - for swimmers with A times and faster
  • Bronze/Silver/Gold Open - for swimmers with A times, B times, C times
  • Open Invitational - for swimmers with any time or no time
  • Time Standard Invitational - for swimmers who meet the time standards set for the meet
  • MAC Finals - Metro Acheivement Championships - for swimmers with Bronze times that were achieved during the qualifying period
  • MRC's - Minnesota Regional Championships - for swimmers with Silver and Gold times that were achieved during the qualifying period
  • State Meet - for swimmers with Champ times or faster that were achieved during the qualifying period
    • Age Group State - 14 and under swimmers
    • Senior State - 15 and over swimmers
  • Zone Meet - for swimmers with AAA the were achieved during the qualifying period. This is a summer long course meet


What are time standards?

Time standards are what swimming is measured in, and most swim meets have a system based on time standards. Times range from C (slowest with a time) to Champ (state qualifying), and from here they go up to Zone (AAA) and faster. We will be posting the 2016/2017 time standards when they are made available to us.

Time standards are grouped into gender and age groupings: 8 & under, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18 or Senior (any age). In each age grouping the times are measured within that age group, so when swimmers age up their times change, sometimes it is a small change and sometimes a larger change.

Are there rules for the strokes?

Yes, all four competitive strokes (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly) have rules to follow which makes them legal, if you do something that is not allowed then you will make the stroke illegal, resulting in a disqualification (DQ). See the link below for more information on each of the strokes and their rules:

USA Swimming Rules


What do we need to know for our swimmer’s first meet?

Meets are a lot of fun and swimmers always have a good time, even if they are nervous at first. Look at the Your First Meet section of our website to know what to expect.


How many meets should my swimmer do?

  • Novice:  
    • Meet Requirement
      • Two sessions of competition between September and March, regardless of month of signup
        • Postseason Requirement - None
        • Entry into Otters hosted meets - Optional
        • Selection of Events - Swimmers and Coach
  • River
    • Meet Requirement
      • ​​Two sessions of competition for Sept-Oct, Two sessions of competition for Nov-Dec, Two sessions of competition for Jan-Feb,

        Appropriate postseason meet.

        • Postseason Requirement - Highest standard final meet (MAC, MRC, State Champs)
        • Entry into Otters hosted meets - Automatic (may be withdrawn)
        • Selection of Events - Coach
  • Sea
    • Meet Requirement
      • Two sessions of competition for Sept-Oct, Two sessions of competition for Nov-Dec, Two sessions of competition for Jan-Feb,

        Appropriate postseason meet.

        • Postseason Requirement - Highest standard final meet (MAC, MRC, State Champs)
        • Entry into Otters hosted meets - Automatic (may be withdrawn)
        • Selection of Events - Coach
  • Presenior & Senior
    • ​Meet Requirement
      • Two sessions of competition for Sept-Oct, Two sessions of competition for Nov-Dec, Two sessions of competition for Jan-Feb,

        Appropriate postseason meet.

        • Postseason Requirement - Highest standard final meet (MAC, MRC, State Champs)
          • Any upper-level meets that are qualified with at least three events
        • Entry into Otters hosted meets - Automatic (may be withdrawn)
        • Selection of Events - Coach


What is the difference between short course yards (SCY) and long course meters (LCM)?

Swimming has two seasons: Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. Each of these seasons has their own time standards.

Fall/Winter: The meets are held at indoor, 25 yard, pools. Swimmers count their laps by 25s, so a 50 Fr is two lengths of the pool (25s). All of the Finals meets (MAC, MRC and State) are in short course pools.

Spring/Summer: There are also short course (25 yard) meets held in this season, but we also get outdoor meets, and long course meter meets (50 meter). Swimming 50 Fr in a long course meet means you swim one length of the pool (50 meters), no turns. We push swimmers to do long course meets during this part of the season because it is one of the only chances during the year where we have them. It also makes them really focus on their technique, and it is a great challenge. They also like it because it is Olympic distance.


How do I find out the schedule and location of each meet?

When you click on the meet you want, you are taken to that meet’s information page. On that page the date, location, who the meet is for, warm-up schedule, session information etc. is posted. We also send out an email leading up to each meet, for the people entered in it, with details specific to that meet.

Meet Schedule

Meets & Events


How do I know what session my swimmer is in? What is a session?

Meets that are 2 days, or more, are divided into sessions based on age groups, for example: 10 & Under Girls and 12 & Under boys are typically in the morning, 11 & Over Girls and 13 & Over Boys are typically in the afternoon. Each of these sessions lasts 4-5 hours including warm-up time. Swimmers can sign up for one session each day, or they can just sign up for one session on one day.

