Swim Meets – Everything you always wanted to know about swim meets but were afraid to ask (or didn’t know to ask)

Before the Meet Starts

Please be aware that you may need to show up to a pool 20-30 minutes prior to our team’s scheduled warm-up start time.  Consider how much time it will take you to get to a meet and what will be required for you to get your swimmer and all necessary gear from the car, through the parking lot, and into the locker room.  Swimmers need to be on deck and ready for warmups 10 minutes before the scheduled warm-up time begins.

Warm-up times will be communicated via email and can also be found in the meet information found on the Fondy Swim Club website.

Some meets charge admission or require payment to purchase a heat sheet. (Heat Sheets list all the events, heats, lanes, and swimmer’s names.) At other meets admission is free or heat sheets can be found online and printed. Review the meet information found on the meet sign-up for details about admissions and heat sheets.

Using the heat sheet, write each event-heat-lane number-stroke on your swimmer's hand/arm in ink (dark colored sharpie works best). This helps your swimmer remember what events he/she is swimming and what event number to listen for and also helps coaches and team mates help your swimmer get to the right place if they need assistance.

Your swimmer should find where the team is sitting on deck. The team sits in one place together, (at home meets they can be found in northwest corner of the pool) so look for some familiar faces. Here your swimmer can place their blankets/towels, swim bags, etc.

Your swimmer now gets his/her cap and goggles and reports to their coach for warm-up instructions. It is very important for all swimmers to warm-up with the team. Swimmers’ bodies are just like cars on a cold day. Swimmers need to get the engine going and warmed up before they can go all out. 

Depending on how large the facility is and how many swimmers there are at the meet there may be multiple warm up sessions.  After warm-ups, your swimmer will go back to the area where his/her towels are and sit there until their event is called. Your swimmer will need to determine if the meet is about to start directly after our warm-ups, or if he/she has enough time to go to the bathroom, get a drink, or just get settled in and ready.

According to USA Swimming rules (because of insurance purposes), parents are not allowed on deck unless they are serving in an official capacity. Similarly, all questions concerning meet results, an officiating call, or the conduct of a meet, should be referred to the coaching staff. They, in turn, will pursue the matter through the proper channels.

Heat Sheets

A heat sheet is usually available for sale (approximately $5 each) in the lobby or concession area of the pool, where any spectator fees (usually $5) to attend the meet can also be paid. Heat Sheets list all swimmers in each event in order of "seed time", or the time each swimmer has for an event coming into the meet.  When the team entry is sent in, each swimmer and his/her previous best time in that event is listed. If the swimmer is swimming an event for the first time, he/she will be entered as a "no-time" or "NT". A "no-time" swimmer will most likely swim in one of the first heats of the event.

Food and Drink for Your Swimmer

It is important to keep hydrated and fueled between events, but that also does not mean sugared up.  Eat a good dinner the day before, a good breakfast the day of, some healthy snacks and WATER.  Usually only water is allowed on deck and snacks should be consumed in the lobby areas. 


Meet Start

All swimmers are asked to stay on deck with the team and not in the stands with the parents.  Of course, they can find you to communicated with you and get a hug for a job well done, but being on deck to talk with other swimmers on the team and cheering each other on during events is part of the team building process. 

It is important for any swimmer to know what event numbers he/she is swimming (again, why they should have the numbers on their arm). He/she may swim right away after warm-up or they may have to wait awhile.

Swim meets can sometimes best be described as organized chaos everywhere except for the swimmers in the pool.  There are hundreds of swimmers, one heat after another, with very few breaks in between.  The volunteers/coaches/ older team mates will do everything possible to help your swimmer be behind the blocks at the proper time, but they also need to be aware of what is going on.  New swimmers are usually paired with an older swimmer to help them figure out when to be where. 

The event number and heat number for the current event will be on the scoreboard.  A good guideline is to have your swimmer go up the event BEFORE their event so they are ready and behind the blocks and in the proper lane.  A swimmer's event number will be called, usually over the loudspeaker, and he/she will be asked to report to the lane they will be swimming in. Swimmers should report with his/her cap on and goggles ready.

The swimmer swims their race.

After the race, the swimmer should go immediately to his/her coach. The coach will discuss the swim with each swimmer.


End of Meet

After your swimmer has swam all his/her events, we encourage you to stay and help cheer on their teammates. If you must leave, be sure your swimmer checks with their coach before leaving to make sure there aren’t any other events (i.e. relays) for which your swimmer is scheduled.   Depending on the meet, awards can be picked up by the swimmers or will be sent home with the coaches for distribution following the meet.


What Happens If Your Child has a Disappointing Swim

If your child has a poor race and comes out of it feeling bad, talk about the good things.  Be encouraging and supportive.  If your child comes up to you and says, "That was a bad race, don't tell me it wasn't," there is nothing wrong with a swimmer negatively evaluating a race. The important thing is for the child not to dwell on it. You should move the swimmer on to something good. "All right, you have had a bad race. How do you think you can do better next time?" Immediately start talking about the positive things.


What Happens If Your Child is Disqualified (DQ) During Their Race

Each meet has officials who observe the swimmers during the races. Officials are making sure each swimmer is using the proper technique for the type of race that is being swam. If the official sees an infraction, they will fill out a DQ slip that is passed on to the coach. The coach uses the DQ to talk to your child about the problem they had with their stroke. Officials are not purposely looking to DQ your child but are ensuring that all swimmers are following the same rules for each race. DQ’s happen more frequently in the younger age groups. A DQ does not mean your child has failed but is providing feedback for your child to learn to become a better swimmer.



If you do not understand why or how something is just ask.  There will be plenty of experienced swim parents around to help you.


Special Note

The pool area is usually very warm.  Therefore, you need to make sure you dress appropriately. Nothing is worse than being hot at a swim meet. It makes the time pass very slowly!