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New to Swim Team?


Before the Meet


  • Swim cap and black swimsuit
  • Goggles
  • Sharpies ®
  • Two or more towels
  • Folding camp chairs or blanket
  • Camera – see more about using you camera flash below
  • Heat Sheet printed from the team website
  • Highlighter

Upon Arrival

  • Be on time! Warm-ups begin well before the meet start time.
  • Mark your swimmer with a Sharpie! (see below)
  • Swimmers report to coaches.
  • Stake out deck space for your seating – at home meets PRC parents/spectators sit on the deck area in front of the poolhouse (the grass area is for the visiting team).
  • Check posted heat sheet for your events
  • Coaches will give instructions regarding warm-ups.
  • Team will warm-up together.

Writing on your Swimmer? ...and Why?

Two reasons...

  1. In order for shepherds to identify their flock, young swimmers need to have their names somewhere so they can be seen. Swimmmers 10 years old and younger have shepherds who guide them to their heats during the meet. Write on your swimmer, using a waterproof marker (Sharpie), write your swimmer’s last name and age on his/her shoulder.
  2. Swimmers don’t have Heat Sheets. So how do they keep track of what events they are swimming in? ... By writing on themselves, of course.

Each swimmer needs a grid/chart on their arm (or leg for tiny arms) showing the event number, the heat number, the lane number, and the stroke/distance...for every race they are going to swim.

You get this information from the Heat Sheet...

The Heat Sheet

Heat sheets list all the swim events 1 through 77 in order, along with the participants in each event, what heat they are in, what lane each swimmer will occupy, and his/her previous best time in that event (if the swimmer has competed in that event before) or it will show "NT" for "No Time." To keep track of when your swimmer is swimming, it is a good idea to go through the heat sheet and highlight each of your swimmer’s events/heats.

Only use the heat sheet posted at the meet for information to write on your swimmer.

Write on your swimmer

Using a waterproof marker (Sharpie®), write four column headings on your swimmer’s arm E, H, L, Stroke – for Event, Heat, Lane and Stroke respectively.

  • Find your swimmer’s name on the heat sheet. For example, find Paige Andrews in the Sample Heat Sheet on the left. Notice she is swimming in Event 11 in Heat 3. The numbers 1-6 correspond to the assigned lane. Paige is Lane 5. Next to the Event number is the distance and stroke – 25 Yd Freestyle. She is also swimming in Event 33, Heat 3, Lane 2, in 25 Yd Backstroke.
  • Enter the heat sheet information on your swimmer’s arm under each column.
  • Continue filling in the grid until all of your swimmer’s event information is on the arm (can be as many as five lines long). Paige’s arm would read: 
    E H L Stroke

    11 3 5 25 Free
    33 3 2 25 Back

Sample Heat Sheet

Sample Heat Sheet

Swimmer Grid Reference


The Meet

Swim Meet Protocol

  • Behind the blocks is a no-no. Only swimmers, shepherds, coaches and officials are allowed behind the blocks.
  • The pool is roped off to allow a margin for meet officials and coaches to move around the pool. Please do not put your chairs on top of or inside the ropes.
  • Please keep your cheering comments, posters, and Sharpie body art positive.
  • The Heat Sheet at the meet is the only truly accurate one. Use this one to mark your swimmer’s arm.
  • Volunteers are punctual and ready to work. Please contact our volunteer coordinator, Colleen Hodell, to volunteer.

Flash Pictures (can be a no-no)

Many swim start systems use both a horn and strobe light to start a race. Swimmers are conditioned to start on the strobe. Camera flashes look exactly like the start strobe and can confuse swimmers into a false start. DO NOT take flash pictures after the starter has called “Take your mark.” (Some host teams prohibit flash photography at any time while the swimmers are on the blocks.)

The Dreaded "DQ"

Be prepared to hear that your swimmer has “DQ’ed” or “disqualified.” The people you see walking around the pool with wearing headset, white shirts and blue shorts are swim officials. One of their jobs is to make sure the swimmers follow the rules; such as swimmers only are to use dolphin kicks during butterfly events, that the swimmers actually use the correct stroke (e.g. no freestyle during a breast stroke event); that the swimmers swim the entire length of the pool and the turn correctly, etc. Swimmers who violate any rule for their stroke are disqualified. This means the swimmer is not eligible for an award in that event, and their time is not recorded. Hearing that they have DQ’ed can be really tough news, especially for a new swimmer. It is appropriate for swimmers to ask their coach why they were DQ’ed, but it is important for parents and teammates to support a swimmer and let them know they will do better next time. Developing swimmers DQ often. It is part of learning competitive swimming. Remember that ALL swimmers DQ at some time. Year-round, high school and even collegiate swimmers DQ. Make it a learning experience, not a season-ender!

