Common questions families have when starting swim team.


What gear does my swimmer need?

A swimsuite, goggles and a swim cap are needed for a successful practice. A competive swim suite is recommended, especially for meets. Swim caps are recommended for swimmers with long hair. They help keep hair out of the swimmers face making it easier to see as well as breathe. Those with short hair are not required to wear a swim cap in practice.  All other gear is provided by the YMCA. 

Do swimmers have to participate in every meet?

  • No, but again swim team is a team sport and we encourage all swimmers to swim in at least one meet.
  • GCY offers lots of different kinds of meets, from large ones to small ones, swim your own age, YMCA meets, USA meets, etc…we hope each swimmer can find one meet they will enjoy.

How involved do I have to be to have a swimmer on the team?

  • All families are expected to have one adult in the family volunteer at all home meets or pay the volunteer buy out fee.
  • All families are expected to bring an item for the concession stand for the home meet or pay the buy out fee.

As a “new” family what goals should we set for our swimmer(s)?

Strive for personal bests.  Be a team player. Have fun!

Does the team ride together to out-of-town meets?

Families are responsible for getting their swimmer(s) to the meets.

Who decides what events my child will swim at a meet?

Beginning the 2019-2020 swim season, the swimmers and their parents will choose the individual events on Team Unify.  The coaches have the unwritten permission to change any individual events they see necessary.  The coaches will arrange relays.

How do I know when to sign up for meets?

Information for the meets is listed on the team unify website. This will tell you deadlines. Emails will also be sent out as reminders for meet sign ups.

How do I sign up for a meet on Team Unify?

On Team Unify you’ll be able to see how many individual events a swimmer is allowed to swim at that meet, when the meet and warm ups are scheduled to begin, the pool address, the order of events and any other information related to that meet.  Read the information thoroughly.

  • Go to the sign up link and click on it.
  • Find your swimmer(s) and click on the events you want them to swim for that meet.

How do I know what I owe for meet fees and how do I pay for them?

  • An e-mail will be sent out by the aquatic director at the beginning of the month for the previous month meet fees. You will be able to check your fees. She will state when the payment will come out of the account
  • All families are expected to check over the fees and let Nicole Wenger know if there are any issues.

What does 8 & Under, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-18/Senior mean?

  • All swimmers 8 and under will compete against each other at that meet.  This means a 5 or 6 year old will be competing against an 8 year old.  We do try to get into some meets where they have 6 & under and 8 & under age groups.  Most meets 8 & unders swim 25 yds/meters except for the individual medley (IM), which is a 100 yds/meters.
  • 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-18/senior compete against each other within their age group.  Starting at age 9, events are at least 50 yds/meters with a variety of longer races available depending on the meet.

How old is my swimmer?

GCY follows two sets of rules: USA Swimming and YMCA Swimming depending on what meet we are attending will determine what age your swimmer is.

  • USA Swimming rules, a swimmer is considered to be whatever age the child actually is on the first day of the meet.
  • YMCA Swimming rules, consider a swimmer to be whatever age he/she is on December 1 to be their age for the full season.  So, say there’s a swimmer who is 10 at the beginning of the season, but turns 11 in December, January, or February.  That swimmer will swim as a 10 year old at YMCA meets.

How do relays work?

Freestyle relays are made up of 4 swimmers each swimming freestyle.  Medley relays are made up of 4 swimmers and each does a different stroke beginning with backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.  For 8 & under relays each swimmer swims 25 yds/meters.  Beginning at 9 years old each swimmer swims at least 50 yds/meters, it could be more depending on the distance of the relay.

  • It is assumed that swimmers at a meet will be available to swim relays.  Swim team is a team sport and relays are a big part of the team.  The coaches will include your child on a relay if possible.  If your swimmer(s) is not listed to swim in a relay, it is because there are not enough swimmers in that age group for that particular meet.  If you are not able to stay until the end of the meet to be on a relay, please let the coaches know.
  • Coaches chose who will be on the relay and the order they will swim.  This is not up for negotiation at a meet.  If there is any changes the coaches will make them not the swimmers.  We never want to hear or see swimmers treating other swimmers badly, because they do not want to be on a relay with them.  If this happens the offending swimmer will not be allowed to swim relays with their team mates.
  • For state relays, the swimmers will be chosen mainly by best times, but attendance could be taken into account.
  • At the meets, the 8 & under relay swimmers should find their team mates in their relay and their coach at least 3 events before they swim or right after warm-ups if the relay is at the beginning of the meet or session.

How do I find out if my child is on a relay?

A few days before a meet, there will be an e-mail letting everyone know that the entries have been finalized.  Sign in on Team Unify and you will see a link to the meet entry report listed below the meet name on the home page.

  • Click on that report and it will list all of the events your swimmer(s) are swimming and whether they are on a relay.
  • In addition, below the meet entry report you’ll see a link to a relay page.  That page will tell you exactly what stroke your child is swimming.  For the medley relay, 1st back, 2nd breast, 3rd fly, and 4th freestyle.  For the freestyle relay it will tell you whether they are the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th swimmer.

What are “Open” events?

Open events are open to any age swimmer.  Most often you will see open events in place of the 15-18 or senior events, so usually the swimmers in the open events are the oldest competitors.  However, if a meet has open events, anyone in any age group can sign up to swim in them.  That’s why you will see them as options when you register your swimmer(s) on Team Unify.

