Heat Sheet – How To

Heat Sheet – How To

When at a swim meet, the Heat Sheet typically ends up looking like Ikea instructions at the end of a project. It is highlighted, inked, crinkled, soggy … it is well loved. The Heat Sheet tells you what teams are at the meet, how many events there are and what the timeline is. It might even tell you what food is offered at the concessions stand or if there is a local vendor for the all important link to swimsuits and goggles. That’s really not the most important part of a heat sheet …

The HEAT SHEET tells you when your kid swims … and what the competition looks like.

The Heat Sheet tells you when your kid swims … and what the competition looks like. Let’s face it … we look at how the competition stacks up. We do. We might not tell our kids … but we do. That said … how in the world do we read this crazy thing. If you are lucky enough to be in a region that DOES heat sheets (as opposed to deck seeding – I’ll tell you about that in a minute), then you have all the valuable information you need to help your swimmer make it to their event, heat and lane … fully prepared.

A Heat Sheet usually costs between $3 and $10 at swim meets (depending on whether it is for one day or the entire meet). Oh … here’s another cue … always take some cash to a swim meet! Once you have your Heat Sheet, you look to find the event your swimmer is swimming in. Once that is located, find the heat and lane they will swim. Grab the ever-needed Sharpie and write it on their arms. DON’T FORGET to say WHAT they are swimming. I’ve made that mistake a time or two … or screwed it up. It’s not something you want to get wrong. Trust me! I typically highlight the event, heat and lane and then write out the grid. E stands for Event, H stands for heat and L stands for lane. I usually write it on an arm or leg … that way they have it with them all day and kids at school can accuse them of cheating on a quiz … ha.

Here is an example of one of my daughter’s recent races. The grid is how I would write out her events of the day.  I only do a grid for the races of one day. Each day should get a fresh one. This allows her to watch the board, know when her event is coming and when she needs to warm up, talk to coach and be behind the blocks. After 9 years … it’s pretty straight forward, but even beginning … it works like a charm. My younger swimmer has no problem managing her races as long as she has it.

Some events are deck seeded. You will see a different looking event list for these. These require positive check in when your swimmer gets to the meet. After they know for sure what swimmers are swimming them, they will seed them and then a supplemental Heat Sheet page will be generated and usually provided to coaches as well as posted at the pool. These deck seeded events are typically events that take longer amounts of time (5-12 minutes as opposed to seconds).  Here’s an example:

When you see this in your Heat Sheet … no worries. Have your swimmer positive check in and write on their grid the event number and what type of race it is. They can add the heat and lane when it is seeded.

Note: If you see NT next to a swimmer … it means No Time. The swimmer hasn’t officially swam that race yet and they will get a time for the next time they swim it (provided they don’t DQ … disqualify)

We have been on teams in regions where almost all swim meets are pre-seeded. I love!!! We have also been in regions where literally the entire meet is deck seeded. That can be really stressful because usually the seeding comes out a couple races at a time, so your swimmer hasn’t a clue where they need to be … until shortly before their races. I AM NOT A FAN! I strongly believe we need to set people up for success, and this is not empowering them to success. Literally have stood in 100+ degree weather waiting for the seeding to come out (with 100 or more other parents) for the next event. The swimmers are sitting in the shade trying to keep calm while they are terrified they will miss their race. Who thinks these things up (Southern California Swimming … just saying!)

Hopefully this will take away a few of the questions first time swim parents have at a swim meet. Share it with your friends.

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