Frequently Asked Questions
What is a swim meet?
There are two kinds of swim meets, dual meets and invitational/championship meets. A dual meet involves only two teams, which compete against each other. Typically there are two dual meets a week.
In general, four swimmers from each team will swim in alternate lanes. Points are awarded for the first five places in the individual races and to the winning team in the relays. At the end of the meet, the team with the most points wins.
An invitational or championship meet involves many different teams competing at the same time. In some invitationals, there are team points and team trophies, but usually the competition is on an individual basis. Awards may vary, but usually small trophies, medals or ribbons are awarded. Invitational meets are not mandatory. You may sign your child up, for an invitational when they are posted. An invitational sign-up book is located in the Piranha Snack Stand. Be sure to circle and initial your child’s events if you wish that he/she competes before the posted deadline.
Who swims against whom at a meet?
Boys swim against boys and girls swim against girls. The swimmers are divided up into two-year age groups. *All entrees into any dual meet is at the discretion of the coaches.
The age cutoff is June 1st. Therefore, if your child turns 9 on or before June 1st, they would swim in the 9/10 age group. If your child turns 9 on or after June 2nd, they would swim in the 7/8 age group.
What do we swim at a meet?
There are both individual and relay events (races). In the individual events, a swimmer will swim one of the four competitive strokes for a given distance. In the relay events, four swimmers swim as a group. There are two types of relays, a free relay, in which all four swimmers swim freestyle, and a medley relay, in which each swimmer swims a different stroke. The stroke order for the medley relay is backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle.
What rules do we use?
For the most part, United States Swimming, the governing body for amateur swimming in the United States, determines the rules. There are a few minor differences in these rules to make them a bit more lenient for the summer leagues.
What is a "DQ”?
A "DQ" is a disqualification from a race because the swimmer did not swim the stroke correctly. Stroke officials who walk alongside the swim lanes during a race looking at the swimmers give DQ’s. There are usually several stroke officials at a swim meet.
What are the competitive strokes and what can cause a "DQ"?
Freestyle: This is basically the front crawl, however, technically speaking, any stroke can be used. Every now and then, a younger swimmer (7/under) uses the backstroke in a 50-meter freestyle event. Normally, a swimmer is not disqualified in the freestyle. However, a swimmer can be DQ'd if they pull on the lane lines.
Backstroke: This stoke is the back crawl. DQ's can occur if the swimmer does not stay on their back. This usually occurs at the end of the race if a swimmer mistakenly turns over on their side in order to see or touch the wall.
Breaststroke: The rules for swimming the breaststroke are complex. The arms must move simultaneously in the same horizontal plane, the kick must have simultaneous vertical and lateral movements (a frog kick), and the head must break the surface of the water between strokes. In addition, a swimmer cannot break the stroke movement (cannot adjust their goggles after they dive in). DQ's usually occur for an illegal kick; typically, a swimmer puts in an extra flutter at the end of the frog kick. In addition, a swimmer is allowed one arm stroke while they are underwater at the start of the race. DQ's occur when the swimmer takes more than one underwater arm stroke. Finally, a swimmer must touch the wall with two hands simultaneously at the end of the race; DQ's are called for failing to do this.
Butterfly: This stroke involves simultaneous arm movements over the surface of the water and a dolphin kick. The kick requires that both legs move in the same position relative to one another. DQ's usually occur for an illegal kick; typically, a swimmer does not move their legs together making the kick look like a flutter kick. Also, a DQ can occur if the swimmer takes an arm stroke while underwater at the start of the race or fails to touch the wall simultaneously with both hands at the end of the race.
Can I cheer at a swim meet?
From the time the referee blows the start whistle until the time when the starter horn sounds, there should be silence. You can cheer to your heart's content only AFTER the race has begun. This prevents the starter from having to shout above the crowd and also insures that the swimmers can hear the starter's instructions.
How far do we swim at a meet?
In the Ramapo Conference, younger swimmers (10 and under) swim 25-meter distances while the older swimmers compete in 50-meter events. In the Lakeland conference, all events are 50 meters. The Lakeland Conference also has a 100-meter freestyle event for teenage swimmers.
What is an "A" time?
In the Lakeland Conference, a swimmer must make a qualifying time in order to participate in the championship meet (the "A's"). These times are known as "A" times. The conference publishes each "A" time by sex, age group and stroke. Toward the end of the season, the "A" times may be raised with the intent of increasing the number of swimmers in the championship meet (the goal is 32 swimmers, or 4 heats, per event). A swimmer can obtain an "A" time during any Lakeland meet or any of the invitationals (Ramapo meets or the Pequannock time trials does not count).
Who officiates at a meet?
Needless to say, it takes a large number of people to run a swim meet. Some require training and certification, while others (the timers) are just volunteers. The certified officials include the referee, who is the chief official at the meet, the starter, and usually two or more stroke judges. The certified officials are the people wearing the white uniforms.
Other meet officials include the scorers, who run the electronic timing system and tabulate the results, and, the meet announcer, who calls the swimmers for events, announces the placing, etc. Finally, there are the timers who actually time the races. For dual meets, there are two timers per lane; for invitational and championships meets, there are usually three timers per lane.
What happens if I see an official make a wrong call during a race?
No spectator has the right to interfere with an official, timer, or any other person working the swim meet. The coaching staff should make any and all protests. Any questions should be addressed to the coach or the PSTPA after the meet.
How is a meet timed?
In the 50-meter swim lanes, the races are timed by a 3 button electronic timing system known as the "Colorado" (a brand name). In the 25-meter swim lanes; stopwatches time the races. Both methods require timers to time the race. When using the Colorado system, stopwatches are used as a backup just in case the system has a problem. Also, most swimmers want to know their time right after a race; feel free to tell them the stopwatch time.
Sometimes when stopwatches are used, there are instances where the judges will determine the placing of an event. The principle here is that the eye is faster than the hand. For example, if the judges agree that the swimmer in lane 6 came in first, followed by the swimmers in lane 5 then lane 3, that placing will become the official result regardless of the stopwatch times. Although it rarely occurs, it is possible for a swimmer with a faster time to place behind a swimmer with a slower time. With two timers, the official time is the average of the two recorded times. With three timers, the official time is the middle of the three recorded times (if any two times agree, that becomes the official time).