The New Parents’ Guide to Swim Meets

Why do we do meets?

Meets are so important to swimming.  Try to make as many of them as you can. It's the best way to track progress in this sport.  Are times dropping?  Is your swimmer faster this year than they were this time last year? Did your swimmer finally complete that legal 100 IM?  The only way to test all this is in meets.  Think of swim meets as swimming’s “game”.  You wouldn't go to soccer practice and never go to the games.  That would just be silly.  It's the same way with swimming.  Don't just attend all the practices and skip out on the games.  We are training your swimmer to compete.  All those laps they will be swimming are going to seem meaningless without the meets to back them up! 

There can be a tendency to say I will wait until I get better to swim in a meet.  When will you be good enough for a meet?  A coach can give you a good answer.  Most everyone is ready for a meet.

How do we know the meet schedule?

It is posted on the front page our website.  You will need to Login and scroll down to the events section.  It will show the meets for the next 60 days. You can see more events by clicking on the blue “more events” button. That will show our meets. We will also send out a meet schedule by email as well as pass out a schedule at the parent meeting

How do we know which meets to attend or when it’s time to sign up?

When it’s time to sign up for a meet, an email will go around with an invitation to sign up.  You just click on it and login to your SwimTulsa account. Fun Fact: You will only receive emails for meets your swimmer is eligible to swim. 

At the start of each season, we will send around the meet schedule and will highlight the ones everyone wants to try to make. The meet description should also tell you if the meet is open to everyone or requires qualifying times. You can check that out by logging into the ST website and looking at the team events on the front page. Please note you must login to see the events.

How do we sign up for a meet?

You will click on the link in your email (see above) and it will take you to the meet sign up.  You may need to login to your SwimTulsa account.  Once there click on the swimmer(s) name(s) and say either “Yes please” or “No thanks” If you said yes, you will pick the day(s) you wish to swim. This will be a blue bar right above the notes box. You will see a box to check. You can click on the blue bar to see the events that will be swum on that day. Click on the days you wish to attend. You can add a note in the bar for the coach to see and save.  If you say no thanks you can leave a note in the box for the coach if you wish and then save. Always remember to Save no matter what you choose. A coach will then pick the best events for your swimmer

I lost the email sent to sign up. Is there another way?

Yes you can login to the SwimTulsa website and scroll down to the events section and click on the event you wish to attend. It will show you the information about the meet. You can then click on the “edit commitment” button at the top. Then, follow the same process as above. You can also access the Events on the OnDeck app.

How do we know what events have been chosen?

You can log back in the way you signed up or check on the OnDeck app under “events and meet entries” 

How much does the meet cost?

Each meet has different fees associated with them.  Smaller meets like dual meets might have a flat cost per swimmer.  Larger meets will have a fee per event as well as a swimmer surcharge.  Meets that take place out of Tulsa will have coaching fees attached to them (to pay for coaches travel, meals, and/or hotel room).  The fees are posted on the event description.

How do I pay for the meet?

Meet fees are posted to your SwimTulsa accont AFTER the meet is over.  They will be charged on the first of the month with your regular dues. 

What Kind of gear do we need for the meet?

The team suit, team cap and a pair of goggles.  You’ll want a towel or two and something to keep warm inbetween events. A proper fitting meet suit will be tight.  It should fit like a second layer of skin without sags or pooches.  It shouldn’t be very comfortable to wear. Swim shirts, suits with ties or zippers and full body suits are not allowed in competition and you can be disqualified for swimming in them. You may also not wear the gear of a team that is not in the meet. High school stuff needs to stay in the bag as your swimmer is representing SwimTulsa.  You will not need any equipment at a meet so please leave your fins and kickboards at home.

How big is the pool for the meet?

Swimming is a year round sport but it is broken into 2 distinct seasons.  We have the Fall/Winter (Sept-Mar) season which is swum in a 25 Yard/Meter short course pool like Union.  The spring/summer (Apr-Aug) season is swum in a 50 Meter Long Course Pool like McClure (Same as the Olympics). Mid-February and Mid July contain our Championship meets.

