Are swim meets fun?

Yes! The first thing to know if you’re new at this is that coaches and volunteers will be on deck to help your swimmer be where they need to be, when they need to be there. Do not stress about this. We will line kids up and help them remember their events. If they aren’t paying attention and their event is about to start, we will find them. This happens and it’s not a big deal. Meets can be stressful when you haven’t done it before, but there are lots of people to help the meets to be exciting and fun!


What to do prior to the meet:

For mock meet, coaches will choose events for your swimmer. For dual meets, an online sign up sheet will be shared so you can choose events. If there is a charge per event, you can pay when you sign up.


Will my swimmer be required to use the blocks and do flip turns?

No! These are skills that will progress with time and coaches will only ask your swimmer to accomplish these goals when they feel they are ready. Many kids jump off the side, sometimes feet first. Flip turns are not required.


What are the order of events?

  • 100/200 yard Medley Relay: first swimmer backstroke, second swimmer breaststroke, third swimmer butterfly, fourth swimmer freestyle. 100 yard total for 8 and under. 200 yard total for 9 and up.
  • 200 yard Freestyle: ages 9 and up
  • 100/200 Individual Medley (IM): Butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle. 100 yards for 12 and under. 200 yards 13 and up.
  • 25 yard Freestyle: age 8 and under
  • 50 yard Freestyle: any age
  • 25/50/100 yard Buttefly: age 8 and under/9-12/13 and up
  • 100 yard Freestyle: age 9 and up
  • 500 yard Freestyle (not swam in all meets): age 13 and up
  • 25/50/100 yard Backstroke: age 8 and under/9-12/13 and up
  • 25/50/100 yard Breaststroke: age 8 and under/9-12/13 and up
  • 200 yard Freestyle Relay: each swimmer swims 50 yards
  • 400 yard Freestyle Relay: each swimmer swims 100 yards


How events work:

This can vary from meet to meet. Not every meet will have every event. Larger meets may have all younger kids swim in the morning and older kids swim in the afternoon. Larger meets separate boys and girls races, but small meets may combine. Age groups are generally separated. The total number of events will depend on the number of registered swimmers.


Do I have to swim relays?

Yes! Relays are part of being on a swim team. Your coach won't sign up a swimmer for any relays that they can't handle. If kids are hesitant about relays, please remind them that practice is how you learn!


What to bring to the meet:

Swim suit, towel, goggles, swim cap if hair is long. An extra pair of goggles is usually a good idea. An extra towel is nice to have after the meet.


How do heats work?

If there are more swimmers in an event than lanes to swim in, there will be multiple heats for that event. Those with fastest official times will go in later heats.


What do the numbers on my kid’s hand mean?

We will help your swimmer stay organized by writing the numbers for their events, heats, and lane on their hands prior to the swim meet. If you see the numbers 3 – 1 – 5, for example, that would mean they swim event #3, in heat #1 (first heat of the event), lane #5. Coaches will be on deck to remind your swimmers how this works, and make sure they are where they need to be. Here's a how-to video!


What if my swimmer disqualifies (DQ):

This happens all the time, and is no reason to despair. Sometimes a swimmer dives off the blocks before the guns goes off, or they grab a lane marker during an event, or they do an improper turn or stroke. This is how you learn! If your swimmer finds out later they got a DQ and they don’t know why, please have them ask the coach!  All of this is a learning experience, and even happens to Olympic swimmers.


How does each event start?

Coaches on deck will make sure kids are lined up prior to their event. When the event is about to start, the official will say “timers clear your watches”. Those timing the event will get ready. Then they say “swimmers step up” and the swimmer will step on top of the block, or they will stand on the edge of the pool deck if they aren’t yet comfortable with the blocks.  Swimmers age 8 and under may start from the far end of the pool if they are only swimming a 25 yard event. Then the official will say “take your mark” and swimmers get in their starting position. Then swimmers will hear a BEEP and see a flash of light and that is when they dive in. For youngest swimmers, they can jump in feet first if they prefer.


How timer pads work:

At swim meets there will be electronic pads at the block-end of the pool. Remind your swimmers to hit it hard when they are done with their event to stop the clock. Young swimmers often forget this and barely touch the pad when they are done (they are tired!) but then the clock keeps running.


How volunteer timers work:

Just in case the pads malfunction, each lane will have two volunteers on deck with hand timers. This is an easy and fun job. You just time the kids as a backup in case something goes wrong with the electronic system. Then you record your time on a list for reference later. These times are then used if a swimmer didn't register a time on the pad.


How marshalling works:

At larger meets, swimmers may be lined up, or marshalled, along the edge of the pool in order of their events, so they are ready to go for their events. If a marshall volunteer is ever needed, all you have to do is keep track of the next event and find those kids and sit them on a bench in order. Then they shift down the bench as events progress.


How State times work:

MTSL sets State times each year to qualify for the MTSL Championship Meet. These are based on swimmer age and there are different qualifying times for boys and girls. Current State times are listed under the ‘Results and Records’ tab on the webpage. Swimmers must have a state qualifying time and swim in two official swim meets in that same season (going back one year to the day after the last State meet) to swim at the state meet. If a swimmer only qualifies in one event but wants to swim at the State meet, they can choose one additional event to swim.


What to do during/after a meet:

It’s a great life skill to learn to cheer on your team mates, we always encourage kids to stay for the entire meet and cheer on other swimmers. But you are allowed to leave when your swimmer is done with all of their events. At big swim meets this is a bigger deal, as they can take hours. At small swim meets, they go pretty quickly so it's easier to stay for the whole thing.


How awards work:

Each event will have ribbons for each age group (8 and under, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15 and up) and separate ribbons for boys and girls. Remember, your child may win their heat, but if there are multiple heats they may not win the entire event.


How do I know what events to sign up for in swim meets?

If you aren't sure, just register for the meet but leave events blank. The coach will choose events for you.


Send your own questions to stjohnssealions@gmail.com