Swim Meet 101

When we first joined the Seahawks Swim Team as a new team parents, we had no idea what a swim meet entailed or how we could be of assistance. Many of us barely knew what swimming strokes there were! Our first season was filled with many questions. Our goals with this are to help new parents feel comfortable and to provide parents with a crash course in swim team jargon. Hope you find this helpful.


  • Swim meets during the summer have the same events taking place in the same order each meet.
  • The meets are generally 2 1/2 to 3 hours long and move along very quickly.
  • We swim “dual meets” in the summer, which simply means it’s Seahawks against another team.
  • The home team always swims in the even numbered lanes, generally lanes 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10.
  • The visiting team swims in lanes 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9.
  • Before the swim meet, the coaches make up the meet sheets that tell us who is swimming what events and in what lane. An index card is made up for each child with his/her name, event number, event name, and what lane the child is swimming.
  • Cards are handed out during the meet by a parent helper, when it is time for the child to go “line up” behind the starting block to get ready to swim. The card is then handed to a timer who is at the swimmer’s block. The timers use this card to record the children’s times.
  • It may seem that we’re handing out cards for events that seem a long way off. Races go very quickly, especially the older age groups, who are quite fast! So when a card is given to your child, it’s crucial to get your swimmer to the designated area as soon as possible.
  • All children swim in their age groups. They are broken down as follows: 8 and under, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, and 15-18. (Their age is determined by how old they are on June 15 of the current swim season.)
  • Coaches require all swimmers to stay in the team area with their respective age group when they are not swimming.
  • It’s summer. Meets can be hot! Make sure you and your swimmers are prepared.
  • Remember to put lots of sunscreen on both yourself and your child. Bring lots of water and a good hat.
  • Families should bring their own chairs, since seating may be limited at some pools.

Parents are of crucial importance to our team. We rely on them to keep all the younger children together in the team area. When we’re handing out the event cards, we need to be able to find them quickly and easily, to avoid having a child miss a race.


  • Boys and girls generally swim each event separately.
  • The events for each stroke go from youngest to oldest. The girls in a given age group swim the event first, followed by the boys.

100 Meter Individual Medley

The first event of every meet is the 100 meter Individual Medley, aka the 100 IM. We use abbreviations for everything! It’s like learning a new language.

  • Girls and boys ages 9 and up can swim this event.
  • Ages 8 and under do not swim the 100 IM in competition in our league.
  • In the 100 IM, one swimmer swims one lap, one length of the pool, of each stroke in a specific order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle.

Medley Relay

All age groups swim the Medley Relay, including 8 and under.

  • The Medley Relay is a relay consisting of 4 swimmers. In the 8 and under category, boys and girls may be mixed in this relay.
  • For 8 and under and 9-10 age groups only, each swimmer swims one lap of the pool, each swimmer swims a different stroke.
  • Swimmers in the 11-12, 13-14 and 15-18 age groups each complete two laps of a particular stroke.
  • The Medley Relay has a specific stroke order: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle.
  • Since the younger children only swim one lap each, those swimmers swimming the breaststroke and freestyle portion of the relay must be at the opposite end of the pool, not the starting block end.
  • Before the Medley Relay, we need the assistance of those crucial parents of the younger children! We need a parent stationed at each lane at the opposite end of the pool, making sure that the children are in the right place and lane.


After the Medley Relays come the freestyle events. These progress as the events above, from youngest to oldest, with the girls swimming before the boys in each age category.

  • The children 8 and under swim a 25 meter freestyle. That’s simply one lap.
  • Ages 9-10 and 11-12 swim a 50 meter freestyle, or 2 laps.
  • Ages 13-14 and 15-18 swim a 100 meter freestyle, or 4 laps.


Backstroke events follow the freestyle events.

  • Ages 8 and under and 9-10 swim a 25 meter backstroke.
  • Ages 11-12, 13-14 and 15-18 swim a 50 meter backstroke.


Breaststroke follows backstroke events.

  • Ages 8 and under and 9-10 swim a 25 meter breaststroke.
  • Ages 11-12, 13-14 and 15-18 swim a 50 meter backstroke.


Butterfly events follow the breaststroke.

  • Ages 8 and under and 9-10 swim a 25 meter butterfly.
  • Ages 11-12, 13-14 and 15-18 swim a 50 meter butterfly.

Freestyle Relay

The freestyle relays are the last events of the meet.

  • Make sure to check with the coaches before you leave a meet. Your child may be scheduled to swim in this final relay. The children love relays and get a real sense of being part of a team by competing in them.
  • Unforeseen circumstances may result in a child being placed in the relay at last minute!
  • The relay team has 4 swimmers.
  • Ages 8 and under swim a 100 meter relay, which means each swimmer swims one lap of freestyle.
  • Ages 9-10 and up all swim a 200 meter relay, which means each swimmer swims two laps of freestyle.

Table 1. Number of laps per event(each lap is 25 meters in length)

Swim Meet 101

Quick Reference

100 IM aka 100 Meter Individual Medley

Order: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle

8 and under does not swim this event.

Medley Relay

Order: Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly, Freestyle

All ages swim this event.

8 &U and 9-10 ONLY: one lap of each stroke

-Breaststroker and Freestyler must be at opposite end of the pool!

Freestyle Relay aka Free Relay

For 8 & U only: One lap of freestyle

-2nd and 4th (aka “anchor”) child must be at the opposite end of the pool.

All others – 2 laps of freestyle each.

Image 1. Sample medley relay card for away meet


The winner of the meet is determined by the team scoring the highest number of points.

For individual races:

1st Place = 5 points

2nd Place = 3 points

3rd Place = 1 point

A team can only receive a maximum of 8 points in a race. So if they sweep (1st, 2nd, 3rd) they would only receive 8 points and the other team would receive 1

For relays:

1st Place = 7 points

No other points allotted for relays, the first place winner takes all 7 points.