While swimmers put forth relentless preparation during practices in
order to compete in swim meets, it is also very important for
parents and swimmers alike to prepare outside of the pool in order
to make the meets rewarding for all. The following information will
also help you understand and bring awareness to meet protocol.
Download a copy and
bring it with you in order to reference during the course of the
meet. Again, the goal is to provide the best experience for both
swimmer and parent... in some cases it may feel like a game of
Before you leave
Secure the meet information. Meet details will be distributed
through the swimmers’ mailboxes and will also be posted
on-line at www.bartlettelectrix.com. Find out the basics
Where is the meet?
- not all meets will be swum at the meet hosts’ pools. If
available, driving directions to the pool location can be
downloaded from BEST’s website on the Meet Info
What is the first thing to do upon arrival at the
- arrive at least fifteen (15) minutes prior to the start of
warm-ups. POSITIVE CHECK-IN… all swimmers must sign-in prior
to and/or no later than twenty (20) minutes after warm-ups begin in
order to compete in the respective meet session. Failure to
check-in will forfeit your opportunity to swim.
When do warm-ups start?
- usually one hour prior to the session start time. This
information will be indicated on the respective meet sign-up
Pack all the necessities
Taking the right amount of supplies can make or break the meet
- pack a swim bag with everything your swimmer will need to
- some swimmers will warm-up in their practice suits and change
into their competition suits before the start of the meet.
- take your BEST team suit or other good quality blue
suit. Competition suits should fit snug in order to prevent drag in
- you never know when a tear or seam will split. While swim apparel
is usually for sale during swim meets, it can be costly and sizes
and styles may be limited.
- bring a good pair that you may want to reserve for racing only.
Check the straps for tears or other imperfections, as chlorine will
take its toll on just about everything. Having your goggles break
just before an event can add to the pressure of swimming a
- in addition to equipment failure, swimmers tend to lose goggles.
Having a spare readily available, and also pre-adjusted, can ease
the panic attack.
- use a team cap that can be purchased from the team apparel
coordinator. Team caps identify you as a BEST swimmer and
promote team unity.
- similar to goggles, caps can tear and be misplaced.
- calculate bringing at least one dry towel for every event your
swimmer is competing in, plus an additional towel to be used after
warm-ups. Swimmers need to be dry and warm when out of the pool.
Cold swimmers using cold, damp towels will affect their
- take a change of clothes for your swimmer to wear between events.
Again, cold swimmers do not perform well. These clothes should be
water absorbent and not easily damaged by chlorine. Team sweats,
old sweats, or old lose fitting clothes work best. Tight fitting
clothes can be hard to get on and off if the swimmer or the clothes
are wet. These clothes will be wet by the end of the meet, so make
sure your swimmer has dry clothes to wear home.
- pack nutritious snacks that are high in carbohydrates and complex
sugars, including bagels, fruit, granola bars, etc. Simple
sugars/candy should be avoided. Bring plenty of drinks (water,
Gatorade, etc.), as swimmers do get dehydrated. Avoid carbonated
beverages. Food concessions are usually also available during
- there can be long periods of time between your swimmer’s
events depending upon what they are swimming and how many swimmers
are at the meet. Take something for them to do, including
books/magazines to read, electronic games, portable DVD, etc. This
is also a good time to get homework completed.
- if there is camping (which will be discussed later) take a
blanket, large towels, folding chairs, and sleeping bags.
LABEL EVERYTHING AND HAVE AN INVENTORY OF EVERYTHING YOU
Prepare your swimmer
If your swimmer knows what to expect and what is expected of them,
the better they will feel about going to the meet.
- using a water proof pen, write the events your swimmer will be
swimming that day on the back of their hand. Include the event
number, stroke and distance. Leave room to write down the heat and
lane of each event. This information will be available at the pool
- brief your swimmer to put them at ease. Go over their events. If
the meet has no Clerk of Course/Bullpen (to be discussed later),
remind them that they are responsible to get to the starting blocks
on time. If there is a Clerk of Course/Bullpen, remind them to
listen for the announcements in order to report in a timely manner.
Remind them to report to their coach after each event. Remind them
to dry off and get dressed between events. Tell them what food you
have packed for them and how they are to eat it (spread out over
the day, not all at once). Tell them when they will get their next
big meal and where. Remind them to behave on deck since you
won’t be down there to monitor them firsthand. Remind them
to keep track of their belongings in order to bring it all home at
the end of the meet. Tell them to do their best and listen to
the coaches. Most of all, tell them to have fun!
Before the meet starts
Leave on time
- take into consideration any possible traffic congestion, road
construction, and unfamiliarity with where you are going. Include
additional travel time for parking and dressing in the locker
- most venues provide free parking. Parking restrictions and fees
may be enforced at certain pools (i.e. UIC).
