Swim Team FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve never been to a swim meet, or never had a child on a swim team, or just have questions about how things go at the Meadows, we’ve tried to cover a lot of the questions you might have. For anything not addressed here, ask your child’s coach, the head coach, or one of the other parents who seem to know their way around.

1. Who can be on the swim team?

Any Meadows Club child no older than 18 years of age by May 15 of the current year, willing to come to practice regularly, work hard, make friends and have fun.

2. How many children are usually on the swim team?

On average there are around 125 children. Each age group can have anywhere from 15 to 35 children in it in any given year. There tends to be more girls than boys.

3. How long does the swim team season run?

The season lasts 11 weeks. Two weeks of after school practices and then 9 weeks of morning practices.

4. Do you have a pre-swim team?

Yes. For children of any age who are interested in the swim team but are not quite ready for the rigors of the regular team or are still working on their stroke proficiency, the club offers a pre-team. The pre-team is coached by one of the regular team coaches. This team usually practices 2-3 mornings a week and for just one hour. At some point during the summer, if a child and their coach feel they are ready, they will be allowed to enter a race at one of the home swim meets to get some experience with a meet.

5. What does the registration fee pay for?

The registration fee covers, for the most part, the coaches’ salaries but also includes the Spaghetti Dinner, the Sleepover, the Coaches’ gifts at the end of the season that are given to each swimmer, the year end gifts given to the coaches, and the awards given at the season ending banquet.

6. What does the registration fee not pay for?

Your swim team fee does not cover swimsuits, Water World, age group activities (eg. Miniature Golf, Gondo and Go Carts, Laser Storm etc), pictures, stroke clinics, entry fees for extra swim meets (eg. Pentathlon, Hot Shots/Long Shots, etc.), and the Swim Team Banquet.

7. Does my child really need to come to practice every day?

Swimming is a sport that requires a lot of specific technique to move efficiently through the water, and a lot of conditioning to strengthen all of the muscles required to move faster. The summer swim league is actually a rather short season, relatively speaking, and yes, all of the practices are important for your child’s success. That being said, we support healthy, balanced, kids and know that many of them are in a number of other activities, Keep reading…

8. My child also plays or does _____________, (fill in basketball, soccer, baseball, theatre, Circus, or any other activity important to your child) and their camp interferes with swim practice. Can he/she still be on the swim team at Meadows?

Yes. We support balanced kids participating in many activities, and do not want them to be excluded from being on the swim team due to participation in another activity or sport. Let your coach know when your child will be missing practice, and see if any alternate arrangements can be made to keep up his/her conditioning. A lot of the kids will practice with an age group that has an earlier time slot for practice during the week of their camp or they may be able to get a written workout from their coach to swim independently at the pool later in the day.

9. Where do I find out what is going on in general with the swim team?

All information, messages, sign-ups, records, notices, pictures, etc. are posted on this website and on the bulletin board at the club. Please check those locations frequently to get your updates!

10. Do we have to buy a team swimsuit?

NO. Any suit that stays on, covers what it needs to, and is comfortable for your child is fine. Most of the team will have the new team suits. Many will have one (maybe not this year’s design) that can be handed down from the previous year – just ask around.

11. Where do we buy a swimsuit?

The first swimsuit try-on and ordering is on April 8th at the Colorado Swim Shop, at 2525 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, CO 80302 (303-545-2090). They’re great about helping figure out the right size, and will give you a discount on team suits, and anything else you want to purchase.

The second chance to try on and order a suit is on April 18th at the swim team packet pick up and open house at the club from 7-9pm.

12. What else does my child need?

We highly suggest a good, well-fitting pair of goggles, and swim cap. Eliminating the distractions of burning eyes, and floppy hair support every swimmer’s performance. They’ll likely swim faster!

13. How can we get Meadows sportswear?

Meadows sportswear will be available to order during the Open House on April 18th. You can also purchase items at the front desk throughout the summer.

14. I’ve never been to a meet. What happens?

Warm-ups usually begin around 7:00 a.m. Your child’s coach will tell them each week when to be there, you will get it via email, and it will also be posted on this site. If it is an away meet, the home team will communicate to our coaches when they would like us there. Also, different age groups warm up at different times so your child may not need to be there until a slightly later or sometimes earlier time.

