What happens at a swim meet (carnival)?: A Guide

The following article was written for the team in advance of the relay carnival (2017). It contains information on what to expect at any carnival or swim meet with a few specific tips to the annual relay carnival.

Many of you are experienced hands at this and for some of you, it is your very first carnival, so here is a hopefully comprehensive guide to your first time out. If you’re nervous or unsure, just latch onto someone who has done it before – there will be lots of us around.
Diet & Nutrition: 
I know everyone is anti-carb these days, but you will be racing 5 times over a period of about 6 hours. Having a great pasta dinner on Saturday night is not a bad idea. Bring a few sweet hits, protein bars, muesli bars or whatever floats your boat for between races on Sunday. The cafe at the pool is also open serving coffee and a pretty ordinary assortment of food. Bite size snickers are a great idea (protein in peanuts and sugar – as good as a protein bar), snakes, and I personally like Up ‘n Go instead of a meal at mid-day. You can also pack a sandwich or any other lunchtime items you might like to bring.
Hydration: Stay hydrated! Bring a water bottle and keep re-filling it throughout the day. Sports drinks such as powerade or Gatorade are optional – I use a diluted version as there is too much sugar in the normal serving, but it is up to you on that one.
What to wear??
The pool deck at Homebush Bay varies, but is usually on the cold side – bring your hoodies and parkas if you own them, warm leggings or track pants, long-sleeve shirts, socks, and pool thongs or sandals. Also bring 2-3 towels and try to keep one reasonably dry for the end of the day. Small sports towels can also be handy.
Equipment – check your cap – is it tight? Are your goggles alright to dive in with? Have a back-up pair of goggles in case of breakage! Make sure you bring to the pool swimmers to warm up in and then change into ones you are racing in.If you own a racing suit, great! – I want you on my relay. Otherwise, just wear the tightest training suit you own so it doesn’t drag extra water, but one that is still comfortable enough (and modest enough?) to bend over and dive in the pool.
Team Gear
All members of the club in 2017 each should receive a North Sydney swim cap. If you do not already have yours, then ask Georgie for one at Homebush Bay. Extras are available at cost. Georgie will also have an assortment of t-shirts, hoodies and whatever other older inventory we happen to have on hand, so if you are in need of some North Sydney Active wear, Sunday is the time to buy! Oh.. and welcome Georgie as our new volunteer Equipment Manager!!
At the pool
Plan to arrive a few minutes before warm-up begins at around 8:20 or 8:25am. Communicate with your teammates and plan to carpool if you can. Parking costs ~$15 on the day and you will likely need to get your ticket validated at the front desk.
Where to sit: Look for the North Sydney banner (assuming we find it between now and Sunday) in the far bleachers down near the diving tank. If the banner isn’t up, look for a lot of people dressed in red North Sydney gear and find yourself a seat.
Find your teammates:If you don’t know everyone you are swimming with, and you see unfamiliar faces sitting with the team, introduce yourself! The last swimmer on each relay should be responsible for rounding up your relay in each event. However, it they are swimming immediately beforehand, that is not always possible, so help each other out!.
Marshaling: You may want to keep a summary of just your relays and teams nearby. Announcements will be made regularly to direct all teams swimming in a particular event to the marshaling area. This is on the pool deck below the bleachers. The marshals will sit you in chairs according to your heat and lane, so be ready to jump and sit down when they call your team. (It helps to look at the program so you know your heat and lane number in advance).
Warm-up: As we age, warming up takes longer…. keep this in mind. I recommend 700 to 1000m warm-up during the warm-up time and then dress warmly and stay warm. The lanes will be marked by stroke and speed during warm-up. No diving is allowed – please remember to enter feet first except in the marked practice dive lane. Please abide by the signage if you want to avoid being berated by fellow masters swimmers who love to feel the power of authority.
General Warm-up Tips (for any swim meet):
  • If you want to practise diving off the blocks you need to be there at the start of the meet – warm –up in the comp pool is usually ½ hour before. At the official warm up time you must jump in the water, except on the practice dive lane, and swim in the correct stroke lane.If you turn up later, there will be lanes available to warm-up in.
  • Aim to swim at least 400 metres and then some sprint work to get your heart rate up.
  • Practise your starts and turns.
  • Try to complete your warm-up about an hour before racing.
  • After each event you need to warm- down – swim at least 100 metres for sprint events and longer distance according to what you have just raced to get rid of lactic.
Before & After Races: There will likely be 2 or 3 warm-up / warm-down lanes. If it has been several hours since your last race, you might want to jump in for a 2nd 300 to 500 warm-up. For warm-downs, you should be warming down a minimum of 200m or 3 x the distance you just raced – whichever is longer. Just be sure not to miss marshaling or your next race, so keep an eye on the events and your event numbers.
Rules & Disqualifications: There will be judges on deck to ensure they do not see any false starts, early relay takeovers, illegal strokes, or illegal turns. If you are unsure of rules or want a quick review of the rules, check out this youtube video: https://youtu.be/iA_AkvAlzAk?list=PL6AAC226BB84235BB
Medley Relay Order: The order for Medley relays is Back-Breast-Fly-Free (BBFF). Please do not confuse it with the order of an individual medley!
Meet program with any other venue / program details can be found found on the MSNSW website (for all NSW swim meets) in advance of the carnival.
Don’t forget to help out with time-keeping and cheer on your fellow swimmers – you will find the time passes quickly.
Don’t forget to find out what social activities might be planned after the carnival!
And so ends my guide to your first carnival. I hope I’ve captured everything.
See you on the pool deck!
Yours in swimming and social times,
Pool Captain