Welcome to the World of USA Swim Meets!
Below are answers to some of the most often asked questions regarding how to prepare for and what to expect while competing in a USA Swimming meet. Feel free to contact us if you still have unanswered questions.
Unlike summer swimming, the age of the swimmer and the age group in which they will be entered is determined by their actual age on the first day of the meet.
What to bring:
Don’t forget to bring your suit, cap, goggles, towels and possibly some snack food but if you do forget something, it can likely be purchased at the meet. There are food concessions at each meet as well as a vendor selling generic swimming merchandise and meet-specific t-shirts. Excel logo merchandise at team pricing including suits, sweats, t-shirts, personalized caps, backpacks and deck coats are available through the team store tab of this website. While there is usually some type of bleacher seating at each pool for spectators, there is sometimes also an area where you may set up folding camp-style seating. Just be considerate of those around you and don’t block other swimmers’ or spectators’ view of the pool or the path for swimmers needing to get to their coach or the blocks.
There will always be a warm-up period of approximately an hour before the start of the meet where all competitors can get used to the pool, starting blocks and turns. For safety reasons, you must enter the pool feet first unless specific lanes are dedicated to dive practice under a coach’s supervision. These lanes are for sprint practice as well and are one length only. Do not swim back toward the block end where swimmers are diving.
Prior to the meet start:
The pool will be cleared before the start of the meet. By this time you should have checked in with your coach (please do this as soon as you arrive at the pool) and reviewed the events in which you are entered. Heat sheets are typically for sale with events, heats and lanes clearly defined, as well as a time line so you know approximately when to expect to be swimming. It is advisable to talk with your coach before you swim to cover what is expected and then again after your race for feedback. Coaches are more than willing to talk with you and share their expertise unless they are actively watching, timing and critiquing another swimmer. At that time they will not be available to chat.
During the meet:
The pool area tends to be very crowded and space is at a premium. Parents are often restricted to spectator areas and discouraged from going behind the blocks. If you have a question about where you should locate yourself, ask the coach. It may appear chaotic but the meet should run within its required four hour time frame, generally two sessions per day divided by age groups designed to be as equal in length as possible. To keep the meet moving, sometimes heats are combined or dive overs (also called flyover starts) are used with the older age groups. Dive overs are defined as heats begun while the swimmers from the heat before are still in the water. They will exit after the next heat dives over them.
Excel expectations and time standards:
There are no have-to’s in our program (other than to be a good sport and have a great time). Sometimes the coach will add an event for various reasons to give you another chance to swim. Treat every swim as an opportunity to do your best and learn from the experience. It’s all good and if you do a personal best, so much the better. The time standards are usually listed in the heat sheet. Everyone starts at a Bronze level and the first time standard to achieve is Silver, followed by Gold, then PNS, then Regional or Sectional. The learning curve in all this is very short so do not be intimidated by all the new terms. Again, the coaches or veteran parents are there as resources. Use them.
After the meet:
Be sure to take home what you brought to the meet. Suits, goggles and towels are easily lost unless you take the time to make sure you have them. Shoes, clothes and other personal items can easily go missing as well. Also, please respect the host team/pool by leaving your space better than you found it. Do not leave a mess in the pool or locker room areas. There is no one assigned to follow you around cleaning and picking up your stuff. You are representing Excel and expected to do your best in all things including helping to keep the venue clean.
Times achieved will be entered in a national database and used as proof when entering meets with time standards required. Some meets require gold times and others are open to all swimmers; this will be noted in the meet information. Meet results can be viewed online on our website, the PNS website or on our Excel USA Swimming page
Good Luck at your first meet!
Excel Swim Club is a competitive swim club for ages 5-18, located in the Seattle area. Our staff of certified coaches will guide and encourage our swimmers in their quest for excellence. We understand the busy schedules of the school year and celebrate your participation at whatever level that may be.
Click on "registration" for information about joining.
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