As in any sport, it is important to warm up before competing. Even though their events may be quite a bit later, it is important for your child to connect with their coach, find out which events they will be swimming, and swim laps to get familiar with the pool, before the meet starts, especially if it is an away meet.

Shortly before 8am, swimmers in the first events will be called to the heating area in preparation for the first race.

Meadows will do their team cheer. This is a real highlight at each meet. We have, by far, the best cheer of any team! It must be delivered in the loudest voice possible!

The words to the MEADOWS CHEER are:

ALAMAKA – CHING

ALAMAKA – CHOW

ALAMAKA – CHING – CHING – CHOW – CHOW – CHOW

BOOMALAKA – BOOMALAKA

SIS – BOOM – BAH

MEADOWS – MEADOWS

RAH -RAH –RAH!!!

And, if you’d like to hear what it really sounds like, here are a couple of videos from a couple of years ago.


At 8am, the first heat of 8 & under boys will go to the starting blocks for the 100 medley relay. The girls 8 & under 100 medley relay will follow.

The order of events for an entire meet follows the same order every time. The youngest boys age group starts, then the youngest girls age group and so on through the age groups until they have all swum the same type of race (the length of the races is the only thing that changes as the children get older), then the next type of race is begun, again first with the youngest boys, then girls, etc.

In total, there are 90 events (9 events X 2 genders X 5 age groups.)

The sequence of races follows this order:

Medley Relay

Longest Distance Freestyle

Sprint Freestyle

Butterfly

Backstroke

Mid Distance Freestyle

Breaststroke

Individual Medley

Freestyle Relay

15. What should we bring to the meet?

Anything and everything that supports your child’s comfort and success. Some meets have been very cold – sleeping bags, wool socks and hats, and many dry towels help cope with the weather. Shade tents, sunscreen, and folding chairs are standbys for warmer meets. Any performance food that your child likes to eat when competing in a long athletic event is good as well. Every meet, home or away, usually has a snack bar and most also have a grill going. The teams make money on the sales, as the Meadows does, and there is usually quite a wide selection of items available. From drinks to baked goods to candy to the very hearty, and famous, Egg McMeadows, pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs and much more. Neither you nor your child should ever starve.

16. Where should we be at the meets?

The areas that are “off-limits” are behind the starting blocks, the heating area, and the starter’s area. The officials also need enough space to walk easily and safely along the length of the pool, on both sides of the pool. Other than that, wherever you are most comfortable. The kids usually congregate in the team tent, and a few adjacent tents that individual parents bring and set up. A lot of parents come early (when bringing kids for warm-ups) and claim poolside spots.

17. How does my child make it to their races?

Their coach will have a card with their name, event and heat number on it, that he/she will give to your child. Swimmers should either be aware of when their events are approaching or remain in the team tent where they can easily be found by their coach. Girls will be given pink cards and boys will be given blue. The child then goes to the “Heating Area.” The organizers of the heating area will make sure all of the kids are there for the heat, and send or take them to the starting area at the appropriate time. The child then hands the card to the timer in their lane. OR – if your child is 8 & under and swimming a race that is only one length of the pool, the runner will collect the cards and take them to the timers at the other end of the pool.

18. How do I know what races my child swims in?

The coaches will generally tell your child what races they are in, and post a roster for your child’s age group near the team tent that lists each child and the events they are swimming. These are usually posted around 7am. Some coaches might tell the kids what they are swimming at the Friday practice along with sending an email.

19. How long will the meets last? 

Home meets are run most efficiently, and usually end around 1:00pm. Other meets are typically 1:30 – 2:30. It is difficult to predict exactly because of different people running the meets, and different sizes of teams.

20. My child won her heat, but didn’t get a ribbon, why not?

In some events, there will be multiple heats or in other words, the race will be swum several times to allow all of the kids on larger teams the chance to swim. Except for the sprint freestyle race, all heats other than the first one are considered exhibition.

Ribbons are only given to the swimmers in the first heat of each race. In the sprint freestyle race, ribbons are given to the top fastest times for all of the swimmers in that race, no matter what heat they swam in.

