Competitive Meets

Congratulations! You are now ready to attend your first swim meet!

How do I know where to go?

A few days before the meet, your coach will email your parents an event sheet which tells you which races you’re entered in, where the meet is being held, and what time warm-ups are.  Make sure you arrive in plenty of time as swimmers who are late risk being scratched from their events.

Meets usually begin around 8:00 a.m., with warm-ups starting as early as 6:30 a.m.

What should I take?
Meets are held rain or shine (and many are held at outdoor pools), so you should come prepared for all kinds of weather. Be sure to bring the following:

  • a warm sweatsuit, jacket, parka and rain wear
  • swimsuit, goggles and swim cap
  • several towels
  • sleeping bag or blanket
  • healthy foods and snacks
  • lots of water
  • sunscreen and hat
  • playing cards, books, games, etc.

Parents are also advised to bring hats and sunscreen. Lawn chairs are also a good idea as bleacher seating is limited at most pools.

What should I do when I get there?
As soon as you get to the meet, head for the Stingray team tent.  Once you’ve dropped your stuff off, find your coach and let them know you’ve arrived.  The coaches can usually be found on the pool deck, at special tables set up for them.  Your coach will tell you if there’s been any change in your warm-up time, and what lane you’ll be warming up in.

What are my volunteer responsibilities?

Upon arriving at the venue and once you are settled, head over the hub of activity where the Volunteer Timer sheets will be located. For each day your swimmer competes at a meet, a family representative is required to sign up for one shift. As a timer, most shifts last 1.5-2 hours. Deck officials are happy to answer any questions you might have about being a timer. Deck food and drinks will be brought around to you to keep you comfortable. Be sure to wear shorts and flip flops (or shoes & clothes you don’t mind getting wet).


10 minutes before it is time to get in the water to swim your coaches will meet you at the team tent to do team activation. Being a part of activation and warm-ups is very important. It lets swimmers get accustomed to a new pool where blocks, walls, and flags will all be different then at our home pool. We expect that if you have signed up to swim at the meet that you will attend warm-ups.  Warm-ups usually last about 15 – 20 minutes.   After your warm-up, you’re free until your first race.

Going to marshalling
On the event sheet your coach gave you, each race is assigned a number.  The meet organizers will call out this number when it’s time for you to go to marshalling.  Marshalling is the area where swimmers are organized into their heats in preparation for the race.  Listen carefully to the announcements.  When you hear the event before yours being called, go and see your coach for your pre-race strategy talk.  After your talk, go straight to marshalling. Marshalling can be run with cards or cardless. If it is a meet with cards, make sure you keep the card with you and do not lose it. When you go to your lane to race, hand the card to the timers. If it is a cardless meet, than make sure you know what Heat and Lane you are swimming in. You will still move through marshalling with or without a card until it is time to for you to be behind your lane. Take the time in Marshalling to really prepare yourself to race. Activate your body both in Marshalling and standing behind the blocks. We don’t want to see you standing still like a statue. Get up! Get Moving! Be ready to race!

After the race
After you’re finished swimming, go straight to your coach for your post-race debrief.  Your coach will talk to you about what went well in the race, and what you still need to work on.  After your talk, you’re free until your next event is called.

The results
After the event, your time (and the times of all other swimmers in the event) will be posted near the pool.  The results sheet usually indicates your time, what place you came in, whether your swim was a “best time,” an “A” time or a PQT time.

Awards vary from meet to meet.  At most meets, ribbons are awarded to swimmers who finish in the top eigth places.  If the meet is held in a six lane pool, no seventh and eighth place ribbons are also awarded.   Usually, there are place ribbons awarded to both “A” and “B” swimmers.  At some meets, aggregate and runner-up trophies, plaques or ribbons are awarded to the swimmers in each division who have the best overall results at the meet.   Special “great swim” ribbons and goodie bags are usually awarded to all swimmers competing in the 6 & under age category.

In addition to the awards given by the host club, the Stingrays recognize swimmers who have achieved a best time or made an “A” time in an event for the first time.

Swimmers will receive the awards once the coaches have gotten them from the host team. They will be put in your mailbox.