Swim meets are fun and exciting! We hope this will give you an overview of what a swim meet looks like.

Swim Meet Arrival
Unable To Make a Meet
What to Bring to a Meet
Swim Meet Events

How Long Does a Swim Meet Last?
Swim Meet Terminology



Meets begin promptly at 8AM

  • Arrival and Warm-ups are subject to change.
  • Warm-ups are MANDATORY and swimmers need to arrive promptly. Check times in weekly email. Please be early instead of on time.
  • On time arrival is important BECAUSE the coaches need to:
    • Determine no-shows
    • Re-arrange relays and individual events if kids do not show.
    • Help 8 and under and newer swimmers confirm what and when they are swimming.
    • Get swimmers stretched and ready for warm-up

For Evening Meets

  • Arrive at each meet 1:15 hour prior to the meet.  
  • Warm-ups typically start 1 hour prior to the start of the meet.



Call the Head Coach at (608) [Contact info to come]. If your child is running late or will miss the swim meet on Saturday after signing up to compete, is it very important that you let your coach know you are unable to attend ASAP.

Is your swimmer sick or having car trouble? Let coaches know by 7:30am if a swimmer cannot make a meet. This way, relays can be rearranged and no kids will be left without a complete relay team.  It's important for swimmers to show up even if you know someone from your relay might not make it. Coaches will find other swimmers to complete relays. THANK YOU for your attention to this matter.




You may not need all of these items but here are ideas for your swimmer

  • Essentials – Swimsuit, goggles, swim cap, towel and sunscreen
  • Water – for hydration
  • Food – Bring healthy snacks or money to buy food at the meet
  • Sweats – are nice on chilly days to keep warm between events
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Extra towels
  • Deck of cards or games
  • Special clothing or items for the theme of the week

​Adults might like the following

  • Sharpie (for arm marking). You can get it off with sunscreen. :)
  • Highlighter - for highlighting your kid(s) swims.
  • Chair - some meets have bleachers but some places bringing your own chair is nice.
  • Water – for hydration
  • Positive attitude - it's a competition but the most important part is that you and your kids are having fun.




There are 70 events in a swim meet. Events occur in the following order:

  • Medley Relays
  • Freestyle Individual events
  • Backstroke Individual events
  • 8 and Under Freestyle Relays
  • Individual Medley (IM) events, excluding 8 & Under
  • Breaststroke Individual events
  • Butterfly Individual events
  • 8 and Under Individual Medley (IM) events
  • 9 and up Freestyle Relays

Within an event, the order goes by AGE: 8 & Under first, followed by GENDER: girls, then boys. (Exceptions to age order are noted above.)

For example:

Event #1  8 & Under Girls 100 M Medley Relay
Event #2  8 & Under Boys 100 M Medley Relay
Event #3  9 – 10 Girls 200 M Medley Relay
Event #4  9 – 10 Boys 200 Medley Relay

Super helpful hints:  
1) All individual swimmer events end in the same number (ie Girls 8 & under events all end in the number 1, Boys 8 & Under end in 2, Girls 9-10 end in 3, Boys 9-10 end in 4 and so on.)

2) Check the heat sheets, a listing of all the races scheduled for a swim meet, before the meet and assist swimmers with marking their arm, hand or leg  (writing the following information on them) with a sharpie. This is an example of how you would write on swimmer’s hand or forearm. Sharpie ink can be removed at end of meet by rubbing sunscreen on it. It is each swimmer’s responsibility to know his/her events, heats, and lane assignments and to be available to swim when they are called.

This is an example for an 8 & Under girl

E H L  
1 2 4 fly
11 3 2 free
21 1 5 back
61 4 1 IM








1 2 4 Butterfly
11 3 2 Freestyle
21 1 5 Back stroke
61 4 1 Individual Medley










Dual and triple swim meets usually run around 3.5 hours - smaller ones are a bit shorter, bigger ones run a bit longer.

Swimmers are encouraged to stay for the entire meet, as they may be needed for other relays and to cheer and encourage teammates. The Waves are committed to supporting best effort and sportsmanship.  If you need to leave, please get permission from your coach before leaving.




The starting platforms located behind each lane. Blocks have a variety of designs and can be permanent or removable.

Clerk of Course
This is the staging area (look for benches or chairs that are all lined up underneath an awning) where volunteers (the Clerks) line up swimmers 12 and under. The swimmers are lined up so that they end up in the right event, heat, and lane. Swimmers are kept in this area until they are ready to swim and led to the deck by a Clerk.

At away meets, figure out where the Clerk of Course is when you arrive, so you can send your kids there when their events are called.

Clerk of Course is typically for the younger kids only.  Older swimmers (13 & up) need to get behind the blocks on their own.

The area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmers, officials, and coaches. No one should be on the deck unless authorized as a volunteer or swimmer about to race.

Dual Meet
Type of meet where two teams compete against each other. Triple meet is when three teams compete against each other.

DQ stands for "disqualification." At swim meets, stroke-and-turn judges observe the swimmers to ensure that the starts, strokes, turns, and finishes are performed according to the rules. If a judge sees a violation of the rules, she will raise her arm and then fill out a DQ slip. A swimmer who DQs will not get an official time or a place ribbon for that event.

