1.   What does my child need to wear to the swim meets?

The official CAQ uniform for both boys and girls is comprised of: 

  • Preferred Team Suit, or a Royal Blue or Navy Blue suit (preferably Speedo brand)
  • our bright yellow Charger Aquatics swim cap; caps come in latex or silicone, one size fits all, and are available only through the CAQ office.

2.  How do I know what size suit to buy my child?

Boys and girls swimsuits are available in (waist) sizes 24-34.  Suits for girls should fit snugly with no gaps when the straps are pulled up, boys should wear a fitted brief or jammer-style suit. Check with a salesperson or ask your coach for advice if you are uncertain.

3. How do I sign up my child for a meet?

The meet schedule will be listed on the home page of the CAQ website, and it is helpful to review the schedule for the entire season in order to plan ahead if you wish to attend. Once the meet information has been loaded onto the website, CAQ will send out an email to inform you that entries are available; you will then:

  • click on “”edit commitment” box next to the meet of choice
  • click on member name and select your declaration
  • check the boxes for events you wish to enter your swimmer
  • save the information
  • coaches will review and amend all entries

Your child’s coach is always the best person to advise you.  Here are some general guidelines:

  • If your swimmer feels ready to swim in a meet, the coach will usually agree.
  • If your swimmer is unsure about swimming in a meet, the coach may encourage your child to try anyway in a limited capacity.
  • If your swimmer has been working out regularly with a CAQ practice group for at least one month, s/he is probably ready to participate.
  • Do NOT enter your child in any relay events; relay placement is unknown until the day of the event, and swimmers are chosen at the coach’s discretion. Charges for relays will be billed to your account.

Your swimmer should sign up for events in the strokes and distances in which s/he is most comfortable.  As swimmers become more familiar with the swim meet format and develop their strokes, the coaches will encourage them to branch out and compete in different events at future meets.

4.  I missed the entry deadline.  Now what?

Some meets allow “deck entry” on the day of the meet, but only if there is lane space; check the meet-specific information for details.  Be aware that deck entries cost more, and you must present your USA Swimming registration card and payment at the time of entry to a representative of the host team… exceptions!

5.  What does “short course” and “long course” mean?  When do we swim what?

Short course events are in 25 or 50 yard lengths. The short course season runs from September to March and culminates with the New Mexico State Short Course Championships at the end of February. Long course events are in 50 meter lengths.  The long course season runs March -July, ending with the New Mexico State Long Course Championships. Championship meets require specific qualifying times, which can be found on the CAQ and NM Swimming websites.

6. Are all swim meets in Albuquerque?

Most swim meets are held in the Albuquerque metro area, and several of them are hosted in the AA Natatorium by Charger Aquatics. There will be some in-state overnight travel, perhaps to Farmington, Los Alamos or Las Cruces. There may be some out of state swim meets the team will attend, but often they are only for senior swimmers.  There will be a schedule of events listed on the CAQ website.

7. Travel Meets

On some occasions CAQ will attend meets that are out of the Albuquerque area. Most often the swimmers will travel with their family to these meets and will be responsible for making travel, meals and lodging arrangements along with any other meet-related requirements. Swimmers will be responsible for prompt arrival at the swim meet venue. Most travel meets will have time standards attached to the meet information, and swimmers need to meet or exceed those standards in order to participate. Parents should contact the coach prior to arranging any travel plans if there are any questions regarding eligibility.

There will be other opportunities, such as a team travel meet or higher level meets, such as Sectionals or Zones, when the swimmers will travel with the coaches. For these meets, swimmers will be under the direct supervision of the Head Coach and/or chaperone(s) at all times. Participating swimmers will be required to complete and return to the Head Coach both the Code of Conduct and Medical Release forms prior to departure. Travel arrangements, hotel room assignments, meals, and all swim-related decisions will be made by the Head Coach, either in advance of or at the meet, depending on the circumstances. All participants will share in travel and meal costs


Meet Information: To download the meet information from our website, click on the name of the meet on the homepage, then click on the link that appears under “documents”. The first few pages will include everything you will need to know about that specific event: location, eligibility, start times, scoring, order of events, etc. Read through this information carefully to be sure you are familiar with all requirements, as each meet has different rules.

Eligibility:  A competitor’s eligibility is determined by time standards based on a swimmer’s age. Important!  For 50 yard and longer events, the time standards (also called time cuts) change once a swimmer turns 11 years of age. Make sure that you enter your swimmer in the correct “age group division” for all events.

