View Full Version : Choosing an Event

Swimmer Wannabe
March 8th, 2002, 11:08 AM
Thanks to everyone who replied to my post requesting info on participating in my first meet. Now, I have one more question: how do I choose which events to enter? I am currently a VERY SLOW swimmer. My 50 free times are on par with my teammates' 100 frees. My 200 free takes nearly four minutes, though competitive times in my age group are in the realm of 2:30 - 2:50. You get the picture. My dead grandmother can swim faster than me!

Despite my severe lack of speed, I have been strongly encouraged to participate in an upcoming meet. How do I choose an event since I am bad at everything? (Don't tell me to chose an event that I'd enjoy; I have no idea what that might be.)

Any suggestions?

March 8th, 2002, 11:59 AM
The answer to this question depends on whether the meet is one day or two, and whether a lot of people are there.

If the meet is two days, you can only pick what is on that day, not from every possible event.

If a lot of people are at the meet, that means more rest between events, so you could do more events. You will get tired!

I'd say swim as many events (up to 5 permitted daily) as you think you can handle. Many swimmers much faster than me do not do 5 every day, so don't feel any compulsion to do so. I would suggest that the more you do, the more times you'll have for comparison when you are faster later, and the more experience you'll get. Also, less time sitting around watching and more time racing! I think 3 a day would be pretty good for a smaller meet.

Don't worry about your times, you'll be with people about your speed, and most people will think you're gutsy for coming to your first meet, however fast you go.

What you might pick depends on what strokes you can legally do. If you can't do fly, you can't swim it!

These are my suggestions, in order. If you can't swim a stroke, just ignore that event and IM in the list.

50 free
50 back
50 breast
100 free
100 IM
50 fly
200 free
100 back
100 breast
200 IM
500 free
100 fly

Doing a 50 of every stroke is fun because you can compare your speed in each.

I personally have rarely done freestyle events at meets, so try to find a list that feels right to you.

Swim fast,


March 8th, 2002, 04:05 PM
What you swim also depends on what you want to accomplish. If all you want to do is get some times and swim something you're pretty sure you can swim, then just stick with the 50 and 100 freestyles. The problem with that is that everyone and his brother swims those events, so if you're looking to score points for your team, you might be better off with breaststroke or backstroke (providing, as Greg says, that you can swim those strokes legally). At my first Masters meet, lo those many years ago, I swam the four 50's. There were only two of us from my team at the meet so we had no concern about scoring points. That worked well for me because those weren't such exhausting events, and I then had some baseline times for future comparison. The most valuable result, though, was that I got over being scared. No one paid any attention to me, and certainly didn't make fun of me, and I realized I really could do this.

Sometimes those slow swimmers are willing to swim the events that other people don't want to swim, and wind up scoring points. My teammate Joyce McGuire (yes, the one with the guide dog who was just written about in SWIM) takes 47 minutes to swim the 1500 free, but because of her age she's bound to place in any event she finishes. So she scores! My times are much faster, but because I'm in the baby-boomer 45-49 age group, I'm not likely to score at Nationals. Just remember, there's no way you can possibly hurt your team, and you'll very likely help them. Lots of times they need a fourth person to fill out a relay. No matter how fast the other three people are, they can't do it without that fourth swimmer!

Go out there and swim something you know you can finish, have fun, and then bask in the praise of your teammates. You will have accomplished something that most Americans haven't!

Meg Smath

Swimmer Wannabe
March 8th, 2002, 05:37 PM
Thanks for responding. Several people have said "swim what you can legally." Since I have never raced, I don't know what I can swim legally. What are common reasons for disqualification besides false starts?

March 8th, 2002, 06:33 PM
I searched around the internet and found you an example of a DQ slip that gives the most common disqualifications. You may have to have someone interpret them however. The site with a DQ slip, although a USAS one, the majority of it applies to USMS. Http://www.floridaswimming.org/officials%20Info.htm There are three examples as well as a host of other things.

March 8th, 2002, 06:44 PM
I have no idea why that link is not working. Try http://www.floridaswimming.org/ then near the bottom of the page is Officials Info. On that page go to officials forms.

jean sterling
March 8th, 2002, 06:54 PM
Originally posted by Swimmer Wannabe
Thanks for responding. Several people have said "swim what you can legally." Since I have never raced, I don't know what I can swim legally. What are common reasons for disqualification besides false starts?

A brief summary of some of the illegalities:

You must touch the wall with two hands simultaneously for breaststroke and butterfly turns.

In breaststroke the elbows cannot come out of the water - the recovery is, for the most part, under the water. In butterfly the hands come out of the water - the recovery is said to be above the water.

The kick in both these strokes must be simultaneous and symetrical.

For your first meet I would concentrate on the two-hand touch if you choose to swim breast or fly.

