Why Swim Meets Matter

Swim meets are crucial to evaluating swimmer progress, as well as to push them to the next level in competitive swimming.  Swimming in practice does not replace the benefits and gains that swimmers learn from a competition setting. Although swimming is a physical activity, there are a lot of mental aspects as well that we work with swimmers on. We want our athletes to be proud and confident.  While the first meet may be intimidating, it’s absolutely necessary to progress in the sport. 


Who Attends/How to Attend

ALL swimmers from the Arcadia HS pool site are expected to attend our “league” swim meets. Swimmers in our expansion programs are encouraged, but not required to compete.  We are in the Metro committee, within the Southern California Swimming LSC.  There are about 15-18 teams in our league, majority of whom attend these committee level meets. There are often between 500-700 swimmers at these meets. The bigger championship meets may have up to 1000 swimmers! 


If you just joined the team and are in Bronze 1, then we may give you a month or two to prepare, but everyone else- come on down!  These meets are about once a month, typically Saturday and Sunday. Swimmers will sign up for events within their age group, with the events split over both days.  For example, the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle are usually on separate days, so if you want to swim both, you’d need to attend both days.  


Sign ups are usually due 2 weeks before the swim meet.  You can sign up for events on our TeamUnify website.  However, to increase swimmers' development, coaches also have the ability to add or veto events.  This is to encourage swimmers who want to swim the same 2 events at every meet to try something new, as well as to make sure that swimmers are not entering events that they are not ready for.    


We also are invited to “closed invites” which includes less teams, and can be a little more fun for athletes.  In order to view and sign up for these meets you need to be logged into the site.  ALL swimmers are welcome to these meets, as long as there are no time minimums. 


Meet Timelines

The meets are divided into two sessions per day- one session for the younger swimmers and one session for the older swimmers. The 11/12 age group is often split, with 11/12 boys or 11/12 girls joining opposite sessions. Depending on the meet- youngers may swim in the morning, olders in the afternoon, or vice versa. 


Although event timelines are available, swimmers need to arrive at the time designated by the coaches, as we have team stretching and then pool warm-up before the meet begins. Swimmers who miss team warm-up may not be able to participate. If you are not able to attend for any reason, please let Coach Lauren know as early as possible, as there are adjustments we need to make, as well as notify the meet officials that your swimmer will not be there. The timeline is an estimate, so swimmers need to pay attention to the events, as we may be ahead of or behind schedule.


Heat/Lane Assignments

As there are many swimmers in each event, swimmers are divided into heats (groups) and assigned specific lanes.  At the beginning of each session, the meet officials will post the heat/lane assignments in a common area- divided by boys and girls. Depending on the meet, some heat/lane assignments will be posted throughout the meet, usually 3-4 events before.  

Hopefully the meet will “pre-seed” the events, which means they will post all the heat/lanes at the beginning of the meet. If your swimmer is not listed in an event they should be registered for, please let a coach know asap so we can find out what happened. 


As we are encouraging swimmers to take ownership of their own swimming career, we want the SWIMMERS to know their heat/lane, and to report that information to their coach.  Swimmers should check in with their coaches before and after each race. Before, swimmers will provide heat/lane and get advice for the race, and after they will report their time and receive feedback on their performance. If your swimmer wins their heat, they get to select a rubber ducky from the coaches! 


Timing! (And Tents!)

The swim meet timers are all parents from the various teams. We are assigned a certain number of timing chairs (2 chairs per lane) based on the number of swimmers we have entered in the meet.  If you miss the meet, we have to readjust the timing and cover that time slot.  The more swimmers cancel, the longer the other parents need to time- so please make your best effort to attend if you have signed up.  Timing slots are preset by Coach Lauren, and are set up so that the last swimmers in the session have the last timing slots, and swimmers who are done earliest will have earlier timing slots. 


When you are timing, you need to pay attention to the events and not be on your phone.  Best practices are to call the swimmers' names for the next heat, so they can be ready.  Additionally, as swimmers come into the wall to finish, you should be standing up at the edge of the pool deck to push the timing button as soon as they touch the wall. If you are not on the edge of the pool, your time may not be accurate. Swimmers stay in the pool at the edge while the next heat starts.  If your swimmer is struggling to get out of the pool- please help them! They need to be out of the pool before the next heat comes into the wall! (Just at the last meet we saw a swimmer not make it out completely, and our swimmer flip turned right into her!)  Additionally, swimmers may ask for the time from the stopwatch- please either tell them or let them see the paper it’s written on. 

