Swim Meet:  Swim competition between at least 2 teams.

Event:  A swim meet is made up of “events” which can be specific to an age group, boys/girls and specific swim stroke.

Heat:  An event has more than one heat.  The fastest group of swimmers, based on recorded times, are always in the last heat.  The heats work backwards based on times with the slower times competing in the first heats.

Short Course:  The length of each “lap” is 25 meters.  A 50 meter swim would be “there-and-back”.

Long Course:  The length of each “lap” is 50 meters.  A 50 meter swim would be a single length of the pool.

Strokes:  The 4 competitive strokes are Butterfly (fly), Backstroke, Breaststroke and Freestyle (Free).

IM (Individual Medley):  An individual swimmer swims at least 1 lap of each of the 4 competitive strokes.

Seed Time:  Swimmers best recorded time for an event.

Time Standards:  Benchmark times for swimmers to gain a general idea of how they stack up against other swimmers in their age group.

“A” Times:  These are provincial time standards.  A swimmer needs to have a seed time of at least the “A” time to compete at the provincial championships.

“AA” Times:  These are ManSask time standards and are generally slightly faster than “A” times.  A swimmer needs to have a seed time of at least the “AA” time to compete at the ManSask championships.


Swim meets are a great family experience where the whole family can enjoy time together.

Listed below are some guidelines geared to help you through your first swim meets. It may seem a little overwhelming, but if you have any questions, please ask your coach or fellow swim parents.

Depending on the details of the meet, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Food is fuel for your Skimmer so make sure they have snacks, a water bottle and anything else they need to last them through the day.
  • Temperatures on deck can vary, so make sure swimmers have an extra towel, sweater, and warm-up/track suit to keep them comfortable.
  • Sandals or flip-flops are a good idea.
  • A swim bag big enough to hold everything they bring, including their street clothes and shoes, will help your swimmer stay organized.


The day(s) can be quite long, so please make sure your swimmer packs the following:

  • Lunch & snacks
  • Something to read
  • Deck of cards or other games/activities
  • Track suit to wear between events
  • Extra Towel
  • Flip Flops

It can also be a long day for you and any other family joining you to watch. Ideas for things to bring:

  • Food & snacks
  • Cash for a meet program (these are key to knowing when your swimmer’s event is) – usually $5-$20
  • Activities for other children or unruly dads
  • iPad/laptop (there is WiFi access at most pools)
  • Lawn chair or blanket to sit on
  • Shorts and flip flops – it can get very hot in the facility – even in winter
  • Pen or highlighter to find your child’s events in the meet program


  1. Arrive at the pool at least 15 minutes before the scheduled warm-up time begins. This time will be communicated to your swimmer prior to the meet.
  2. Upon arrival, find a place to put your swimmer’s gear.  The team usually sits together, so look for some familiar faces.
  3. Find the check-in place. Usually, parents are not allowed on deck so this may be a responsibility of your swimmer or your swimmer’s coach. Make sure your swimmer checks in with the coach! Check for special posted instructions in the check-in area.
    • You can find your swimmer’s heat and lane assignments by purchasing a program.
  4. Swimmers should take note of each event number and start time they are competing in.  It is their responsibility to ensure they are ready and on deck before their event.
  5. Your swimmer should have their cap and goggles and report to the pool and/or coach for warm-up instructions. It is very important for all swimmers to warm-up with the team. A swimmer’s body is just like a car on a cold day – they need to get the engine going and warmed-up before they can go all out.
  6. After warm-up, your swimmer will go back to the area where the team is sitting and wait there until their first event is called. This is a good time to make sure they go to the bathroom if necessary, get a drink, or just get settled in.
  7. The meet will usually start about 10-15 minutes after warm-ups are over.


  1. It is important for any swimmer to know what event numbers they are swimming (they should have the numbers on their hand/leg). Swimmers may swim right away after warm-up or they may have to wait awhile.
  2. Most meets are computerized. There are generally two ways a swimmer gets to their lane:
    • A swimmer usually reports directly to their lane for competition a couple of heats before they actually swim. Check with your swimmer’s coach for specific instructions.
    • In some novice meets, a swimmer’s event number will be called, usually over the loudspeaker, and swimmers will be asked to report to the “clerk of course” or “bullpen”. Swimmers should report with their cap and goggles.
  3. The swimmer swims their race.
  4. After each swim:
    • Swimmers are to ask the timers (people behind the blocks at each lane) for their time.
    • The swimmer should then go immediately to their coach. The coach will discuss the swim with each swimmer. Some coaches may wish to talk with the swimmer before their recovery swim.
  5. Generally, the coach follows these guidelines when discussing swims:
    • Positive comments or praise
    • Suggestions for improvement
    • Positive comments
  6. Things you, as a parent, can do after each swim:
    • Tell your swimmer how great they did! The coaching staff will be sure to discuss stroke technique with each swimmer. It’s important to tell your swimmer how proud you are and what a great job they did.
    • Take your swimmer back to the team area and relax.
    • This is another good time to check out the bathrooms, get a drink or something light to eat.
  7. Swimmers now wait until their next event is called and starts the procedure again. When a swimmer has completed all of their events, they may go home. Make sure, however, you, as a parent, check with the coach before leaving to make sure your swimmer is not included on a relay team. It’s very disappointing to other swimmers who may have stayed to swim on a relay team, where your swimmer is expect­ed, and they are not there.
  8. Results are usually posted somewhere in the facility. Awards are often gathered for a team and given to the coach at the end of the meet. The coach will give the awards to the swimmers at a later time.


The technical rules of swimming are designed to provide fair and equitable conditions of competition and to promote uniformity in the sport. Each swimming stroke has specific rules designed to ensure that no swimmer gets an unfair competitive advantage over another swimmer.


Competition pools may be short course (25 yards or 25 meters), or long course (50 meters). The international standard (as used in the Olympics) is 50 meters. World records are accomplished in 25 and 50 meter pools.


Participants compete in different age groups and meets depending on their achievement level and how old they are on the first day of the meet. Traditionally recognized age groups are 10 and under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18. Many local meets feature 8 and under, single age groups, or senior events. Team practice groups are usually determined by age and/or ability.


Officials are present at all competitions to enforce the technical rules of swimming so the competition is fair and equitable. Officials attend clinics, pass a written test and work meets before being certified. All parents are encouraged to get involved with some form of officiating.