Ridin' the Wave

Swim Meet Survival Guide
Compiled by Rose Ann Lynch (former Tsunami parent) and other Tsunami parents

Welcome to Tsunami Swimming. Your child is about to embark on an exciting year, and you will be right there with them. Your first meet will be confusing, but remember, you are not alone! We've all been there and we are all happy to help. Most meets are divided into 2 sessions, dependent upon your swimmer's age (12 and unders, and 13 and over), and occasionally, preliminary sessions (prelims) and final sessions (the top 10 - 16 swimmers in each event in the prelims return in the evening to compete).  You will experience a day of wall-to-wall children, parents, heat and humidity, and some great competition...enjoy it! This is great family time and there are a lot of fun people attached to the Virginia Swimming programs.


Directions to the meet facility are usually included in meet announcements. If they are not, ask a coach or one of the other parents. Another good source is the hosting team's web site. Some hosting teams will also suggest local hotels. Decide if you need a room for the evening and make your reservations accordingly. Remember, you may be in for some early mornings or late nights.

What should swimmers wear?
At the beginning of the season, swimmers may not all have team suits yet. The key to identifying your child in the water will be the team cap. Male or female, young or old, encourage your child to wear their Tsunami cap.  Wearing their team shirt, also helps pick them out in a crowd.  You may want to purchase a swim parka.  Always label their belongings with a permanant marker.  Unfortunately, things might disappear!

What should parents wear?
Dress comfortably with rubber soled shoes. Think layers. It tends to be rather warm in the pool area and you will be there for a while. It may be cool in other areas.  Wear your TSU shirt so that you can find the other team parents in the stand. 

Heat Sheets/Meet Mobile
Paper heat sheets are a thing of the past.  Coaches will have paper copies of the heat sheet, and sometimes they are available on the host team's website.  The TSU staff also tries to share that information prior to the meet if it is available so that you may print out your own copy.  What is a heat sheet?  The heat sheet tells you what happens during the meet - the order of events, your child's event #, heat #, and lane #.   The best advice we can offer is to download the Meet Mobile App on  your phone.  This app is used at almost all meets.  The host team uploads events to the app (most of the time a day prior to the start of the meet, but definitely on the day of the meet), and VA Swimming Officials who are working the meet (dry deck side) ensure that it is updating results of the swims throughout the meet.

No Times (NT)
New swimmers may be listed on the heat sheet with "no time" for an event. This means having no official time. After swimming an event, your swimmer will have an official time in that event for their next meet.

Warm Ups
There are usually two warm up times for each session.  The host team will designate the warm up time for each team and this will be shared by TSU staff.  Attending warm ups is important to acclimate your child to the pool and to prepare their bodies to swim competition. They also give your swimmer a chance to practice starts and turns in an unfamiliar pool (while each one is the same in length and has a standard distance of flags, starting blocks may be different, and the gutters may be different). Don't skip warm ups.

Before and After Each Event
Your child needs last minute coaching just prior to swimming an event. They also need to face constructive feedback immediately following each event. Send the children to their coach prior to and after each event. He/she will give them a quick rundown of their events, explaining what they have done or are about to do. This is key to your child's improvement.

Parents at the pool - Where do I go?
Most pools have a "spectator" area in the pool, and a second "team" area for swimmers to hang out while they're waiting for their events (usually on deck or in the stands). If you are not familiar with the pool, ask the coaches or "veteran" parents about the setup.  Most of the venues (Jeff Rouse Center, Collegiate School Aquatic Center/CSAC) have bleachers for the parents and reserved sections for swimmers.  Use the electronic scoreboards at the pool to keep track of what event is currently being swam and when your child needs to head to the blocks or clerk of course (mainly for younger swimmers). You might need to remind your swimmer when their event is coming up. Feel free to cheer from the stands - your child will forever be grateful for your support. There is NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY in the pool area, as this interferes with the starts.  Be aware that the coach is in charge on deck. Parents are NOT to be on the deck, behind the blocks or at the officials' table, unless they are working the swim meet.  Avoid the roped off areas.

Volunteers Needed
At meets, each team will be required to provide a specific number of timers to help with the meet. About a week before the meet, the volunteer coordinator will create a sign up for timers. IF YOUR CHILD IS SWIMMING IN THE MEET, YOU MUST TIME.  Tsunami parents usually split shifts so that a 1 parent does not time the entire 3 hour session. There is always a timer's meeting approximately 20 minutes before the start of each session. (Listen for the announcement.) All timers (first one scheduled and relief timers also) should attend the timer's meeting. The head timer will go over everything you need to know. Timing is easy and will help out the team and your child. You also get a great view of the events, and you won't get bored!! Please help out and do your part!

There is a need for parent volunteers to who are willing to learn how to work as meet officials: Stroke & Turn Officials, Dry Deck Officials, and Starters. Speak to the officials chair about these opportunities.

What to bring
There are definitely some necessities that go with the sport of swimming. You will need:
Team cap (also an extra one in case the primary one breaks)
Goggles (and a back up set of goggles in case primary one breaks)
Towel (some kids bring 2 towels)

You may also consider packing:

Older blanket Food/snacks
Sweats Jackets
Water/sports drink Extra Towels
Pool Shoes Spare suits, caps, and goggles
Warm-up suits Books, games, etc
$ for concessions* Medication (asthma inhalers)
Homework  $ for extras (shirts, apparel, swim items)

*Most facilities have a concession stand. Food choices vary from meet to meet. You may want to pack basics in a cooler, especially water and Gatorade.  Please note that some facilities prohibit bringing coolers/outside food into the area.

Most, but not all, meets have a t-shirt vendor on site.  Shirts can be purchased at the meet (and they often have your swimmer's name on the back).  Often there is a swim store present.  You can purchase suits, caps, goggles, and other things from that vendor.

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