Swim meets can be a pretty intimidating experience for new parents and swimmers, so the following are a few helpful hints to help you prepare.
- Your Swimmer - very important!
- Team Swim Suit
- Team Swim Cap, if required
- Shorts (or sweat suit on a cool day)
- Team T-Shirt(s)
- Tote-bag or duffle
- Water bottle
- Sharpie marker, to write event numbers on your swimmer's arm
- Lawn chairs(s)
- Pop-up Tent
- Tent ground blanket
- Money (cash only) for concessions
- Some entertainment for time between events
A week before a Swim Meet
The team's computer volunteers will automatically enter you swimmer into each swim meet. If your swimmer cannot attend a meet you must complete an Absence Form and put this in the coaches mail box, by the pool gate, by the Monday before the swim meet, at the very latest, ideally well before the Monday. If you are not sure that your swimmer can attend the meet please discuss this with the coaches as soon as you can.
The Night Before A Swim Meet
Best to get everything laid out the night before. If you are going to drive to the pool, load the car and make certain you can carry everything you are taking. Even though you live in the neighborhood, that does not mean you will necessarily get to park very close. Make certain you and your swimmer get a good meal and plenty of rest the night before a swim meet. Check the team web site for the meet location (maps), check-in time and warm-up time. For away meets check the map and make sure you plan to leave enough time for the drive in the morning. Swim meets start very early and can run as late as 2:30 pm, depending on the number of swimmers on each team and the weather. For away meets we rely upon the other team to provide concessions, so since we do not know what this will be like you may want to pack a cooler with some sandwiches, fruit, water, etc...
The Morning of the Swim Meet:
- Swimmer Drop Off - The safety of our swimmers is very important. It is for that reason the a drop off point has been established in the parking lot south of the pool. Swimmers are to be dropped off at the base of the water tower. At no time should a swimmer be dropped off in the middle of the road or in the upper parking lot. Violators may be tickets by Precinct 4 Constables.
- Parking - At a home meet parking is available behind the tennis courts, on the street or in the Lemm Elementary school car parks. The car park by the clubhouse is reserved for FOST Board members, Coaches and FOSRC staff. Please respect this arrangement. These people often need to bring equipment/food and may need to be able to come and go during the meet. PLEASE DO NOT PARK ON CHISOS TRAIL, EMORY TRAIL, OR SOUTH RIM TRAIL (i.e. STREETS NORTH OF THE POOL). YOUR CARS WILL BE TOWED AWAY FROM THESE AREAS AND ANY OTHER AREAS MARKED “NO PARKING”.
At an away meet most of the parking is usually on the streets. To prevent a long walk to the pool try to plan to arrive in good time.
- Check In - Get your swimmer to the pool on time! This is really, really important. Once you get to the pool, locate the swimmer check-in table/person. There is a cut-off time for each meet. If your swimmer has not checked-in by 8:00 am they will be scratched from the meet - even if you are present. For home meets, the check-in table/person is usually by the main pool gate. If you cannot find the check-in table/person then find a coach immediately!
If you have signed up for parent volunteer duties then the FOST Volunteer Coordinator will be near the check-in table so that you as a parent volunteer can check-in. If you have not volunteered for a duty please ask the FOST Volunteer Coordinator if there is something that you can help with. We often have parent volunteer absences that need to filled with substitutes.
- Warm Ups - After your swimmer is checked in, check you watch to see how much time you have before your warm up time. Make sure your swimmer is ready to swim at warm up. Each team gets 30 minutes to take warm up laps before the meet begins at 8:30 am. The announcer will make announcements for when each team can start warm ups. The coaches will also be in the team set up area just before warm ups calling for the swimmers to line for warm ups by age group.
- Team Set Up Area - You should have time before warm ups to find the teams designated set up area and locate a spot for your gear. If you have never been to a swim meet, you will notice that there are many tents of all kinds. Some teams bring large covered tents for their entire team, FOST does not provide team tents. Each family is responsible for providing their own tent or shade. In many cases, families group together and share a common tent and help watch over each others children. This can be important since parents have volunteer duties during the meet. At home meets FOST set up behind the main pool building, on the grass, under the trees. The visiting team will set up under the pavilion, next to the clubhouse car park. The last thing to do is to locate your swimmers team parent, if they have one. Swimmers age 10 and under have a team parent assigned which will look for them when it is time to get your child to the ready benches for their event. Find out who this parent is, get to know them, let them know where they should be able to find your child. Ideally set up you tent near to your team parent's tent. Swimmers age 11 and Up are not assigned a team parent and are expected to listen to the announcer for when to get themselves to the ready benches.
