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Swim Meet Basics

USA Swim meets can be intimidating to swimmers who are not used to the enviroment.   Once you have been to a couple of swim meets, you will find that they are extremely fun as well as a great way to test what you have learned in swim practice.  

Here are just some of the basics of a USA Swim meet:

Swim Meet Sessions

USA Swimming divides their swim meets into morning and afternoon sessions.  Usually, it is divided by age groups.  They may have the 9 to 12-year-olds swim in one session while the 8 & unders/13 & overs swim in the other session.  USA Swimming rules state that sessions may not run longer than four hours long.  Your child will only have to swim in the session that their age group is competing in.  Each meet is different and the hosting team will post what age groups swim in what sessions.   

There are times that siblings will have to compete in different sessions due to their age.  We have no control of this and we just ask for your understanding if that happens.

Age Divisions

A swimmer’s age classification for the competition shall be determined by how old they are on the day of the first day of the swim meet.  How old they are will determine which of the age groups they will swim in.

Age divisions are the following separated also by gender:

6 years old & under (at specified invitational meets) 

8 years old & under
9-10 years old
11-12 years old

13-14 years old 15-21 years old

Team Uniform

We want everyone to take pride in our team and have a unified look at meets. This means wearing a team suit and cap. Our suits and caps ARE our team uniform. Please wear them to all competitions, as this shows team unity and spirit! Team suits and caps are a required purchase. To increase their longevity, save them for meets only . . . DO NOT wear them to practices, please!  Other team apparel is available for purchase per our online store on our team website. Be Proud!!! Wear Avenger gear and support the team!!!

Meet Attendance and Confirmation

Swim meets are wonderful teaching events, extraordinary opportunities to challenge new skills. With the Gateway City Aquatic Club, meets are required on some level. Not every meet is appropriate for every swimmer, but swimmers are expected to attend those meets designed for them. Coaches will communicate with you concerning which meets will be best suited for your swimmer. Some meets are mandatory and every swimmer is required to attend unless there is a family emergency, sickness, or major family event. Please mark down the dates of the scheduled meets and let the coaches know immediately if there is a conflict. Meet participation not only challenges the individual swimmer but promotes a sense of team spirit and unity.

Confirmation of swim meet attendance by the listed “due date” is crucial. In order for coaches to submit a meet entry request with the host team, we need your confirmation in a timely manner. Payment for meets will be due approximately one week after the last day of confirmation. Preferred payment is by check to Gateway City Aquatic Club stating meet in the memo. Confirmation may be made in 3 ways: 1) on our website 2) by email to your coach 3) Meet Confirmation book located on the deck in the parent observation area. 

Please confirm your child’s attendance with a yes or a no. This makes things much easier for us to plan ahead. Also, if the meet is a weekend-long invitational, you may choose to specify only certain days that your child will be attending. With that said, please make your schedule open to varying days for competition. Most swim meet events are scheduled on the same days, so to avoid swimming the same events, consider participating on different days. Check with your coach ahead of time for their recommendation. Coaches will then choose what events your child will swim. You will receive a “meet invoice” containing events being swum and total meet fee due. Payment can be given to either coach or placed in the blue zipper pouch on the pool deck table. 

A Word Concerning Chosen Events

Events chosen by your coach are specifically chosen for each swimmer. Many parents become frustrated with their child’s coach because of event choices. There are times when coaches put swimmers in events to challenge and test them. Remember, meets are not all about winning. Meets can serve as a testing ground for newly obtained swimming skills. Also, many parents question why a coach doesn’t put their child in their “premier” event every meet. The answer to this is simple. Let’s say a child is placed in the 50 Free and gets a spectacular time. Great! Unfortunately though, if this same child is placed in the 50 Free again only 3 weeks later, the chances of getting a “spectacular” time are greatly diminished. There has not been enough training time to expect another time drop. This only sets up disappointment for the swimmer and parent alike. Coaches are knowledgeable in knowing what and when to place swimmers in meet events. Trust their wisdom. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your coach.

Attending Swim Meet Warm-ups

ALL swimmers are required to show up, on time for their pre-meet warm-up.  This allows swimmers to get a feel for the pool and to practice their flip-turns and backstroke flip-turns. Following the warm-up time, team captains will be leading swimmers in stretching exercises and a team cheer. In addition, coaches may have a word of encouragement for swimmers before the meet begins.

Bullpens, Crash Areas, and Blocks . . . Oh My!

The Gateway City Avenger Swim Team will usually sit together throughout a swim meet. Some venues do not allow this due to space reasons. Your coach will let you know regarding this. In addition, a few meets do implement crash areas and bullpens (ready areas), but many do not. When a child is sitting with our team, they are responsible to listen for their called event, go immediately to the block area and check-in with the lane they will be swimming in. PARENTS ARE NOT ALLOWED ON THE POOL DECK DURING A SWIM MEET.  This is done to promote swimmer responsibility and for safety reasons. Coaches will try to assist swimmers, but ultimately it is their job to know their events, listen for their events, and act. Our younger swimmers will be escorted by a coach or one of our older, more experienced swimmers as they may require additional help because of their age.

Marking Your Swimmer's Arm

When your swimmer attends a swim meet, there will be a meet program called a heat sheet that will tell you what events are being swum that day.  It will show the Event number, the lane number, and the heat number that your child will swim.  Prior to the beginning of the swim meet, it is the PARENT'S responsibility to mark this information down on their child's arm.   This way they will know the information and other people on the pool deck can help them if needed.  There is an example listed below of how to mark your child's arm. 

“Mighty Avenger Wall”

Every swimmer needs encouragement! What better way to accomplish this but by the formation of the “Mighty Avenger Wall”. When a swimmer is swimming a challenging event, a long-distance event, an important event, or maybe a fellow teammate is down and needs some encouragement, the mighty wall of Avengers will assemble at the end of that lane and cheer the swimmer on. How cool is this! The coach might request this OR any team member can assemble this wall in support of a fellow team member. Other teams need to take notice, because we will pride ourselves in supporting one another!

Also, we ask that EVERYONE stay till the end of their swim session.  That way all the swimmers can cheer on their teammates till the very end of the swim session.  They were there at the beginning to cheer on your child, it is only fair that your child is there to cheer them on.   We will make exceptions but only with talking to the coach prior to the swim meet. 

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How To Mark Your Swimmer's Arm

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How to Contact us

Practices held at Cherokee Recreational Ctr, 3200 S. Jefferson Ave, St. Louis, MO 63118

Mailing address:  Gateway City Aquatic Club, 4321 Delor Street, St. Louis, MO 63116

Email Contact Info:

Phone:  314-884-0824

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