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Swim Meet 101

Recommended Clothing/Gear to bring to meets:

  • Swim suit (team suit optional)
  • Team shirt (optional)
  • Swim cap
  • At least one good pair of goggles!
  • Several towels
  • Sharpie to write your child's event and event number on his or her hand before the meet.
  • Blankets or chairs to sit on around or outside the pool deck. Many families also bring pop-ups.
  • Sun screen and bug spray.
  • Healthy snacks, water! water! water! (being in the water doesn't count), sport drinks, or money for the concession stand.
  • Books, playing cards, games, etc. for between events.
  • Change of clothes and sweat or warm-up pants, and a jacket or sweatshirt for cooler evenings and/or rain delays
  • LOTS of Express Team Spirit - good sportsmanship ... quiet for the start ... then cheer like crazy during the race!!

Meet Day/Swim Meet To-Do’s:

  • Be on time for the meet to allow for check-in and warm-ups.
  • Email us at leelandexpressswimteam@gmail.com if you are running late. We have many relays and entries that will be affected if you are not there.
  • Check-in with the volunteer coordinator upon arrival.
  • Warm-ups for each team will precede the meet, with the host team swimming first. The Coach will provide you with a warm-up instruction and when to begin your warm-ups.
  • After both teams have warmed-up, and the National Anthem is sung and the meet begins!
  • Swimmers should monitor events and arrive to the clerk of the course when events are posted.
  • If you are in a relay, DO NOT LEAVE the relay assembly area until you are lining up for the heat.
  • Meets are projected to last five hours. Most events for younger children will be completed earlier in the meet.
  • Before leaving the meet, check with a coach to see if you’re needed for a relay at the end of the meet.
  • At least one family representative is required to work ½ of each meet in an official capacity (concessions, officiating, set-up/clean-up, etc.).
  • The family representative should attend volunteer meeting (timer, stroke and turn judges, etc.) prior to beginning of meet.
  • The family representative should arrive to volunteer positions prior to start of meet (first half) or by event number 36 (second half).

Meet Signups:

  • Prior to each meet, the coaches will communicate to each swimmer the events they are “legal” to swim and the swimmer will then be responsible to for signing up for desired events. Sign up sheets are online through our website. In the event a swimmer is unable to attend practice, swimmers should notify the Head Coach. Swimmers can designate every event they would like to swim, but will only be able to swim a maximum of three individual events and three relays. The events each swimmer will swim are ultimately determined by the coaches.

Entry Limitations for Dual Meets:

  • Each team may enter unlimited competitors in the 25 and 50 meter Freestyle events. The number of lanes in the competing pool will determine all other individual events entries; 6 lane pool – 6 swimmers/events, 5 lane pool – 5 swimmers/event, 4 lane pool – each team will be able to swim three heats or a maximum of six swimmers in the Age Group (not Jr. or Sr.) individual stroke. Each team will be allowed to enter 2 relay teams/event.

First Meet of Season:

  • The first meet is always a little hectic, but fun! There will be lots of first-time swimmers and parents. If you are new to swimming, it can be confusing. Experienced swimmers and parents are glad to help out, so call on them! After the first meet it will be easier to understand the routine and pace of swim meets. Review the order of events to get a feel for the "rhythm" of the meet.


  • Members of the relay teams are determined by the coaches. Please check the event schedule to see if your child has been selected for a medley and/or freestyle relay.

Event Schedule:

  • When you arrive at the swim meet for warm-ups, please check the event schedule to see what events your child will be swimming. Also, the event list is generally available at practice the morning of the swim meet.

Clerk of Course:

  • Clerk of Course is responsible for all of the paper work at the meet before the swimmers swim. This includes check-in, seeding, preparation and distribution of cards or lane timing record forms. Their role is to ensure all swimmers are in place and ready to swim their events, so no swimmer misses their race and the swim meet runs smoothly. Swimmers need to be responsible and report to the clerk of course area well before each assigned event. If your child is swimming in a relay, they will be asked to stay in the clerk of course area with the rest of they relay group until event time.

Stroke and Turn Guidelines:

  • During competitive meets, Stroke and Turn Judges will watch the swimmers during their event and disqualify those who employ improper techniques. Disqualification (DQ) means the swimmer’s time will not count for that particular event and cannot be scored. DQs are very common, especially with the younger swimmers, and should not be a source of embarrassment.

