Swim Meet 101
Not sure what's going on? We've been there; hopefully this info will help!
A swim meet is a pretty busy atmosphere, and it can be a lot to absorb for a family new to rec league swimming. We've put together some helpful info below to aid you in navigating these busy, exciting events.
1. Pool Grounds
At each of the pools that we compete at, there will be a main pool area where the swim lanes are set up, and usually a large grassy area surrounding the main pool area. The area immediately behind the starting blocks (the small platforms at one end of the swim lanes from which the swimmers will launch themselves into the water at the start of their races) is reserved for the Bull Pen, which is where the Clerk of Course organizes swimmers on benches by event number and heat. The rest of that grassy zone is open for families to set up space to sit and watch during the meet.
A very popular item for swim families to have is a canopy. These meets last for several hours, and apart from severe weather, they go on rain or shine. If you don't wish to be sunburned or soaked, a canopy is a worthy investment. (Try to get a straight-leg canopy if you can, to maximize your space.) Arriving early to meets ensures you get the best spot to set up.
Similarly, you should plan to bring some folding chairs to sit on. Most of the pools have plastic pool chairs, but availability is not guaranteed, and space may be limited as well.
2. Timing of Events
Our swim meets always strive to start right on time (usually 6pm). With up to 84 events to run through, punctuality is of the essence, and race heats will NOT be delayed to wait for a swimmer who hasn't reported to the Bull Pen before their heat starts. Announcers at each pool will call swimmers to the Bull Pen area by event number, heat number, and event description (e.g., "Event 26, Heat 1, Boys 25-Meter Freestyle, please report to the Bull Pen, First Call!"). Most pools also have a flipboard or digital display showing the current event number. Make sure you know which event(s) your swimmer(s) is/are signed up for!
Some pools have lights to continue running events after sunset, which is sometimes necessary. Some pools don't. Be aware that in most cases, the meets will indeed run until 10pm, especially for larger teams.
3. Heat Sheets
Our coaches will usually provide heat sheets or similar information to the parents and swimmers at the morning practice on the day of the meet. These heat sheets show which events and heats the swimmers are participating in. PRO TIP: when you arrive at the meet, use a Sharpie or similar waterproof marker to write the event number, heat number, and event type (e.g. 26 H1 25M FREE) for each event on your swimmer(s) arm(s) so they can help keep track of their progress in the meet.
All families, with few exceptions, are expected to help out by volunteering at meets during the season. If you are volunteering at a particular meet, make sure to check in with our Volunteer Coordinator as soon as you arrive for instructions on where and when to report to begin your shift.
More to come soon!