Ah, it’s that time. The first swim meet. It’s easy to look back at the good old days, where expectations were low and we were just happy that the kids made it from one side of the pool to the other. Many new swim team parents enter the world of competitive swimming, with no point of reference of what to expect. What they’re expecting is often far different than their first swim team experience…
What swim team parents expect at first swim meet
You wake up early, eat breakfast with the family and then head to the pool. There are lots of nerves in the car, but everyone is happy, excited for the new experience.
While your child warms up to prepare to swim, you find a comfy spot in the spectator area. Thankfully, there’s lots of leg space, so you can spread out and get comfortable. While waiting for the warm up to end, you text your friends, sort out some work. How long would it take for your child to be ready?
About 30 minutes later, your child walks up behind the blocks and searches for you in the crowd, you can’t help but beam with pride.
The starter blows the whistle, and they shoot off like a rocket and swim a fast length of the pool, touching the wall first. Your child jumps out of the water gleefully, ready for their next race which they also win.
When both races are finished, your child quickly collects all their belongings and you leave quickly - you weren’t there for longer than an hour, and you get to go back home and catch-up on work, and texting your friends! It was a successful day!
What swim meets are really like
When you arrive at a swim meet, your child may be after a few more children and not be the first to swim, which can lead to a long time waiting. After scanning the heat sheet, you may realise there are five pages before your child will even reach the water. Be prepared for a long wait. Heat 2 is in the water and your child is in heat 4. They should be getting their goggles on soon, but they’re just standing there.
Finally, your child is lined up behind the blocks. Your child’s gaze is fixed on something off in the distance. Heat 2 has just finished racing and they are watching other kids swing around their goggles and laugh along with them.
The starter calls your child up to heat 4 and all the other swimmers to take their blocks. Your child is still laughing at his newfound friends and you shout to them, but they can’t hear. The beep goes off and your child looks at the scoreboard, then down at his arm, before they realise something is wrong. The coach then finds them to tell them they have missed their event.
Your child feels deflated. Another hour passes before their next race. This time, the coach has reminded them to pay attention to the blocks. This time, they are ready to race.
Make sure your child is prepared to race by the time they walk up to their block for their race to avoid missing their event. When they step up onto their block, make sure they are prepared and wearing their goggles before they dive into the water to avoid any delays.
Don’t forget extra swimwear and accessories- avoid those malfunctions
It’s Friday and you learn that your meeting is on Saturday morning. This is when you realise your children’s goggles broke in practice and you have no replacements. Now you rush around frantically, hoping to get to the pool even earlier in search of goggles. You head off to the meeting, arriving for warm ups and they have spare goggles you can borrow for now.
Your child jumps into the water and comes up almost immediately because the brand new goggles have fallen off or are filled with water. They adjust them back on and swim again, only to come up a few seconds later because their goggles have fallen off again.
Avoid the malfunctions. When you first go to a meet, you don’t realise that you need spare goggles, caps and swim suits just in case a terrible breakage happens minutes from the next race or your goggle strap snaps just before they're about to dive into the water.
Once you get home, and unpack your child’s bag, you smile to yourself and realise that the whole event is a memory for you both, and it wasn’t as bad as what you previously thought. You then unpack his bag. But one item is missing: their brand new goggles!
Remember food and drink!
While waiting for your child’s race, it starts to get hot beside the pool. Your child starts to feel tired and less energised as the hours go by waiting for their race. You start to wonder if the fizzy drink and chocolate bar they begged for in the morning was a good idea, as they start to look fatigued and tired at the poolside. Remember to keep up your child’s hydration and energy levels through the proper drink and food that you provide them with before.
Avoid quick high and low drinks like chocolate bars and sugary drinks. Flavoured water with an electrolyte tablet in is great to keep hydration up and mineral salt balance maintained. Though, you may have a sugary drink as a treat every now and again!
A great meal the night before the race is slow release carbohydrates, such as rice and pasta, and also on the event day, to make sure your child’s energy is constantly being topped up. Fruit like bananas are also great for this, and if your child prefers a sweet treat, malt loaf is a nice alternative to sweets, and is released slowly in the body, which will help them race to their best ability. It is important to feed your child the correct food, because they will use energy and hydration during the warm up sessions, and whilst playing around the pool side before they even get to their race!
Overall, swim meets are long, tiring, and often a nervous environment for you and your child. But when our kids are having fun, and making memories, it's worth every second of doubt.
You’d do it again, in a heartbeat!
At Proswimwear, we have all of the equipment, swimwear and training aids that you’d need. Make sure to browse our website to get the very best deals on your child’s prized swimming costumes. Make sure you don’t forget to get a spare pair of goggles!