Page Topics

The Facility
Advertising and Sponsorship
Meet Officials
The Meet Format
    Individual Events
Competitive Classifications
Event Limitations
The Meet Invitation
The Sanction
Ordering Awards

The Facility:

Circumstances may require the Meet Director to apply for a pool and facility. If the club has made prior arrangements, the Meet Director should confirm the facility's availability for the sanctioned meet date(s). Since some pool facilities are booked months in advance, the Meet Director should submit a facility request or application at least three to six months in advance. All applications must be in writing and should be as specific as possible, requesting the use of all necessary facilities and equipment. A meeting with the Pool Supervisor to discuss the use of the facility (e.g..: traffic patterns, restrictions on use or access, cleanup, etc.) can eliminate future problems. You should assume nothing; everything should be confirmed and verified.

Some commonly requested facilities for a swim meet include: bathrooms and locker rooms, a kitchen, cafeteria or concessions stand area, a rest area for swimmers, a briefing area for officials, a staging or seeding area, a scoring or administrative area, an awards area, a press area, and parking lots.

Commonly needed meet equipment includes: tables, chairs, umbrellas and/or tents, a public address system, an electronic timing system with starting horn and touch pads, bleachers, lane ropes, backstroke flags, false start rope, pace clocks, and starting blocks. Special provisions that the club might need include: overnight parking, overnight security, first aid or emergency room and supplies, and scheduled times to effect pre-meet setup and preview the facility for safety problems.


The Meet Director should pay close attention to the safety of the swimmers, coaches, officials, parents, volunteers and spectators at the meet. A goal of the BSF is to raise the safety awareness of all attendees at swim meets. A safe and successful meet is a priority for the Meet Director and for the BSF. The Meet Director can help achieve this priority by striving to provide a safe environment at the meet.

First, the Meet Director should use common sense to ensure a safe meet. The meet organizers should not put swimmers, volunteers or spectators into unsafe situations. The Meet Director is responsible for ensuring that the club conducts all aspects of the meet in safety. Following the guidelines listed below will accomplish this:

  • A committee composed of at least the Meet Director, the Facility Manager and the host club or organization's safety person should inspect the venue for "unsafe" conditions or circumstances (e.g..: locked exits, unsecured starting platforms, protrusions or holes in the deck, slippery areas, overloaded electrical sockets in the cafeteria or concession stand area). The committee should correct these items as necessary. They should clearly mark or block hazards that they cannot eliminate. Any person seeing an unsafe situation or activity within the venue of the swim meet should request that the activity stop. They should report the situation to the Meet Director or the Referee for a permanent solution.
  • The Meet Director should define the local "venue" and he or she must inform all participating teams of which specific areas of the host facility include the venue. The venue should include the areas on the sides and ends of the pool, all spectator areas (entrance and exit walkways), scoring and administration rooms, team areas (rub down, rest and stretching areas), bathrooms and locker rooms, snack bar or concessions' areas, and any specific areas designated by the meet host or the Meet Director.
  • The Meet Director should post any special safety rules or guidelines particular to the host facility or venue (e.g..: no admittance to wading pool for swimmers more than 8 years-old, etc.).
  • The appropriate meet committee should establish procedures to ensure that all swimmers, coaches, officials and workers on the pool deck are credentialed and authorized to be there.
  • The BSF proposes the following warm-up procedures for all sanctioned meets. These guidelines and procedures: (i) require that the Meet Marshalls supervise the warm-up; and (ii) disallow racing (dive) starts unless supervised by the swimmers' coach(es) or in designated sprint lanes. The Meet Director should prominently post the warm-up and safety guidelines specific to the meet (5 lanes versus 6 lanes versus 8 lanes versus 10 lanes) at several locations around the pool. Persons must follow the guidelines, with the Meet Marshalls having the authority to remove a swimmer, coach or club from the venue for failure to conform.
  • Meet Marshalls should be selected for every meet. They should be responsible individuals who can actively monitor warm-ups and maintain order and safety in the swimming venue. They report to the Meet Director (who assigns them) and/or to the Meet or Session Referee. Marshalls may warn, order to cease and desist, or, with the concurrence of the Referee, remove from the venue anyone behaving in an unsafe manner or whose actions are disrupting the orderly conduct of the meet. To show their authority, the club should give Marshalls an easily identifiable uniform visible to all in the venue. They can wear bright orange vests or armbands, or other brightly coloured means of identification.
  • The Meet Director and the Facility Manager should review emergency evacuation procedures in case of lightning or a fire at the facility. The Meet Director should document these procedures and discuss them with the Referee and the Announcer before the meet. BSF Rules authorize the Meet Director to postpone or cancel the meet before it starts if conditions prohibit safe, fair and equitable conditions of competition, (CR4.7.1). BSF Rules authorize the Referee to postpone or cancel the meet if conditions develop after the meet has started that prohibit safe, fair and equitable conditions of competition (CR4.7.2).

