What is it all About?

Competition is an exciting and enjoyable experience though sometimes a daunting one. Walking out of the changing rooms for the first time into a new pool where you're aiming to show your best can leave young swimmers a little nervous. Even older more experienced swimmers can get overawed by the situation of major meets in new environments away from home if they are not prepared for the situation or potential situations that await them. It can happen to the best of people. Hopefully, what follows will answer some questions. This will put you in the position where you go into a competition confident, and able to give your best throughout the day and be able to compete to your optimum level and avoid some of the pitfalls.

What is competition?

It is a contest in which people compete, both against the clock and against other competitors.

It is an opportunity to test your abilities against others.

An opportunity to see how close you get to your personal goals. There may be one winner of the race, but many winners and successes within the race.

It is an opportunity to test those skills that you have learnt and practised in training, to use the fitness that you have developed optimally over all the weeks of work so that you can maximise your performance in your entered event.

It's a fun social gathering and carnival of swimmers, officials, coaches and parents to celebrate the enjoyment of the sport of swimming. This can be forgotten by some involved who have to cope with the pressure from the other three parties, that swimming can be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable of sports, which brings out the best in people.

Enjoy the experience!

What Do I Need at the Meet?

Be prepared, the night before the meet make sure all your gear is sorted and everything is accounted for. Nothing is more unsettling than realising you have forgotten your togs or something else when you get to the pool. Following are what you will need and can help you through a meet.

Bag :You should have a large, waterproof bag to take, to keep all your things in. This should be big enough to keep your clothes in, if there are no lockers never leave your gear in the changing room.

Towels: You will need at least two towels, one to dry yourself between the races and one to use once you have finished swimming. Over the day your towels will become wet, so try to have one that is dry so that you can dry yourself quickly. A chamois is useful as this will save your towel.

Togs: A number of them are required on competition days. You should have training togs in which to warm up, then some good racing togs to race in. Your racing togs should fit snugly and be close fitting with no loose material in the backside when wet. Be careful when buying togs. Make sure that they fit you and don't rub. Look around for togs that are well constructed and will not fall to pieces quickly. Price isn't always the best guide!

Caps: If you wear a cap to race it must be a JASI cap. You should have a couple of spares in your bag. Caps have a habit of splitting just when you don't need them to. Use an older cap for training not racing.

Goggles: Have a couple of spare pairs. If the nose piece or elastic breaks, you do not want to be fiddling with them, or searching frantically to borrow a pair from someone else, only to find that they do not fit quite right and feel uncomfortable just before you swim. Your spare goggles should be the same, so that it does not matter if one pair breaks. You can just pick up the next pair and use them with ease and comfort. When you buy goggles, test them out in training so you are happy with them before you race in them. Take your time and get the right ones. It is no good looking 'cool' in your snazzy goggles if you can't see out of them the moment you hit the water!

Clothing: The team uniform is designed for the purpose of keeping you warm and comfortable while around poolside indoors or out. T-shirts, you should have a couple so you have a spare when the first one gets wet, tracksuit, shorts, socks and some suitable footwear which will keep your feet dry. A hat for the cold, or shade in the sun. There are also JASI Pool coats for extra warmth and protection.

Other Useful Items: Some meets can last a long time and can be tiring so have something to read or music to listen too, this can also help you shut out all other noise around you and give you time to focus on your upcoming event.

Water bottle (plastic) - Keeping your fluid balance right and keeping hydrated is one of the most important aspects of your race preparation.

Food - meets can be long so food is important to keep your energy levels up. Food should be kept in a water tight container and after always place rubbish in the bins provided.

Have your entire gear ready in the bag before you go. You will be in a better frame of mind to concentrate on your swimming.

Don't leave it to your parents to get your gear ready!

Race Preparation And Warm Up

Warm ups will generally follow the same format, although their length of time may change from meet to meet and session to session. When going to a meet, you should aim to arrive at the pool 15 - 20 minutes before the warm-up begins.  Most meets begin with a warm up period of general swimming. During this time diving may not be allowed. Later certain lanes are allocated as pace lanes and sprint lanes. The aim of this is to give those swimmers who need the opportunity to do pace work and sprinting from a dive the space without having to dodge around swimmers who are hanging on the walls or doing slower work. If you are not doing pace or sprint work you must stay out of these lanes.  The warm up ends approximately 10 minutes before racing starts and is signalled by the referee's whistle. You should aim to finish your warm-up before this point as to make sure you have done all need to do.

Marshalling For Your Race

You've got this far without any problems. All you have to do now is to swim! It is advisable to keep an eye on the event numbers as they go by, so you know when to get ready. You will be advised by the JASI team manager. To help you the JASI Team Manager will be there to advise you when you should make your way to marshal.  This gives the marshals time to ensure that all swimmers are there for the start of their races and send you up for your race. During this time, keep warm and relaxed doing some warm up exercises.

REMEMBER - When you are racing, swim your race not someone else's. You cannot do anything about the way someone else is swimming but you can do a lot about your own race, either to its benefit or detriment. When you have finished your race, if the scoreboard is in use take a look at it. Check your time and placing.

Exit the pool by the side when instructed by the referee. Always go to the side of the pool.  DO NOT CLIMB OUT OVER THE ELECTRONIC TOUCH PADS.

You can ask the timekeeper for your time. They will not always give it to you, but you can ask.  Go and get your coach's views on your performance, your coach is there to help you, not to hinder you, and any advice that is given will be aimed at helping you learn from your experience.

If you qualify for the finals, you need to ensure that you prepare in the same sort of way for the new race as you did for the heats. Improve on the points that your coach highlighted from the heats and above all prepare by doing what is right for you.

From time to time swimmers are disqualified for an illegal action or a mistake during a race. If you are disqualified then don't get too upset. Learn what you have done wrong and use the information to help ensure it doesn't happen again. Find out by asking your coach why you were disqualified. (e.g. touched the wall with 1 hand instead of 2). If there is good cause to question the decision, your Coach will do so; do not approach the officials yourself. A swimmer getting disqualified usually comes from bad habits, practice good habits and techniques in training and they will transfer to your race.

Withdrawing from an event can only be done after discussion with your coach, and then the appropriate forms are filled in and forwarded to the meet officials by the team manager.  A swimmer not showing up without withdrawing from the final of an event or a timed final will be fined by the meet organisers. Withdrawals from finals must be done before the end of the preceding session. Always check the results of your heat swims and find out if you have qualified for finals. Always check with the team manager before leaving the pool.

Ultimately a swimmer goes to a race to try and improve on their best times, be successful and win the race. Winning, however, should be judged in relation to your personal goals, and less in respect of other people. If you have set a goal of a time, or a performance, and you achieve it, be pleased with it and enjoy your success. Then look to see how to improve upon that performance in the future. If your performance was not as good as it could have been, find out why, was it due to the way you have been training? Too hard, too easy, not enough! Did you warm up correctly? Did you eat and drink the right foods at the right time? Performance is reliant on putting a lot of factors together in a consistent manner on the day and the days leading up to the meet. If you do this, you will get a good performance to the level that you are capable of at that moment.

Swim meets are a great occasion to meet new people, make new friends and have some fun. Don't miss out on the swim meet experience!