View Full Version : Meet Protocol

October 4th, 2008, 11:27 PM
I tried to search for this, but I haven't really been able to find much info. Is there a good guide somewhere online that describes what to do, what goes on, etc. at a swim meet? I've never been to one before, and watching them on TV doesn't really give that much insight into how it all happens.

October 5th, 2008, 12:33 AM
Why don't you just go watch a meet? It could be an age-group meet, a high school meet, or a college meet. The high school teams around here compete once or twice a week during their seasons, and it seems like there's some sort of age-group meet every weekend.

October 5th, 2008, 08:30 AM
Why don't you ask team mates?

October 5th, 2008, 11:18 AM
I can't watch a meet before my meet, because it is in less than a week. And, my coaches just tell me that you read the thing and show up to the blocks when it's your time to swim. But, I wasn't sure if they have you line up in the heats like they do with age-group swimming (not sure if they do that in all of them, but they do it in some meets at least) or if you just have to be at the blocks for your race.

Really, I guess I'm just wondering if you have to do anything but show up at your lane for your race (aside from checking in). I could just watch what the other people do since my event isn't the first, but I like to know what I'm doing ahead of time. I didn't realize it wasn't okay to ask questions on this forum.

Allen Stark
October 5th, 2008, 12:08 PM
You just need to check in when you get there and then show up when your heat is called.Most people stand behind the blocks 2-3 heats before theirs,but as long as you are on the block before the horn goes off it's OK.Almost certainly everyone there will be friendly and eager to help if you have questions.A USMS meet is not like an age group or HS meet.Except for some people(like me) who get really intense before they swim,most people there are hanging around talking and enjoying themselves.Be prepared to bring a book or be social or do something to pass the time as most USMS meets last longer than you think they will(As the joke goes"if I was told I had only one day to live, I'd go to a swimmeet,they last forever.")

October 5th, 2008, 12:33 PM
Thanks for a real answer. I don't like surprises, especially with competitive things, so I just wanted to know what I could expect.

October 5th, 2008, 05:10 PM
I tried to search for this, but I haven't really been able to find much info. Is there a good guide somewhere online that describes what to do, what goes on, etc. at a swim meet? I've never been to one before, and watching them on TV doesn't really give that much insight into how it all happens.

One thing you may want to do if you're unsure is to introduce yourself to the referee, starter, or meet director, explain that you're very new, and they can give you an explanation of how things will operate.

It's a good idea to observe a few heats at your meet to also get an idea for how the meet will operate (for example, what the starting protocol is, whether there are dive over starts, how fast the starter will move things along between heats, and so forth).

Depending on the distance, you want to be at the blocks in your lane at least 2 or 3 heats before your event (maybe 4 or more if you want to be safe or if the event in question is a 50). Don't plan to show up the heat right before your race; the referee has discretion to combine heats when necessary, and this may happen at the beginning of an event.

When you get to your lane before your heat, it's advisable to check with the timers to make sure they have you down for the right heat and lane. If for some reason you are in the wrong place, the officials, starter, and referee have heat sheets that may have been updated, and you can check with them to figure out where you should be. If there is no time before your swim, and no one else seems to be swimming in your lane, have the timer take down your name, age, and team on the lane sheet, and then tell the referee that you swam in the wrong lane so they can adjust it in the computer.

If you are swimming a 25, you should certainly check with your timer when you finish to make sure you are the right swimmer!

If you've never been to a meet before, you may be unfamiliar with the protocol of how the heat will begin. Almost everyone uses the whistle protocol these days:

In butterfly/breaststroke/freestyle
*A series of four or more short whistles are sounded to inform you to disrobe your warm-up clothing and to get ready for the heat.
*The starter may announce which heat is swimming next.
*A long whistle will be sounded. This means to step up onto the block, the side of the pool (if you are starting there), or to enter the water if you start from the pool (which one you do is your choice).
*The starter will then tell you to take your mark. At this point, you must assume your "set" position with at least one foot at the front of the starting block. (If you used to swim a long time ago, you can now have your feet at the front of the block prior to the "take your mark").
*If everything is good, you'll then hear the starting tone and perhaps see a strobelight, both of which mean that you can start.

In backstroke
*The four or more short whistles are the same.
*A long whistle will be sounded. This means to enter the pool.
*A second long whistle will then be sounded. This means to come to the wall, and assume a position.
*Then the starter will tell you take your mark. Your hands can either grab the lip of the pool or gutter, or you can use the backstroke grip on the starting block. Your feet can be above or below the surface of the water, but your toes cannot curl over the edge of the gutter before or after the start.

If for some reason you miss your event, go to the referee or starter and explain that you missed your swim, and ask them if you can be fit in an empty lane. The referee does not have to find a place for you to swim, but depending on the meet, the referee may be inclined to do so (it can't hurt to try!).

I'm sorry that this is a slightly discombobulated set of advice, but hopefully this is a little helpful. I (and everyone else here) certainly wish you the best of luck with your meet. It's a lot of fun!

Patrick King

October 6th, 2008, 09:49 AM
Thanks a lot for the detailed response. I'm probably going to be in the first heat of each event (50/100 BR). I'm just hoping I don't get excited and dive (or fall) into the pool before the beep.