What's the Difference between an EVENT and a HEAT?

The Event:

An event is the name of the “race” that a swimmer is entered in. Events are identified by a number. Generally, even number events are boys events and odd numbers are girls. The event number is followed by the stroke/category and age group. In the CSRA Swim League there are six stroke/categories of events: Freestyle Relay, Medley Relay, Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Butterfly. There are seven age groups: 6 & Under or 8 & Under, 7&8, 9&10, 11&12, 13&14, 15-18. Examples: Event 25 Girls 9-10 25 Yard Breaststroke Event 36 Boys 7-8 25 Yard Backstroke

There are currently 77 events in a CSRA Swim League dual meet.

The Heat:

Many swimmers are entered into each event. In some cases there may be as many as 30 or more swimmers competing in the same event. In a six-lane pool, there is no way to swim all the entries in any event head-to-head at the same time. Instead the event is broken up into heats. The number of heats is determined by the number of swimmers and the number of lanes in the pool. In a six-lane pool, a 30-swimmer event would be divided into five heats – six swimmers in each heat. It is important to remember that all swimmers in a single event are competing against each other. Times for all heats in an event are tallied together. The fastest time out of all of the heats wins the event.

Order of Events

  1. 6 & Under Freestyle Relays
  2. Medley Relays - Each leg of the relay swims one of the four strokes. The first swimmer swims backstroke, the second breaststroke, the third butterfly, and the final swimmer, freestyle.
  3. Freestyle events- Swimmers may swim any stroke, but the stroke most commonly used is the crawl, which is characterized by alternate overhand motion of the arms and an alternating (up and down) flutter, or scissor kick.
  4. Breaststroke events- Consists of simultaneous movements of the arms on the same horizontal plane. The hands are pulled from the breast in a heart shaped pattern and recovered under or on the surface of the water. The elbows remain under the surface of the water except at the finish. The hands cannot be brought beyond the hipline except the first stroke after the start or turn. The kick is a simultaneous somewhat circular motion similar to the action of a frog. On turns and at the finish, the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously, with shoulders in line with the surface of the water.
  5. Backstroke events- Swimmer must remain on the back with an alternating motion of the arms with a flutter kick. The swimmer must touch the wall while on the back. A backstroke flip turn is not allowed in CSRA swimming.
  6. Butterfly events- Some consider this to be the most beautiful of the strokes. It features a simultaneous overhand stroke of the arms combined with an undulating dolphin kick. In the kick, the swimmer must keep both legs together and may not flutter, scissor or use the breaststroke kick. On turns and at the finish, the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously.
  7. Individual Medley (IM) events - Features all four strokes. In the IM, the swimmer begins with the butterfly, then changes to backstroke, then breaststroke and finally freestyle.
  8. Freestyle Relays - Each swimmer swims one quarter of the total distance of the event. Swimmers may swim any stroke they like, although the freestyle (crawl) is preferred.
  9. CRESCENDO relay – Usually the last event of the meet scores ONE point for the winning team as a tie-breaker in case of a tie score. No other points are awarded in this event (1-0-0 scoring), so it can provide a great deal of excitement if the meet score is tied. Each relay team consists of one swimmer from each age group swimming 25 meters/yards (6x25). Each team may enter only one crescendo relay.

Swim Distances

CSRA Swim League is a “short course” competition, meaning we swim in 25 Yard or 25 Meter pools. The swim distances are divided by age group:

  • 25 meters/yards for 10 & Under age group
  • 50 meters/yards for 11 & older age groups

Scoring (NEW league scoring as of 2011)

  • Individual events are scored 6-4-3-2-1 (1st = 6 points, 2nd = 4 points, 3rd = 3 points, etc.)
  • Relays are scored 9-5-3 (1st = 9 points, 2nd = 5 points, 3rd = 2 points)


Ribbons are presented to 1st through 3rd place finishes. At PRC home meets, each swimmer receives a Participant Ribbon, regardless of place of finish. Heat Winner ribbons are also awarded to the fastest swimmer in each heat.

Meet Entries Maximum number of events an individual swimmer may swim per meet is 3 individual, 2 relays (not including the CRESCENDO relay). For more details, see the CSRA Swim League Constitution and By-Laws at www.csraswim.org. These documents are reviewed by the league committee every year.


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