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Chap 5: Swim Meets

There are two basic types of meets you will encounter as a parent: Saturday morning meets, which are scored dual meets (so-called "A" meets), and Monday night meets, which are unscored dual meets, and are called developmental or "B" meets. Saturday Meets consist of 38 Individual events and 12 Relays. The events swum for each stroke and age group are shown below. Remember, each pool length is 25 meters.

Who Swims in "A" Meets?

These meets, which are run under the auspices of the NVSL, are to see who can score the most points, so the fastest swimmers get to swim. Three swimmers from each team can be entered in each individual event, and no swimmer from either team may swim more than two individual events. Since swimmers take vacations and go places such as scout camp, and a swimmer can swim in only two events (plus relays) in any meet, you don’t necessarily have to be one of the three fastest swimmers to swim in a Saturday meet. Who swims an event may seem to be a mystery. However, after the first meet, both teams know the other swimmers’ times, so we try to position our swimmers to optimize our points and win. There is much deliberation and attention to the previous meet sheets of the opposing team. Consideration will also be given to attendance and participation at practice, but ultimately it is the need of the team that determines the placement of the swimmers on the meet sheet.

Meet sheets are finalized the Thursday before each Saturday meet. While the coaches will notify your swimmer if he or she is swimming that Saturday, the preliminary meet sheet will be emailed to the team by Friday morning. It is your responsibility to check the meet sheet. If your swimmer is unable to make the meet for any reason, please notify the  team rep as soon as possible, so that another swimmer might swim. Even if your son/daughter suddenly becomes ill early Saturday morning, please notify the team rep immediately, as it might not be too late for another swimmer to be contacted. Scratches can be made anytime prior to the start of a race.


Once the meet sheet and team roster are exchanged with the opposing team on Thursday evening prior to the Saturday morning meet, no changes can be made on the meet sheet. However, scratches can be made the day of the meet up until a particular race is called to begin. Ideally, once the team rep and coaches know which team members are present, they record their scratches for the scorers and the announcer, so that the changes can be noted as the meet progresses. A substitute swimmer must be on the team roster and must not have a faster time in that event than the swimmer being scratched. A swimmer may not be scratched in to a slot if there was no swimmer listed there on the original meet sheet.

Swimming Up and Aging Up

For each NVSL meet, participants’ ages are established as of June 1.  They retain that age through the rest of the summer season.  

“Swimming Up” is a coaching tactic allowed by the NVSL in dual meets. A swimmer may be placed in a race for an older age bracket. There are various reasons for doing this. It allows the team to “fill the meet sheet,” if there are gaps in the older age groups, giving the team at least a chance to earn points in those races. It also gives swimmers who normally wouldn’t swim in a Saturday meet, a chance to swim. And, it can strengthen swimmers by having them race with older swimmers. Some swimmers enjoy the challenge of “ swimming up.” Others hate it. Swimmers are not allowed to “swim up” in the mixed age relays, nor are they allowed to “swim up” at relay carnivals or the divisional meet.

The Ladder

The ladder is a listing of the current fastest times each swimmer on the team has achieved in each stroke the child has swum. Hopefully, all swimmers will have a time for each of the four strokes — freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. There will be a boys’ ladder and a girls’ ladder for each age group and each stroke. 

The ladder is a way for the swimmers to see how their times compare to other swimmers in their age group. Ideally, it should be used as an incentive for swimmers to work hard to improve their times.

It is also a useful tool for the Coaches when they are putting together the meet sheets for the Saturday meets, the divisional relay carnival, and divisionals. But, it is not the only information on which they base their decisions. They also rely on information about the other teams and their knowledge of our own swimmers from practices, so that they can put together the best set of swimmers for each event.

Getting to the Meets

Home Meets – An arrival time will be announced prior to the meet. Each swimmer should be in the designated team area, ready to go into the water for warm ups at the appointed time. Team members who are not swimming in the meet are encouraged to attend to cheer on their teammates.

Away Meets – The team caravans to away Saturday meets. A time is set for all cars, drivers, and swimmers to meet in the DH parking lot for swimmer check-in. Driving directions to the away pool and streamers for the cars will be distributed at that time. 

Arriving at Away Meets – The swimmers are to congregate in the host pool’s parking lot and enter the pool area as a team. Please treat the other team’s pool facility as if it were your own.

Please call the Team Rep’s cell phone if your swimmer suddenly absolutely cannot be present at an NVSL meet they are scheduled to swim in so another swimmer can be given a chance to swim in their place.


In Saturday meets, the home team is assigned lanes 1, 3, and 5, while the visiting team is assigned lanes 2, 4, and 6. The fastest swimmers swim in lanes 3 and 4, the next fastest in lanes 1 and 2, and the third fastest in lanes 5 and 6. Swimmers are seeded based upon their fastest times attained in prior competition. Lane 1 is always on the right side as you stand facing the pool at the starting end.

Meet Sheets

While all NVSL meets have an announcer, the best way to follow the meet is with a meet sheet, which lists all the events, swimmers, and seed times. Meet Sheets are are distributed by email.


In the individual events, a first place finish earns 5 points for the team, a second place, 3 points, and a third place finish, 1 point. Relays are scored as 5 points for the first place team and 0 points for the second place team. There are 404 points up for grabs in a Saturday meet. Unless there is one or more places not awarded in an event due to DQs or lack of swimmers, you need anything more than 202 points to win. And, yes, meets are sometimes won by 1 point, or even end up in a tie. In the event of a tie in an individual event, the points for the places involved are equally split among the swimmers who tied. For example, in a two-way tie for second place, each swimmer earns 2 points for their team (3 points for second plus 1 point for third equals 4 points, half for each swimmer). No third place would be awarded because the next swimmer is fourth. For a third place tie, each swimmer is awarded 1/2 point.

Disqualifications (DQs) and False Starts

A swimmer will be disqualified (or “DQd”) if he/she does not follow the rules of the stroke or false starts. These items are covered in more detail in Chapter 7.

Developmental (Monday Night) Meets

Monday night meets are basically the same as Saturday morning meets except as follows:

  • 6 & Under events are held at the option of the competing teams.
  • IM events are added for 10 & Unders, 11-12s, 13-14s, and 15-18s at some meets.
  • Multiple heats of each event are usually held for the younger swimmers, and ribbons are given according to the swimmer’s place in their heat.
  • Events may be combined in order to shorten the duration of the meet.
  • There are no relays in these meets. While you may sometimes hear these called “B” meets, at Dominion Hills everyone is part of the same team, and we don't really have an "A" and a "B" team. All swimmers are strongly urged to swim in Monday night meets. Even swimmers who swam on Saturday can use Monday night meets to work on their weaker strokes. However, they are not allowed to swim an event in which they placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd on the previous Saturday.
  • Unless announced otherwise, swimmers are only allowed to swim in two events at a Monday night meet. Please be sure your swimmer signs up for Monday night meets prior to Monday evening.


    While swimmers’ individual times and improving on those times are the most important result of swim meets, in many swimmers’ minds, getting ribbons is their source of gratification for a job well done. Saturday meet ribbons are prepared during the meets. They will be passed out by the coach following the meet. Listen during the meet for an announcement of the designated meeting place. Ribbons from Monday night meets are not prepared during the meet, but will be placed in the family folders in the team mail box as soon as they are ready, or handed out by the coach at the Friday pep rallies.

    Relay Carnival

    At Relay Carnival, teams are not seeded. Each team’s lane assignment for the first event is based upon the luck of the draw and the teams then rotate one lane to the left after each event. The meet sheet lists only the team swimming in each lane in each event (except for All-Star Relay Carnival).

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