What are our championship meets?

For White, and Blue team Division 2 and State are the big championship meets.  Swimmers may qualify for one or both. We do expect them to attend the highest level of championship meet they are qualified for.

At the Gold, Senior Development, and Senior team levels Divisions 2, State, Sectional, Futures, Jr Nationals may be the championship meet you attend. Sectionals is a regional meet (this contains people from several states) Futures and Jr Nationals are National level meets. You will discuss with your coaches which meets are right for you

What are the coaches’ expectations of meet participation?

White team level - We are looking for a meet every 2 months and attending 1-2 sessions each meet (sessions are usually offered on different days and each session will have different events offered). We do expect swimmers to attend the championship meet the swimmer qualifies for. 

Blue team level - We are looking for a meet a month and working toward 3 session per meet. We do expect swimmers to attend the championship meet the swimmer qualifies for. 

Gold Team level- We are looking for attending at least one session of a meet every other month and fully attending all sessions of your championship meet.

Senior Development and Senior team level - Fully attending every meet you commit to, that means swimming in all sessions.  The meets you attend should be discussed with your coach so you can chart your seasonal path. Championship meet attendance will be expected at this level. You will discuss with your coach which meet will be your championship focus.

What events are swimmers expected to swim?

White team swimmers will participate in 50’s and 100’s of each stroke higher level swimmers working towards 200’s.

Blue and Gold team will swim 50, 100’s and 200’s of everything working towards the longer distances (400, 500, 1000 etc.)

Senior Development and Senior team will swim everything they are eligible for based on what the coaches want to see.

Parents, you will designate which day(s) your swimmer can compete in and the coaches will pick the events.  You can always leave a note in the sign up box for favorite events.  Everyone will be entered in events they are able to swim and that the coaches want to see!

It’s the day of the meet what should we expect?

Just like at practices, meet decks are closed to spectators.  The only people on deck are swimmers, coaches, and meet personnel (i.e. officials, timers, lifeguards etc.).  The deck is closed for Safe Sport and insurance reasons.

Locker rooms are usually available, but parents are NOT allowed in the locker rooms at any time.  Should your swimmer need help, you will need to take them into a hallway restroom.  Also remind your swimmer their cell phones should not be used in the locker rooms. They should keep them in their bags. This is a Safe Sport issue.

Below are the ways we want the swimmers to be at a meet. Please note we want everyone to sit in the team area during a meet. This helps make sure everyone gets to their races on time. At the lower levels, coaches will assist the swimmers every step of the way. Sometimes walking them to the blocks when it’s time to swim and waiting with them.  At the higher levels, coaches will expect the swimmers to be more self-sufficient.

Be prepared - Make sure you have everything you might possibly need.  Things you will need: 2-3 towels, extra pair of goggles, team suit, team cap (yes everyone is required to wear a cap at the swim meet. It's part of the gear!), water, a snack, something to do (meets can have a lot of waiting around so a book, a small toy, or card game), and something to wear in between races like a team warm up or parka.  Some swimmers pack their swim bag the night before so they know they have everything!

Be on time - Being on time promotes relaxation.  It gives you a chance to check in, get settled, and be ready to hit the water at the start of warm up.  Rushing around gets you tense and unfocused which is not the way you want to be for your meet!  Sometimes it can't be helped, but do everything in your power to be on time.  Warm up is key to successful swimming.  It gets your muscles loosened up. It makes sure your equipment is working properly. It focuses the mind on swimming, and it allows you a chance to practice a few times before you race.

Be positiveSwim meets are fun. They are a chance to track your progress.  Coaches are not looking for you to win. In fact, they will probably NOT notice what place you come in.  We will write down your time.  We aren't here to win at all cost.  We are here to swim well and work hard. Show us what you can do!  Bring your best strokes and awesome streamlines. 

