Swim meet is a swimming competition between two or more teams. To help you have a good experience at your first swim meet ask the coach to match you with a parent who is experienced with meets and whose swimmer can guide yours.
What to bring. Unless the weather is very warm you will need a towel for each event plus one for warm-up. Team suit (recommended). Team cap (mandatory). Team parka (recommended, and extremely cozy for outdoor meets). Warm clothes to wear between events. Plenty to eat and drink, although most meets will have a snack bar. Lots to do while waiting for the next event. Folding chairs.
When to arrive. The meet sheet will tell you when warm-up starts. This is a good time to arrive and familiarize yourself with the layout. Check with the coach at practice the week prior to the meet to see when s/he will want your swimmer ready to warm up.
Check in. This is ALWAYS the FIRST thing you do at a meet. Even though they have your meet entry, a swimmer will be removed from that event if not signed in at least 30 minutes before the event starts.
Warming up. After checking in, the swimmer should report to his/her coach and be ready to warm up. The warm-up process is very important. It allows swimmers to prepare their muscles for swimming and to review things they need to remember for their races.
Heat and Lane Assignments. Most swimmers (and parents!) write the events numbers on their hands so they cannot forget. About 20 minutes before an event starts the heat and lane assignments will be posted. When you arrive at the meet find out where these postings will be. Swimmers will be listed in alphabetical order. Swimmers often write this information on their hands too. Swimmer next goes to the coach for a pre-race briefing and to give the coach the heat and lane information.
Scratches. Keep track of which event is swimming. If a swimmer misses a race s/he will automatically be scratched from the next event, even if it is the next day. For example, if a swimmer misses his/her last event (and does not officially scratch) he/she will be scratched from his/her first event of the following day. If for some reason your swimmer wants to skip an event, and it is too late to scratch officially, s/he simply goes to the block when his/her heat is called – but does not swim. There is no penalty for doing this. Always check with the coach before making the decision to skip or scratch.
The race. The swimmer should be ready, cap and goggles on, behind the appropriate lane in plenty of time. Parents should watch from the observation areas as it can become very crowded behind the blocks. At some meets parents will be asked to stay away from this area.
Post race. Check with the coach before racing – does s/he want the swimmer to “warm down” that is swim in the area set aside for this, after racing or go straight to the coach? In any event, swimmers must see the coach after each race for a debriefing. We ask that parents not attempt to critique the swimmer’s effort. The parent’s job is support and praise – and keep a record of the swimmer’s official times.
Disqualification. It happens to everyone at every level. At the end of the race, an official will hand the swimmer a yellow slip to take to the coach so the coach knows what the error was. This is all part of the learning process.