A Beginner's Guide to Swim Meets


Your swimmer is ready for their first competitive swim meet. A swim meet is a fun and exciting time for you and your children. It’s exciting to see all their hard work and effort pay off during the meets. As a parent, the health and safety of your child is of utmost importance. This includes correct sleep, nutrition, preparation, communication, rules, support and of course, having fun.

Before the Meet:

Signing up: Our team meets are listed on our schedule here. When a meet opens the coaches send out an email notifying parents. Then parents can either sign up online on their own at ome.swimconnection.com or on paper slips that the coaches will have on the pool deck. Make sure to regularly check your email or athlete's group Remind.com account for more information.

Before the Meet: Your child needs a good night's sleep before a meet! You may be getting up earlier than normal and remember to give them a nutritious breakfast before they get to the pool.

Getting to the Swim Meet: Getting your children to the meet on time is important. Swimmers need to be on deck 15 minutes before warm up at every meet. They need plenty of time for warm-up swims, getting acclimated with the set up of the pool including the locker room, team meeting area, staging area, where parents will be, pool, bathroom, and snack bar etc. We always recommend swimmers sit with friends as this will help them through their swim meets.

What to Pack for a Meet...

Your Swimmer's Bag

(Packing the night before saves time in the AM)

  • Your swimmer has a bag, right?
  • Suit, goggles, bathing cap.
  • A few towels to keep swimmers dry and warm for each race they will be in (they also have warm up and cool down swims).
  • It is a good idea to label your things. Parents all shop at the same stores so chances are someone else may have the same stuff.
  • Flip Flops or sandals.
  • Sweat suit or sweat shirt to stay warm when not swimming. • Water Bottle (can usually be purchased at concession if forgotten or finished).
  • Healthy Snacks such as fruit, granola bars, nuts, etc (stay away from salty or greasy snacks).
  • Activities: cards, game books, novels, etc. Coach Pat caught all 151 original Pokemon at swim meets during his childhood.
  • Pen / sharpie marker
  • Stadium blanket to sit on/to keep warm

Your Bag

Parents sit for a bit depending on the meet, so keep this in mind and make the best use of your idle time. You will have your kids in warm-up for 1 hour before, and usually 30+ minutes between and after events.

  • Chairs, some meets have bleachers, others do not.
  • Reading material, hand held games, puzzle books, etc.
  • The pool area gets hot, so dress in layers if you can.
  • Drink & snack. There are usually plenty of food & drink available at the snack bar from the host team.
  • Pen & highlighter for the program/heat sheet It is a good idea to sit with other Ellis Aquatics parents to help guide you through the day. You may a few more questions about seeding, time placement, etc. as the meet is in progress. Let your swimmer(s) know where you are sitting so they can find you.

During the Meet

It is a good idea to bring the list of events that you used to sign your children up for the meet. It will help you find their events in the program. Swimmers will need to know the following: Event Number and Event Name. Swimmers will find out from their coach or the program which heat they are in. When/if you buy a program, it will help you better identify:

  • The Where which HEAT and Lane they will be swimming in
  • The When - often the program will give an approximate start time for every heat

Your children will ALSO need to know the sequence they are swimming in (the Event number, Heat, Lane, Event Name) You can find the list of events your swimmers are in on the team website. Go to the meet schedule, click on “Attend This Event” much like you did when you signed up. From there it will give you the list of events and their event numbers.

Why Do You Need a Sharpie?

We recommend swimmers write the following: E | H | L | Event Name on an easily viewable area such as their arm, hand, palm, or wrist.

  • E = Event #
  • H = The Heat they will be swimming in (series of 6 or 8 swimmers based on NT (No Time) & their age to the fastest swim time.)
  • L = The Lane they will be swimming in.
  • Event Name = important for your children to have so they don't get mixed up on what event they are swimming, and if it is a Relay, they should know what position they will swim for their relay
  • Once they get to be a pro they'll develop a shorthand. It's not unusual to see a swimmer with 16 5 4 on their arm (event 16, heat 5, lane 4).

What Does DQ mean?

(No, we're not talking about Dairy Queen...) Meets are officiated by USA Swimming Officials. It is common for swimmers to get a DQ (Disqualified). The Official and their coach will talk to the swimmer after a DQ to let them know what they did wrong so that they can correct it. Common mistakes are if they don't do the appropriate stroke approach the wall, flip turn, etc. If your child gets disqualified, more importantly, they swam, they did a great job, they finished and there is always another meet to try again. Don't worry about a DQ. It's a learning experience. Even the best swimmers DQ.

Cheer on your children - Record their time in the meet sheet!

This is what parents do best – be supportive of your swimmer! Everyone wins in swimming. It’s all about improving PERSONAL swim times and technique; not winning every ‘heat,’ but improving your time and stroke from meet to meet. Make sure they talk with their coaches before and after every race! Otherwise the coaches get bored.

When is it OK to take your swimmer home?

No, you and your swimmer don’t need to stay for the entire meet. After your child has finished swimming their individual and relay events and they have finished their cool-down, and you have told the coach you are taking them home, they are free to leave. Please make sure your child cleans up after themselves and looks around to see if they have everything they brought. If they see something that belongs to another swimmer, let someone know that you are taking it, and try to make contact with that swimmer (coach, etc).

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact your coach!