At home meets, ribbons are given for all swimmers who score points for the team. These are the top 5 finishers in the individual events and the top 3 teams in the relay events. The home team determines how ribbons are distributed so some away meets may do it slightly different. The ribbons earned from the previous meet are generally distributed at the following Monday morning practice.

21. My child was disqualified – why?

At each meet there are stroke judges who watch each swimmer in each race to insure that a legal technique is being used to swim the stroke. Each stroke (other than freestyle) has certain restrictions or requirements that must be met; otherwise an unfair advantage may be realized. The stroke judge will notify the finish judge of any rules violations and the place results will be adjusted accordingly.

The Boulder Valley Summer Swim League generally follows the standard high school rules with a few exceptions that take into account the young age of some of the participants. The children will be shown the correct way to perform the strokes at practice but some strokes are easier to master than others. If you have any questions as to why your child was DQ’d or what the rules are, please contact your child’s coach.

22. My child can’t do the ________stroke (breast stroke, backstroke, butterfly…) at all. How can they learn to do it?

Depending on your child’s level of commitment and interest, there are a number of ways –

a. They will get some instruction during practice. However, the practices are mostly about conditioning, and with large numbers of swimmers in the pool, there isn’t a lot of time for working with individuals.

b. We typically offer stroke clinics and starts and turns clinics throughout the season that are run by the coaches. These are an additional cost of $15/session. (Less if you pay for all of them at once.) Sign-up is on a first-come, first-serve basis, and these small group clinics are held during regular open swim time during the day. Watch out for emails with info.

c. If your child is looking for a more rigorous, highly technical approach to perfecting their strokes, starts and turns, you can choose to take private lessons from one of the Meadows Club swim team coaches or lifeguards, or work with one of the private swim coaches in the Boulder area. This is outside of the Meadows organization, or team, and is an additional cost for the individual.

23. Sometimes it is really cold in June, or there are thunderstorms around. How do I know if practice or a meet is cancelled due to weather?

Many times you won’t know until you get to the pool, and there will be a sign on the door. You can also call the main office number, and the recording will sometimes give the latest practice or meet information. You may be surprised at how well the kids do, even if the temperatures are cold! We really try to not postpone the meets, unless conditions are unsafe.

24. What is a big/little buddy?

A few weeks into the season, the younger kids will be paired with an older kid on the team (who has expressed interest and commitment to being a big buddy.) The purpose of the Big Buddy program is to build relationships and team support between the age groups. Big Buddies have usually been on the team for a number of years, and they and their parents are a good source of information for both the Little Buddy, and the Little Buddy’s parents.

The Big and Little buddies are expected to get to know each other, and support each other’s participation on the team. Usually before each meet starts your child should find out what races their buddy is swimming in so that they can cheer them on. They can look on the race list for their buddy’s age group for this. They also exchange gifts with some relevance to Meadows, Beavers, swimming, or some other clever swim team connection.

25. Does my child need a gift for his/her buddy for every meet?

NO. Although the kids tend to make the gifts more important (what kid doesn’t love a tumbler full of candy or homemade green rice crispy treats!), we are hoping first and foremost to develop relationships, and a supportive TEAM environment for all of the swimmers.

26. Should I be helping or volunteering to run the meet?

Yes! We always need parents to volunteer at the meets, and there are a lot of different things to do. At the beginning of the season you will receive an email and information at the Open House requesting that you sign up to volunteer at home meets. If we don’t fill the spots, we’ll send more emails until we do:) We ask for100% family participation. In fact, our volunteer program is so critical that we’ve instituted a policy to ensure everyone does their part. You can get more information about volunteering here.

27. How do I know if my kid is doing well during the season?

Talk to your child’s coach. They will have feedback on how your child is doing in practice, and they are keeping an ongoing log of the times recorded at the meets. They are happy to talk with you.

Every family and each child have different types and levels of interest and commitment to swimming. Some are there for the pure fun of it, others for the physical fitness, still others to compete and win. Let your coach know early in the season what your interest is for your child’s swim team experience. If you or the coach can’t talk at practice, the best way to contact them is to write a note and give it to the front desk attendant who will put it in the coach’s personal mailbox. Or, you can email them by finding their email address on their coach’s page.

