Click here for the swimmers’ version.
So here it is, the first swim meet. Yes, they can be stressful with all the gear, snacks, wet towels, and confused swimmers and parents. However, the goal is to have fun. The actual time spent swimming is small in comparison with your child hanging out with friends, reading books, eating snacks, meeting new friends in the bullpen, and cheering on teammates. The goal is fun, for swimmers and parents, but this may be unchartered territory, and there are lots of unknowns to discover.
Ask Questions or Answer Them
If you are new to swimming, don’t hesitate to ask other parents “What’s a heat sheet?” or “Why do they have all those whistles?” If this is not your first time at a meet, offer help or answer questions of new parents. We’ve all been new once and remember the concerns. Fortunately, swimming is an extremely inclusive community. We all have something to share, and we can always learn something new.
Calibrate Expectations Appropriately
A DQ is not the end of the world. A heat winner is no reason to make plans for Tokyo in 2020. Temper your expectations. For the first meet, the focus is on enjoying the meet (parent and child), and finishing with a positive experience. Your swimmer will look to you for a response after their swim, and celebration of the experience is a great way to go.
Listen to the Coach
Warm-up times, locations, events, and what your swimmer should wear will be provided to you by your swimmer’s coach. Please read those communications as there is pertinent information included and you are responsible for your swimmer. Remember, your swimmer may be on a relay team. Yes, even if it is their first meet! Four swimmers are needed for a relay. If the fourth is pulling out of the parking lot when it’s their time to swim, it can be frustrating and not so fun for the other three. As parents are not allowed on deck during meets, your swimmer will be responsible for checking with the coach to get the ok when to head home.
Go to Bed Early and Eat Well
This means YOU parents, not just your swimmers. There’s a good chance you will be up early, driving to the meet, and seated in bleachers or collapsible chairs for several hours. Being well-rested will help maintain your spirit, health and sanity. It’s easier to be a supportive, patient, happy parent if you’ve gotten sleep. Eat well and keep hydrated for those hours in the stands. Yes, nachos will somehow magically show up at 8:30 a.m., but remember, good nutrition goes a long way.
Swim Meets Are Great Experiences
This may be the first time your child participates in an athletic competition. Aim for the positive and appreciate their attempt to try something new. It’s a celebration of your swimmer’s hard work, and all the times you drove to practice, enjoy it!