Parent tip:  if you have two young swimmers in different age groups, there will be meets when one of your swimmers has events during the morning session and the other swimmer has events in the afternoon.  If you can’t be at the meet all day, look to see if there any open events during one of the sessions and sign your swimmer up for those events, so that both swimmers compete during the same session.  However, only do this if your swimmer is confident, because they will be swimming against much older swimmers.  Another reason to consider open events is if you have a young swimmer that loves longer races.

How are meets run?

  • Meets are run in event order and each event has a certain number of heats based on the number of swimmers in each event.  Most pools have 6 or 8 lanes, so if there are 12 swimmers in a 6 lane pool there would be 2 heats in that event.
  • Swimmers are grouped with other swimmers who have similar personal best times.  The slowest group will be the first heat and the fastest group will be the last heat.  Grouping children of similar abilities gives every child a chance to be a “heat winner”.  Remember, if your swimmer gets a heat winner prize it does not necessarily mean they won that event.  They have to have the fastest time of all the heats in that particular event.
  • Race results will be posted in the hall outside the pool area.  Points are given to the top finishers.  If you see a DQ next to your swimmers name, it means they were disqualified for some reason.  Since your swimmer should talk to their coach after an event, they most likely know what they did.

Is it OK to attend just one day of a meet?

Absolutely, many meets run Friday evening, all day Saturday and Sunday.  Again, all meet information is on Team Unify.


What should we bring to the meet?

  • Swim suit, cap and pair of goggles.  A spare cap and goggles are always a good idea to have.
  • It is useful to have 3 towels.
  • The rest area is usually quite cool so an extra set of sweats and sweatshirt are helpful.
  • Clothes to wear home.
  • Books, games, blanket and snacks for the rest area is nice to have.
  • A sharpie marker to mark the swimmer(s) arm, hand, or thigh with their event information.  A highlighter to highlight your swimmer(s) and team members events in the heat sheet.

Where do we go when we get to a meet?

  • Swimmers usually need to cut through the locker room to get to the pool.  Swimmers need to find their coach when they enter the pool deck so the coach knows they have arrived.  There is usually an admission and heat sheet fee.  Family members should sit in the spectator section.
  • Swimmers are supposed to be by their coaches 10 minutes before warm-ups begin.
  • When seating is limited swimmers are supposed to leave the seats for spectators.  Swimmers should go to the swimmer rest area between events.  The gym or cafeteria is usually near the pool and is set up as the rest area.  Many parents of younger swimmers tend to hang out in the room, because they are responsible for getting their swimmer(s) to the clerk of course.



What is a heat sheet and how do we read one?

  • Heat sheets are available for purchase at every meet when you pay for admissions.  It lists every swimmer who is competing in each event along with which heat and lane they will swim in.

An event listing will look something like this:

#11 Girls 8 & under 25 yd. freestyle

Lane   Name                              Age    Team            Seed Time

1        Ben Jones                        6        YDC             NT

2        Matt Homes                     8        GCY              20:38

3        Gavin Asks                        8        DFAC           18:39

4        Alex Anderson                  7        DFAC           17:89

5        George Game                    7        GCY              18:03

6        Tim Thompson                  8        GBY              21:06

  • This is the first of two heats for event #11.
  • The seed times are the fastest times that they boys swam that particular event up to the time the coaches submitted the information for the meet.  The fastest swimmers in each heat are usually in lanes 3, 4, or 5 depending on how many lanes there are.
  • Writing on hands, arms or thighs:  It is helpful especially for young swimmers, if parents (not coaches) write their Event, Heat, Lane on them with a sharpie.  It should look something like this:

E                 H                 L

1                  1                  3-MR/Fly

11                3                 2 FR

21                1                  4 BA

41                2                 5 BR


This swimmer is in:

Event 1 (Medley relay and is swimming fly), in Heat 1, Lane 3

Event 11 (Freestyle), Heat 3, Lane 2

Event 21 (Backstroke), Heat 1, Lane 4

Event 41 (Breaststroke), Heat 2 Lane 5

What is Clerk of Course or what is sometimes called “Bull Pen”?

  • Clerk of Course is where 8 & under swimmers go prior to their events to get lined up.  Volunteers from the host team get the kids in the correct heat and lane order, and then escort them to their starting block.  Please make sure your swimmer(s) get to the Clerk of Course at least 10 minutes before their events.
  • The pool announcer will tell you when swimmers should report to the Clerk of Course.  If you can’t hear the announcer, pay attention to what event is in the water and get your swimmer to Clerk of Course with at least 3 events to go before your swimmer’s event.
  • It is the parent’s responsibility to get their swimmer(s) to the Clerk of Course for their individual events not the coaches.  The coaches will help with relays.
  • At the meets, the 8 & under relay swimmers should find their team mates in their relay and their ocach at least 3 events before they swim or right after warm-ups if the relay is at the beginning of the meet or session.

What if we sign up for a meet, but on the day of the meet something happens (like a sick swimmer) and we can’t make it?

  • This happens and it is understandable.  Please make sure you try to get ahold of your swimmer’s coach or at least a parent of a swimmer who is going to the same session, so they can let the coach know.
  • Unfortunately, you will still be charged your entry fees and possibly relay costs.  You will not be charged for relays if the coaches can find a replacement.

Can we leave a meet when our swimmer(s) is done or should we stay for the entire meet?

It’s great to stay and cheer on team mates, but most families leave once their swimmer(s) are done, unless, of course the adults are doing a volunteer shift in which case they must stay until the end of the meet.