Most meets require that you check in when you arrive. Usually check in starts about an house before the meet starts. Allow yourself plenty of time to warm up after you check in.
Preparing and Staying Ready to Race
You are most likely to do your best if you arrive in plenty of time, and if you stay warm, well hydrated, well nourished and as relaxed as possible.
1. Think about bringing the following items:
a) a swim chamois and/or enough towels so that you have a dry one to use after each of your races
b) two swim suits, if you have them (an old one for warming up, your tightest one to race in)
c) a water bottle and/or a thermos with a warm beverage
d) snacks that are easy to digest (I used to eat bagels, pretzels, Promax bars and raw honey, and I drank water, tea, Accelerade, etc. Now I use wheat bread and honey and fruit and a drink called Xood.). Experiment with different snacks and drinks before the day of the meet.
e) whatever it takes to stay warm – parka, sweat suit, heavy robe, sandals or shoes you can wear with socks, etc. even for indoor meets
f) a chair to use on the deck while you are waiting for your races
2. Try to arrive early enough to check in and do a thorough warm-up before the meet is scheduled to begin.
3. Do your warm-up. Enter the water feet first when warming up or swimming down. During the last 15 minutes, or so, of the warm up period, one or two “one way, start lanes” will be designated to practice racing starts. After diving in, swim in the lane only in the direction that is away from the block. Then return in an adjacent lane. Some of us warm up in an old suit and put on a dry suit to swim in the meet. Wear the baggier suit for warming up and the tighter suit for racing. Fins and kickboards are not permitted.
4. Get a program (Heat Sheet) and note the heat and lane numbers for each of your events.
5. Relax and enjoy the activity and the participants.
Swimming Your Races
1. Walk over to your lane during the preceding race. Check with the timer in your lane to make sure you are in the right place. Do some stretching and belly breathing and/or mentally rehearse your start and your race while you wait.
2. When your race is called, (or you hear several short “tweets” from the whistle), stand behind the block.
3. When the meet starter says “swimmers step up or in,” (or blows one long blast on the whistle),
a) swimmers starting on the block step up on the block and position their feet on the block for the start
b) swimmers starting on the deck position their feet on the edge of the deck for the start
c) swimmers starting in the pool enter the pool feet first and hold on to the edge with at least one hand (backstrokers jump in, grab the hand grips on the block and place their feet on the wall)
d) pool starters who need to use the ladder to enter the pool should notify the starter just before the race, enter the pool at the ladder after the pool has been cleared from the preceding race and go to the correct lane.
4. When the starter says “take your marks,” assume a starting position.
5. The start sound is usually a horn blast.
6. Usually, if there is a false start, the race is not stopped. The “offender” is told he/she is disqualified at the end of the race. However, the false start may be called back. If after the start, you hear a series of short, rapid horn beeps, the race will be restarted.
7. Try to swim your races with gusto, but stay relaxed and enjoy the competition.
8. At the end of the race stay in the pool and in your lane until all of the swimmers have finished the race. Then you may use a ladder to exit the pool.
9. Swim down after your race by swimming slowly in the lanes designated for that purpose. Swimming down will help you to recover from your effort and prepare you for your next race.
10. Stay warm, snack and relax between races.
11. Do a brief warm-up before a race if you have been waiting more than 20 minutes. If you think you will get cold in the water, walk briskly on the deck, swing your arms, etc. to warm up.
12.Remember, relax and enjoy the day.