Be a good teammateThere will be swimmers from all different groups at a meet.  There are swimmers competing in their first meet ever.  This is a great time to get to know everyone and cheer everyone on.  Say positive things and offer your support. If someone is scared, see if you can make them laugh.  If you are scared, see if you can make yourself laugh.

Be patient - Swim meets are a lot of waiting, "Hurry up and wait!" is the meet mentality. You will warm up. Then you will wait for your race.  Your race will last a minute or two.  Then you will warm down. Then you will sit and wait for your next race. This is why we say “bring something to do.” 

Be smart - Do things that will help your swimming.  Make sure you are resting between races.  No one should be running around the deck, having wrestling matches, or climbing on things.  Save your energy for the pool!  Keep warm.  Cold stiff muscles don't want to work properly.  Plus it takes a lot of work to shiver!!  That's energy you could use on your races.  Make sure you hydrate.  Drink water after each race.  You should have a snack if you are going to be there for several hours.  Just a snack.  Meets are not an excuse to pig out.  You don't need a bunch of extra food.  Great snacks include bagels, fruits, veggies, or even a sandwich.  Candy, cookies, soda, brownies, and other sweets are best left as a treat for AFTER the meet.

The most important thing is to have fun.  Enjoy the time you spend with your friends. Enjoy your races.  Be proud of the hard work you put in every practice to make these races possible! Most swimmers best swimming memories come from the time they spent with teammates at swim meets.  You won’t remember every race or if you won or if you had a best time even.

Are swimmers allowed to leave the team area?

Yes! Please let a coach know where you are going.  If they need to use the bathroom or visit parents in the stands to get your lunch, tell the coach where they are going.  If they plan on being gone for a while again let us know. Coaches are responsible for swimmers on deck. If they tell us they are going to the bathroom and aren’t back in 5 minutes, we will get concerned. 

How long should the meet last?

Typically meet sessions are 2-4 hours. Higher level meets might be a little longer sometimes.  For swimmers 12 and under they are not allowed to be longer than 4 hours.

Do we have to stay the whole time?

No you are free to leave once your swimmer’s events are finished. At the Blue and Gold team level, they will need to cool down after the races are over.

Are there awards for meets?

Usually. Some meets don’t offer them. Usually the smaller meets do not, like a dual meet (just two teams). Larger meets generally have them although sometimes it’s only for 12 and unders. Awards are usually given to the top 8 or 6 swimmers in the event and age group.  That means all the swimmers who are 10 and under, only the top 8 fastest times at the meet will get an award. Please note a first place finish in your swimmer’s heat (The group of swimmers that went at the same time) does not mean they got a first place finish over all.  There could be 50 10 and unders in the events. Swimmers in the same age group will swim in many different heats.  Awards are usually picked up by a coach once the meet is over and distributed at practice the following week.

What is a DQ?

Disqualification, also known as DQ, happens when a swimmer breaks a rule during a swim in a swim meet.  The officials (the people in White shirts around the deck) will watch a swimmer's start, swim, turn, and finish to make sure all the rules of the stroke are followed. Strokes like Freestyle are really hard to get disqualified in as there are very few rules. A stroke like Breaststroke has MANY rules and one tiny thing wrong can be a DQ.  Coaches are kept up to date on all the rules. There are slight changes to them every year.  The officials’ ONLY job is to watch the races and keep the meet running. There are not there to help your swimmer in any capacity. If your swimmer needs help, they need to see their coach.

How do we know if we got DQ’ed and what it was for?

Once a DQ happens, Coaches get a slip of yellow paper.  It will have the swimmers name, the event, the heat and lane, and what the swimmer did wrong on it.  There is no other way you will know if you got disqualified.  Officials may raise their hand (they may not) when they see a DQ, but that could be for the swimmer next to them.  If the time doesn't show up on the board that just means the swimmer didn't touch the touch pad hard enough. The only way we know for sure is that piece of paper.

Please remember Officials are volunteers. Unlike other sports, they are NOT paid to be there. Officials attend a class and must apprentice with an experienced official before they are allowed to make any DQ's, but they do make mistakes and sometimes they don't see every infraction.  Most officials have to watch 4 swimmers at a time.  They can't watch each stroke of your entire race. 

