This is our first meet! What do we do?

Most of us have been in your situation, and other swim parents are always willing to help. In addition, here are a few tips about attending your first meet:

  • Make sure your swimmer has at least the following items in his or her swim bag: suit, goggles, team cap (if you don’t have one, they will be available at the meet), towel (it’s nice to have 2 – one for during the meet and a dry one for after), shirt/shorts/sweats to wear over suit in between races, a water bottle, and a healthy high carb snack. For longer meets your swimmer might also want an activity to do between races (book, cards, electronic game, etc.), a chair or blanket, and more snacks!
  • Parents- It's typically warm on deck! There are few pools that have air conditioned seating. You may also want to bring a chair for yourself and a “sharpie” marker (see below.) 
  • Try to arrive at the pool a few minutes early so your swimmer can be on deck ready to swim at warm up time. If your swimmer will miss part of warm up, please notify the coach ahead of time.
  • Many younger swimmers prefer to sit at the meet with their families - it is up to them whether they want to sit with the other swimmers or with you. In any case, make sure they take their belongings out on deck with them rather than leaving it in the locker room.
  • Once on deck, your swimmer should leave their bag where they will be sitting, put on cap and goggles, and find their coach to receive warm up instructions. Parents should not go into the competition area unless volunteering or officiating
  • Swim meets are organized by event, heat, and lane. The event is the age group, length, stroke of the race for example 9 & 10 50 yard freestyle. Depending on the pool, if there are more swimmers than there are lanes in an event, the event will be separated into heats. Within each heat the swimmers have a lane assignment The listing of all of this information is called a “heat sheet”, and will be posted at the meet. They typically have heat sheets for purchase. 
  • Most younger swimmers write their events with sharpie or ballpoint pen on their hand or arm in a grid with event/heat/lane (see below).The coaches or other swimmers can assist with this, but parents can help their child with it as well.


3 2 7
12 3 3
19 4 1


  • Bull Pen – the bull pen is for 8 & under swimmers and the volunteers there will line them up for their races and make sure they get to the blocks. Listen for announcements of when the swimmers should report to the bull pen for each event. 9 & older swimmers should report directly to the blocks. If they need assistance knowing what to do, please have them ask a coach.
  • Swimmers should get in the habit of checking in with their coach before they report to the blocks or go to the bull pen for each race. ALL swimmers should see their coach after each swim for feedback about the race. Please help your child with this so that they know they should stop at the coaches’ table before they return to where they are sitting.
  • There will be an announcer who will announce each event and heat before it starts. Each race is started by an official who will blow one long whistle, signifying that the swimmers get up on the blocks (or beside the blocks if they are not yet comfortable diving off the blocks.) The starter then says “Take your mark” and the swimmer will get into starting position, then an electronic horn will signify the start of the race. Swimmers’ names, lane, time, and place are all on the scoreboard. Important!!! One of the “rules” of swim meets is that there is no flash photography at the start of each race. The flash is a distraction for the swimmers and/or cause interference for the timers. You are welcome to use a flash at any other time.
  • In each lane, there will be two volunteer timers needed. Timing is easy, fun, and keeps you involved. We are expected to provide timers at all meets.