Read this BEFORE your First Swim Meet or check out this video from a Richmond swim mom!
First time for everything! This year your family is having another first if your child is doing swim team for the first time. That’s awesome! And possibly overwhelming. But fear not, we’ve gotten great advice from seasoned swim parents and are passing that sage knowledge on to you here!
Before you Leave the House
Everything they’re wearing for the meet – PACK 2: swim cap, goggles, suit, and even a goggle replacement strap (bungee cord) in case their strap should break.
Towels: Bring extra towels – wet ones are cold. A swimmer’s towel (chamois) is great because they dry fast and take up much less room than a bath or beach towel.
A cover-up is nice for evening meets so your kiddies aren’t too chilly. If you don’t want to go barefoot, outfit your group with flip-flops as many pools don’t allow street shoes at the pool.
Bring water and a small cooler. You can bring snacks too, but don’t let your swimmer eat too much before their race (heat). Pack some activities, iPod, DS, etc. to keep your swimmers (and the rest of your family) entertained between heats.
This sounds crazy but bring a pen or permanent marker to write event numbers on the kids’ hands or arms (this tip came from EVERY parent polled!).
Finally, something to sit on. Your choice.
Before the Meet Starts
Arrive at the pool at least 30 minutes before warm-up times begin. You will get the best parking spot (hopefully in the shade) as well as the best spot to watch your kids. Try to be mindful of other parents and don’t block their view.
30 minutes also gives you time to set up your space, check out the concession, and find the heat sheets, which are usually in the lobby or near the concession. The heat sheets will have specific information for each event name, event number, and heat number. Sometimes there will not be heat sheets, and they’ll provide a sheet with pertinent information.
NEXT: Find the check-in. The meet administrators acknowledge who’s arrived at the meet and who hasn’t. So, if you don’t check in, you won’t be allowed to compete – very important. Oooo – special note: there may be additional instructions near the check-in area so make sure to check for those, too.
Your swimmer will also need to check in with their coach. Once checked in, a parent can write each event number on their swimmer’s hand in ink or something permanent. This is super helpful with knowing exactly what to listen and watch for.
BONUS – If you arrived early enough, you’ll have time to do all of this before warm-ups begin. Bam! The meet usually starts 10-15 minutes after warm-ups end – just enough time for a restroom break, quench a thirst, or just chill.
To review: event numbers and lanes are clearly marked on their hands.
Once the Meet Starts
Things go slow, slow, slow until it goes fast, fast, fast! There’s lots of waiting around -no question – however, once it’s time you’ll need to really scramble – UNLESS – you prepare your swimmer about two races in advance of their scheduled event. Yep -that’s the golden secret! This gives them time to mentally prepare, and not take a
chance on missing their heat. Once it’s their turn, they will report to the clerk of course, which is where volunteers will be working to get the swimmers in the right place for their event.
SPECIAL NOTE: They must report with their cap and goggles – no exceptions. Usually, girls events are odd-numbered and boys events are even-numbered. An example of how it might be called is “Event #12 10-Under Boys, 50 freestyle, report to Clerk of Course.”
After the Swim
Your job as a parent is to tell him or her how great they did! Because the coaching staff will be discussing stroke techniques at future practices, you can tell them how proud you are! Concentrate on the things they did well, like a great dive or turn. If in the event your swimmer gets disqualified (which it happens to everyone) it’s a part of swimming, that’s something the coaches will work on with them at future practice. Provide positive feedback and encouragement to your swimmer so they don’t get discouraged.
There’s usually time between heats for restroom breaks, a drink or snack, and of course – rest.
After all Events are Over
You and your swimmer can go home after ALL THEIR EVENTS are over. Be sure your swimmer isn’t included in a relay (check with the coach). If you do leave early, you will miss the times posted and seeing your child’s placement (don’t stress, you can always find out on your team’s website or group page online). Awards are often gathered for a team and given to the coach at the end of the meet. The coach will give the awards to the swimmers at a later time.
GUESS WHAT?!! You just rocked your first swim meet! Have fun this summer!