Officials can get a call wrong from time to time.  If you watch any other sport, I am sure you know about that.  There are times Coaches think the call was completely wrong, and a Coach will take it up with the one of the referees.  It’s rare, but they can be occasionally overturned. Your Home Video proof is not allowed at any time according to USA swimming rules.

If you get a DQ, it's not the end of the world.  Almost every swimmer has at least one to their name. It happens.  Ask anyone that has been around awhile. They will have stories to tell you.  You can be upset about it, but make sure it doesn't ruin the rest of your races! Instead strive to do better.  Fix the problem.  Practice things correctly every time.  What you do in practice is what you will do in a meet. For the lower levels, DQ’s are not usually discussed until practice the next week.

How do I know what the time standards are for……

Please note State and D2 cuts change every 4 years.  The Motivational time standards change every 4 years and some high level meets like sectionals may change every year.

Age Group Times - A/B/BB times (used for some meets as qualifying times) 

OKS Division II or D2’s

OKS State Championship 

OKS Senior State 

Region VIII Central Sectionals 

USA Swimming Futures 

USA Swimming Jr Nationals 

USA Swimming Sr Nationals

USA Swimming Olympic Trials 

Common Meet Terms

Best time - The fastest legal time you completed in competition.  If you get disqualified, your time does not count. When you enter meets you are generally entered with either your best time or NT (No Time) if you have not swum the event before.

Heat - A group consisting of about 6-8 swimmers that will swim at the same time. Usually grouped by entry time

Lane -  The lane your swimmer will race in.  This could change in each event. Lane is determined by your time in comparison to the others in the heat.  Faster times are in the middle.

Event - Each distance, stroke, and gender has its own separate events.  The order of the events lets you know the order of the strokes in the meet. Please note events don’t always go in order especially if it’s divided up by age groups that swim at different times. Some meets will have "Mixed" events where girls and boys swim in the same event but are scored seperatly.

False start - Any forward motion on the blocks after they say take your mark but before the beep goes off.

Scratch - Telling the host team you are not swimming an event. For some meets if you fail to scratch and no show your event you may be removed from the meet or fined.

Positive check-in - Required generally for distance and certain meets.  It is a sheet with your swimmers name on it. You will place a check next to the name or highlight it depending on the rules laid out by the host team.  If you don’t check in to those races, you will not swim in them.

Prelims/Finals - This format is used for Championship and other big meets.  Swimmers will swim Prelims in the morning.  They must then QUALIFY to swim again in the evening at Finals. Usually they take top 8-16 back in finals. At a Prelims/Finals meet awards are only given to the top finalists. 

Meet Mobile - An app that lets you see your swimmers results and heat and lane. This app has a yearly cost. Results here are unofficial. The official results are posted at the venue.  Always check your results that are posted to make sure.

Heat Sheet or Meet Program - This will have your swimmer’s heat and lane assignments for each event they are in. 

Psyche Sheet - This is a list of all the swimmers in each event from fastest to slowest.  It gives swimmers a chance to see where they rank before the meet.

Backstroke Ledge/Wedge- This is a little bar that is put in the water and can look different at each pool. It’s to help with feet placement in backstroke. This is a higher level device that older swimmers will use.  At the lower ends, we want to see proper back dives and kickouts before we use this equipment.

Warm up - Getting your body and mind ready before your races.  Each group lead by their coach does warm up appropriate for their age and ability.  Warm up is key to great swimming.

Warm Down/Cool Down/Swim Down - This is done after a race to bring the heart rate back down and help move the lactic acid built up during the race out of your muscles. As swimmers get older, this becomes more and more imperative to taking care of their bodies especially during long meet weekends. It helps prevent soreness and sluggishness later in the weekend.

Time standards-Some meets require swimmers to be a certain level to swim in the events.  The meet information will specify which standards are being used (State, D2’s, B times etc). The meet file will then enforce those times.