Disqualification (DQ):

  • The RSL complies with United States Swimming (USS) rules, the same rules used at the Olympic Time Trials and the Olympics. To ensure fair competition for all swimmers, these rules are equally applied to all swimmers, regardless of age or experience. During competition, if a swimmer fails to comply with the stroke and turn rules, a Stroke and Turn Judge will raise his or her hand, complete a disqualification (DQ) slip, and present it to the referee for approval. A swimmer is not disqualified until the referee accepts the report and certifies the disqualification. Officials will try to reach the swimmer to explain the reason he or she has been disqualified, but it is not always possible. Being disqualified is not the end of the world; it is a learning experience and not a failure. Almost all swimmers have the DQ’d at some point in time. Swimmers should discuss the DQ with their coaches after the race to help correct the mistake for next time.

What’s My Time?:

  • Swimmers will learn to ask for their time from the timer when they get out of the pool at the end of their race. The swimmer can find out their official time once the results are posted for that particular event. The meet results (which include their names, time and event placing) will be on posted throughout the meet.


  • For all individual events, a team may receive awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. However, a team that sweeps an event will only receive points for the first two places. The third place point will be awarded to the competitor. For relay events, a team will receive 5 points for first place, there are no points awarded for any other places.


  • Swimmers are divided into A, B and C Divisions by times at RSL Finals. All swimmers, experienced year-round to novice, have the opportunity to win points (and medals and ribbons) for their teams.

Weather Rules

  • If the weather is questionable, the Referee and RSL Reps from each team will decide whether or not to cancel the meet. Please note, the lifeguards, who are not affiliated with the team, will decide if the swimmers have to evacuate the pool deck. It is difficult to reschedule meets, so every effort is made to avoid cancelation—often waiting indoors or in cars for the storm to pass. Since safety is a priority, swimmers will not be allowed to enter the water until the absence of lightning and thunder for 30 minutes—even at indoor pools. In the event of stormy weather that lasts the entire day, possible meet cancelations will be posted to the team website and facebook, and will be sent out via email and text alert.

Swim Meet Etiquette:

  • Swimmers should exhibit great sportsmanship at all times, whether the meet is held at our home pool or at another teams' pool. We want to treat the team pools respectfully and pick up after ourselves. Support your fellow teammates by cheering for them! Keep your belongings organized and clean up around you before you go home. If you have a dispute with a Referee, Stroke and Turn Judge or another parent, please talk to the Leeland Station Swim Team RSL representative as officials are constantly busy and do not have time to discuss all disputes.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is my child swimming in all the events they signed up for in the upcoming meet?

Not all team members swim in every event, due to the number of swimmers allowed per event. The Head Coach will determine which swimmers will be placed in each event, based off of ability of each swimmer and the past performance.

What is my child swimming in the meet?

The Head Coach will post meet entries at practice the morning of the meet, but remember that there may be last-minute changes, especially to relays, right before and even during the meet.

What time does my child need to be at the meet?

Arrive at the pool at least 15 minutes before the scheduled warm-up begins (HOME 4:45 p.m.; AWAY determined by host team). Then, find a spot in our team area for your swimmer’s blanket, swim bag and towels.

Where can I ask directions to the meet?

Directions to pools/meets and more information about the Rappahannock Swim League can be found on the RSL website at rsl.swimtopia.com.

What if I said my child would not be at a specific meet and now can attend?

Give this information to the Head Coach in writing ASAP.

What is a heat?

It is a swimmer’s placement in an event based on time, allowing swimmers of comparable skill levels to compete against each other.

What is an event?

It is the age group, length and type of stroke or relay to be swum.

May we leave the meet when my child is finished swimming?

Please see the coaching staff prior to leaving a meet, to make certain that your swimmer has not been entered in a relay. If for some reason your swimmer is entered in a relay but must leave early, please notify the coaches as soon as possible so that the swimmer may be replaced or the relay scratched.

Does my child have to dive off the blocks?

No, if a swimmer is not comfortable going off the starting blocks, he or she may jump or dive from the side of pool next to the block—subject to forward starts rules.

What length does my child swim in a meet?

The 10 and Under Age Group events are one length (25 yards/meters) but 10 and Unders may swim the 12 and Under 100 Free or Individual Medley (IM), which are four lengths (100 yards/meters); 11 and Older Age Group events are two lengths (50 yards/meters) or more.

What is a heat sheet?

This is a program of events listing swimmer’s events, heats and lane assignments. These are usually available only at Finals, not at dual meets.

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