Swimming is a sport for everyone and it's a great way to stay fit. You don't have to swim professionally. You can swim in your own free time or you can swim on a competitive team. I am on a year-round team called PASA (Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics) and swimming is a great way to relieve my daily stress and clear my mind before study time. Swimming is also a good way to learn time management—because I have a swim schedule, I do not have time to waste. I've learned to set aside an allotted time to do homework and I remind myself that in that short period of time, I must finish all of my homework. Time management is a lifelong skill.
What events are in a swim meet?
There are different events in a swim meet and the distances usually range from 50s (two laps in a 25-yard pool and one lap in a 50-meter pool) to 500s (20 laps in a 25-yard pool and 10 laps in a 50-meter pool). Sometimes swimmers swim the mile, which is 1,650 yards (66 laps).
There is also another event called the individual medley. This event is a combination of all the main strokes in the following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. However, if you are swimming in a medley relay, the order changes slightly to backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.
There are two different seasons in swimming: short course and long course. Short course season starts in September and finishes around March. The pools that swimmers compete in are 25-yard pools with eight lanes devoted to the competition and one or two devoted to warm up and warm down. Long-course season starts around April and goes throughout the summer.
What is a "warm down" and why is it important?
Warming down is when you swim slowly after you just swam in a race. In meets there is usually a place to warm down. It's usually better to warm down twice the amount you swam in a race. For example, if you swam a 200 free, then you should warm down a 400 stroke.
It's also important to stretch and warm up before a race, so you don't pull a muscle. A typical meet warm up includes swimming a little less than a mile, then doing push pace, which is where you swim a stroke really fast in a specific lane. The goal of push pace is to get your heartbeat up. After that, you practice some starts and then get ready for your race. It's always important to stay warm at a meet; otherwise you will not swim as well.
What are "heats" or "rounds"?
In swimming, you swim in heats, or rounds, in specified lanes. If the meet is a trial and final meet, then the top swimmers in the trials get to swim in the finals. You can find information about the heat and lane you are in by looking at the boards by the waiting area.
What are some pros and cons of being on a swim team?
Being on a swim team is fun. You make fantastic friends since there are so many people and you practice almost every day with them. Also, you learn to make personal goals and achieve them throughout the season. Team relays are fun too. Friends, teammates, parents and coaches all contribute to the cheering section and it gets you pumped up with adrenaline.
Like any sport, swimming also has its downsides. Swimming in the winter is not the most fun thing to do, especially when hot water is limited in the locker room after a long and strenuous practice. Also, you may feel frustrated when you do not get your best times at a meet, but the main thing to remember is to keep moving forward. You will have another chance the next time.
Finally, remember two things while swimming: wear sunscreen and have fun.
Youth reviewer: Sarahjeet Dosanjh
Reviewed by: Sharanjit Dosanjh, RN
Last reviewed: September 2019