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Swim Meet 101



- Home team always warms up first; 4:45 warm-up start time. Away team starts warm-up at 5:15. Meet starts at 6:00pm. Times may vary so watch for updates; the Oakwood (away) meet starts earlier. (During virtual meets, watch for an announcement. Warmups will most likely be later.)

- Gather for Team cheer at 5:45: the kids echo the junior coaches…

- Meets are divided into 80 events, but they move quickly once we get started. Odd-numbered events are girls. Even numbered events are boys. Age brackets for each event are: 6 & under (freestyle/backstroke only), 8 & under, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, and 15-18. (Some events may be combined, but this happens most often with the older groups.)

- Our meets begin with 6 & under freestyle, then long freestyle races (50 or 100) for the other age groups. These events are followed by: Medley Relays, Butterfly, Backstroke, Individual Medley (IM), Breaststroke, shorter Freestyle (25 or 50), and Freestyle Relays. A 25-meter event is one pool length.

- A short break usually occurs after Event 40 for officials to trade shifts.


Swimtopia only allows  swimmers to be declared by using the website. There is not an option to declare or sign up for jobs via the app.

- Please declare your swimmer as attending or not attending; this will help the coaches. You can always change your mind about attending as long as the deadline has not passed. 

Deadline to declare swimmers:

Tuesday meets---Friday 11:59pm

Thursday meets--Monday 11:59pm

The earlier that you can declare your swimmer, the better. Even, go ahead and declare all your meets at one time. (you can go back and edit if anything changes. it is easier to remove a swimmer than to add late)

- If your swimmer has an unforeseen change in plans a day or two before the meet and cannot attend the meet, please let the coaches know so that they can place another swimmer in the vacant events.


- Bring towels (maybe even two for each swimmer), portable chairs (not really needed for GVRC location) or picnic blanket for your family and swimmers, and some food if you choose.

- Limited concessions may be available at meets. You will want to bring chairs to the championship meet especially since there won’t be enough lounge chairs for all the attendees.

- If the weather is rainy, bring umbrellas or ponchos. The evening weather may be cool, especially early in the season, and jackets or sweaters are a good idea particularly for the swimmers. Team shirts/sweatshirts are always fun to wear at the meets.


  • When you commit to a meet on Swimtopia, you have the option of entering in your child’s event preferences in the “Notes” field. You may also request events for your swimmer. However, the requests are NOT guaranteed. Coaches will make final decisions based on team needs. Sometimes your swimmer may need to swim an event that is challenging.
  • The day of the meet, or possibly the day before, you should be able to go into your child’s commitment on the Swimtopia site and see your swimmer’s assigned events. If their events are not showing in Swimtopia before you leave for the meet, PLEASE BE PATIENT. Sometimes technology or team issues come up that create unavoidable delays.
  • Assigned events can vary based on how many team members are competing. Some swimmers may have individual events as well as relay events. They will not be assigned MORE than 5 events.
  • MAKE A NOTE of your child’s event numbers. These are helpful to know once the heat sheets are posted at the swim meet.


  • Heat sheet is the meet schedule. It will be posted at the meets. It lists all 80 events in order, and includes the heats, swimmers’ names, and lanes. (Some events have more than one heat if there are more than 6 or 7 swimmers assigned to an event. There may be 2 to 3 heats scheduled to complete an event. There will not be heat sheets available for sale except at Championships.
  • Find your swimmer’s event number on the sheet. Make a note of their HEAT NUMBER and LANE NUMBER. If the heat/lane numbers are not clearly labeled, look for numbers after your swimmer’s name like 1/4 or 2/3. These mean Heat 1, Lane 4 or Heat 2, Lane 3
  • Many swimmers write their event/heat/lane numbers (in that order) on their arm with a Sharpie. It may be helpful to snap a picture of the heat sheets with your phone so that you can refer back to it.


