How a Swim Meet Works
We are trying to be more proactive as a club, and want to pass on information we have gleaned over the years so that swim meets go smoothly for you!
First off, Individual Meet Entries.
The Head Coach will have registered your child(ren) in age and ability appropriate events. Each swimmer can swim in UP TO 4 individual events, and 2 relays. Sometimes there are not enough swimmers for a relay team or they will only swim in 1 relay. Prior to the swim meet, the Individual Meet Entries and relay teams are posted on the Canmore Coho Website. If you have signed up your child(ren) for a meet, you can go to our website a few days prior to the meet and look for the meet entries. Having this information will GREATLY assist you when it comes to the heat sheets.
“Long” and “Short” events are age related. For 6 & under and 7 & 8 year old swimmers, a “long” event is 50 m and a short event is 25 m. For a 15-year-old swimmer, a “long” event is 100 M and a short event is 50 m. Events are broken down into girl’s events & boy’s events. Most of the swim meets we attend are “senior seeded”. What that means is all swimmers from all clubs who are swimming the same distance (regardless of age), are put into the same event. “Heats” are swum according to time. If your child(ren) has never swum the event before, there is a NT (no time) for their time. All of the NT swimmers go first and the rest of the swimmers swim in time ranking (fastest swimmers swim in the last heat). Sometimes the ages in each heat vary (this is nothing to worry about). Once the event is completed, the results are sorted and rankings given for each age category (6 & under, 7 & 8, 9 & 10, 11 & 12, etc). Just because your swimmer comes in first or last in their “heat” doesn’t mean they’ve placed accordingly overall. Our swimmers are always encouraged to swim a “personal best”, and where they rank is secondary. There are usually many heats to each event. Senior seeding a swim meet really helps to speed up the day as events and heats are run with full lanes.
What are heat sheets?
Each swim meet produces a set of “heat sheets”, which are in essence, the schedule of events for the day. At some swim meets, you purchase them at the meet (usually $4 – $5); at others, you can print them off beforehand. You will want to have a highlighter with you. I find it very handy to have two or more colours (one colour for each child, and then one more to highlight the rest of the Coho team, if you want to follow along for all our swimmers). When you have your heat sheets, you will want to spend probably 20 minutes going through the heat sheets. When you know which events your child(ren) is swimming in, it speeds up the process as you can find your child(ren)’s events much quicker.
There is also an app (for iPhones for sure, not sure about other ones) called “Meet Mobile”. It is available for purchase on the app store ($8.00 ish for the basic program for the year). It provides you with electronic data and results for your child. I personally like to use both the heat sheets as well as meet mobile.
Each event has a number associated with it (and this event number is consistent at each swim meet for each event). In the heat sheet example below, you can see:
Event 129 is Girls 50 SC Meter Short Back (SC stands for short course).
Heat 1 of 6 Finals Starts at 12:29 PM (this is an approximation of the time…depends on if the swim meet is running on time, but it gives you an idea).
Lane Name Age Team Seed Time
1 Song, Jenny 15 E: cal t NT _____
2 Oxner, Karla 11 E: Canm 1:03.44 _____
3 Waldo, Taylor 11 D: lac 57.94 _____
4 Romanow, Chloe 11 D: lac 1:03.18 _____
5 Pelechytik, Brianna 12 D: lac 1:08.27 _____
The number to the left of the swimmer’s name is the lane they are swimming in. Please note; heat sheets for parents are produced a few days in advance of the swim meet. Sometimes there are “scratches” (swimmers cancel). New lane assignments are created on the day of the events for officials only. You may find your child(ren) are not in the lane or heat reflected on your heat sheets. This can happen and is normal. The D: or E: refer to the region the swimmer is from (Canmore Coho is in Region E, but sometimes other teams from other regions are invited). Seed Time reflects the fastest time you’ve ever swum the event before (not necessarily the most recent time).
A typical swim meet day looks like this:
7:00 – First Warm-up period
7:15 – Coaches meeting
7:25 – Second Warm-up period
7:45 – Officials meeting
7:50 – Warm ups over
8:00 am – 6:00 pm: Regular Events and Relays
Warm up times are assigned to each club, and that information is passed onto the swimmers and parents as soon as we know (usually the day before the swim meet).
Marshalling is where the swimmers are organized into their events, heats, and lanes. It is not uncommon for marshalling to take anywhere from 35 – 45 minutes BEFORE the start of their event. Event numbers are called, and the swimmers are to proceed to the marshalling area. This can be a fairly chaotic time. Lots of kids, lots of parents, lots of names, lots of noise! It is critical for the swimmers to get to marshalling when their events are called; a well-marshaled swim meet proceeds much quicker (happy parents to be done earlier in the day ;). Once your swimmer’s event, heat, and lane assignments are organized by the marshallers, the swimmers are in the pool area, and you as a parent move into the spectator area (most times you can not follow your swimmer as there is no room on the pool deck, and it does honestly make it harder to keep the swimmers in order). The swimmers move from one set of seats to another and another and another, until it is time for their heat to swim.
Once your child(ren) has swum his/her event, the swimmers go to the coaches table on the pool deck for feedback and then go to the change room or to the “hangout” area to eat, drink, rest, and get ready for their next event!
At a swim meet, each club “claims” an area to set up. This is great because then we can help each other with our child(ren), hang out, visit, etc. For parents with older swimmers, we are often volunteering (yes, as our swimmers progress through the club, we are expected to volunteer at other swim meets and then conversely, other teams help at ours!). The older swimmers are very self sufficient; however, it is great to know that there are some people looking out for them if needed.
There are some swim meets where the swimmers are on the pool deck and parents do not have access to them (there really isn’t enough room). These swim meets take place at the Talisman in Calgary (usually the Triton’s swim meet and regionals), at the University of Calgary pool (sometimes the Swordfish swim meet), and at the Kinsman pool in Edmonton (for provincials). At these swim meets, each club has (usually 2) chaperones that are in charge of all of the swimmers. The chaperones ensure the safety of the swimmers, ensure they eat, drink, rest, behave, are given emotional support and encouragement as needed, and get to their events (again, the older swimmers are more self-sufficient in this area and don’t require as much assistance, but it is still important for ALL swimmers to have a chaperone). Parents are stationed up in the spectator area; swimmers have passes, and the swimmers are ALWAYS welcome to come up to see their parents (parents just can’t go down to the swimmer area). The chaperones usually have a phone and can contact the parents of a swimmer if necessary. At these swim meets, it is usually best for the swimmers to have their own cooler of food in the swimmer area, if it is allowed.
I hope this information helps and gives you insight into how a day progresses.
I am happy to mentor any new family at a swim meet and answer any questions you may have.