The age group divisions at meets are usually structured as:

  • 8 and under: these are all 25 yard events; if a swimmer in this age group wants to swim in a 50 yard event (and the coach agrees that it is appropriate), the swimmer must compete in the 10 and under category.
  • 10 and under: these events are 50 yard, 100 yard and occasionally 200 yard individual events.
  • 11/12, 13/14 and 15 and over: remaining age group divisions.

Please be careful about entering your child in the correct age group division when his/her birthday is fast approaching!   The meet information will specify “swimmers age as of ____date, which will determine the age group for the meet”.

You will notice that many meets will run two sessions on any given day, a morning and an afternoon, so check your event times carefully. Some swim meets are designated only for ages 10 and under, others specifically for 11 and over, some are open to all ages with certain time standards.  The “eligibility” section in the meet information will also advise you as to the maximum number of events each swimmer may enter. You’ll also be reminded that your child cannot enter an event in which s/he has an official time that exceeds the time standards for the meet.

Entry Process: You will need to log on to the CAQ website in order to register your swimmer for a meet – see above for instructions

Make a note of the events and event numbers in which you’ve entered your swimmer. Take this information with you to the swim meet, as you will need to refer to it often.

Scoring/Awards:  Each meet sets its own standards for awards, which will be specified in the meet information.

How to Survive (And Enjoy!) Short and Long Course Swim Meets

Swim meets can be bewildering to families new to the sport. These tips will help you get prepared for the big day:

The night before the meet: Your swimmer (and you) will probably be a little nervous, but it’s always best for everyone to get a good night of solid rest before a meet.  Please spend a few minutes the night before making sure you have clear directions to the facility hosting the meet (the address and, perhaps, directions will be in the meet information).

Arrival time: Yes, you really are required to be there in time for warm-up….even if warm-ups begin two hours before the meet! Reread the meet information to reacquaint yourself with the time you must be there. Please do not miss warm-up; many important things happen during this time. At really large meets, there may be an early warm-up session and a late warm-up session.  Coaches will remind their team members what time they are expected to be at the meet for warm-up, but it is ultimately your responsibility. 

Pack gear the night before: Swimmers should wear team suits and caps to a meets.  Bring extra towels, goggles and caps. While indoor pools are air conditioned for the comfort of the spectators, swimmers can get chilled while they’re waiting.  For this reason, bring extra sweat pants and sweatshirts to wear between events. Bring another set of completely dry clothes to change into after the meet.  In the summer, if they are swimming outside, don’t forget to pack the sunscreen!

Optional: Not all swim facilities have adequate seating for the number of people attending the meet, so it’s a good idea to keep portable seats in your car, just in case. 

Snacks for the meet: Although the team hosting the meet almost always sells concessions, most swimmers and their parents like to bring their own healthy snacks.  Generally, the rule is “no eating on the pool deck”, but there is usually an area outside where the swimmers can eat. Don’t forget water! Each facility sets its own rules with regard to allowing coolers or lawn chairs around the pool; check before you drag them in.

The morning of the meet - what to feed them?  If you have the first morning warm up session, you’ll be leaving your house so early there’s often no time to think about eating at home. Please resist the temptation to drive through the fast food restaurant for breakfast for your swimmer. Milk and other dairy products can be hard to digest and might be a good food group to avoid on swim meet days.  A light breakfast (toast/jam and fruit) will take them through warm up and they will have plenty of time between their events to nibble the nutritious snacks you’ve brought for the day.

Arriving at the host pool: Families are given a lot of freedom to set up an area at swim meets. Some parents like to find their friends and sit together in a group.  Others like to wander off and find areas that aren’t quite so crowded so they can spread out a bit.  You’ll find what works for you. 

Heat sheet: The heat sheet is the meet program, which contains all kinds of helpful information. Heat sheets list the order of all events and their respective swimmers. Entries for each event (not including deck entries) will be grouped by age and gender, and seeded by their current best times in that event.  “NT” means that a swimmer has entered an event with “No Time”, meaning the swimmer does not yet have a legal time in that event.  The 50 yard and longer events will usually list the age group time standards for the event. While waiting for the meet to begin, highlight your swimmer’s name and events on the heat sheet, and record your swimmer’s time at the completion of each event. Always keep track of your swimmer’s best times, you’ll use this information to decide which events to enter at future meets. 

