The Best Swim Meet Essentials for Parents

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?

As a swim parent, you endure great trials for your child at swim meets. For those new to swimming, let us be the first to tell you that swim meets are long. Especially for parents.

They’re long, loud, and typically, hot. 

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 

Seating at swim meets falls in three categories. None of which are particularly forgiving to one’s body.

  • Stadium seating
  • Bleacher seating
  • No/ground seating

Each has their pros and cons, but as a whole, they’re all just plain hard to sit on! Read through the meet information beforehand to know what you can expect. And then pack accordingly.

Based on what seating you can expect, make sure to pack something comfortable. 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. 

Wear Comfortable Clothes

Remember that swim meets are long for parents. That said, comfort is your friend! You’ll want to wear clothes and shoes that you can wear for an extended period of time. Not only wear, but also walk in.

Don’t wear fashionable shoes just because they look good. 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.

Another thing to consider is the temperature at the pool. Obviously, if the meet is outside, dress accordingly and bring sunscreen.

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

For those who have an indoor meet, it’s a bit of a guessing game. Most times, though, the pool facility runs warm for swim parents. Yes, even in the winter. An essential for swim parents is to wear something cool and breathable. 

You don’t want to be stuck sitting in your own sweat for hours on end. Worse if the meet is an all day affair! It just makes the swim meet drag on that much longer and you’ll feel irritable.

If you’re concerned about being cold, pack a light jacket or blanket to bring. You can also use an extra swim towel that you’re keeping for your child.

And obviously, please don’t wear anything inappropriate. Even if it’s a swim meet with older swimmers, parents bring younger siblings. 🙂

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!

Whatever works best for you, make sure you pack it for your next swim meet. 


If the swim meet venue allows for it, don’t forget to pack snacks and something to drink for yourself. Yes, your swimmer will need something to eat and drink, but the same applies for you. These are essential for those longer meets.

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

Pack a small lunch box or cooler to bring with you to your next meet. Again, check if the pool will allow this. If you can, it’s easy to store certain foods that need to stay cool, such as yogurt or fruit. 

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. Remember that you’re usually in the stands sweating. You won’t realize how warm you actually are until you usually step back outside.

Related article: Meet Etiquette for Swim Parents

Bring your coffee for those early morning meets. Coffee is a must have swim meet essential for swim parents and coaches alike! 

Coffee not your style? You can also bring a smoothe or any other type of drink to quench your thirst. Provided it’s non-alcoholic. 😉

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. 

Even if you plan to purchase anything at the concession stand, you might still need to buy something. 

At swim meets, 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.

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.

Ear Plugs

Even at outdoor venues, swim meets are loud. 

They’re even worse indoors where the sound has no place to go. 

While not a swim meet essential item, ear plugs 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.

Your hearing is important so don’t feel as though you’re the only one who wears them. 

Related article: Parents Survival Guide to Swim Meets

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 ear plugs 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. 

Whether that’s when someone takes longer than the rest of the heat to finish a race or when trying to find a parking spot. 

Related article: Healthy Swim Habits for Parents

During these times, you don’t gain anything by lashing out or verbally attacking someone. And you’re setting a bad example for your child.

Instead, 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

Much like your swimmer, get into the habit of packing your bag the night before. And just like your swimmer, you should have a ‘to-go bag’ for swim meets. 

This is a bag that you keep stocked with your swimmers best time, cuts, highlighters and markers. We also recommend that you keep some extra towels, goggles, and even warm clothes for your swimmer.

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.

Why is this bag a swim meet essential for swim parents? 

It helps ensure that you don’t forget the essential items to pack for a swim meet. They’re the things aside from food that you use at mostly every meet. Your ear plugs, entertainment, a pillow, and some packed snacks.

In Closing

Don’t let swim meets stress you out because you feel unprepared or you forgot something. Once you get into the habit of getting your own bag ready, you’ll find that swim meets come just a bit easier.

Find the things that work best for you. If there’s something you realize that you need at a meet, make a note and add it to your bag when you get home. 

Each swim parent needs different things at a swim meet. This list isn’t all inclusive, so please remember to adjust it to your own needs as they fit.

Bring what you need and pack the things you think you might need. Swim meets are long and can feel longer when you’re hot, hungry, and uncomfortable. Avoid that by making sure you have the essentials specific to you!

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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