Swim Meet Survival Guide


 We encourage you to attend as many meets as possible, meets are a great place for your swimmer to gain experience in competitive swimming as well as boosting the club spirit! Swim Meets are a great way to assess all the seasons’ hard work and training as well as to set new personal bests. 

Registering for Meets

Meet registration is via Active. Swimmers can discuss with the coach what they will be swimming; however, the coach may register swimmers in events which are not their preference to gain experience and form well-rounded swimmers.  Swimmers may register for one or both days of a meet.  If you aren’t certain whether you are able to attend a meet register by the deadline and then cancel if needed. It is far easier for coaches and officials to remove swimmers from races than it is to add them (even if it is at the last minute). To cancel a swimmers entry into a meet, contact your coach or a fellow attending parent who can inform race officials.   

Keep in mind that in order to participate in the Regional Championship at the end of a season, a swimmer has to have attended at least one regular meet and have an official entry time in the event/s that they wish to swim.

 Where to go?

A map and description of pool location is always included in the meet package and on the BCSSA website.


There is no entry fee at our regional Meets if you sign up prior to the deadline!  If you sign up after the deadline, you are charged approximately $7-10 per entry (this is the only time there is a Meet entry fee within our region).

What Should I Bring?

Meets are held rain or shine, so come prepared! Plan for the weather; some items we recommend:

  • Lawn chairs (even for the indoor pools)
  • Clothing – extra swimsuits, swim cap, goggles, lots of warm clothing, blankets or old sleeping bags to keep swimmers warm and cozy
  • Extra towels – LOTS of them, especially on rainy days at outdoor pools
  • Items to entertain swimmer between events – books, games, toys, etc. (limit active play time… reserving energy for events)
  • Tent – AHA does bring two team tents but more is always welcome
  • Healthy Energy Building Food and Drinks– Most Meets have a breakfast and/or lunch concession generally offering typical “fast food”. A lot of us like to pack a cooler full of good, healthy food for the day.  More nutritious ideas are on page 8 of this handbook.
  • Water!!!!
  • Waterproof bandages
  • Hats, sunscreen

 What should I do when I get to the Meet?

Most AHA families like to sit together, in an area close to the pool.  The first families to arrive usually set up a “day camp” quickly becoming a gathering place!  Once you’ve dropped off your gear, your swimmer should find their coaches to let them know they’ve arrived and prepare for warm-ups. The coaches can usually be found on the pool deck if warm-ups have already started, or waiting in the “coach’s area”.  Adults – confirm your timing shift on the volunteer sign-up board (minimum one event). Remember, our club is responsible for timing one lane for the duration of the Meet!


Available at each meet, usually around $5, this is a fundraiser that clubs do at their own meets. Programs contain the final list of swimmers and their scheduled events, if you don’t see your swimmer’s name on the list, talk with the coaches right away! (Occasionally an error is made; a late registration can be arranged if notice is give immediately!)

Timetable (approximate times)

6:30 am           Arrive, set-up, purchase a program, swimmers find coach at pool for warm-ups

8:00 am           Meet starts, events are numbered and proceed in numerical order.

4:00 pm           relays (usually the last event of the day)


Warm-ups usually last 15-20 minutes.  On the cooler days after warm-ups, swimmers may want to change into a dry bathing suit with warm clothing over top to stay warm, now they can relax until their first event!  Warm-ups may seem needless, particularly when you have two hours until your first event, however, they are valuable in getting familiar with the pool and starting blocks. Talk to the coach if you have concerns about warm up times. 


The coaches determine relay teams the morning of the meet as relay entries need to be submitted early in the day.  Relay teams depend on attendance and availability of swimmers and are typically held at the end of each day.  If you are asked to participate in a relay in the morning, but have to unexpectedly leave early, let your coach know right away so that another swimmer can be selected for the team.  If a swimmer doesn’t go to warm ups the morning of the Meet, they will not be swimming on a relay team that day.


Prior to marshalling, swimmers are expected to meet with their coach for a pre-race pep talk!  Swimmers will then head to marshalling (the area where swimmers line up prior to their event). Don’t forget to pack along your towel, goggles and cap.  While waiting in the marshalling area, the clerk of the course will be calling out swimmers names.  When you hear your name, you line up for your event.  If you’re a young or new swimmer, your coach or one of our senior swimmers will be there to walk through this.  Sometimes, there’s a lot of waiting…and sometimes not.  It’s can be loud and busy area, but once you’ve figured it out, it’s no problem!