  • Intrasquad, Dual Meets, Quad Meets, and Novice meets usually only have one session.


How much do meets costs?

There are two main ways that meets can charge, a flat fee or a per event fee.

  • 1. A flat fee for the whole meet
    • Flat fee meets charge one amount no matter how many events a swimmer does.
  • 2. Per Event Fee
    • Initial swimmer entry fee, plus splash fees (cost per event), plus facility fee and sometimes program fee. Some meets are more expensive then others

Relays are divided by the 4 swimmers who compete on them, if a swimmer backs out of the meet last minute resulting in their relay not swimming, they are charged the whole relay fee.

Once entries have been submitted to a meet you are charged the cost of the meet. So, if your swimmer is unable to attend come the day of the meet, you are still charged for it. We are required to submit payment to the host team when we submit our entries, and we do not receive refunds if swimmers do not show up to the meet. Otters does have an administrative fee added to all swimmers at meets to cover the cost of coaches attending.

Your account will be automatically billed for meet fees, you do not need to bring payment with you unless the meet allows open lane swims.


What are relays?

Relays are comprised of 4 swimmers doing the same distance, sometimes the same stroke (Freestyle relays) and sometimes different strokes (Medley Relays: Back, Breast, Fly and Free). Not all meets offer relays, but most do, and they are a lot of fun! Swimmers new to meets might not be put on a relay right away, but all Otters need to be available for relays if they are in the meet. Coaches take into account many factors when putting the relays together: arrival to warm-up on time, times, practice attendance, attitude on deck, and if the swimmer is a good relay swimmer. We take in to account the overall success of the relay when putting them together. Swimmers who are late to warm-up, or are not ready to enter the water on time, may be taken off a relay by the coaches. Relays can, and do, change right up until the meet starts at the discretion of the coaches.


What are open lane swims?

Open lane swims are offered at some meets throughout the season by the host team of the meet we are at. They are for swimmers that are already entered into the meet but would like to swim an event that they were not entered in. Swimmers cannot exceed the max limit of individual events (most meets the limit is 4 individual events each day), if they are entered in less than 4 events they can do an open lane swim.

Open lane swims are $5-20 dollars, cash, and if the event you want has room in it than the host team will get you in.


How do I sign my swimmer up for a meet?

  1. Login to your Otters account on the website
  2. Click on the Meet & Events tab
  3. Click on the “Attend” button for the meet that you want
  4. Click on your swimmer’s name
  5. From the drop-down box declare “Yes, my swimmer is attending”
  6. Click “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the page

The save changes step is very important, we get many swimmers each season that think they are signed up for a meet but they are not because they never saved their changes. If you sign-up successfully you will get a confirmation email.

Once the entries for the meet are posted, please double check the entry list for your swimmer, or your account.

  • When signing up for meets you can select coach’s choice, or you can pick your swimmers events.


How do I know what events they are swimming? What day they are on?

When you go to pick events for your swimmer, it will say what day and session it is and then list the events for that session below it:

  • Day 1 Session 1 (Saturday Morning)
    • List of events
  • Day 1 Session 2 (Saturday Afternoon)
    • List of events
  • Day 2 Session 3 (Sunday Morning)
    • List of Events
  • Day 2 Session 4 (Sunday Afternoon)
    • List of Events

You sign your swimmer up for the day you want, and the session that is appropriate for their age.

  • Some meets with have more sessions, some less, and some have a different layout.


When should I have my swimmer arrive to the meet?

Before the meet the host team send us a timeline and any other information we need, sometimes we get this a week before the meet and sometimes we get this a day before the meet. Once we get the timeline we send out a meet email a few days before the meet with the team entries and timeline attached, as well as when to get there for warm-up for each session.

All of this information is also posted on the event page for the meet. Sometimes these things get posted a day or two before the meet, sometimes a week or two before the meet, it just depends on when the host team gets us information.


How do I get my swimmers results?

The host team will send us the meet results a few days after the meet and then they get posted. Meet results can also be found on the Minnesota swimming website, and swimmers can find their current best times on the USA Swimming website as well. We want Otters to know their best times; it helps them to keep focused in practice and at meets.

Apps for your phone that help you to keep track of best time and meet entries:

  • Deck Pass
  • On Deck for Parents
  • Meet Mobile


What expectations do you have for swimmers and their parents?

Meets are big events, and they happen a lot, so it is really helpful when everyone is on the same page with expectations and rules for them. We have expectations for swimmers and parents alike.

For swimmers please see the Meet Expectations & Rules section on our website

For Parents please see the Parent Conduct section of our website