Why Are Swim Meets Important?

Swim meets can be a bag of mixed emotions. They’re stressful but they can also be fun. You can have the best meet of your life or the worst one where everything seems to go wrong. Despite all this, swim meets are important to a swimmer’s development.

Related article: What is a Swim Meet?

Not just because they’re a chance for swimmers to drop time and chase goals. Swim meets also offer personal development and life skills.

Here are 8 reasons why swim meets are important and why you should make them part of your next swim season.

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Goal Setting

Both swim practice and swim meets provide swimmers with opportunities to set goals. Goals set for practices typically go hand-in-hand with swim meets. Such as working underwater kicks in practice to help drop time at a meet.

Most goals achieved at swim meets are through dropped times and earning cuts. 

Swim meets help swimmers learn how to set goals and provides them with a pathway to help achieve them. They know the end goal but learning the way to get there comes through careful goal setting and working towards it.

Drop Time/Earn Cuts

For some swimmers, swim meets are important specifically for dropping time and earning cuts. 

Ultimately, every swimmer wants to win their race. But nearly every swimmer wants to drop time, too. Dropping time is an affirmation that the work they do at practice is paying off. And it can bring them even closer to any goals they’ve set.

When a swimmer meets a certain time standard, they’re eligible to compete at a higher level swim meet. The higher the level, the faster the time standard/cut that’s needed. 

Related article: Swim Meet FAQ

While dropping time and earning cuts are important, don’t let yourself solely focus on only that piece of your swim meet. Doing so can make you anxious and tense, which can lead to a bad meet.

Make it part of your meet, but don’t make it about your meet.

Make Specific Teams

Much like dropping time and earning cuts, swim meets are one of the best ways to make specific travel teams. This can vary from a Zones Select team to the travel team in high school or college.

Coaches may look at performance in practice, but they’ll also heavily consider times and performance at swim meets, too.

Every swimmer though has a different desire to make these types of teams. And that’s okay! Making a travel team or a select team shouldn’t be the only driving factor for your swim meets. 

Provide Training Feedback

Swim meets provide crucial feedback as it pertains to training and practice. It’s easy to skip sets or lie about how many you did to keep up with the group. Just as it’s easy to avoid working on flip turns and bettering your breakouts.

But at swim meets, that lack of attention and work at practice makes itself know.

Because of this, swim meets are a great place to learn what needs to be worked on at practice. How were your turns, your underwater work, and the back half of your race compared to other swimmers?

Related articles:

If everyone kept catching you at your turns, then you know that’s something that can be improved!

Some swimmers and coaches will also record races so they can be analyzed later. This allows swimmers to focus on what needs improving and what they did right. 

Reevaluate Goals

Swim meets are also important because they tell you how fast you can go. And they can help you set and reset those goals you created for yourself. 

It’s easy to post fast times at your home pool during practice. You’re not contending with nerves and anxiety. But putting all that work and effort together at a meet, where you do have new outside factors, is the true test of what all you’re capable of.

And once you’ve pushed past what you’re capable of, then you know that you can see just how far you can go. Swim meets are one of the few places swimmers can benchmark themselves and adjust their goals as they achieve them.

Set S.M.A.R.T. swim goals to find success at practice and meets


For those swimmers who want to swim and compete in college, swim meets are a great way to network with college coaches. 

College coaches attend certain meets or will watch meet results for swimmers that they’re looking to recruit. 

We will note that NCAA has certain requirements before coaches can speak with swimmers. Check the eligibility requirements and guidelines to know when you’re eligible to speak with college coaches. 

Even a quick introduction and exchange of information is an opportunity for a foot in the door. It also gives a coach the chance to watch your races if they’re interested.

Just be sure you don’t make that your main focus at a swim meet.

Team Spirit and Camaraderie

While swim meets are about competition, they’re also about encouragement and fellowship.

Because let’s be honest. Swimming is mostly an individual sport and it’s easy to focus on yourself at practice. But at swim meets, you can focus on other swimmers. Whether they’re on your team or not!

It’s cheering on someone who is having the best meet of their career. And at the same time, it’s encouraging the swimmer who struggles to finish their race. 

Because at one point, we’ve all been there.

We know what it feels like and even though they’re not on our team, we don’t want them to finish alone. Swimmers support each other at swim meets. Whether that’s offering an encouraging word behind the block or taking a second to help someone calm down before a race.

Swim meets can help teach empathy to those around us. And it’s that solidarity that makes swim meets important.


Swim meets teach and help foster sportsmanship. And having a swimmer learn this at a young age can help them maintain this treatment of others throughout their life. 

And it can show that even in the heat of competition, we can still treat others with respect and fair treatment.

Yes, some swimmers (and parents or coaches) could use a refresher course on sportsmanship. And there are always those that can ruin the sport for others with their attitude and behaviors. 

Related article: Rudest Things Swimmers Can do at a Meet (coming soon)

It’s one of the reasons why swim meets are important. They can show swimmers how to act and how not to act. For those swimmers that model sportsmanship-like behavior, they can encourage and lead the way for the next generation of swimmers.

So be kind, fair, and have a respectful attitude! Not just at swim meets but at practices, too. You never know who is watching and who you’re inspiring. 

As always, to happy swimming!


Bonus Content:

How to Stay Warm at Swim Meets: Not staying warm at swim meets can lead to bad times and races. Try some of these options to help you stay warm at swim meets and race faster.

How to Prepare for a Swim Meet: (coming soon)

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