SwimTopia’s New Parent Meet Series: Part I

Parent coach relay

Wow! You’ve signed up your kiddo (or, maybe, multiple kiddos) for summer swim team! This is an exciting decision and we know, as a result, your young athlete(s) will create skills and memories to last a lifetime. Swim team is a quintessential summer activity and your family has joined a legacy of zany team cheers, colorful place ribbons, poolside excitement, and powerful life lessons. 

We also know, though, that swim team can seem daunting at first. There’s a lot of lingo to memorize, apparel to purchase, and a general lifestyle to adopt in order to feel prepared. That’s why we designed this SwimTopia New Swim Parent blog series! We hope to give you the downlow on all things summer swim related. Sit back and relax- we’ve got you covered! In this blog we will cover: what is expected on meet day, what to bring, and how to conceptualize volunteering.

What to Expect

Summer swim meets are fast-paced and, at times, chaotic. With this in mind, it is crucial to understand your team’s expectations. Do swimmers have to arrive 30 minutes before warm-up? Must swimmers have their arms marked with events? Are they required to participate in at least one relay? Do swimmers stay in age-group tents with an age-group volunteer (rather than with their parents)? Make sure you know what your coaches expect ahead of time.

We recommend arriving early for warm-up; warm-up is an important part of the swim meet experience (loosening up before racing) but, more importantly, this is when coaches see which swimmers showed up for meet day. If kiddos are missing during warm-up, coaches can adjust heats and relays if necessary.

Meet days are long and typically hot. We especially suggest bringing lots of sunscreen, lots of snacks, and lots of extra towels. 

Speaking of…

What to Bring

A top question we hear new swim parents ask is: “What do I bring for meet day?” While every family is a little bit different, this is our shortlist:

  • Towels (yes- multiple!)
  • Snacks (watermelon, apples & PB, graham crackers, grapes, chewy bars- to name some goodies)
  • Extra goggles (these can break at the worst moments- like right before a race)
  • Extra cap (also tend to break at inopportune times)
  • Swim suit (seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised!)
  • Sweater/parka (depending on where you are in the U.S., it could still be chilly on meet mornings)
  • Games (cards, Uno, Go Fish, Switch) 
  • Sharpie (for arm markings)

How to Get Involved

Parent volunteers are critical to the success of swim team. Summer swim simply could not exist without the tireless effort of volunteers. Many teams expect parents to commit to a certain amount of hours/points every season but, even if your team does not require this, you should still get involved!

Volunteering is a great way to meet other parents, have something to do during long meets (kiddos only compete, after all, for a combined total of around 2-3 minutes across a day-long event), and gain entry into higher leadership roles down the road. Every team might have different volunteer positions, so we suggest checking your team’s website for role descriptions. However, typically, you can expect positions like: timer, ready bench, concessions, and stroke judge.*

*Stroke judges must be certified; ask your team’s leadership how to become certified if this is of interest
We hope you found this information helpful! Never hesitate to reach out to other team parents. Everyone was “new” at one point or another and veterans are typically excited to share wisdom. Coaches and assistant coaches are also a great resource. Stay tuned for SwimTopia’s next New Parent Meet Series blog!