When a swimmer’s coach gives the go-ahead, age-group swimmers will begin attending swim meets. Swim meets are enjoyable events for the entire family, but can be a bit overwhelming at first. Listed below is a guide to help make the swimmer’s first swim meet run as smooth as possible.
What to Bring:
Talcum powder (You will use this to dust the swim cap.)
Loose, comfortable, clothes and shoes
Permanent marker (You will use this to write the events on the swimmer’s arm.)
Ink pen and paper (You will use this to record the swimmer’s finishing times.)
Money (You may want to purchase food, drinks, or psych sheets from the concession stand. Most swim meets also have swim apparel for sale.)
What to Do:
The first thing to do when you arrive at a swim meet is to sign in. This usually only involves highlighting the swimmer’s name. If the swimmer does not sign in on time, they will not be allowed to swim in the meet.
Next, the swimmer should find his/her coach and begin warm-ups. Parents and other family members that will be staying the entire session should find the “camping” area. This is usually in the gymnasium. Usually, swim teams “camp” in groups. Locate members from your swim team. It is always helpful to sit with other more experienced swim families so they can answer any questions you may have. Lay out a blanket for the swimmer(s) and/or siblings. Parents usually sit in chairs.
Locate the swimmer’s events. You can either purchase a psych sheet at the concession stand or borrow someone else’s. If you don’t mind waiting until the last minute, just prior to the start of the meet, heat sheets will usually be hung up that will list not only each swimmer’s event, but also his/her heat and lane assignment. Also, be sure to check the heat sheets or with the coach to find out whether the swimmer will be participating in a relay.
Find out whether the meet has a clerk of course and what age groups must go there. A clerk of course is a room where meet workers organize the younger swimmers so that they are in the proper heat and lane so the meet runs smoother. Locate the clerk of course if the swimmer is in the age group required to meet there.
When the swimmer returns from warm ups, the swimmer’s event numbers should be written on his/her arm along with the length and stroke that he or she is doing (for example: #34 50 Y Breast).
Listen carefully to all announcements so that when the swimmer’s event is called he/she can make it to clerk of course or to the pool deck on time. Each event will usually be called three times (first call, second call, and final call). When the swimmer’s event is called and he/she goes to the clerk of course or deck, parents and others will want to go to the spectator area to watch the swimmer compete.
When the swimmer finishes his/her event, he/she should go to the coach to receive constructive criticism. When the coach is finished talking with him/her, the swimmer can return to the camping area to rest and wait for his/her next event.
Results are usually posted within thirty minutes after each event is finished. Make a note of the finishing times. Swimmer’s should strive to beat their own previous times, rather than worrying about other swimmers. Some meets recognize high point swimmers with trophies or other prizes and are generally given out at the end of each session on the final day of the meet. Ribbons or other awards given out for individual events are generally collected by the coaches and are later distributed to the swimmers at practice.
Remember to leave the coaching to the coaches. Cheer for and support the swimmer. This will make the swim meet an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.