Swim Meet Basics for New Families

Should my child compete in meets?

All swimmers are strongly encouraged to participate in the meets that are appropriate for their age and ability.  Most meets run two days (Saturday and Sunday) plus distance events on Friday evening.  A given age group swims either in the morning (approximately 7:00 am until noon) or in the afternoon (approximately noon until 4:30 pm). There is usually enough variation between meets that your swimmer will have some morning meets and some afternoon meets. You can choose to participate one, two or three days of any meet. Meet entry packets will be posted on the web site and at each pool as soon as they are available.  If you have any questions as to which meets are appropriate for your child, please speak to the coach before signing up. 

What should your child hope to accomplish at a meet?

Have Fun!  Have Fun!

Your child should strive to post a legal time in an event.  Once a legal time is posted they should swim to improve upon that time.

What information can be found in a meet entry letter?

The entry letter (usually attached by our swim club when requesting meet sign up) contains important meet information.  Some of the items that can be found in the entry letter are the meet location, meet times and dates, events offered by each day, warm up times, cost of events, awards, whether the meet is a positive check in meet,  etc.

What to bring for your swimmer.

You should pack the swim bag with the following: swimsuit, towel, goggles (possible extra pair in case they break), swim cap, swim team shirt, healthy snack and drink (water or Gatorade-no sugar), possible games for meet (please be advised that there can be risk associated with the loss of video games).  To recover from a race, water and some fresh fruit eaten within ten minutes of the swim is best.  Some pool decks have a cool air temperature, so it’s good to have warm-up pants and a shirt to wear between swims.

When should you arrive for a meet?

Please arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled warm up time.  Your child should be lined up and ready to jump in the water before the warm up period is set to begin.

How will you know what events your child will be entered in the meet?

Your job is to let the coaches know which days your child will be swimming at the meet.  The coaches will determine which events they swim based upon meet requirements (some meets limit the number of events each swimmer may enter per day) and ability.  The coaches will put the kids in the events at which they have the best chance to have a positive experience.  The Westfield Aquatics web site will provide the event number and event for each child after the entries are made for each meet.  Simply sign back in and try to commit to the meet again to see what your child’s events are.

Write event information on your child’s arm before the meet

At most meets you will not know what lane or heat your child will be in prior to the meet.  To help the coaches, please write the event number and type of event (50 free) on your child’s arm before going to the pool.  Please add two columns for the heat number and lane number (the coaches will fill these out for the child once assignments are made).

How should parents dress for the meet?

Almost all pools are very warm (the exception is the natatorium at IUPUI).  It is not uncommon for people to wear short sleeves and even shorts in the winter to meets.  You are always encouraged to wear your team shirts.

 What is positive check in?

This means the swimmer is here and intends to swim in the meet.  A listing of swimmers entered in the meet will be posted near the entrance to the pool area.  The swimmer must highlight their name on this list.  If they do not do this by the time listed in the meet letter they are scratched from swimming on that day in the meet.

Can parents go on deck during a meet?

Due to USA Swimming Insurance requirements, parents are not allowed on deck at a swim meet unless they are a volunteer.  Most meets will have deck marshals and they will help you if you really need to get something to a swimmer (goggles, snack, etc.).  This provides safety for your swimmer. It also provides the coaches the ability to concentrate on the swimmers in the water during the meet. 

What does a swimmer do after a race?

  1.  Talk to their coach about their swim—the good and the bad.
  2.  Cool down and get back into “deck clothes.”
  3.  Stay on deck and cheer for their team mates.

Can swimmers go in the stands during a swim meet? 

Swimmers should stay on deck with their team during the meet.  Coaches may need to find them and they don’t have the time to be chasing around finding the children.  They are encouraged to watch and cheer for their teammates. 

What is a clerk of course?

This is a staging area for small children to report before their event.  The swimmers report to a pre-determined area of the pool and are lined up by volunteers for their event.  They are then escorted to the pool area for their competition.

How do athletes know when to report to their race?

Coaches will do their best to help make sure swimmers do not miss events.  This can be difficult because they are coaching athletes in the pool at the same time.  Most meets will have an announcement made that indicates a 1st and 2nd call for each event.  An example of how this works is as follows:  this is the 1st call for event # 1 the boys 10 and under 50 freestyle.  New swimmers should make their way to the starting blocks or clerk of course at this time. 

 Is there a concession stand at the meet?

Most meets will provide a concession stand.

 What is the difference between a heat sheet and psych sheet?

A psych sheet lists the swimmers entered in each event in order arranged from slowest to fastest (if a swimmer has not completed a legal swim in that event they will be listed no time - NT).  A heat sheet will list the swimmers in the event with their lane and heat assignments.  You will be able to purchase these at each meet.  At most meets, this is available on the Meet Mobile app.

 In what order do children swim in the events?

Heats begin with the slowest and no time (NT) children.  The fastest seeded children end the event.  The fastest seeded swimmers begin in the middle of the pool.  Children are lined up in their heats according to their seeded time and thus swim against children of equal ability in their individual heats.  There are exceptions to this rule for meets in which there are prelims and timed finals (mostly for older children).

How are disqualifications of swimmers handled?

If a swimmer does not complete the event legally they will be disqualified.  The official on deck will raise their hand to signal a swimmer has been disqualified from the event.  An official will then speak to the swimmer after the race to explain what mistake was made.  All swimmers will be disqualified (even the very best) so please don’t be discouraged when this happens to your child.  The coaches will work in practice to correct mistakes made during the meet.

Tips you can tell your swimmer on the way to the meet to possibly prevent their disqualification from an event.

You can remind your swimmer they must use a two hand touch for all breaststroke and butterfly races on all walls.  Swimmers must remain perfectly still before the start of each race. They are not allowed to roll over on the finish of backstroke.

How do I know what swim meets may be best for my children?

Please speak to your child’s coach for questions about meet entry.  All Westfield parents will be more than willing to help new parents with any meet questions.  Each meet letter will let you know the events offered on each day of the meet.

 When can a swimmer leave the meet?

Your child is free to leave the meet upon the conclusion of their events.  Please have them speak to their coach before leaving to make sure they have completed all of their events, and they have all the information they need for upcoming events and days.

 What is the difference between a short course and long course meet?

Westfield swimmers will swim what is referred to as the short course season from September thru March.  This means they will be swimming in a yards swimming pool.  If they are swimming in a 50 yards race the swimmer will be required to swim the length of the pool, touch the wall, and then swim back to their original starting position.

Westfield swimmers will swim what is referred to as the long course season from April thru July.  This means they will be swimming in a meter swimming pool.  If they are swimming in a 50 meter race the swimmer will be required to swim one length of the pool.

 What is the best way to support your child as a competitor?

Leave the coaching to the coaches—support your child, and always stay positive.  Great swim?  “Good job!  Keep up the hard work!”  Bad swim?  “I love you, and your hard work will pay off in the next swim.  Keep at it!”  If you let your child own their improvement and just stick to positively supporting them, they will enjoy the sport more.