You can swim anyway you want in freestyle, and you can touch the wall anyway you want, but you MUST touch the wall - if you do open turns, you will most likely touch with your hand, while with flip turns you will touch with your feet.

March 8th, 2002, 07:38 PM
Backstroke is similar to freestyle, in that you can swim any way you want, as long as you stay on your back. BUT, you can be DQ'd for illegal turns. Most often this would be 1) not coming out of the turn on your back or 2) if you do a flip turn, stroking or kicking into the turn after rolling over on your stomach (you must immediately turn after rolling over). You can also legally do an open turn, in which you stay on your back thoughout.

March 9th, 2002, 09:57 AM
A common symmetrical kick error in breastroke is kicking a sidestroke kick. Most people can do backstroke (just stay on your back) Fly can be difficult (recover with hands out of water); breastroke often is easy for beginning swimmers. If you think you can do the stroke, you're probably OK. If you're illegal, a friendly official will explain it to you! Just touch with 2 hands on breastroke and fly, and touch on your back in backstroke.

Swim fast,

March 9th, 2002, 05:56 PM
Originally posted by jean sterling

In butterfly the hands come out of the water - the recovery is said to be above the water.

This particular rules says Both arms must be brought forward over the water and pulled back simultaneously.

Officials have their "gray area" of what will be called an infraction and what is legal. Personally, I have never seen a case of just the swimmers hands coming out of the water (rest of the arm below the water) being legal or not called.

Many officials like to see, at the very minimum, the elbows out of the water - no wave of water going over the elbows.) It would be best of the arms from the shoulders to the tip of the fingers were out of the water, then there would be no drag from from the water.

Swimmers new to competition tend to make the following mistakes:

Breaststroke: A cycle stroke - first the arm pull, then the leg kick; Except for the first arm pull, dont pull past your shoulders (if you pull pass your hips, it is an infraction); Your feet must turn out in the breaststroke kick. no flutter kicking.

Butterfly: Arms out of water; dont flutter kick

Backstroke: Unless you have really practiced the backstroke turn where you turn toward the breast before turning, touch the wall on your back then kick off on your back.

You might want to read the Technical Rules of Swimming (Article 101.1 through 101.6). the rules are on the web and are only four pages long.

If you get a "ticket" be sure that you understand the infraction. First ask your coach if he/she is there. They may have seen the infraction also. If the coach is not there, ask the Stroke and Turn Judge to tell you what you did wrong. If you dont get a satisfactory answer, ask the deck referee, he is the official next to the starter with the whistle around his neck.

best of luck at your meet


Mark in MD
March 14th, 2002, 12:38 AM
While everyone's comments on thing to watch to prevent being DQ'd is great, I think Greg's advice is one of the best for newcomers to competing, such as me. My coach has given me similar information as Greg's for entering events, especially 50-yard ones. Another thing you might want to do is to check with your coach and spend some time "fine tuning" your chosen events.

There was one thing one of my teammates got DQ'd for: using the wrong turn for a particular stroke! Being tired may well have contributed to that one!

Don't get upset about your speed. As I see it, it will only get better and it takes time, to be sure. The very fact that you have made a decision to compete means you are doing something many swimmers won't do ... compete.

Remember the waiter in Alka-Seltzer [retro] commercial? He said, "Try it, you'll like it!" You will.

All the best to you!

March 14th, 2002, 10:25 PM
I have a question for the group.........

Besides doing the "New" style backstroke turn or open turn- can you still legally do the "old" style backstroke? (You know--touching with a hand while still on your back and flipping you legs up over your shoulder--while still on your back) I went to the FINA site, but no real guidance for "old" style turns.. Help??

(I know I probably dating myself)

March 14th, 2002, 11:48 PM
When your feet leave the wall, you have completed the turn and you must be on your back.

So if you touch the wall on your back, then when you kick off the wall (and are on your back) - starting the new length - you are legal.


Sandy Fenton
March 15th, 2002, 07:29 AM
I swam my first swim meet in 40 years last year and I let my coach pick my events. (He still owes me beer for participating). If you don't have a coach and you are extraordinarily indecisive let your lanemates, spouse, children, neighbor, mailman, whoever choose for you. Although I would advise staying away from the 200 fly unless YOU really felt you were capable of it. So what if you are DQ'D. It's a learning experience. Several swimmers have indicated if you try it you'll like it. Ain't neccessarily so. For me, competing in a meet seems kind of pointless. But one of these days I'll do that 200 fly. Have fun, enjoy the experience, stay warm, and good luck.

Mark in MD
March 15th, 2002, 12:31 PM
O.K. Sandy ... I will correct myself. I probably should have said, "Try it. You might like it." But for those who never competed before, isn't the challenge and experience even more worth it? This is just a question here ... your last sentence really does sum up what everyone has said here, though.