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Swim Meet Survival Kit

Written for new swim parents by “seasoned” swim parents :)

First, Welcome to the summer swim season with the Copperfield Dolphins Swim Team (COPP). The team is part of the Northwest Aquatic League (NWAL). We are placed in the Houston Area Swim League within the Red 4 Division.

We decided to create this little informative guide to help ease new swim parents into the world of summer swimming. This may include; the weekly grind of practices, the Saturday dual meets, packing of swim bags with essentials, and possibly to traveling to invitational meets. We were all new to this sport, at some point, and to the logistics of swim meets. It may seem confusing and daunting at first but we hope that this “guide” will help clear things up around the various meet volunteer jobs available to the parents, how swim meets run and what to expect and bring when attending a dual meet (required) and any invitational meet (NOT required). 

Swim meets can’t happen without the parents. We can’t stress that enough. We are needed to volunteer our time to work various positions, donate occasionally to the snack stand (fundraiser), while also supporting our little swimmers throughout the season.

Ultimately, we do this for our children. We really hope you all decide to volunteer your time in some way and get involved in the various aspects that help make a swim meet run smoothly. It not only can make the meets seem quicker from a parents’ perspective but it can also be rewarding.

What do I bring to a swim meet?

  • Competition suit
  • Goggles
  • Team cap (optional)
  • Sun screen
  • Towels
  • Extra suit, goggles, caps
  • Healthy snacks (fruit, granola, Goldfish, crackers, etc.)
  • Warm clothes
  • flip ­flops
  • Swim bag
  • Chair (or stadium cushion)
  • Family Tent
  • Water/drinks/coffee, etc
  • Pen, Sharpie, highlighter
  • Snacks (or money to support the snack stand)
  • Printed directions.
  • A readiness to get “loud and proud” for the kids.

What to expect from a Dual Meet:

Dual meets are competitions between two teams; we travel to some and host others. They occur on Saturdays and tend to begin in early morning (typically a 8:30 am start time). The swimmers will be expected to arrive early and an email (usually the night before) will provide more specific details. Our home meets are at Park Falls Pool in Southcreek Subdivision and they get CROWDED, to say the least. We have space for families on the outside of the pool area. Parking at the pool parking lot is reserved, so try to arrive early to get parking nearby. Weather during the Meets tend to be HOT also, so dress appropriately.

Swim meets have a specific order of events, you can find that within the Meet/Visitor Info Section of this website.  There are a total of 82 events at our swim meets, each event may have multiple heats depending on the number of swimmers registered for that event.  There are two types of events, Individual and Relay.  Coaches will place swimmers in events that they think they are strong and where they think they can best help the team. The term ‘psych’ sheet will be thrown around. This is the meet event schedule and includes what events the swimmers are swimming for the particular meet. Usually two types of this sheet are available, one by event and one by swimmer. Either the coaches and/or the parent volunteers at the team tents will help the swimmers write their events on their person, usually on the forearm. This helps the swimmers remember their events. Parent volunteers help throughout the meet to get swimmers to their events in an orderly fashion. 

Once the meet is underway, the Referee and Starter will progress through the meet ‘psych’ sheet in order until finished. The meets tend to end around 3:00 pm. Yes, swim meet days are long and can be quite exhausting. Swimmers tend to swim 2­-3 events per meet and should stay with the team during the entire event. It is not uncommon for teammates to cheer on swimmers when they are not swimming or play cards, listen to music, etc to pass time. They must stay in the team tent during the entire meet though (unless they leave to get a quick snack, restroom, etc.)

What to expect from an Invitational Meet:

An invitational is a meet, throughout the season, that COPP may attend as a team, individually or as a group. These meets are not required, cost a fee per event and are usually a fun seasonal or themed event. The invitationals tend to have qualifying time requirements; therefore, eligibility may depend on their fastest times. Volunteers for these meets are provided solely by the host team. These meets are usually communicated via email several weeks prior to entry deadlines for the meet.  These meets may require an early wake-up time and travel (typically within an hour from home) but you can leave when your swimmer completes their final event.


Volunteering for jobs for the meets will be done through the team website. An email will be sent prior to a meet for signing up for jobs and donations. Again, the swim meet can’t take place without all our help in volunteering. Many of the volunteer positions are for half of the meet; therefore, make sure to sign-up based on what makes sense for your schedule.  But please, use your best judgement based on your child’s needs and don’t hesitate to ask any questions if you’re unsure.

Feel free to review the Volunteer Position Descriptions listed under the "Volunteering section of the website.


Throughout the season, we will be offering a number of ways you can support the Copperfield Dolphins Swim Team.

  • Spirit Nights Opportunities to grab dinner for the family while support the team
  • Dolphin Diner (home meets only) visiting the snack stand and donating to the snack stand helps the team raise money during each home meet.
  • Dolphin Dash (AKA: Swim­-A-­Thon) This is our primary fundraising event we do each season in which swimmers collect sponsors based on the number of laps they swim. 
  • Social Events  We often have a team events prior to our first dual meet, during the season, and an end of year banquet. The Events Coordinator needs people to help: schedule and plan fun activities, parents who are willing to volunteer at the events along with offer donations of supplies and/or treats.
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