  • Announcers will call when it is time to get ready for your event. They will give a first call, a second call, and a final call for each event. There are also event numbers next to the starter’s podium that show the event currently being raced, but they are not always updated. LISTEN FOR THE ANNOUNCER’S CALL!
  • Most meets will have a designated area, which is called the “bullpen”, for swimmers to assemble prior to their event. A volunteer called Clerk of Course works in the bullpen to ensure that swimmers are properly lined up for the events.
  • As soon as you hear “FIRST CALL” for your event, PLEASE PROCEED TO THE BULLPEN to ensure that you do not miss your race!
  • If there is no bullpen/clerk of course, parents should see to it that younger swimmers are escorted to their lane when they hear “FIRST CALL” for the event. PLEASE LISTEN FOR YOUR CALLS!
  • Sometimes events get combined if there are not enough swimmers to run a full heat. Announcers or starters will let you know if two event numbers are being combined. Please listen for these announcements, even if you are not in the combined event.

***Please note: If your child swims the INDIVIDUAL Medley event (IM), the stroke order is DIFFERENT than in the relay.

Stroke order for the IM is:

butterfly, backstroke, breast stroke, freestyle


  • Relay teams have 4 members. They will be listed on the heat sheet like this:

1) Swimmer A 2) Swimmer B

3)Swimmer C 4) Swimmer D

  • In the freestyle relay each swimmer swims freestyle.
  • In the medley relay each child swims a different stroke, so it is important to know the order of swimmers.
  • The stroke order of the medley relay is:

1)Back stroke, 2) Breast stroke, 3) Butterfly, 4)Freestyle

  • Each child swims one length of the pool in the relay. This means that swimmers 1 & 3 in the relay need to start the race on the side of the pool with the blocks. Swimmers 2 & 4 will need to start in the same lane but on the OPPOSITE SIDE of the pool. After the race starts, the consecutive swimmer on the opposite side of the pool may get into the water but must wait for their relay teammate while touching the wall behind them. To avoid being disqualified, they should not start swimming until their teammate touches the wall.
  • SWIMMERS AGE 11 & OLDER: swim 2 lengths of the pool, so they all start at the blocks. They may not leave the blocks until their teammate touches the wall.
  • Breast and butterfly strokes require a two-hand touch at the wall; back and free requires one-hand touch. 11 and older: Flip turns are not allowed on the breast and fly.
  • Since relays must have four swimmers, a younger swimmer may be assigned to swim in an older relay if that group is short a swimmer.


  • PLEASE NOTE: The medley relays for young swimmers come VERY EARLY in the meet. To be prepared on time for these events, you need to start locating your team members almost as soon as the meet starts! It is helpful for parents to bring their young swimmers to the bullpen when they hear “first call”. If you are on a relay team, try to find as many of your team members as possible on your way to the bullpen.
  • PARENTS OF 10 AND UNDER: Unless you are working an assigned job, you may be needed to assist the Clerk of Course by escorting your swimmer to the opposite side of the pool at the appropriate time if they are assigned to swim 2nd or 4th in a relay. Please remember to check in with the Clerk before heading to the opposite end of the pool.
  • RELAYS OFTEN GET COMBINED. Sometimes combining the girls’ and boys’ events into one race makes the meet move faster. PLEASE LISTEN FOR ANNOUNCEMENTS ABOUT COMBINED RELAYS.


  • Any help cleaning up trash and getting the equipment put away is welcomed!
  • Any ribbons your swimmer earned are usually available for pickup in the pavilion a day or two after the meet. Any ribbons unclaimed after practice will be put in a file box at the pool. Be sure to pick them up.
  • You can view all your swimmer’s statistics (times, placing positions, etc) in TeamUnify under My Account/My Meet Results.

If you are new to the GVRC team or to swim meets in general, we encourage you to be patient and find a “mentor”. There are many families who have benefited from other families who “knew the ropes”. It takes time to get acclimated to swim team procedure, but once you are familiar with it you’ll find that the meets are great fun!


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