Your First Competition

Competition Days for Novices

The Night Before –Parents and Swimmers

Swimmers should make sure they pack their bags the night before as most competitions start early. Always pack a costume (and spare), fast skin (if required) City of Newport Hat, Goggles (and spare), City of Newport T-Shirt, flip flops, two towels, healthy lunch (pasta etc.), fruit, enough drinks for the competition (Squash or water) and snacks all of which the swimmer takes on poolside with them. Don’t forget to bring money for entry and programmes. There may also be the opportunity to purchase swimwear/equipment.

Get plenty of sleep. Set two alarm clocks so that you don’t oversleep or spend the entire night worry that your alarm clock doesn’t go off! If the competition isn’t at home, make sure you have planned your route and arrive early. Familiarise yourself aware of the programme of events.


Make sure you wear comfortable clothes to and from the pool. Arrive at least 15 minutes before warm up and make yourself known to your coach.


Warm-ups are essential to the swimmers performance. They give the swimmers the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the diving blocks, depth and water temperature, positioning of the 5m flags and the feel for the end of wall. These sessions are strictly organised as they are extremely busy. Swimmers must always follow instruction from The City of Newport swimming coach or the poolside officials. Once warm-up has finished, each swimmer should dry off and change into their competition costumes and club tops. It’s essential that the swimmer keeps warm. Swimmers are required to stay on poolside with their team mates throughout the meet. Parents, meanwhile, remain in the seating area provided for them! Swimmers from time to time may be allowed to go and see their parents/guardians but must at all times check first with the coach on poolside.

Off to Marshalling

Swimmers will be told when they are required to go to marshalling. It is important that swimmers listen carefully to instructions from their coaches; this will help their performance in the race. Once in marshalling the swimmers will give their name to the marshal in charge and they will be directed to the relevant seat. Marshals will organise the swimmers into the correct heats and lanes and tell you when to go to the officials on the relevant lane. This is a good time when space is available to do some stretches. It is important that all swimmers follow instructions or this may result in you missing your race.

Starts for Beginners

It’s a good idea to put your hats and goggles on just before the marshals send you over to the blocks. Swimmers should leave their T-shirts etc., on until just before the race. The officials for your lane will check your name again. This is a good time to remove the last of your warm clothes. The referee blows a short series of whistles to signal that the swimmers should stand behind the starting block. At this time all swimmers/parents etc. should be quiet.

When the referee blows a long blast on the whistle you should either; stand on the block, stand at the edge of the pool if you are starting in the water or jump into the pool if it is a backstroke start.

Each swimmer has their own preference where they stand on the block (it really doesn’t matter) but when the starter gives the command “Take your marks” you must take up your position with one foot at the front of the block and remain completely still! Until the start signal is given.

If swimmers moves on the block or dives to soon it will be deemed a false start, this will result in a Disqualification as most meets use the “one start rule” which means the swimmer will not have another chance


There are a number of reasons a swimmer can be disqualified including; making a false start, delaying the start, faulty stroke, faulty turn, and faulty finish. It happens to everyone at some point. The best thing a swimmer can do is not get to upset and learn from your mistake. Find out why you were disqualified. If a swimmer is disqualified they cannot use the time recorded.

At the end of the Race

Firstly return to your coach for feedback about your swim. Depending on facilities, and when your next event is, you may be able to use a swim down pool or dry off and put your warm clothes on. Make sure you always have a drink at the end of a race.


Some or all events, especially the longer ones, may be heat declared but others have finals, with the fastest swimmers form the heats going forward.

Advice for Novice Parents

Get everything possible ready the night before. Preparation is the key. Most parents take a cool bag with food and drink as venues differ vastly with what they provide.

A pen to mark down your child’s times etc. A highlighter is ideal if they are swimming in more than one race. Something to keep you occupied as there can be a long time between events. Wear something cool even if it’s snowing outside –poolside’s are like saunas!

Remember –your child may not always win or get a personal best every time but they have given 100% whatever you may think always respond with supportive, encouraging praise.

Swim meets are a great family experience. They’re a place where the whole family can spend time together.