Your kids have been training and prepping for their swim meet. As parents, you have some prep work to do as well before the big day. Some preparation on your part will make sure the kids have fun and the day goes smoothly.
Tasks to complete well before the swim meet
If the meet is taking place at an unfamiliar pool, take your children for a visit to it before the meet. Even if they can’t go for a rec swim, they can at least look at it. Getting familiar with the surroundings before they have to compete can help reduce their nervousness.
Make sure you leave the coaching to the coach. This is good advice under all circumstances, but in the days leading up to a meet, the instinct to be helpful and supportive for your kids may cause you to offer some coaching or training tips that could inadvertently conflict with what their coach has told them. That will only confuse your kid. Trust the coach.
What you can do is ramp up your emotional support. You can let your swimmer know how much you enjoy watching them compete – not win – compete. Express your admiration for how hard they’ve been working and ask (and then listen) how you can help them feel more at ease. When you talk about the meet day itself, focus on the fun you’ll have, not what the outcomes may be.
You also want to make sure that you don’t change their nutritional regimen. The coach has probably already worked with you to develop an eating plan that provides your child the energy and nutrition needed both on a day-to-day basis and in preparation for a competition. As a general rule, just remember to avoid simple carbs and sugars, as their energy boost is fleeting. Stick to complex carbs and sugars that you find in a variety of vegetables and whole grains. If you’re in doubt, talk to the coach.
Preparing the night before the swim competition
The night before the meet is all about the packing. You and your child have a lot of gear to carry and the last thing you want is for them to find they’re missing something important shortly before they’re due to swim. Hopefully, your coach has given you a competition packing list, but here are some things to make sure to remember:
- Bring a number of towels based on the number of races your child will be swimming. You don’t need one for each race, but enough so they aren’t trying to dry off with a soggy towel. Make sure you have one in reserve, so they have a completely dry towel to use at the end of the event.
- Nutritional snacks and hydrating drink. Don’t assume the venue will have the right kind of snacks your child needs. In fact, don’t assume they’ll have any snacks, for sale or otherwise. Snacks that provide energy and that can be digested easily, such as fruit and yogurt, are your best bet.
- It’s easy to remember your kid’s basic gear, but bring some extra ear plugs and goggles, in case something breaks or gets lost.
- If the swim meet is at an outdoor pool, don’t forget the sunscreen, hats, and dry, warm clothes your child can wear over their suit between races.
Lastly, do your best to get your child to keep to their normal sleep schedule. They may have a lot of excited energy the night before. The day before the meet, use what schedule flexibility you have to make sure your child gets to sleep at the right time.
The day of the swim meet
Plan to arrive early! If you do arrive early, your kid can start to prepare without feeling rushed. If there’s weird traffic or any other unexpected events, you’ll still have a good chance of arriving on time!
Once the meet begins – cheer loudly for your kid, make sure they’re staying hydrated and fed, and that you’re all having fun!