If you are not able to be there the entire meet with your swimmer, you can also help the team by transporting the team canopies.  As we have more swimmers, we now need 4-6 tents, so we usually need at least 2-3 tent movers each direction. Tents can be picked up Thursday or Friday at our storage unit on Peck Road.  Coach Lauren or a board member will meet you there to help with the tent loading.  If you transport the tents, you will not have to time that session.   

If you need another parent to be responsible for your swimmer- you need to coordinate that ahead of time, and that parent covering for you will have to cover your timing slot as well.  If there were an emergency, you DO need to be there to bring the swimmer home or to the doctor. The meet officials generally will not allow swimmers to leave without their family. 


How to Support Your Swimmers

While we want swimmers to improve, we also want them to enjoy the sport, so that they will continue to thrive! That means encouraging their independence, and supporting their efforts.  Time drops are fabulous but are not a guarantee. Sometimes coaches want swimmers to try something different, which may seem like a step backward at one meet, but will lead to gains at future meets.  Please refrain from negative comments in the tent, or within earshot of other swimmers.  Ideally- most of your comments in general are positive ;) 


During warm-up, please do not interrupt the coaches, or stop your swimmer for feedback.  Interrupting the warm-up disrupts the warm-up for all the swimmers. 


USA Swimming Meet Rules

There are a few rules that USA swimming has dictated for the swim meets. There is NO photography behind the blocks, where swimmers are diving. Although the picture of your swimmer is surely adorable, you inadvertently have swimmers of all the other swimmers behinds, which no one wants. ;)  


Most meets have a “closed deck” with areas designated for coaches and swimmers only.  Please respect these boundaries as well as the host team's volunteers who enforce them.  If your swimmer is missing their cap or goggles, they have to come to you to get them- you cannot enter the swimmer area.  If you are timing, and the timing chairs are within the swimmer area, you may enter the timing area 2-3 minutes before your timing slot begins. Once you enter, you should relieve the parent timer ahead of you, and that timer should exit the area immediately.  If you are doing anything other than timing, the volunteers will bounce you.  


Please do NOT talk to the swim officials. They will not discuss disqualifications or time discrepancies with parents.  Additionally- the time posted on the scoreboard is not always the final time.  There are 4 ways we capture the times (touch pad, two electronic timing buttons “pickles”, and a stopwatch).  These times are compared for consistency, and then the final time will be posted over the heat/lane assignments once the event is completed.  


Remember- when you are at the meet, you are representing the Arcadia Riptides, so if anything goes awry, Coach Lauren will hear about it.  If our parents or swimmers are difficult, we will not be invited to closed invites. 


How to Prepare

Yes! Swimmers should attend practice the night before a meet. Coaches take into account the next day's swim meet, and practice before the meets are tailored to improve meet performance. It will not tire your swimmers out- they are athletes! :) 


For dinner, swimmers should have a hearty meal, nothing that could cause any stomach aches.  Breakfast should be relatively light, such as oatmeal or rice. Greasy and heavy foods should be avoided.  


Swimmers should pack their bags the night before, so that nothing is missed! They should bring 2-3 towels, ARSC cap, and extra goggles. For snacks, LOTS of water, fruits, veggies, and light grains. Families are encouraged to bring snacks to share for the team.  Riptide parents have had some IMPRESSIVE meet foods, including hot pot! Swimmers should be encouraged to snack throughout the meet, and hydrate allllll the time ;) When it’s colder, swimmers should always be wearing their parka, and when it’s sunny, swimmers should keep their shirts on, and stay out of the sun. 


Parents will want to bring chairs as well, as seating is not provided.   


Progression of Championship Meets

As your swimmer improves, their times qualify them for bigger, championship swim meets! Time standards for the various meets are posted on the SCS website:


Here is the progression of difficulty in qualifying meets:

WAG- Winter Age Group Championships (mid December)

JAG- June Age Group Championships (mid June)

Summer Age Group Championships (formerly Summer JOs)- late July

Spring Age Group Championships (formerly Spring JOs)- mid March


Once you reach a certain speed, it’s no longer age group based, but divided into Mens and Women’s times.  These times are extremely fast, and younger swimmers don’t need to worry about these times yet ;)  


Although we love to have a strong showing at the higher level swim meets, not all swimmers will qualify, and it’s important to support them even if they miss the time cut for a specific meet. 


Extra bonus for qualifying meets- if you qualify and swim 2 or more individual events at JAG, Summer Champs, Spring Champs, or Elite AG Champs, the club will credit you $50 toward the purchase of a swim backpack, and we will have it embroidered with your swimmers name and ARSC logo for no charge.