FIRST MEET SURVIVAL GUIDE- swimmers and parents



  1. Arrive at the pool at least 15 minutes before the scheduled warm-up time begins.
  2. Upon arrival, the swimmer should find a place to put their blankets, swim bags or the towels to sit on. The team usually sits in one place together, so look for some familiar faces.
  3. Check in with your coach.
  4. Once your swimmer is with his or her team, parents, locate the “heat sheets” or program for the meet.  Heat sheets are posted several places around the pool and you can usually buy your own copy for a few dollars. The swimmers will write each event-number on his or her arm. This helps him/her remember what events he/she is swimming and what event number to listen or watch for. (they do this under their coach guidance)
  5. The swimmer now gets his/her cap and goggles and reports to the pool and/or coach for warm-up instructions. It is very important for all swimmers to warm-up with the team. A swimmer's body is just like a car on a cold day-he/she needs to get the engine going and warmed-up before he/she can go all out.
  6. After warm-up, your swimmer will go back to the area where his/her team is sitting and wait there until his first event is called. This is a good time to make sure he/she goes to the bathroom if necessary and gets a drink and/or a light snack.
  7. The meet will usually start about 10-15 minutes after warm-ups are over.
  8. Parents are not allowed on deck unless they are serving in an official capacity. Similarly, all questions concerning meet results, an officiating call, or the conduct of a meet, should be referred to a coach. He or she in turn, will pursue the matter through the proper channels.


  1. It is important for any swimmer to know what event numbers he/she is swimming (again, why they should have the numbers on their arm). He/she may swim right away after warm-up or they may have to wait awhile.
  2. A swimmer usually reports directly to his/her lane for competition before he/she actually swims
  3. After each swim:
    • The swimmer should go immediately to his or her coach. The coach will discuss the swim with each swimmer. Some coaches may wish to talk with the swimmer before the swim.
  4. Generally, the coach follows these guidelines when discussing swims:
    • Positive comments or praise
    • Suggestions for improvement
    • Positive comments
  5. Things you, as a parent, can do after each swim:
    • Tell him how great he or she did! The coaching staff will be sure to discuss stroke technique with the swimmer. You need to tell them how proud you are and what a great job they did.
    • This is another good time to tell the swimmer to check out the bathrooms, get a drink or something light to eat.
  6. The swimmer  waits until his next event is called and starts the procedure again.  While swimmers are not swimming, they should rest and sit with their team. Swimmers can pass the time between events reading, but we find it very beneficial for them and the team to cheer on their teammates.  It’s important that they are not wandering the facility, as they risk missing their next event.  Events will proceed whether the swimmer is present or not. So it’s important for them to be nearby and ready when their event time arrives. The team will have swimmers competing in practically every event, therefore the coaches remain on the side of the pool during the meet to support and encourage those swimmers currently in the water.  When a swimmer has completed all of her events she and her parents get to go home. Make sure, however, you, as a parent, check with the coach before leaving to make sure your swimmer is not included on a relay. It is not fair to other swimmers who may have stayed to swim on a relay where your swimmer is expect­ed to be a member and she is not there.
  7.  Awards are often gathered for a team and given to the coach at the end of the meet. The coach will give the awards to the swimmers at a later time.



A few words about disqualifications

Inevitably there are new swimmers who will DQ (disqualify) in every event!  It happens. If your child is disqualified in an event, be supportive rather than critical.  Encourage your swimmer by letting them know you are proud of them regardless of the DQ.  For beginning swimmers, a disqualification should be treated as a learning experience, not as a punishment. A disqualification alerts the swimmer and coach to what portions of the swimmer's stroke need to be corrected. They should be considered in the same light as an incorrect answer in schoolwork-they point out areas that need further practice. Disqualifications are necessary to keep the competition fair and equitable for all competitors. A supportive attitude on the part of the official, coach, and parent can make a positive situation out of the disqualification.

Trained officials observe the swimmers during each event to ensure compliance with the technical rules of swimming. If a swimmer commits an infraction of the rules that is observed by an official, a disqualification (DQ) will result. This means that the swimmer will not receive an official time and will not be eligible for an award in that event. A disqualification may result from actions such as not getting to the starting blocks on time, false starting, performing strokes in an illegal manner, or unsportsman­like conduct. 

DQs are also a result of technical rules violations. They include but are not limited to:  

  • Freestyle: Walking on the bottom, pulling on the lane rope, not touching the wall on a turn, or not completing the distance.
  • Backstroke: Pulling or kicking into the wall once a swimmer has turned passed the vertical onto the breast. Turning onto the breast before touching the wall with the hand at the finish of the race.
  • Breaststroke: An illegal kick such as flutter (freestyle), dolphin (butterfly), or scissors (side stroke); not on the breast; alternating movements of the arms; taking two arm strokes or two leg kicks while the head is under water; touching with only one hand at the turns or finish. 
  • Butterfly: Alternating movements of the arms or legs; pushing the arms forward under instead of over the water surface (underwater recovery); a breaststroke style of kick; touching with only one hand at the turns or finish.





What to bring to a swim meet

  1. Make sure your swimmer brings their team suit, goggles (and an extra pair, just in case), Barracudas swim cap, water bottle,a permanent marker to write the events on the hand, 2 towels (one to dry off and one to sit on it).Your swimmer will need to stay warm between events so extra dry towels or sweats to wear over swimsuits are helpful.
  2. Water, fruit juices and light snacks.  Often there is a concession stand with snacks but be prepared in case there isn’t.  Natural juices llike Naked or Odwala are a good quick carb replacement after a race.  Fresh fruits such as grapes, oranges, apples or watermelon are quick light snacks that won’t weigh your swimmer down.  Goldfish, trail mix and raisins are also small snacks your swimmer can munch on between events.  And the best after meet recovery drink is chocolate milk.
  3. Money for heat sheets, and/or concessions if available.  You will probably want to buy your own copy of the heat sheets to keep track of your swimmers events.  Heat sheets can typically be purchased for $1 or so. 
  4. Folding chairs (Not all locations have spectator seating)
  5. Highlighters,pens and pencils.  You will want to highlight your swimmer’s events on your heat sheets.
  6. Parents and spectators will need to dress cool. Wear Barracuda gear of red and black to show Barracuda pride. Yes, even in the winter.  Indoor pools are often kept warm, and will be even warmer with the presence of more people.