- most meets require swimmers to confirm their attendance through
POSITIVE CHECK-IN prior to each session. If you do not sign in
within the timeframe allowed, fifteen (15) minutes prior to
warm-ups through twenty (20) minutes after warm-ups have begun, you
will not be able to swim. Positive check-in tables are usually
located in the hallways that lead to the pool deck. Find the sheets
that are specific to your swimmer’s age group and gender and
circle or highlight their name and all events. If you do not
highlight all events, you may be scratched from those events not
highlighted. If you want to scratch an event, you must cross-out
that specific event number that will be listed after the
swimmer’s name. If the swimmer’s events listed on the
check-in sheet differ from what they have been previously entered
to swim, tell the coach immediately. If your swimmer is swimming
events in two different age groups, they will most likely have to
highlight their names on different check-in sheets.
- when deck space is limited, some venues allow swimmers to
"campout" in gymnasiums, hallways, or other areas within their
Report to the BEST area
- swimmers are strongly encouraged to sit with their teammates. Not
only does this provide team unity, it also helps the coaching staff
keep a watch of the swimmers. When there is no camping, your
swimmer should locate and situate themselves with their
BEST teammates on the pool deck. Have your swimmer keep
their gear in this area. Parents are not allowed on the pool
- have your swimmer get in their suit, goggles and cap and report
to their coach.
Buy a psyche sheet
- also known as the program, the psyche sheet will list all of the
swimmers with their seed times in their respective events.
Find a comfortable seat
- it’s now time to cheer for your swimmer and his/her
teammates. Most meets will charge an admission fee to sit in the
stands. Look for other BEST parents, as sitting with an
experienced swim parent will help you understand the meet process
and etiquette. If you are one of the first parents to arrive, try
to save seats for other BEST parents that will
During the meet
- in addition to the psyche sheets, actual heat sheets will be
available/posted soon after positive check-in has closed. These
heat sheets will list the swimmer’s heat and lane for the
respective events he/she will be swimming that session. Heat sheets
will also be posted on the pool deck for the swimmers to reference.
Swimmers should write their heat and lane assignments on their
hands using a waterproof marker. First-time and younger swimmers
should ask their coaches for help.
Clerk of Course
- because most meets are now seeded via computer systems, the clerk
of course is usually not found at ISI meets. Therefore, it is the
swimmer’s responsibility to report directly to the starting
blocks prior to their race. Swimmers should report to the timers in
their lane to affirm their presence and confirm that their name
appears on their timing sheets. On certain occasions, and based on
younger age groups, a clerk of course may be used to expedite
swimmers to the blocks. An event card will not be issued for the
swimmer to carry in either situation.
Swimming in the meet
- at all times, your swimmer needs to be aware of which event and
heat are in the pool and when their next event will occur. While
announcements are usually made over the PA system, they may not
always be audible, particularly if you are in a "camping" area.
Scoreboards in most venues will also list the current event and
heat that are swimming in the water. If there is no Clerk of
Course, swimmers will have to get to the starting blocks for the
correct event, heat, and lane by themselves. The coaches will
assist but cannot always be responsible for swimmers that stray
away from the group.
After each swim
- your swimmer should report to their coach to discuss their swim.
They should dry off, get dressed, and prepare for their next event.
They should not report to you or any other person before reporting
to their coach.
Cheer for the team
- bring a highlighter to identify all of the BEST swimmers
in your psyche sheet. As there will be long periods of time between
your own swimmer’s events, cheering for all of the
BEST swimmers will help pass the time. Check to see if
each swimmer has bettered their seeded times and cheer them on for
a job well done. This will have the added benefit of familiarizing
yourself with other swimmers on the team and the sport of swimming
Cheer for your swimmer
- be proud of their efforts. How they placed is not important. The
goal is to improve their strength and stroke techniques, which will
foster faster times.
- there are national and state time standards to be used as goals
for your swimmer’s improvement. These motivational time
standards from slowest to fastest are B, BB, A, AA, AAA, and AAAA.
In addition to achieving these motivational time standards,
Regional, State, Zone, Sectional, and National time standards have
also been established by ISI and USA Swimming to compete in the end
of season championship meets.
Bad meets, swims, and disqualifications
- it is inevitable that your swimmer will have a bad swim and
possibly be disqualified for an illegal stroke or turn. While this
can be devastating at the time, being able to overcome such
adversity is the real lesson that is being learned through
swimming. Be supportive and keep everything in perspective, as
there will be another race and/or meet for your swimmer to prove
- most venues will have a concession stand. Prices vary from
reasonable to expensive. Choices are usually limited and entrees
usually include hot dogs, pizza, nachos, etc.
After the meet
Check their swim bag
- use the inventory of what you packed to make sure you are going
home with everything you brought. If they have lost something,
wait. After all of the other swimmers have gone home, the pool deck
and/or camping area will be littered with lost gear. Finding your
things amongst the mess will be a relatively easy task. If you do
not find it, inquire at the lost and found. You will be amazed at
what others have left behind.
Congratulate them on a great effort and a great