First Swim Meet FAQ’s

Learning to navigate through a swim meet for the first time is a little like navigating through a foreign land when you don’t speak the language. Give yourself time to transition, and please lean on the families that have been walking these swim meet pavements for years, we will get you where you need to be.


Before the Swim Meet Starts

When should I arrive at the meet?
Your coach will tell you when to arrive for your warm up. Prior to the meet you will receive an email with the meet’s timeline listing estimated start times for events and what time the meet will finish.

What is Check In?
When you arrive at the meet the first thing you need to do is check in at the check in desk. If you do not check in you cannot race. Look around for swimmers in a line by tables; ask parents or swimmers where to check in if you are not sure. The swimmer writes his event numbers on the top of his hand during check in.

Where should I sit at a meet and what do I bring?
Look for your teammates and sit with them. Golden West Swim Club likes to sit together in one location. Please bring chairs, snacks, and even a canopy or blanket. Extra towels are great to have along with a parka or warm ups. You will need sunscreen for hot days, plenty to drink, and games or a book to pass the time. Most important bring your suit, goggles, and cap for racing.

When do I Warm-Up?
Once you have checked in and are situated with your teammates grab your cap, goggles, and a towel and report to your coach for warm-up. Your coach will guide you through the warm-up process. When warm-up is over, head back to the team area and relax. The meet should start shortly, they usually start on time.*During warm-up parents should check on timing assignments and feel free to ask questions to other parents about timing or meet protocol. We are here to help ease you into the OC Riptide family.

P.S. When it is your turn to time:
1) look for the flashing light above the starter to start your stopwatch
2) know the distance the swimmer is swimming
3) as the swimmer approaches the finish, please stand up and look over the rim of the pool to stop the watch when the swimmer touches the wall. If you remain seated, your time will not be accurate.


During the Swim Meet

Why do people have the event numbers written on the top of their hand?
You need to know your event numbers so you can listen for the announcer. The announcer will be broadcasting what events are in the water racing. You can keep track of the event numbers and when you race.

Why do I need to check the heat sheets before I race?
Heat sheets are posted by girl’s events and by boy’s events in a central area at the meet. The heat sheets are listed by event number. They show the heat and lane number for all swimmers participating in an event. You will need to know what lane to report to and which heat you race in ahead of time. Ask a parent or swimmer if you are unsure where the postings are. Check the postings at least 2 to 3 events prior to yours. If you are in the first events of the meet the heat sheet will be posted prior to the start of the meet. You will see crowds of swimmers and parents hovering over the heat sheets, don’t be shy, step up and look for your name printed on the heat sheet.

Do I talk to my coach now?
Yes, once you have your heat and lane go see your coach. Give him your heat and lane assignments so he can be sure to see your race. Also, he will give you racing instructions and strategies.

When do I race?
It is very important not to miss your race. If you miss your race you will not be able to swim the next race. Grab your cap and goggles and report behind the starting blocks early before your event starts. Check with your timer that you are in the correct lane and heat. The timers have a list of swimmers for their lane. Make sure to put on your cap and goggles while you are waiting for your heat, CONCENTRATE on your race, as you approach the blocks check that your goggles are on tight and secure.

On the starting blocks what is the difference between the short whistle and the long whistle?
When the heat is ready to swim the Official Starter will call the swimmers to the blocks with two different whistles. He first blows a short whistle that tells the swimmers to approach the blocks (in the water for backstroke), he then blows a second long whistle that tells the swimmers to get on the blocks and place feet in racing start position (backstroke grab the bar and place feet on the wall), the Official Starter then says, “Take your mark.” The swimmers take the start position; swimmers do not move until your hear the beep or tone that starts the race.


Go Swimmers Go!

What do I do after my race is done and I’ve touched the wall?
Most of the time the officials want you to stay in the water on the wall until the next race has started. This is called a “fly over start.” Once the next race has started quickly exit the water and ask your timer for your time. Then go do your warm down.

Do I talk to my coach after my race?
Yes, after your warm down. Your coach will have feedback to give you from your race. Our coaches are insightful, encouraging, and caring; the swimmer will always find it worthwhile to talk about the race with their coach.

My races are over and my parent has timed, do I just leave?
Check in with your coach to make sure you are not in any relays and to say goodbye. The final times will be posted where the heat sheets were if you want to write them down.

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