SWIM MEET – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What is a swim meet, and how many are there?
A. A swim meet is an organized competition between swim teams. In our recreational league each swim team participates in five regular season meets, each one against one other swim team (these are called dual meets), and the end-of-the-season Championship Meet that includes all teams in the league as well as competitive leagues from around the city.
Q. How is a swim meet organized, and how long does it last?
A. A swim meet consists of 86 events. For example, event 1 is the age 6 and under girls 100 yard free style relay. Individual events may have several heats (races) since there are often more kids swimming than there are lanes. In our pool, we only have six lanes, so if 9 kids are swimming in an event, there will be two heats. It usually takes about 3-4 hours to complete a swim meet.
Q. What events will my child swim in?
A. Typically, children swim in 2 or 3 of the individual races and up to 2 relays. Your child will swim in races with other children of the same gender, in the same age group. The only exception to this is when a child “swims up,” or participates in a race with older children in order to fill an empty spot. A swimmer is not allowed to “swim down” for obvious reasons. You may request a specific event by asking the coaches, but please do not request that your child be removed from an event because they are not comfortable or proficient in their strokes. Summer league is a learning league and coaches are trying to broaden your child’s horizon. Coaches will not put your child in any events that they (the coaches) feel your child is incapable of swimming.
Q. Why are they writing on my child with a permanent marker?
A. Before the meet (and BEFORE APPLYING SUNSCREEN), parents or coaches write “E”, “H” , “L” and “S” with numbers on their arm or leg, oriented to the swimmer so that they can read it themselves and know what they are swimming. These letters stand for Event, Heat, Lane and Stroke. Other artistic drawings of marlins or creative (tasteful) expressions of competition are encouraged. Don’t worry; the ink will wear off in a day or so. We have had good luck taking off excessive writing with soap, baby oil, fingernail polish remover or GoJo.
Q. Why isn’t my child swimming in a relay?
A. This is probably best explained by an example. Take the freestyle relay, for instance, in which four swimmers participate. If there are only three swimmers in your child’s age/gender group, then there are not enough to make a relay team. If there are more than four swimmers, but less than eight, then there are only enough swimmers to make one relay team. In the latter case, the swimmers with the top four individual freestyle times are chosen for the relay team.
Q. Does it matter what order the medley relay or the IM go in?
A. Yes. For the medley relay the order is back, breast, fly, then free. For individual medley it is fly, back, breast, then free.
Q. What is the bullpen?
A. At the meets, we have 2 bullpens–the team bullpen and the deck. The one where the kids hang out for most of the meet is the team bullpen area. Parent volunteers (Bullpen Wranglers) help the kids make sure they don’t miss their events. A few minutes before their race, the kids move up to the Deck Manager to call their name and line them up in the right spot. One of the biggest headaches for our Bullpen Wranglers is hunting down little Johnny who’s gone off to play, or get a snack, or go to the bathroom. Please help your child understand that they should stay in the team bullpen area during the meet so that they will not miss an event. If your child needs to leave the bullpen for any reason, they should inform the Bullpen Wrangler as to where they are going.
Q. If I notice that my child is in the wrong lane, what do I do?
A. Often there are changes at the last minute that may affect heat and lane for a child’s race. We like to combine heats whenever possible to make the meets run faster, and there may be substitutions because of absent swimmers. If you think your child is in the wrong heat or lane for his/her race, ask the Head Coach or Deck Manager. Remember that what we write on their arm prior to the meet is not the final word on a child’s heat/lane. The Deck Manager has the most current list of where the swimmer should be.
Q. What happens if it is raining; do they cancel the meet?
A. No. The meets are rarely cancelled because rescheduling is a nightmare. Please show up at the scheduled time unless you get an e-mail telling you otherwise. Thunder will delay a meet, but it will be run eventually, rain or shine. If a meet is interrupted by a thunderstorm, the swim team representatives from each team will meet and agree how to proceed. If the meet is over the half-way point, they may decide to stop and call a winner. If it looks like rain, be sure to bring umbrellas, rain slickers and extra towels for your swimmer as well as yourself.
Q. Do I have to stay for the entire meet?
A. Maybe. Our league orders events so that relays are swum at the beginning and again at the end of the meet. If your child is on a relay team that swims at the end of the meet, they must stay and swim or else that relay team cannot compete. Having a relay team member leave early is particularly disappointing to the other relay swimmers if they are planning to swim and are told at the last minute that they do not have enough swimmers to make a relay team. You are encouraged to stay and cheer on our team through the end of the meet, but younger siblings may dictate that you must leave early. Unless you prevent the competing of a relay, you will be forgiven for not staying until the bitter end.
Q. What should I feed my child at the meet?
A. That is a little tricky. There is always junk food around the meet no matter how much we try to avoid it. Consider feeding your children a healthy protein breakfast (bananas and yogurt or something like that) right before the meet and then bring or buy them something to eat during the meet. Please check with the bullpen parent if you are taking your child away from the bullpen to buy them food to make sure they will not miss their events. Also, use common sense here. Please do not feed your child right before they swim an event, especially an Individual Medley.
Q. My 5 year old is swimming against kids that have already turned 7. Why?
A. The child’s age as of June 1st is what age they are considered to be for the whole season. Kids with summer birthdays may pass this age during the season, but they stay with the age group where they started. Every age group has at least 2 years of kids, so the younger kids in each age group are at a disadvantage. Help them understand that swim team has “off years” for the children. When they are 7 it is much harder to win against 8 year olds than when they are at the top of their age bracket. Reinforce to them that they should work on their personal best times and not worry about their place in the race.
Q. What about good sportsmanship?
A. This is a great place for parents to help. Talk with your children about this issue. I am always so proud of our kids not only when I see great races where we win, but also when I see us lose and shake hands with the other team’s swimmer, telling the winner, “good race.” Please help make this important to our kids. Also, during the meets, be friendly to the other team’s parents and complimentary whenever possible. It creates a positive environment for everyone. Our most fun meets have been with teams that have this same attitude