11 Things I Never Knew About Swim Meets

by SwimSwam 27

November 02nd, 2016 Club, Lifestyle, News

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

After being a swim mom for 15 years, I thought I knew everything there was to know about swim meets. Then, I decided to take the big plunge and dive in. After swimming US Masters with my kids’ club team for eight months, I swam in my first meet.

I’m not a former swimmer. In fact, I had very little swim experience—one summer in 10 and unders. My favorite stroke was sidestroke—which was a whole lot easier than fly.

This past year, I went from not being able to breathe in freestyle, to working on all four strokes. I learned how to dive off the blocks and flip turn during the past two weeks. I fought nerves all week, but the day finally arrived.

Here are 11 things I didn’t know about swim meets until I dove in:


Swimmers are super friendly.

I had great conversations with complete strangers, from ages 18 to 74. We were in the pool together, varying shapes, sizes and ages. We were in it together.


Team spirit and camaraderie.

The 20 of us Piranha swimmers cheered and encouraged each other. Our age group parents and kids timed and worked the meet, cheering for us, too. I felt more team spirit as a swimmer than as a parent.


It’s stressful to swim in a meet.

I was wracked with nerves, but honestly, it was easier than watching my kids swim a difficult event.


Diving is fun.

Who knew that I’d find it exhilarating—that feeling of soaring off the blocks. The first time I practiced a dive, I wobbled and worried about if the official said, “stand.”


It’s easy to lose your shoes.

With going in and out of the warm up/down lanes, going to the blocks, my flip flops were just as lost as my kids’ flip flops used to be. I finally found them—behind the timers in my lane.


Pack more than one towel.

My one towel that I take to practice was not enough for a meet. It was soaked by the time I finished. Come on! As a swim mom, I knew that!


Leaky goggles are a pain.

I need to figure out how to get my goggles not to leak. I lost my contacts each dive.


You never know who you’ll see.

Keep your eyes out on the pool deck at a US Masters meet. You may recognize swimming legends or coaches, like Jim Montrella who was cheering for his wife Bev.


Every swim parent should do it.

Parents will benefit from learning how to swim, joining masters and swimming in a meet. Swim parents will gain a new appreciation for what we expect our children to do.



No one prepared me with how sore I would be the next day—especially my shoulders and back. My daughter scolded me, “Mom, did you warm down enough?”


Self Confidence.

There’s something to be said for getting out of your comfort zone. I’m proud after taking the plunge and doing something completely new—something I would never have imagined a year ago.

What do you think swim parents gain from going off the blocks? Should it be a requirement for
all swim parents to compete in a meet?

Elizabeth WickhamElizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.

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5 years ago

Kids these days wouldn’t know about it. But all the games of spades and spoons, and all the other games we would come up with back before tablets and cell phones!

Reply to  swimfish87
5 years ago

I remember when they came out with the waterproof uno cards and they were the best thing ever at meets

5 years ago

Love this article as I’m new to my local Masters club and might compete somewhere in 2016. Have yet to dive off blocks and do a flip turn but it’s fun to chat about the sets I’m doing with my swimmer girl 12 yr old who swims at state Championship level. My Masters coach is one of the assistant coaches for my daughter’s team so it’s especially fun.

I now know why so many swimmers don’t like Fly, as I’m gasping after a 25. And as a USAS official, I think about whether I’m disqualifying myself 🙂

Good luck!!

Cynthia mae Curran
Reply to  Christine
4 years ago

Yeah, fly is hard even if you swam it like a kid like me. I can do 100 yard fly and even 200 yard fly in lap swimming but the 200 yard fly is not fun. I recommend most masters or lap swimmers do different strokes rather than mainly freestyle. It helps me.

5 years ago

Keep up the good work, Elizabeth. The first Masters meet is the toughest–both mentally and physically. (I’ve been at it for four years and still get wobbly on the blocks.)

Elizabeth Stengel
Reply to  Chooch
5 years ago

As Masters swimmer you don’t HAVE to go off the block, unless it works for you. I’m in 65-69 group and have an inner ear condition that affects my balance. My coach watched me on the block just once. “Never mind that , it’s not safe or comfortable for you. Go off right next to the block. It’s allowed & if it’s right for you, go from the side. . I came in #1 my first Masters meet 2015. Also 8th, and whatever – I was the only 1 in my age group swimming my event (the guy in lane next to me was about 22).

5 years ago

Congratulations Elizabeth!!! Maybe one day, someday I can be a swimmer myself too.
This article made me laugh, especially about the flip flops and towels. Thank you…another great article.

Tall Paul
5 years ago

I like the comment about did you warm down. Well did you or did you just tell the coach you did?

Reply to  Tall Paul
5 years ago

Ha! I’m guessing this is coach asking 🙂

Tall Paul
5 years ago

Well, did you warm down or did you just tell your coach you did?

5 years ago

I get dizzy doing flip turns now – grr!

Reply to  Liz
5 years ago

You will get over the dizziness. Just build up to them. I was the same way when I started. Now it feels awkward if I don’t do a flip turn.

5 years ago

You can fix your leaky goggles by placing on of the straps high on the crown at the back of your head and the other low on the back of your head. I teach swim classes and private coaching to swimmers. It works wonders.