Your First Swim Meet, Parent's Edition

What to expect at a swim meet

Attending your first swim meet is fun and exciting but can also cause a little nervousness and anxiety.  Understanding how swim meets work can help to ease the anxiety and nervousness. Please read the following information and feel free to ask if you have any questions or concerns.

How long will the meet take?

Most of our meets are held on Saturdays, with only few exceptions. When you sign up for the meet you will decide what events your child will participate. Coach will give you guidance on what is appropriate for your youth. Meets are broken up by events and heats. You can find out what heat your swimmer is in on the heat sheets. There will be a warm up session for swimmers before the meet starts that is typically a half hour before the meet starts. Warm up times will be provided prior to the meet. You should plan for each meet session to last about four hours. In much larger meets the session could last even longer, such as six hours. 

How early does my swimmer need to get to the meet?

Swimmers should be at the pool ready to jump in the pool (with cap and goggles) when warm ups are scheduled to start. Please allow for ample time to park and get changed. Many of the pools where we compete have limited parking and seating so keep this in mind when you are planning. A few pools we attend will open doors only minutes before warm-ups begin. Typically warm-ups begin thirty (30) minutes before the official start time of the meet. Warm-ups and meets start on time. It is an extremely rare occurrence for their to be delays. Should you be late for any reason, or not able to come it is asked that you communicate to the coaching team so they can replace your swimmer in any rely the coach may have placed them in.

What should I bring to a meet?

Swimmers need the following:

  • A well rested self
  • Team Spirit
  • Team Suit and Cap (backups encouraged if you have them)
  • Goggles (recommended 2 pairs)
  • Swim parka/jacket (one that won't hold in moisture). As a new member bath robes are perfectly fine. You will have an opportunity to order a team item at a later time.
  • Warm up pants if you have them
  • Socks
  • Deck sandals
  • Two (2) Towels (One for during the meet and one for after to clean up)
  • Toiletry Items - swimmer ear drops, shampoo, conditioner, comb, hair dryer if you like, etc
  • Full change of dry clothing (weather appropriate)
  • Winter hat if competing in the cooler months
  • Small lock in case there are lockers available
  • Quarters in case the lockers require payment
  • Medications (asthma inhaler, Tylenol, etc)
  • Cash for miscellaneous needs
  • Ink pen
  • Sharpie
  • Entertainment for between events (cards, book, electronic device at your risk of potential damage)
  • Food and beverage - see next detail

Nutrition- Please note that while many meets have concessions they can be expensive as they are fundraisers for the other team. They may also not have nutritional foods that you would prefer your swimmer to eat between events. For instance you may not want your child to have hotdogs or pizza as it could sit heavy on their stomach.

  • Healthy Snacks - fruit, vegetables, sandwich with protein. Include your athlete in the discussion on what they would appreciate having to eat while at the meet. Pack extra than you may normally, as they kids get really hunger during meets.
  • Have a small cooler or lunch bag for their food
  • Water bottle or other non high sugar beverage
  • Avoid soda, candy, and other high sugar content snacks.

Parents need the following:

  • Cash (for heat sheets which is typically $5, or snacks at the concessions, etc) Larger events such as State or Regionals debit/credit cards can be accepted to purchase shirts/sweatshirts, etc.
  • Sharpie
  • Highlighter and writing pen to mark on heat sheets
  • Swimming pools are normally very warm. Please dress appropriately. Normally a short sleeve shirt is very comfortable no matter what the season, but it is our recommendation to prepare in layers so you can dress down while at the pool and then layer back on as you go to leave the facility.
  • Bleacher seats, or folding chairs depending on the facility. You can always prepare for both and use what is appropriate. We are making a point to include tips for each facility in our pool descriptions, if you do not see a description for the pool we are attending, ask coach for their opinion.
  • Something to pass the time, especially for younger siblings.
  • First aid kit (Band-Aid, Tylenol, Tums, etc)
  • Camera
  • Team Spirit
  • Food and beverage for yourself and younger siblings

Additional Supplies For Outdoor Meets:

  • Warmer clothing items just in case
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Lip Balm
  • Extra water

Have a suggestion on something more for the supplies on hand? Please let us know what we could add.

Where do we go when we get to the meet?

Swimmers should put their suit on (if not already in their suit) and head to the pool deck to find their coach.  Parents should find a seat in the parent viewing area. There are many meets throughout the year where parents will not be sitting with swimmers during the meet. Parent's are not allowed on the pool deck at any time, unless they are volunteering as a timer or other official capacity.

While swimmers are warming up it is a great idea to purchase a heat sheet. Heat sheets will tell you what heat and lane your swimmer will be swimming in. You may want to highlight your swimmer to know when and where they will be swimming. After warm ups it is a good idea to have your swimmer come see you to let you write their heat and lane assignments on their arm with a sharpie (this is not mandatory but it does help them keep up with where they should be). A veteran parent will be more than happy to help you with this. Swimmers are expected to sit on deck with the coaches if there is separate parent seating. If they need to come up into the stands they need to tell the coaches so they know where they are.

How will my swimmer know when it is their turn to swim?

The heat sheet will tell you the order of events and what heat and lane your swimmer will be in. Prior to the start of the meet, you or one of the coaches will mark your athletes arm with event number, heat number, lane number and stroke.

E = Event
H = Heat
L = Lane
S = Stroke

Who is responsible for making sure my swimmer gets behind the blocks?

At swim meets swimmers must be behind the block ready to swim when it is their turn to swim. If they are not there and ready they will miss their turn to swim. It is the swimmer's responsibility to be watching and know when they need to get up and go behind the blocks not the coaches, however, our coaches will make every best effort to ensure that the swimmers will be where they need to be so they will not miss their event. Often coaches will pair older swimmers with younger to create a buddy system to help the newer youth until they are accustom to the activities of the day. Do remember that the coaches have many swimmers to watch over and will try to remind swimmers to get behind the blocks but it is not always possible for them to remind swimmers. If your child misses a swim they should notify a coach but chances are they will not be able to make it up.

Parent Note: It have been my observation that one member of the coaching staff is charged with keeping track of the kids and their events. You will often see the swimmers being grouped into their events and taken to the start block area to stand in lines behind the blocks several events before their race. It is extremly rare that any of our swimmers miss a race, but it is advisable to remind your youth that it is their responsiblity to be listening and paying attention.

Can I take pictures at meets?

Pictures/Video can be taken at meets but can NEVER be taken from behind the blocks or in the locker rooms.  This includes parent seating areas that my be behind the blocks even if the seating is raised from the pool area.  This is a rule put in place for the safety of all swimmers as you can sometimes see through a suit when swimmers are on the blocks. You also cannot use flash photography at the start of a race.