1. How does the bullpen work?
In the last year or so, we’ve revamped our bull pen
procedures to make it so much easier than in the past. Please take the time to read all this to the end
so you are better informed as to what is involved.
A little background: When swimmers are
called to the pool and enter the pool 2 area, they should know
their heats and lanes. Swimmers aged
10 and under must have their events, heats,
and lanes written on their hands.
(Sharpies work best.) Older swimmers
should be reminded of this information before they enter Pool 2;
otherwise, Bull pen III workers are instructed to send older
swimmers to the heat sheet posted at the entrance to pool 2 to find
it out. (The information written on the hands of the 10 and unders
helps the bull pen III workers guide the younger swimmers to their
heats.) We ask that parents stay out of
the pool 2 area, as it tends to get too crowded.
Bull Pen III: We’ve purchased a
soccer scoreboard to help make bull penning as visual as
possible. This scoreboard indicates
exactly which event is currently being gathered. There are easy to read signs indicating heats
posted along each window along the eastern wall of Pool 2. The swimmers are to simply walk to the
window that indicates their particular heat. The Bull Pen III workers (typically two of them at
a time) are there to guide them if they need help. (For relays, workers simply attach brightly
colored cards with the name of the team to each of the window
placards.) The swimmers are not organized by lane at this
point. This is the job of
Bull Pen II: When all (or mostly all) of an event is gathered,
the swimmers are moved along the wall closer to the blocks. At this point, the bull pen II worker makes
sure that the six swimmers of each heat are in the proper
order. There is a second heat sheet
posted at this point so that the older swimmers are able to do this
on their own. Still, the bull pen II
workers are there to assist, if needed, and to make sure that any
swimmers who enter the bull pen at the last minute are placed in
the proper order quickly. When a heat
curves around to the doors between the pools…
At times, the bull pen area can be a warm,
noisy place. There are several things
that can be done to mitigate the situation. First of all, swimmers may use pool 2 as a warm
up, cool down pool only. In the past,
it has ended up a pool party in there.
(‘can’t say that I blame them; the water looks pretty
inviting and they certainly have a great time together.) This will not be allowed anymore. The lifeguard will ask them to get out if
they are not warming up or cooling down.
Also, bull pen workers should dress for the
occasion. Light clothing (absolutely no
sweaters!) should make one comfortable.
Water will be available on the pool deck to keep workers
hydrated. Workers should feel
completely free to step away when it’s their children’s
race so as not to miss a thing. Just
let your co-workers know so that they can pick up the slack. (That is why we have two volunteers in bull
Different meets require different
procedures. We reserve the right to
alter any of these procedures to fit the circumstances. (For example, there may be modifications to the 8
and under segment of meets because of their young ages.) For that reason, there is always a bull pen
meeting one-half hour before the start of a session to discuss any
changes and answer any questions.
Thanks for reading this all the way
through. Please email Pat Costigan at
2. What do I need to know about
Your child’s first swim meet is an
exciting occasion for them. If possible, attend a novice meet to
learn to the ropes in a smaller, slower paced environment. However,
any meet can be a “first meet,“ and coming prepared and
knowing what to expect can make the experience even more positive
for both them and you.
What to Bring:
1. Highlighter to mark up the heat sheet and a
sharpie to mark your child’s hand.
2. Something to sit on and something to do.
(It’s a long day!)
3. Extra towels and clothes. Your child will be
in and out of the water several times during the day and will spend
time waiting in a wet swim suit. Some kids like sweat pants, some
like a bath robe, and others want a dry tee shirt.
4. Healthy snacks or money for concessions, or
both. Swimming makes kids hungry, but it is some times difficult to
get out and pick up lunch. Either there isn’t time between
events, parking is an issue, or you are at a pool in an area you
aren’t familiar with. Healthy snacks never go amiss when kids
are working hard.
What to do:
* Heat Sheets and Relays. When you arrive at
the meet, help your child find their coach so they can warm up, and
then buy a heat sheet. Go through the heat sheet and highlight your
child’s events. Be sure and check each relay for your
child’s division to see if they have been assigned to a relay
team. The coaches assign the kids to the teams so your child may be
on a relay team even though they did not sign themselves up for
one. As the meet progresses, you can follow along in the heat sheet
to gage approximately how much time they have until their next
After your child returns from warm up, use the
sharpie to write their event numbers, heats, and lanes on their
hand. Make a small table with the headings E H L, and then fill in
the event, heat and lane numbers for each of their events. The
sharpie wears off quickly because they spend so much time in the
water; in a day or two, it will be gone.
If your child knows the other kids on their
relay team, try to find them to make sure they know they are on a
relay team and to make it easier for the kids to find each other
when it is time for the relay.
* Set up your stuff. Much of the time you and
your child will be hanging out in the gym. Some folding chairs or a
blanket, and something to read or a card game to play can make this
more pleasurable. This is also a good reason to volunteer at meets.
Besides the fact that the meets can’t happen without parental
involvement, meets are a lot more fun and interesting when you have
something to do and you are getting to know the other parents and
* Follow the system. Meets have a bullpen when
parent volunteers get the kids lined up and ready for the event.
Find out where the bullpen is and then make sure you child is there
with their cap and goggles when their event is called. The events
happen very quickly, sometimes with "fly over starts" with the kids
from the next event jumping in over the heads of the kids who just
finished an event and are still in the pool. In order for the meet
to run smoothly, the kids line up several events before their
* Have your child talk to their coach. The
coaches like to talk to each child after each event. They may need
to wait quietly for a moment while the coach watches another child
swim, but will turn their focus on your child at the first
opportunity. The coaches watch each child very closely and can
provide specific feedback.
If your child is DQed, it means that they
failed to follow all the rules for their event. It is a learning
experience and gives them something concrete to focus on in
practice. They may be told by the stroke and turn judge why they
were DQed or they may not. Either way, the coach will help them
understand what they need to work on.
* Celebrate each milestone with your child.
Their first meet is a momentous occasion. For some children, their
first time off a starting block is another, or their first flip
turn. Adding a new stroke to their repertoire, or completing their
first medley or distance events are all accomplishments to be
celebrated as much as shaving seconds off their time. Focusing on
your child doing their personal best and pushing themselves beyond
their comfort zone helps make swimming a more positive experience
than comparing them to how other children performed in the same
Enjoy the meet! Meets take time and effort, but
they are wonderful experiences for our kids. We only have a few
short years to provide them with these kinds of enriching
experiences before they grow up.