Event start: Meets begin with the playing of the National Anthem and some preliminary announcements. The first events are often the relay events. Once relays are concluded, the meet progresses to individual events. Swimmers are placed in a heat based upon current best times for the event.  Slower and NT swimmers compete in the early heats. The faster swimmers are in the later heats, and the fastest of those swimmers earns the middle lane assignment.

Event etiquette: Beginners swimming 25 yard events may not start their races from the starting blocks, and often leave from the opposite end of the pool. Someone on deck will make sure all swimmers are where they are supposed to be; unless you are working in that capacity, you DO NOT need to be on deck to help them!

  • The starter will announce the event by saying something like, “this is the women’s 25 yard freestyle. Heat 1, step up.”
  • S/he will then position the swimmers for the start of the race by saying “Swimmers, take your mark”, and the swimmers will go off at the sound of the horn.
  • If the official sees a false start, the race will be stopped, and the swimmers will return to the starting blocks for another start.

Disqualification: At the meet official’s discretion, swimmers can be disqualified for false starts. During the race, judges watch the swimmers to insure they are swimming with a legal stroke, kick and proper turn.  If they see something done incorrectly, they will raise their hand.  At the end of the race the swimmer will be told by the official why s/he has been disqualified.  The coach will be given a sheet of paper on which the judge has written the infraction. All swimmers (even those who have been disqualified) must report back to their coach immediately following their swims for feedback on their performanceTIP: Being disqualified is no fun for any swimmer, but it can be devastating to the beginners. This is a time when parents must be at their most supportive and compassionate. It is important that swimmers understand why they were disqualified and learn from the experience.

Times: There is usually an electronic timing board located at one end of the pool or on a wall where you can pick up your swimmer’s times as each event is completed. Most of the boards will flash the order of finish, the lane, and time.  It goes by quickly, so be ready.  If you miss it, you can pick up all this information when the event results are posted.  There is a lag time between the end of an event and the posting of the results, so be patient.

Occasionally, the times that flash on the board at the end of an event are incorrect.  This is usually due to the swimmer failing to hit the touchpad at the end of the race or not hitting it hard enough to stop the clock. Each lane has two volunteer “timers”, and each of those timers is carefully timing your swimmer’s race with a stopwatch. When they see your swimmer touch the wall at the end of his/her race, they also push a button on a cable under the blocks that is part of the meet timing system. Their stopwatch times are recorded on paper and turned in to the meet officials at the end of every heat. Generally, the meet officials and coaches know immediately when there is a problem with the scoreboard times and they are already working to correct the results in the computer.

Awards – All awards will be given to the team coaches and distributed either during practice or in the mail bins outside the CAQ office.

What Not to Do at a Swim Meet

CAQ takes great pride in our team and the ways in which our swimmers represent us, not only through their skills but in their behaviors.  Parents: the team greatly appreciates your adherence to the following guidelines for swim meet etiquette:

  • Do not approach the coaches with questions - They have so many swimmers to keep up with and our team members need and deserve their coach’s full attention.  (Remember, the coaches give EACH of our swimmers important feedback after their swims. They need to be totally focused during this time.)
  • Let the coaches do the coaching- It’s what they do BEST!  Parents always want to help their children succeed, but most of us don’t have a USA Swimming background. For this reason, it’s very likely that your “helpful” advice may place the swimmer in the unhappy position of trying to please either a parent OR a coach. Each coach is totally committed to helping your swimmer realize his/her potential.  If your child comes to you with a swimming question (or frustration), empower that child to take it up with the coach as soon as possible.
  • Please stay off the deck area while the meet is in progress.  Unless you are helping to run the meet as a volunteer of the host team, your presence on the deck can interfere with the movement of the officials observing the meet.
  • NEVER question an official about a decision; this is the coach’s domain. The officials are in charge of all aspects of the meet, including crowd control.
  • Please make sure your swimmer is behaving properly at all times. Adrenaline is running high at a meet and the children can get VERY excited.  The coaches and meet officials don’t have time to maintain order and discipline, that concern is the parent’s domain.
  • Please respect the facilities of the host team; remember to pick up litter around your immediate area and leave it as clean (or cleaner) than you found it.
  • Remember to model and support the competitive values of good sportsmanship and healthy competition.
  • Please treat volunteers who are manning the various stations with courtesy and appreciation. They do not set policy and are only following the procedures that have been dictated to them by the meet directors.

Anything Else? Have fun! Celebrate your child’s accomplishments with pride, and treat any “mistakes” as learning opportunities.  Remember, the swim season is long and there will be another meet next month!