- Event Numbers - Almost all swimmers write their event numbers/stroke somewhere on their body, usually their arm where they can see them. Swimmers will likely be entered in multiple events and in different events from meet to meet. Having a sharpie marker is handy for writing these on your child. FOST provides a notice board at both home and away meets that lists all the events for all swimmers, ranked by their entry times (a psych sheet). This will allow you to work out the event numbers to mark on your swimmer. If you are not sure then find the coaches.
- Report to the Coaches - The coaches like to see the swimmers before the meet starts, so send your swimmer to say hello to the coaches when you get to the pool. At home meets our coaches set up a blue & white stripped pop up tent on the far side of the pool by the water slide. At away meets look out for the same blue & white stripped pop up tent to find our coaches.
- Heat Sheets - The home team will produce for sale a "heat sheet" that lists the order of events and the number of expected heats. This is only a guide for the parents. It is produced the day before the meet and does not contain any last minute changes such as "swimmer scratches" due to swimmers not checking-in. Also during an event the Clark of Course may change the heat that your swimmer was due to swim in, due to trying to ensure the least number of empty lanes in each heat of an event. This is perfectly normal. You can purchase a heat sheet at our concessions area at the start of the meet.
During the Swim Meet
If you are a volunteer during the meet, you should become familiar with where you are to be for the start of your shift. Timers, scribes, and meet officials are typically called together through the announcement system for a meeting, but other positions are not announced. If you are working first shift concessions please report to concessions as soon as you have your gear all set up. If you think you should be somewhere - start asking someone - or find the FOST Volunteer Coordinator or a FOST Board member.
You will need to figure out when to feed your swimmer during the meet. We highly recommend you use our concession stand for both breakfast and lunch. Monies raised from these sales helps support our team expenses. The more concessions we sell, the more we can do for the swimmers each year.
Your swimmer may require additional sun screen during the course of a meet. On very hot days make sure they keep hydrated.
- Ready Benches
While it can be difficult to juggle all this, you need to also make certain your swimmer gets to the ready bench when it's their time. FOST has two sets of ready benches. For the 10 and Under swimmers their ready benches are located inside the pool area fence, next to the weights room. For the 11 and Ups their ready benches are located behind the baby pool. Next to the announcer there is an event sign which lets you know what event is being called to the ready benches. The announcer will also make regular announcements, but you must listen out carefully to make sure you hear these announcements. Try to keep up with your children as much as possible. Parents typically work in teams and usually within their own age groups. Bottom line - it's okay to ask for some help if you need it.
- Starting a Race
Your swimmer will be moved from the ready benches to the starting blocks by the parent volunteers who are working the ready benches. The swimmer should have their goggles and swim cap firmly in place before getting to the starting blocks. Once there they should listen to the instructions from the officials. They will be told "swimmers on the block" by the starter, meaning they should climb onto the top of the starting locks and stand up straight. For backstroke they will be told "swimmers in the water" meaning they should carefully jump, not dive, into the water. No "water bombs" please, this could lead to your swimmer being disqualified from the event. The referee will then check to ensure that the correct number of swimmers are present and then blow a whistle. The whistle is NOT the start of the race. The whistle is the referees communication to the starter to go ahead and start the race. The starter will tell the swimmers "take your mark" meaning for the swimmer to prepare to start the race and then the starter will sound a gun or starter beep. This is when the swimmer should begin the race and you should begin cheering your swimmer on. When the swimmer completes the race they should get out of the pool promptly and report to the coach for a brief chat. Parents are encouraged to praise the swimmers efforts regardless of where the swimmer placed in the race.
The coaching of a swimmer is not permitted by either coaches or parents during a race. Please refrain! However encouragement and cheering is always needed.
A false start occurs when a swimmer leaves the starting block early or there is a problem with the gun or starting equipment. In the event of a false start, the starter official sounds the gun or beeper repeatedly signaling the swimmers to stop and return to the starting blocks. A rope is also lowered into the water to stop swimmers who do not respond to the signals. If the false start is the result of your starting before the beep or gun, you will be given a warning. If your are disqualified a second time in the same event you disqualified from that event. Sometimes the swimmers get so far into their race before they realize that a false start has occurred that the referee may ask the swimmers to step out of the pool to give them a chance to recover. Often the next heat may be swam before re-running the heat that had the false start.
