Open meet info
An open meet is a swimming competition generally hosted by a swimming club at their 'home' pool.
At an open meet you're swimming as an individual representing your club.
Any swimmer can enter an open meet provided they meet the meet entry criteria.
The criteria for entering an open meet is generally based around age and event times.
Age ranges for open meets tend to start at 9 years and go up to as high as you like.
At some meets, ages are grouped e.g. 11/12 & 13/14 and others they are separated until you get to around 16 years old where the grouping will be 16+
The criteria for times depends on the level of open meet of which there are four described here.
Meets are defined as either Long Course (LC) 50m pool or Short Course (SC) 25m pool.
Open meets can range in length from a single to multiple days.
Each day is divided up into sessions, usually 2 or 3, with a warm up at the start of each session.
The warm up is usually staggered by either gender or club e.g. girls first, boys second.
Events vary by meet but can include 50, 100 & 200 of each stroke, 400, 800 & 1500 freestyle and 100, 200 & 400 Individual Medley (IM).
You pay a fee per event ranging from around £4 to £8 depending on the host/meet level/event distance.
The top 3 swimmers in each age category are awarded medals.
Heats are seeded & swum by entry time, those without a time for an event will swim in the first heats followed by the slowest (regardless of age) next, progressing through the times until you get to the fastest swimmers (by entry time), in the final heat.
It's important to understand that you may be swimming against younger or older swimmers in your heat & if you 'win' your heat you may not be the fastest in your age category, you'll only know where you're placed in your age group once all heats containing swimmers in your age group have swum.
Most meets run a Heat Declared Winner (HDW) policy, this means only heats are swum, not heats and finals.
Once you've competed in a meet & registered a time for an event you can view details here.
You can click on an event, you can view this history of your efforts by event/time.
The entry process
Open meets that MASC are supporting will be shown on the website calendar and an email detailing the meet will be sent to all members a number of weeks in advance.
The email will contain at least 2 attachments:
1: The meet pack, this is provided by the meet organizer & contains full meet details
2: A MASC entry form
Some of the details in the meet pack aren't relevant to parents/swimmers and are only applicable to the open meet manager at each club attending but it's a good idea to familiarise yourself with the details in each pack as there can be subtle differences between each meet.
The email and MASC entry form will specify a cut off date for entries, this date will differ from the cut off date in the meet pack.
This is because the open meet manager at MASC has to enter all of the MASC entries into a piece of software and submit electronically to the meet organizer.
In addition, many meets are over subscribed, in the event of over subscription the organizer will specify a policy for 'scratching' (removing) entries, this is often on a first come first served basis hence why we try to get our entries in much earlier than the organizer's cut off.
Therefore it's vitally important that your entry forms are submitted to MASC before the deadline.
Another method of scratching entries in based on event times, the slowest will be scratched.
If you miss the deadline & are keen to enter the event you may be able to enter your swimmer using an individual entry form in the meet pack.
The day after MASCs cut off date all entries will be submitted electronically to the meet organizer who will consolidate all entries from all clubs & scratch entries if required. Shortly after the host's cut off date we'll be informed of accepted/scratched entries which will be forwarded onto you to check. If all is okay you don't need to do anything, if amendments are required let the open meet manager know who will inform the host.
Once entries have been accepted you'll be asked to pay for your events (if you haven't already). It's preferred that you hold off from paying until entries have been accepted to avoid having to issue refunds in the case of scratches.
The day of the meet
You should aim to arrive at the pool around 20 minutes before the warm up.
This will give you chance to park & meet up with the coach & other swimmers prior to entering the pool area.
Once on poolside, swimmers & coaches will be seated in an area allocated to the club & parents/spectators will go to the spectator area.
You'll generally have to pay a small fee per spectator either for a session or a day, a programme of events may be included in the entry fee or may be a few pounds extra, children are often allowed in for free.
What to bring
Both swimmers & spectators (especially swimmers) should take plenty of water to drink throughout the meet.
Swimming pools are nearly always hot no matter the time of year and some events can last a full day so it's important to stay well hydrated.
Swimmers should also have plenty of food available on poolside & aim to eat little and often to maintain their energy levels throughout the day, there's some great advice on nutrition on the swimming.org website.
Kit wise, you'll only need your swim suit & goggles, a spare pair of goggles is also a good idea, you don't need to bring any training aids e.g. fins, kick boards, paddles.
You'll also need a towel or two as, potentially you'll need to dry off a number of times, instead of a slow drying cotton towel you could try a small sports hand towel like this. You basically pat yourself dry with it & rinse out & its dry again ready to dry you, ideal for long days at the pool & saves washing cotton towels.
You may also like to bring flip flops/slides and a T-shirt (try to avoid cotton & go for a quick drying sports fabric e.g. a MASC T-shirt).
At some meets you may have large gaps between your races so bring something to keep yourself amused.
Your coach will advise you when you need to get ready prior to your events & you'll queue up with the other swimmers in your heat until you get to the starting end of the pool.
The referee will guide you up onto the block or into the water for backstroke events then you're under starters orders & ready to go & put all that training to use.
Once you've completed your race you'll return to the team area on poolside.
It may seem daunting at first but there are plenty of volunteers, marshalls & officials to help & guide you and everyone knows what it's like to compete for the first time so there is no pressure.