The Best Swim Meet Essentials for Parents

Written By: Chevron

Headed to your child’s first swim meet? With any luck, they packed their bag the night before and are ready to go. But what about you? Do you know what essentials to pack and bring to a swim meet?

For those new to swimming, let us be the first to tell you that swim meets are long, loud, and typically hot for parents. Remembering to bring these swim meet essentials though can help ease any pain you might encounter at a meet. 

Related article: Swim Meet Terminology

This list isn’t all inclusive and is only meant to act as a guideline. So please feel free to adjust it to your own needs as they fit.

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What Swim Parents Should Bring to Swim Meets

Comfortable Seating 

Based on the type of seating at the venue, make sure to pack something comfortable to sit on. Whether that’s a cushion, a folding stadium seat, or a folding camping chair

It’s not uncommon to see swim parents carrying these essentials around at swim meets. And for that matter, swimmers bring them too! When the meet runs long, comfort goes a long way. 

My mom typically brings a cushion, or a folding stadium seat, depending on the seating available. You can read through the meet information beforehand to know what you can expect. And then pack accordingly.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

Wearing loose, breathable, and comfortable clothes can make or break your swim meet experience. Most times, the pool facility is warm to help the swimmers stay warm and swim parents sweat up in the stands.

Related article: What to Expect at Your Child’s First Swim Meet

My recommendation for swim meets that are indoors is to err on the side of the caution. Plan for the venue to be warm but pack a jacket or long sleeve shirt in the event it’s cooler than you expect. My mom also brings an extra swim towel to drape over her legs if she gets chilly.

If the meet is outside, check the weather, dress accordingly and bring sunscreen.

Lastly, wear shoes that you can wear for an extended period of time. Not only wear, but also walk in. You’ll may have to climb stairs, walk across slippery pool decks, have long walks to the parking lot, or cross uneven ground. You risk twisting an ankle or worse.

Bring Something to Do

Expect to sit around and wait at a swim meet. An essential for all swim parents to bring at a meet is something to do. 

While that varies by most swim parents, you can pack a book or e-reader, puzzle book, or tablet to keep yourself entertained. Some parents also bring computers so they can work and it’s not uncommon to see a few people knitting!

Snacks & Hydration

If the swim meet venue allows for it, don’t forget to pack snacks and something to drink for yourself. Especially as the concession stands can run a bit on the expensive side.

You should pack something easy to eat that won’t make a large mess. Fruits and vegetables are good for both you and your swimmer. You can also bring some granola bars, smoothies, or breakfast tacos.

Basket filled with with fruits, a spoon of peanut butter, and a hard boiled egg

One thing I do is I pack a small lunch box or cooler to bring with me. It’s an easy way to store food and keep it cold at the same time. 

Related article: Meet Etiquette for Swim Parents

Lastly, make sure you keep up with your hydration as well. It’s a given for swimmers, but most swim parents forget that they need to drink as well. On that same note, take care not to bring any glass containers. They’re usually forbidden at meets.


Another swim meet essential that a swim parent needs to bring is money. On competition day, you can find yourself paying for parking, admission, deck entries, and heat sheets. And that doesn’t include meet shirts and swim apparel for your swimmer. Such as lost or broken goggles.

Related article: Parents Survival Guide to Swim Meets

While costs associated with meets varies by location, it’s always good to budget for some type of spending. Just in case. The meet information will detail any costs you might have to pay for parking and admission to help your budgeting purposes.


While not a swim meet essential item, earplugs can help those who are sensitive to loud noises. If you’re not a fan of ear plugs, you can also try some noise-reducing headphones to cut out the sound. My mom uses Mack’s Silicone Ear Plugs for swim meets. The benefit of these earplugs is that they double as swimming ear plugs for whenever I need them!

Related article: 6 Best Earplugs for Swimmers

The whistles and yells from the coaches are loud enough to reach spectator seating. Hearing those noises, plus parents cheering on their children can get loud after a while. Find a set of earplugs or headphones that you like and make sure they’re always packed!


At any swim meet, make sure you bring patience. Swim meets are long and tempers can run short. Especially when space is limited and the seating is packed. Some parents and families act without thinking of others. We’ve all seen them and sometimes, we can also be a bit rude. While no one person is without fault, it’s important that you remember to bring your patience. 

Related article: Healthy Swim Habits for Parents

Remember to take a few breaths and try to let it go. If you can’t calm yourself, physically leave the area to either rant in peace or take extra time to compose yourself. 

Swim Meet to-go Bag

My mom has a specific ‘swim meet go bag’ that she takes to nearly every swim meet. It holds everything she needs to survive the swim meet and that she uses at mostly every meet.

For most parents, their swim meet bag is a basic backpack or large purse that is stocked with highlighters, markers, and notes of their swimmer’s best times. You might also keep this filled with prescription medicine for both your swimmer and you. Some parents will keep books or crossword puzzles in there to entertain themselves, as well.

As always, to happy swimming!


Bonus Content: (coming soon)

Swim Meet Tips for Parents:

Rudest Things Parents Can do at Swim Meet:

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Chevron is a current competitive swimmer with almost 20 years of experience at the local, national and international level. A current USA Swimming and US Masters Swimming athlete, she’s committed to providing guidance to all levels of swimmers and believes that everyone should know how to swim.

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