- On Deck Area
The area immediately surrounding the pool is known as the "on deck" area during a meet. Often this will be roped off to keep spectators from encroaching. Only NWAL officials and on-duty parent volunteers are allowed on deck during a meet.
- Meet Officials
Meet officials are present on the pool deck during the swim meet. They usually wear white. Most meets have a referee, starter and several stroke and turn officials. The officials are parent volunteers from both teams who are NWAL trained. They are impartial and there to enforce the NWAL rules. This ensures that each meet is run consistently and fairly throughout the NWAL organization. The meet referee has the final say in all disputes.
A swimmer may be disqualified by an official for many reason, including not swimming a stroke correctly (i.e. a "flutter kick" during the butterfly stroke), making an improper turn, pulling on the rope, pushing off from the pool floor, failing to touch the wall in a turn, only touching with one hand during breast stroke, etc... Most swimmers get disqualified at some point in their swimming careers! Swimmers will be told by an official if they were disqualified and for what reason . The swimmer must see the coach after this occurs for suggestions on how to prevent this from happening again. After the swimmer understands what the mistake was, he or she should "shake it off" and focus on the next event. Parents should be supportive, rather than critical, treating the disqualification as a learning experience.
- Raising an Objection
If during the course of a race you see something that you feel you need to discuss with an offical you MUST NOT approach any of the officials on deck. Only our Team Representative can approach the meet referee. So you must first find our Team Representative and tell him or her of your concern. If you cannot find the Team Representative then find the annoucer or speak to the coaches or a FOST Board member, but in all cases please do so calmly.
- Between Events
Bring something for your swimmer to do. Many kids bring books, cards, electronic games, etc... Discourage physical activities like footballs, baseballs, soccer balls, etc. The best activity is one which keeps swimmer sedentary until time to swim.
- Leaving the Meet
If your child has to leave the meet, you MUST notify the team coaches and the team parent, especially if your child will not be returning to the meet. Relays are scheduled toward the end of the meet and we often have trouble locating swimmers because they have gone home or simply left. We encourage everyone to stay at the pool until your child has completed all their events. Even if your child has not been entered in a relay, last minute replay changes are common and the coaches look for swimmers who are still at the meet to fill in.
Event results and team points will be posted on the notice board at intervals during the meet.
- First Aid
At home meets a First Aid box is normally near the concessions area or the announcer. If someone is in need of first aid, please seek assistance before leaving the meet. If you do need to leave the meet please get a message to the coaches. For more critical injuries please let the announcer know so that we can make an announcement for parents with first aid training or call the emergency services if needed.
- Tennis Courts, Club House & Weights Room
The Tennis Courts, Club House and Weights Room are strictly off limits to parents and swimmers during the swim meet. You will see parent volunteers in the Weights Room, these are our computer volunteers. If someone is having trouble coping with the heat then they may take a few minutes to cool off in the Club House or Weights Room, but absolutely no wet swimmers are allowed in either please.
- Need Help
If at any time you need help during the meet please find the announcer. The announcer can make a request over the announcement system to find you someone that can assist with whatever your issue is. The announcer at the home meets is usually stationed need to the entrance to the bathrooms.
- Lost & Found
A swim meet is a great place to loose goggles, caps, t-shirts, towels, shoes, etc... While some of this is turned in, often some is not (i.e. goggles). What is turned in or found after the meet is kept in a basket that the coaches have access to during the practices. Please ask to check the lost and found if you loose something.
After the Swim Meet
- Equipment Tear Down
As soon as the last heat of the last event is swam the meet is over. Please stay for a few minutes and help put all the equipment away. There will be FOST Board members there to supervise and many hands make light work. Your help is truly appreciated.
- Keep Your Set Up Area Clean and Tidy
As you pack up your gear please look around your area and pick up all the trash. Trash bins are provided through out the team set up and pool area. Please use them. If you see someone dropping trash please remind them to pick it up.
- Time to Unwind
Try not to schedule other events during or after a swim meet. It's hard to predict when the swim meet will actually end and you and your swimmer may be very exhausted, especially if you are not used to it. If it was an especially hot day, make sure everyone gets plenty of fluids and gets out of the heat and into an air conditioned environment. Talk to your child about their performance during the meet and provide feedback and encouragement.
- Web Results
As soon as possible after the meet the team web site will be updated with the results of the meet. Also listed will be whether your swimmer has successfully made a qualifying time for the optional post season Invitations Meets
Please contact a Board Member if you have any questions.