Advertising and Sponsorship:

Being the host to a swim meet is an expensive undertaking. The club partially defrays meet costs with advertising and sponsorship revenue. An "Advertising and Sponsorship Committee" should function year-round. It takes a great deal of time and effort to solicit funds, but a small, dedicated, committee with quality leadership can be very effective. Advertisers should give camera-ready copy and advertisements to the "Meet Programme Committee" at least two weeks before the meet date. Most companies can provide camera-ready materials, eliminating some typesetting costs for the committee. However, they should forewarn sponsors of any copy, logo or photo restrictions for the Meet Programme. If the club signs a contract for in-kind services, they should carefully review the sponsor's special needs (e.g..: free tickets, banners, public address acknowledgments, etc.) with the "Advertising and Sponsorship Committee," the Meet Director and the Facility Manager.

Meet Officials:

BSF Competition Rule CR17.2 requires that officials always fill certain positions during a meet. The minimum number of required officials is:

  • 1 Referee (who may also act as Starter, Stroke Judge or Turn Judge)
  • 1 Starter
  • 4 Stroke Judges
  • 3 or 4 Turn Judges at each end of the pool; preferably one at the end of each lane
  • 2 or 3 Timers per lane
  • 1 Chief Timer
  • 1 Chief Finish Judge (Timing Equipment)
  • 1 Chief Recorder (Computer Equipment)
  • 1 Announcer
  • 1 Clerk of Course (who may also act as Marshall)
  • 1 False Start Rope Person (optional)
  • 1 Finish Judge (optional)

Other suggested meet positions include: Time Card Runners, Deck Marshalls, replacement Timers, awards personnel, and administrative personnel.

The Meet Director is responsible to filling all of the above positions except Referee, Starter and Stroke/Turn Judges. Consult the latest BSF Officials List to contact any Chief Timers, Chief Finish Judges or Chief Recorders.

The Meet Format:

Precedent or BSF Rules may completely or partially dictate meet formats but the Meet Director may be responsible for the compilation of the Meet Invitation or information flyer and the Meet Entry Forms. The Meet Director may also be responsible for the development of a meet format (i.e.: the events offered and the order of those events). In planning any meet, the Meet Director or host club must carefully consider the demands upon the swimmers, officials and spectators, in that order. Long, tiresome, meets with too many events and/or entries often result in poor swims and numerous complaints.

Competition Rule CR3.2 Individual Events:



50/100/200**/400*** metres/yards, 500*** yards, 1500**** metres, 1650**** yards


50/100/200**/400*** metres/yards, 500*** yards, 800**** metres/yards
Breaststroke: 50*/100**/200*** metres/yards 50*/100**/200*** metres/yards
Backstroke: 50*/100**/200*** metres/yards 50*/100**/200*** metres/yards
Butterfly: 50*/100**/200*** metres/yards 50*/100**/200*** metres/yards
Ind. Medley: 100*/200/400**** metres/yards 100*/200/400**** metres/yards

Competition Rule CR3.3 Relays:

Freestyle: 200/400***/800**** metres/yards 200/400***/800**** metres/yards
Medley: 200/400*** metres/yards 200/400*** metres/yards