You are also welcome to bring your own stopwatch and time your child’s events for your own information.

28. The team is going to Water World!  How are they getting there? How long are they staying?When can I pick him/her up? Who will make sure my 8 year old is watched?

The team has been going to Water World for a long day of fun for many years. Typically the head coach gets tickets at a group discount that you can purchase from them at practice the morning of the trip. This day is intended for swim team members only (not siblings who are not participating on the swim team or outside friends, etc.) and are an additional cost for you. The kids usually leave for Water World after their morning practice. At Water World, there will be a designated time and place for the team to meet, and take a team picture, usually around lunch time.

The rest is up to the parents to make it happen. Usually the kids have schemed up who they want to go with, and what they want to do. It is up to the parents to call other parents, arrange car-pooling, lunch, money, and the remaining parental details. The coaches will be there but are not responsible for any of the kids that day. All chaperone duties are up to the parents.

29. What goes on at the team sleepover?

There are a number of different age appropriate activities throughout the evening, depending on what the coaches have planned. The younger crowd usually watches a movie, and “goes to bed” around 11pm. Doughnuts are served the next morning and an regular practice is held before you pick them up. They will be very tired but very happy.

30. What are “Prelims?”

During the last week of the swim season each age group will swim against all of the other teams in the league in their age group. Each age group has its own special day. The meets during the week qualify the 20 fastest swimmers in each event for the Finals meet to be held the following Saturday. This is the culmination of the season, when the kids training hopefully produces their fastest times of the season in the Prelims, and Finals if they advance.

31. My child won’t make it to Finals, should they go to Prelims?

We want every swimmer to participate in Prelims. Many times it is the meet where we see the fastest times, and a lot of growth as swimmers. We have had swimmers surprise us with dramatic improvement in times at this meet – don’t discount the possibility that this might be your child, this year.

Even if there is little likelihood for advancing, the experience is great, and next year might be their year. Familiarity with what goes on will support their success in subsequent years. It is also great for developing sportsmanship and teamwork.

The schedule for Prelims is:

Wednesday, July 18 – 9-10, 11-12 Prelims @ VMAC (Thornton)
Thursday, July 19 – 8 & U, 13-18 Prelims @ VMAC (Thornton)

Decorating the home of big and little buddies before prelims.

32. I can’t make it to the prelims meet during the week. Can my young child still participate?

YES! Hopefully by now you know some other parents and feel comfortable asking them to take your child to Prelims. If that doesn’t work out, see if your coach can help with arrangements.

33. What is the Finals day like?

Finals day starts very early. Usually a group of cars will meet at the Safeway parking lot at Baseline and Foothills at around 6:00 a.m. Many people decorate their cars. Everyone then leaves in caravan and heads to the George Myers pool in Arvada.

The meet is run just like any other meet but on a larger scale. The pool is indoors but there is not enough room for everyone and all of their paraphernalia inside so everyone still sets up their tents, etc. outside as at any other meet.

The meet starts at 8:00 a.m. and concludes around 3:00 p.m. with awards presented afterwards. It is a long day but a great culmination to the season.

34. What happens at the banquet? The banquet is definitely one of the highlights of the swim team. On the Sunday night after Finals, the swimmers and their families are invited to a sit down catered dinner, awards ceremony and DVD show at the club.

Be prepared, this is a very late evening, usually ending somewhere between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. The meal is served first then the coaches bring up each child and say a few words about them. The coaches next give out some funny gag gifts and then dessert is served. It is getting dark by this time. Everyone relocates from the grass near the pond to the grass between the tennis courts and the more serious awards are presented. Following the awards, a DVD show with many wonderful pictures of the swimmers shown to music is presented.

It is truly the best and everyone leaves on a real high!

35. I have more questions. Who can help me?

Here are some suggested resources, depending on the questions:

Age group coach

Head coach, Miles Mackenzie (swim@meadowsclub.org)

Your child’s Big Buddy or their parents

Swim Committee Member (dizonmelani@gmail.com)

Anne Marie Summers, Meadows Program Director (asummers@meadowsclub.org)