FAQ - Everything You Wanted to Know About Swim Meets, but were afraid to ask!

As a new parent to swimming, many of us are in the dark about meets before we get to the first one.  Hopefully this will answer some or all of your questions – if you still need information, please speak to your coach or an executive member.

What is a swim meet?  A meet is a swimming competition.  It is hosted by a swim club, usually at their home pool. 

What determines what meet my child goes to?  Developmental meets are meets usually attended by younger swimmers, who have not yet achieved a competitive time standard, although these meets are open to everyone. At this entry level, it is more important that your child be taught stroke efficiency and not be taught to swim fast without regard to stroke technique.  Invitational meets are open to competitive swimmers, sometimes they have time standards which must be met.  Regional and provincial meets always have time standards (often C times or above) which must be met. Your coach determines what meets your child will go to and what races they will swim, always basing their decisions on the child’s best swimming interests.

How do we enter?  Your coach will send home forms with a deadline for entry fees.  Fees can be paid by cash or cheque (payable to LLSC).  There are no exceptions to entry deadlines – if the form is not in on time, your swimmer will not be able to attend the meet.

How is their time/heat determined? The first time swimmer is not ranked in their first event or meet.  They will be listed in the meet program (heat sheets) as NT, which means No Time.  They will be competing against swimmers who also have not competed before in that event and also do not have a time. Once they have finished the race with no disqualification, they will be ranked in subsequent events with swimmers with similar times.

Where do we go for meets?  We are part of Huronia region, which includes  Trent, MUSAC (Bracebridge), Barrie, Orillia, Collingwood, Base Borden, Port Elgin and Owen Sound. We attend meets in the eastern portion of Huronia, usually in Peterborough and Barrie.  There are times that we will also attend meets in a close geographical area which is not Huronia, including Pickering and Courtice.

How much does it cost?  For developmental meets, there is usually a flat entry fee of $25 per meet, and the swimmer will swim in 2-4 races, including relays.  For competitive meets, fees are charged per race, (~$8 per entry) and swimmers will compete in up to 4 races per day, determined by their coach.  There are some ‘hidden’ costs – often host clubs sell suits, t-shirts, apparel and other keepsakes to help fundraise, as well as having a canteen, 50-50 draws and raffles.  Often, parents will make a food stop on the way home – if your swimmer is getting a ride with someone else, it’s always a good idea to send a few dollars for the way home.

What happens if we sign up and we don’t go?  Sometimes swimmers are ill on the day of a meet - we ask that you call your coach or another team member so that the meet organizers are aware that your child will not be attending.  Unfortunately, as we pay fees for swimmers well ahead of time, fees are not refundable for missed meets.

What do we take?  For all meets, team wear is mandatory!  Cap, suit and t-shirt are required, we want to be noticed on the deck and in the pool, then no one will have to ask “Who is that fantastic swimmer?” For a one day meet, take your team t-shirt, team suit, cap and goggles; 2 water bottles, healthy snacks and/or a lunch (food is available to buy at meets, but it’s best to stick with familiar foods on racing day!), 2 towels, clothing to wear on deck (team T-shirt and hoodies).  For overnight meets, everything is the same, but swimmers will also need a change of clothing, overnight supplies, and of course, homework!

What happens when we get there?  When you arrive at the pool, swimmers will proceed to the change room and meet their coach and team on deck.  Heat sheets (meet programs) are available for purchasing in the lobby or canteen area – they are usually $2-10. This is the program that lists all the races, the swimmers name, club and seed time.  Parents proceed to the viewing area, or to the officials room if they are volunteering to time.  Swimmers are expected to remain on deck to be ready for their events or to cheer on their teammates.  Swimmers cannot leave the deck without the knowledge and consent of the coach.  Sometimes when there are long periods of time when your child is waiting for a race, coaches will allow swimmers to sit with parents in the viewing area as long as they know where they are. 

How long does it take?  Developmental meets are usually kept to under 4 hours - this is determined by the Swim Ontario Long Term Athlete Development Strategy.  All races at devo meets are timed finals, that is, there are no preliminary races to determine the ‘winner’.  Invitational meets, and other types of meets have a morning session, an afternoon session, and depending on the type of meet, evening sessions with finals (only 13 years and over).

Do we have to attend meets?  Swimmers are strongly encouraged to take part in every meet that is offered to them.  This is an important facet of becoming a good competitive swimmer -  practicing your racing skills and technique in a meet situation. 

How do we know who wins?  Meets are not a place where you win or lose – swimmers are always swimming against the clock and themselves, and are always aiming for their best time, or their best technical race.  If you swim your best, you win!


If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask your child’s coach, an ‘experienced’ parent or an executive member.

Have a great season!
LLSC Executive



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