* = 8 & Under to 9-10; 8 & Under to 11-12 for Ind. Medley 
** = 9-10 to 15 & Over
*** = 11-12 to 15 & Over
**** = 13-14 to !5 & Over

The Meet Director or the host club should plan meets to finish the competitive events within a maximum period of 8 hours in any one-day, provide adequate meal and rest breaks and sheltered rest areas. Excepting championship meets, the programme of events in all age groups for swimmers 12 years and younger should allow for a timed finals' session to be completed in 4 hours or less or in a total of 8 hours or less per day for a preliminaries/finals meet. Coaches can be the most valuable resource in this phase of meet planning. A previously successful meet format and common sense are the best guides.

Competitive Classifications: (Rule CR1.1)

Age Group: All registered swimmers grouped by ages (Rule CR2.1). The host club or organization may establish its own age group classifications for a swim meet (Rule CR2.2.2).

Open: All registered swimmers, whatever age.

Masters: All registered swimmers 25 years of age or older.

Event Limitations:

BSF Rules allow a swimmer to compete in more than 3 individual events on a single day at the same site when they hold preliminaries and finals (CR7.3.2). When using a timed final format, a swimmer cannot compete in more than 5 individual events per day (CR7.3.1). In meets offering a combination of preliminary and final events and timed finals, a swimmer is limited to 3 individual events per day, unless entered exclusively in timed finals events on that day (CR7.3.3).

The Meet Invitation: (General Rule GR8.5.1.1)

A copy of the proposed meet invitation or information flyer must accompany the Sanction Application Form. (See Appendix 2 for a sample meet invitation form).

The Meet Invitation, which the club or Meet Director will mail to other teams, should include:

  • The BSF sanction number.
  • The type of meet (invitational, open water, closed, etc.).
  • The class of meet (age group, open, etc.).
  • The meet sponsor(s) (if applicable).
  • The date(s) and location of the competition (including facility address).
  • The starting time(s) for warm-up and competition.
  • A description of the facilities (including the timing system, number of lanes, length of course, etc.).
  • The name, address and telephone number of the Meet Director or contact person.
  • The entry deadline.
  • The entry fees and surcharge information for individual and relay events.
  • The order of events with event numbers, appropriate time standards (if applicable), and the type of meet (e.g..: timed finals, preliminaries/finals).
  • Entry times for yards or metres.
  • Entry limitations per swimmer and overall meet limitations.
  • An explanation of the scoring system and awards.
  • A complete description of the entry procedure, including appropriate entry forms.
  • A clear and specific description of scratch procedures and penalties that should conform to BSF Rules.
  • Any other pertinent information (e.g..: a city map, a list of areas hotels and restaurants, spectator admission fees, price of heat sheets or meet programme, daily weather/temperature averages, etc.).

The entry deadline must allow sufficient time for meet seeding and the production of heat sheets or meet programmes.

The Sanction: (GR8.5)

The lead-time required for a Sanction Application is 42 days before the meet. The club must pay the Sanction Fee at the time that they apply for the sanction and attach a copy of the meet invitation and programme of events. (See Appendix 3 for a sample Sanction Application Form).


Once the BSF assigns a Sanction Number to the application, mail the approved Meet Invitation and Programme of Events to the invited teams, swimmers or any other individual(s) designated by the BSF. The Meet Director should consult the BSF Assistant Secretary on any matters regarding circulation of the Meet Invitation.

Ordering Awards:

Awards can be the single largest expense for a swim meet. The club or Meet Director should consider the competition and any specific awards requirements of the BSF Rules when selecting awards. The BSF guideline is to award medals for first through third place, with ribbons given to the fourth through eighth place competitors.

Sufficient lead-time for ordering awards is essential. The suppliers usually require a minimum of six weeks from the time the order is placed to actual delivery. Ordering awards that are not prepackaged might save some expense, especially if the club orders less than 2,000 pieces. The club or Meet Director should always order extra awards to allow for ties or errors. Where swimmers enrolled, or contemplating enrolling, in college or university in the USA participate, hosts and swimmers should be aware that the cost or value of any prizes may affect the swimmers' college eligibility to compete.

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