Meets 101: A Cheat Sheet

Meets 101: A Cheat Sheet

Competition is designed to be a learning experience and is also an incredibly fun time for swimmers and their families! The Red Deer Marlins, as part of Region D (Central Alberta) of the Alberta Summer Swim Association (ASSA), has plenty of opportunities for swimmers to participate in swim meets.

Meet Schedule

Region D meet schedules are usually finalized in early spring but sometimes adjustments are made. The ASSA Website ( is the best spot to get information on meets including host pool locations, events that will be run and which swimmers are registered. Information is updated as it becomes available by host clubs so check back often before an event.


Prior to a meet don’t forget to confirm your attendance on Team App. Only swimmers who do this will be registered for a meet. Typically, commitment deadlines are 2 weeks prior. Swimmers should attend 2 meets a season and are encouraged to attend our big meets: Lacombe, Red Deer, Innisfail, Ponoka and Regionals.

What races is my kid swimming in?

Coaches work with swimmers to identify which races they will be placed in based on their goals and what they’ve been working on. They want your child to succeed and won’t put them in anything before they are ready. Swimmers can swim in 4 events (plus the flutter board if they are eligible) and two relay events. Relay decisions are made with an aim to maximize the number of swimmers who participate in them and ensuring that all teams include swimmers competent in their strokes (i.e.: breaststroke and fly). While you won’t find out exactly what time your child will be swimming until you show up at the meet and get a heat sheet, you can check the order of events on the ASSA website. An event schedule will look like this – the breaks represent either the lunch or the end of the day depending on the duration of the meet. Events are usually run from the youngest age group to the oldest and alternate between girls and boys. At most swim meets, swimmers are placed in heats according to their times so they compete against swimmers with similar times.

Event Jpeg

All events are categorized as short and long the actual length of which is determined depending on a swimmers age and experience. For example, a 7-year-old swimming a short free will swim 25 m while a 10-year-old swimming a short free will swim 50 m. Ask your swimmer, they’ll know!

Meets 101: A Cheat Sheet

What should I pack?

1. Marlins swim cap and black suit – some kids bring an extra suit for morning warm-up

2. Goggles, and back up goggles

3. Enough towels for each event and maybe an extra

4. Enough clothing to stay warm all day – a housecoat or sleeping bag are great ideas!

5. Flip flops or deck shoes to get to and from the camp area

6. Lunch, snacks, more snacks and plenty of water. Some meets are at pools without easy access to purchase food so keep this in mind when packing

7. A yoga mat or blanket to set up a space in camp – lawn chairs are nice for parents who can spend big chunks of time waiting

8. Travelling games, books, cards, colouring – some coaches prefer the event to be electronic free so if in doubt check with them!

9. While optional, some cash for raffles, snacks and heat sheets (if you’re buying one) is a good idea. Some meets have vendors selling swim gear or event clothing

10. Bring a tent or something to shade you at outdoor meets. Sunscreen too!

What do we do when we show up?

  1. Find your coach and find a spot to set up camp (more on what to bring to camp later)
  2.  Warm up – stretching and laps
  3.  Find a heat sheet, find the events your child is swimming in and note their event number, heat and lane number. You’ll see some swimmers writing these on their arms in sharpie, others will highlight heat sheets.
  4.  Check in with the coach before and after each race
  5.  Report to the coach if you are leaving the pool for any reason. Missing an event can mean removal from the rest of the meet
  6.  Listen for event number announcements and marshalling
  7.  Depending on the meet expect to be there until about 3 PM

What do I watch for during an event?

Parents will usually head to the viewing area only when it’s their kids’ event. This helps make space for other parents since many pools have very limited seating. The Marlins Parent Handbook has a ton of great information on what to look for in each stroke.

How do I find out how my swimmer did?

Swimmers are always working towards their personal best (or PB). The first time they race in an event, without a DQ will set their time. Each time they race that same event the goal is to beat that time. Swimmers times are tracked by ASSA and can be viewed on their website under Results/Rankings. Information on times during a meet can be accessed in 2 ways:

  1. Hard copy results are printed and posted somewhere at the meet facility
  2. Some meets use the “Meet Mobile” app to list races, times, swimmers and results

Click here for a printable copy.