There are two basic reasons for a DQ (1) To keep a swimmer from gaining an unfair advantage over the other swimmers, and (2) To help the swimmer learn what he/she is doing wrong so the mistake can be corrected.

Please don't be concerned about DQs; all swimmers DQ at some point! The first couple of times a child swims butterfly or breaststroke, there will be DQs. The youngest kids often DQ in backstroke (by turning onto their tummies at the last second). It's hard to DQ in freestyle, but it can be done. Everyone DQs. No one points and laughs at the child who DQs. Please do not approach or question a judge or a referee regarding a DQ; direct all questions to your child's coach after the meet.

Heat Sheets
A heat sheet is a listing of all of the races scheduled for a swim meet. It is the road map that is used to make sure that our swimmers are in the right place at the right time and that the correct time is connected with the correct swimmer at the end of the race. Pools generally sell heat sheets for $2.  Read here for a tutorial on how to read a heat sheet.

You might think your child is swimming a race, but she's not: she's swimming an "event." There are individual events and relay events. Swimmers are allowed to participate in a total of four events (two individual and two relays).

Events are announced ahead of time to allow the swimmer to report to the staging area (called the Clerk of Course).

Event Types

Individual events are organized around the swim strokes. There are five types of individual events: freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke and IM (Individual Medley). An IM is when a swimmer swims all four of the competitive strokes of equal distances on consecutive lengths of the race. The order must be: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle.

Relay Events have four swimmers from the team in the same age bracket swim together back-to-back. There are two types of relay events. 

Freestyle Relay: Four swimmers from a team each swim one leg of the freestyle stroke.  

Medley Relay: Four swimmers from a team swim one leg of one of the strokes. First swimmer in the relay swims Backstroke, the second swims Breaststroke, the third swims Butterfly and the fourth swims Freestyle. Hint: Medley relays strokes are in alphabetical order. 

Coaches do their best to put all swimmers on at least one relay team.

Because pools have a limited number of lanes (six or eight, typically), all the kids in an event cannot swim at the same time, so they are divided up into heats. Swimmers are arranged by seed times. A seed time is the best guess at what time a swimmer can swim a particular event.  Once times are established for particular events, these will be used to rank heats.  Heats are arranged slowest to fastest. Similarly, swimmers with faster seed times of their heat end up in the middle lanes (and the slower seed times swim in the outer lanes).

The specific area in which a swimmer is assigned to swim. Goodman Pool has 8 lanes and are numbered as such i.e. Lane 1 or Lane 2.

Psych Sheet
A psych sheet does not have heat or lane assignments; rather, it lists seed times and ranks how swimmers are seeded compared to other swimmers in a particular event. The psych sheet preceeds the heat sheet.

A swimming event in which four swimmers participate as a team. Each swimmer completes an equal distance of the race. See under Event Types for more information.

A swimmer can win in any heat; their final time determines the outcome for the event. (Exception is the consolation finals and championship finals in All City.)

Every swimmer who comes in first in any heat receives a heat winner ribbon.


Heat Winner Ribbons: Swimmers who come in first in the heat generally receive a heat winner ribbon. Their final time determines outcome for the event.

Event or Place Ribbons: Ribbons are given to first through sixth place finishers in each event including relays. All swimmers and relay teams in every heat are timed for their event. These ribbons are often handed out at practice the following week.

Participation Ribbons: Pools generally give a participation ribbon and can be found by concessions or where heat sheets are being sold.

Seed Times 
When a competing swimmer registers for an event at a swim meet, a seed time is entered for that swimmer. The seed time is the fastest time the swimmer obtained in the past for that particular event. This time determines which heat and lane and who swimmer competes against. If a swimmer doesn't have a seed time, NT (no time) will replace the seed time. 

The Goodman Pool is 25 meters long as are many of the other All-City League pools. A few pools are 25 yards long. Seminole's pool is 26.5 meters. Seed times are listed in either meters (M) or yards (Y). Since a yards pool is shorter than a meters pool, times in a yards pool will be faster because the distance raced is shorter. To compensate for this, a conversion factor is used to compare times. The computer automatically does this for every meet. The computer takes all your swimmer's times, converts them, and picks the best time to enter your swimmer in the meet with.

Swim Strokes
Backstroke: The primary rule is that the swimmer must be on his back. The swimmer is allowed to roll onto the chest before turning.

Breaststroke: This is the most formalized of the strokes. On starts and turns, the swimmer may pull in any fashion that keeps the arms underwater at all times and is a simultaneous movement of both arms. The kick must sweep out then end with a ‘frog kick” motion in a simultaneous movement of both legs. The swimmer is not allowed to flutter or dolphin kick (any up and down motions with the feet). When touching the walls for turns and finishes, both hands must touch at the same time.

Butterfly: The butterfly is similar to the breaststroke in that all movements must be simultaneous. The swimmer must bring his arms over the top of the water when recovering from the last pull. The kick must be a simultaneous, up and down movement of both legs and both hands must touch the wall at the same time.

Freestyle: In most cases, there are 2 rules to follow

1. You must touch the wall with some part of your body when making a turn. When executing a flip turn, the feet must touch the wall in the push-off.
2. You may do anything you like to get yourself from one end of the pool to the other; Nothing is barred, except pulling along lane lines, grabbing another swimmer or pushing off the bottom of the pool.




For volunteer descriptions, please check out our Volunteering page.