Once you’ve finally reached the starting blocks, the swimmer will be asked one more time for their name.  This is to ensure that the swimmer is in the correct lane for accurate results.

After the Race

After you’re finished the race, go straight to your coach for a post-race talk.  Your coach will review with you what went well, and what you may need to work on, or if there was a DQ (read below).  After talking with coach, head back to your camp and rest until your next event.

Disqualification (DQ)

DQ’s happen to all levels of swimmers, from Division 1 to the Olympics.  A swimmer is usually disqualified for not turning properly, not touching the end of lane, or for doing a stroke incorrectly.  It is policy to disqualify stroke infractions at all levels, Divisions 1-8 (except for 6 & under events).  During a relay, if one member makes a mistake during the race, the whole team is disqualified.

DQ’s are designed as levellers so that no competitor has an advantage over any other competitor.  A DQ is a great tool for letting swimmers know which strokes need more work. 

Other ways to get disqualified are; using obscene or abusive language in the pool area (including the dressing rooms), interfering with an official during the performance of their duties, causing wilful damage can result in disqualification from all remaining events in the meet. This conduct is not endorsed by this club and will be dealt with by the coach.


Protests shall be made in writing, by the coach (not the parent) to the Meet Manager or Referee before the race is held.  Any protest arising from the competition itself shall be made to the Referee, in writing, by the coach, within 30 minutes after the alleged irregularity took place (or within 30 minutes after the DQ).

The Results

The results sheet will be posted after the event, near the pool and will indicate your time and placement.  We encourage swimmers to focus on their own personal best times, and not overall placement.


Awards vary from meet to meet; at most meets, ribbons are awarded to swimmers who finish in the top twelve places.  Awards are given to swimmers in each division who have the most overall points at the Meet. 

 Regional Championship

In order to compete in Regional’s, swimmers must have competed in at least one meet, and have an official entry time for the current swim season.  The three top swim times from each event will advance to provincials. All of the Fraser Valley Swim Clubs attend Regionals.

Provincial Championship (highest level of competition for summer swimmers)

The Provincial Championship is the final province-wide competition for the summer season.  The top swimmers from all the swim regions in BC (determined in local Regional Championships) compete at Provincials. If your swimmer is attending Provincials, they will continue to practice for two additional weeks following Regionals.

Things to Eat before and during a Swim Meet

Anyone who has attended a typical Swim Meet will attest to how long the day can be.  It is crucial to eat a hearty nutritious meal the night before, and a proper breakfast in order to boost energy levels and maintain them at a level for optimal performance.  Here are some recommendations on how to keep the body ready for peak competition:

Breakfast Ideas

  • Toast/bagel with jam, peanut butter or almond butter; yogurt, fruit, water
  • Oatmeal/cereal (low sugar, high fibre), milk, hard boiled egg, fruit, water
  • Pancakes or French toast with a little syrup, ham, fruit, water
  • Toast, scrambled egg, milk, fruit, water
  • Breakfast burrito – scrambled eggs, cheese, tortilla

Limit processed sugar & bad fats; pastries, donuts, cinnamon buns, sugary cereals, bacon, sausages

Drink LOTS of water throughout the day.

After Race Ideas (within 30 minutes is optimal)

  • Banana, yogurt
  • Chocolate milk is a great alternative for those who have difficulty eating right after competing
  • Fruit, low fat cookies – like arrowroot, fig bars, oatmeal
  • Smoothie made with fruit and yogurt
  • Sport bar/cereal bar
  • Cereal/milk
  • Fluids – water, sport drink, diluted fruit juice (half juice, half water)

Other Pool Snacks

  • Trail mix
  • 100% fruit/vegetable juices
  • Sandwiches (examples nut butter, egg, tuna)
  • Pretzels
  • Veggie sticks (carrots, peppers, etc)

Try to avoid foods with high fat foods and processed sugars such as:  pop, slushy drinks, candy bars, chips, hot dogs/hamburgers, bacon, cheesy sauces, sausage meats, spicy foods, breaded chicken & fish, ice cream.

Why?  High fat foods are digested very slowly and may cause discomfort during exercise.  High sugar foods can cause a “sugar crash” which will affect your performance in the pool.